Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Volume 10: Not All That Glitters



I’ll be the first to say it, I don’t have an incredibly favorable opinion of Frieren in comparison to a lot of fans out there. In spite of that, I still choose to collect and the read the series, oddly enough. In this case I feel like it sort of snowballed into something I couldn’t be bothered to stop after I started. And that sentiment extends to this volume that finally takes the series into double digits. I don’t feel a valuable connection with the series, I don’t feel a meaningful impact when following our characters. It feels divorced from what it attempted to promise in earlier volumes. Because of that, I want to talk about it.

I think first and foremost, the issue with Frieren is consistency. A mage whose singular goal in life is collecting spells of all sorts of nature, yet is always missing the spells that leave the most impact on the story, sort of begins to get old as we cruise into demon territory. It especially wears thin in the face of the content that’s combined in the prior volume 9 and this current volume. Serie, for example, has a spell that took her 100 years to learn, but is able to give away that knowledge at the drop of the hat. Conversely, it took Frieren herself only about 2 months to reverse a Demon’s curse. The parity in terms of value is nonexistent. The point made with Serie’s curse repellent spell is that she’s giving away something incredibly valuable. Conversely however, Frieren’s direct recreation and reversal of a demon’s curse wipes out any such value in the spell. There would be an argue to make with the point if Frieren was meant to be a prodigy, but she’s been shown to be comfortably behind her master Flamme, and Serie was the master to Flamme. It creates this chain that is entirely nonsensical- especially given the exposition and information provided in regards to these three mages.

Following that, the impact of characters and a story in this volume squarely miss the mark. Macht, the demon responsible for a particularly nasty curse (and the only one that we readers are aware of), has good ideas. Whether or not Frieren is able to deliver on them is questionable however. Chronology is something that the series has relied on heavily previously, and continues to do so with Macht. At the very least, in this case, they have Frieren herself reliving Macht’s memories. We’ve got better reason to be in there, but I do wish they were a little more deft at conveying that sentiment to readers, as it comes off as a plain flashback.

Similarly, I feel that the volume also struggles with the general concept of Macht. The character clearly states his purpose, but remains both oddly flippant and rigidly resolute. The character itself is a paradox of convenience more than anything through the series, and personally I ascribe some of that to the history of Macht that we’re shown. Immense power, a Demon Sage that should be leading armies, yet all he trifles with are small people in skirmishes within towns. This is very much not the scope of a demon that not even Frieren previously could contend with (spoilers: now after 2 months of sleeping, she can).

There’s just so much convenience and story that supersedes Macht’s character, and I can’t help but be bothered by the idea. Macht, alongside another demon, are meant to represent a massive turning point in the focus of the story. Yet, miraculously, neither really quite deliver anything valuable. At the end of this volume, the characters exclusively view the demons as extremely dangerous existences that solely aim to harm. Undeniably, I view that as a failure of both the characters and story in this sequence, as the entire purpose of Macht’s flashbacks and their current interactions is to encourage the idea of harmony between human and demon.

Though I suppose that’s enough complaining as I’ve come to a conclusion on that matter. In that case let’s move forward, to the idea of another demon that I take severe issue with. Though only shown for a moment, they’re a demon sage with the ability to see the future. Evidently, they’re not the only character that could see the future, as the Hero of The South also possessed precognition. The sheer explicit nature of the ability and its reach well into the future past death are, once more, massive problems of convenience. They aim to impart scope and importance to the series, but when you’re faced with the notion that not one, but two characters are able to see so clearly into the future, you are left somewhat speechless. At what point can you not argue that a future is set in stone if multiple characters can see it so clearly. At what point can you challenge character agency in a series such as this. It is an ability purely used by the authors to create value for the reader, and because of that the story suffers to a great extent. Agency and independence wane, entire tides of battle should shift, and so on and so forth.

Quite frankly, I think more than other volumes where I’m focused on how the creators choose to develop characters, this volume leads me to believe that they outright struggle with storytelling. When dealing with events within a vacuum, the largest issue to take is how they handle characters and their interactions. Here however, where the scope is far wider, the ability to deliver something that can operate on that scale is largely nonexistent. Everything is for the reader, and because of that, the world and its characters suffer greatly. Convenience is superimposed atop the various existences of this story, and blots out significant portions of itself with aspects that create fundamental flaws within. Because of that, I can only strongly recommend watching the anime over reading the manga. The story and its characters are still intensely lacklustre and worthless at times, but under Keiichirou Saito and Madhouse, the visual experience can at the very least compensate for some of the shortcomings.

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