With Lügner and Linie both defeated, the stage is set for Frieren (Atsumi Tanezaki) to face off with Aura (Ayana Taketatsu) for the fate of the town. But while Aura is confident that she has lured Frieren into a trap she cannot escape, the episode steps away from their battle to give viewers a better understanding of Frieren and just how wrong Aura is in Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Sōsō no Furīren) Episode 10, “A Powerful Mage.”
This week’s episode opens with Lügner as he struggles to understand how Fern (Kana Ichinose) has defeated him. How she maintained her endless volley of spells with the amount of mana he senses from her should be impossible. Then he realizes the truth: she surpasses her mana to fool him. This sends Lügner into a final fit before the last of his life slips away as he accuses Fern of being a disgrace to all mages.
From here, Frieren Episode 10 leaps back to when Frieren first met her master Flamme (Atsuko Tanaka, Bayonetta 3). This look focuses on Flamme’s attitude towards demons and how to fight them. We see much of Frieren’s feelings toward her adversaries reflected in her master’s attitude toward them. While the exploration of Flamme’s teachings and how they come to inform Frieren is important, there is an element of Flamme that is revealed here in a subtle way that is incredibly important despite how little attention is drawn to it. That is the confirmation that Flamme is a human.
The power of the greatest mages has been presented in this show as the result of countless years of training, cultivating one’s skill and capacity of mana. That the legendary mage Flamme could accomplish what she has been shown to in so little time as revealed here seems impossible. From the information we are given here, we can guesstimate that Flamme was in her late 20s to early 30s when she first met Frieren, and then she was already overwhelming demon mages with her magical might.
The biggest lesson during Frieren Episode 10 that Flamme imparts to Frieren is the importance of deception when fighting demons. Just as they use speech to trick humans into sympathy and error, so must they suppress their mana to lure demons into battles they cannot win. It is dishonorable, this Flamme acknowledges, but she insists that winning their battles is far more important than their honor.
The last element that this flashback sequence brings is a hint at Frieren’s love for “useless” magic. In one of her previous exchanges with Flamme, she learns that her master’s favorite spell is one that creates a field of flowers, which Frieren asks Flamme to teach her. This feels like the likely birth of Frieren’s interest in the more mundane spells that she is known for searching out. Also, it delivers a nice little tie-in to when Frieren spent so much time finding a flower for Himmel’s statue, as it is at this moment she learned the spell that allowed her to surround her friend’s statue with his favorite flower.
Once Frieren Episode 10’s time in the past is complete, we return to the present as Aura and Frieren prepare to finish their battle. Having watched Frieren expend a lot of mana subduing the waves of headless fighters Aura sent her way, she is confident she can use the Scales of Obedience to bend Frieren to her will.
This moment showcases the power of the series and its narrative as it plays out exactly as the audience knows it would from the instant the scales are introduced. It manages to deliver a powerful moment regardless. Despite the entire episode building up the fact that Frieren constantly suppresses her mana, the moment hits thanks to the gorgeous presentation of final judgment between the two and Frieren’s reveal of just how much mana she truly wields.
The monstrous vortex of magical energy swirling around the protagonist and the swelling musical accompaniment bring the expected reveal to the viewer with a level of force that shocks. The animation brings the newly revealed power of Frieren to life as she overwhelms her opponent to take control of the moment.
Frieren Episode 10 ends with Frieren doing just what she said she would, killing Aura. Having passed the scale’s judgment, she orders Aura to take her own life as she coolly walks away, not even bothering to bear witness to her foe’s final moments. Given how much pain and suffering she has caused due to her cruel commands to others, little sympathy is garnered as the demon struggles and cries against her impulses as her sword moves toward her throat.
While the episode takes a surprising deviation from the epic battle many expected to play out in Frieren Episode 10, what it delivers is as unique and skillfully crafted as the rest of the series. While Madhouse has shown it can provide gorgeous combat animation, the series is not about that, and this episode showcases its focus on narrative and character exploration over the battle, which the series is the better for.
Frieren Episode 10 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Episode 10
While the episode takes a surprising deviation from the epic battle many expected to play out in Frieren Episode 10, what it delivers is as unique and skillfully crafted as the rest of the series.