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Manga Review: Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Vol. 1

Title: Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Vol. 1
Author: Kanehito Yamada (Story), Tsukasa Abe (Art)
Publisher: Viz Media
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: November 9, 2021

The Story

One of the genres I love reading about is fantasy series; however, I like pure fantasy and have really begun to detest fantasy having an isekai premise. When I saw Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, I saw that it was, indeed, pure fantasy with no isekai involvement whatsoever. Add in the fact that this is sort of an epilogue tale of a mage after her grand adventure and I felt that it was a unique enough premise to check out.

The story, as you would imagine, is centered around the elf mage whose name is right on the front cover of the book, Frieren. She seems apathetic and emotionless but all of that changed after her ten-year adventure with Eisen the Warrior, Himmel the Hero, and Heiter the (corrupt) Priest comes to an end. They defeated the demon king and now have to wonder what life will be like after returning back home. One would make you think that this would turn into a slice-of-life fantasy where we would see the four heroes’ new lives; however, what we do receive is something a bit more profound.

Frieren decides to go off in search of learning more magic, stating that she will return to see the meteor shower in 50 years. She is completely unaware to how long elves can live versus normal humans. When she returns, everyone is in very old shape and Himmel passes away. At his funeral, she comes to a realization that despite traveling with them for so long in human terms, she never really learned anything about them.

Heiter is the next to pass and before he does, he asks Frieren to look after a war orphan that he took in named Fern, saying that she has an affinity for magic and wishes to become a mage; however, all Fern wanted to do was learn to protect herself and others and magic just happened to be something she chose.

While traveling with Fern, Frieren comes across a job where a grimoire by her master, Flamme, was presented as a reward. Frieren knows it was a fake and when she reunites with Eisen, who is a dwarf and has a longer lifespan than humans, he tells her that Heiter researched Flamme and knows where her real notes are. When they discover where Flamme hid the notes, it talks about journeying to the former Demon King’s castle where it is said that you can communicate with the dead. Filled with regret of never learning about Himmel, she wishes to travel there and talk with him one last time.


While Himmel, Eisen, and Heiter all had a personality, I found it pretty odd that the main character Frieren felt really flat as a character. What made it worse was that Fern has a very similar personality. I don’t know if this is truly the case as I am just reading silent text on a page but you usually get a sense of a character’s voice through the words chosen and the artwork.

To me… Frieren and Fern remind me of two monotone, emotionless girls having very dry conversations with each other. It is very rare for them to show happiness or any other type of emotion which made reading them a bit of a chore. Without much expression from the characters or any kind of enunciated reactions, the majority of the book just felt so monotone.

When “nobody extra” characters in villages exude more personality than the main and main supporting character, that’s a bit of a problem… for now. The silver lining here is that it was mentioned that Frieren does not possess the ability to discern emotion but her willingness to learn about others could be the foundation of a shift in her character and her personality so while I feel it has been a bland experience so far, I think it is intentional as it will help establish her future character development.

Heiter; however, took center stage in this volume. He’s a lively priest who loves to drink! He claims that he doesn’t fear death but later he admits that he is scared of it. He even wanted Frieren to discern a grimoire that might contain magic that prolongs life or could be used to resurrect someone. Of course, Frieren only deciphers the grimoire to humor him because she already knows no magic such as that exists… yet. It was simply giving some comfort to Heiter before his time would come.

Himmel was even livelier than Heiter. He was very outspoken, boisterous, and a little narcissistic. Still, he was tolerated by the party and still highly thought of to the point where a statue was erected in his honor. In fact, one of Frieren’s jobs, after he passed, was to come back and clean the statue and decorate the land with flowers from Himmel’s homeland. But, as I said before, we didn’t know much about him outside of this so it will be nice to learn about him along with Frieren!

Eisen is simply a dwarf warrior. I can’t really say much more than that because the book doesn’t really explore him all that much. Sure, he helps Frieren search for Flamme’s notes but he doesn’t really say or do anything that shows what kind of character he is. Hopefully, we’ll get some more on him in future volumes.

Final Thoughts

If I were to sum up the first volume in a word… it would be quaint. While Frieren and Fern are a bit on the dry side, the other characters make up for their shortcomings. The premise of becoming aware of the passage of time and realizing that you need to do a better job of learning about the people you adventure with and call friends is a deep lesson to learn.

There isn’t much action in this series but that is by design. If you were thinking about picking this up because you see four adventurers on the front cover and want to see them do battle with hordes of enemies, then this isn’t going t be the story for you. However, if you’re looking for a story about an elf mage who walks the world in search of magic and wishes to learn more about the friends she shared so many memories with… all within a fantasy setting, then this is going to be a must-have series.

After reading the first volume, I found that I really enjoyed what was being presented. I can see the potential in the series as well as the growth of our two main characters. I can already predict that emotionless barrier shattering to give way to some sweet and not-so-sweet emotions. This is shaping up to be an interesting journey and it proves that not every fantasy series needs to follow a cookie-cutter formula. I think I am really going to enjoy this one!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JJPiedraOLEN

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This item was provided for review by Viz Media