Truly a standout English release debut of 2021, Frieren Volume 2 continues the epic, thoughtful saga of Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End. The manga with story by Kanehito Yamada and art by Tsukasa Abe began serialization in Japan in April 2020 and has since received multiple awards including the 14th Manga Taishō. The story follows elf mage Frieren, who vanquished the Demon King alongside her fellow adventuring party. Over eighty years have passed, and Frieren lives on as her fellow party members pass on due to age, prompting her to reflect on her life and begin a new journey. The manga is released in English by VIZ Media under their Shonen Sunday imprint. Frieren Volume 2 is translated by Misa ‘Japanese Ammo,’ edited by Mike Montesa, and features touch-up art and lettering by Annaliese ‘Ace’ Christman; with design by Yukiko Whitley.
After being sent on a quest by her last surviving friend, Eisen, to reconvene with Himmel the Hero’s spirit, Frieren and her apprentice Fern travel North. Eisen has instructed Frieren to seek out his former apprentice Stark, providing a unique adventuring party that consists of Frieren mentoring her friends’ students into the new generation. It further adds to the dynamic of how the series treats generations and time. While this volume doesn’t have years pass in between chapters like its predecessor, the longevity of Frieren’s journeys is still looming. In her own words: ten years is only one one-hundredth of her life, so she is surprised when people talk about the impact of such events. It isn’t that Frieren is heartless, her perspective is just vastly different. She has to be frequently reminded by Fern that while a delay of two years will seem like nothing to her, that is a long time for Fern. After losing Himmel, Frieren is forced to reflect more on mortality and how relationships impact each other. Even in her relationship with Fern, Frieren is still awkwardly learning to show that she cares and appreciates Fern’s presence.
Additionally, Frieren Volume 2 gives even further insight into Frieren. She has long since accepted her place in the world as a wanderer, and this melancholic acceptance of the inevitable death of those around her has led to her seemingly putting guards up. That is why the start of a possible found family as a gift to her from her former adventuring party is so prominent. We learn that in this world elves are near extinct. They are aromantic and asexual, and so Frieren has never felt a desire to find companionship in a romantic manner and start a family. This is likely why even if Himmel had more than just platonic feelings for her (yet to be determined) it never developed into anything. It wasn’t simply that things went over Frieren’s head (although that is partially it as it is how her character is comically written separately from just sexual identity).
All of this excellent (but possibly a tad sad) material may make readers think Frieren Volume 2 is heavy with drama, but that is not the case. All of these previously discussed details and relationship building are masterfully blended in between comedic moments and quite thrilling action. Fern is an absolutely hilarious straight man, and perfectly embodies the apprentice who seems to be taking care of the master instead of the other way around. Additionally, the new character Stark has a lovely background. While happy-go-lucky he is openly a coward in his own eyes, which contributes to his strained relationship with former master Eisen. While there isn’t action on every page when there is it hits fantastically. So much of this series is a slow build and focused on the smaller moments, that when the characters actually unleash their power we are reminded of just how strong they are and how much time (once again back to that lovely theme) they have spent honing their abilities. Frieren is thousands of years old and taught by a master now thought to be a fairy tale. Her quest for unique, silly magic often makes one forget that she could likely level a battlefield if she wished.
All of this is to say that Frieren Volume 2 is another fantastic addition to this must-read series. The way the story handles grief, memories, and generations is masterful. The individual character work is already nearing sublime quality in only the second volume, and bonus points for having a character be openly aromantic and asexual.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Volume 2 goes on sale January 11, 2022 wherever books are sold.
Frieren: Beyond Journey's End Volume 2
All of this is to say that Frieren Volume 2 is another fantastic addition to this must read series. The way the story handles grief, memories, and generations is masterful. The individual character work is already nearing sublime quality in only the second volume, and bonus points for having a character be openly aromantic and asexual.