Having recovered from their run-in with the flying monster in Episode 14, the party arrives at a small town that has fallen under the power of a deadly sleep curse. To awaken the townsfolk, the party must slay the monster who controls the curse. But does the party have the trust in each other it needs to accomplish this task in Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Sōsō no Furīren) Episode 15, “Smells Like Trouble.”
This week’s episode is split into two stories, opening with the aforementioned cursed town. While Sein (Yûichi Nakamura) begins to investigate the curse and if he is capable of curing it, Frieren (Atsumi Tanezaki) gives a short lecture to Stark (Chiaki Kobayashi) about the nature of curses and what differentiates them from other magic spells. The nature and study of magic in this series have been one of the biggest highlights of its world-building and how Frieren Episode 15 adds to that element is interesting. It also helps explain why Frieren, despite her obsession with collecting magic spells, isn’t capable of casting priest spells.
Once Sein determines the nature of the curse, as well as its source, the party strikes out to slay the monster responsible. But as they travel, one by one they begin to fall under the curse’s power, until only Sein is left standing, carrying Frieren along with him. The following confrontation with the monster delivers what feels like the final element to Sein’s becoming a fully integrated party member. He is forced to make a leap of faith, trusting in Frieren’s last words to him before she falls under the curse’s power. How Sein manages to make his leap is wonderfully crafted for the narrative, as it sees him recall an encounter he had with Heiter when he was a child, and what the old priest once told him concerning Frieren.
Further building up this confrontation is the perfectly chosen music for the battle. The soundtrack to this series is always delivering on the energy of its narrative. It goes above and beyond here, allowing this minor battle to feel far more significant than it otherwise would.
Once the monster is defeated, Frieren Episode 15 follows the party to the fortress city of Vorig, where the local lord has a job for Stark that no one else can accomplish. Though Frieren is initially opposed to aiding, the party’s monetary situation forces her to hear the man’s request.
It turns out that the lord’s son was slain in a recent battle. To maintain the morale of his people and allies the lord has decided to hide this fact from those outside his household until after an upcoming meeting with the local nobility. As it turns out, Stark is nearly identical to the lord’s late son, making him the perfect stand-in. To pull off the charade at the coming party Stark must learn how to carry himself as a nobleman.
Through Stark’s training, we see him connect with the lord and his family in a striking, profound way. Moments during his training harken back to Stark’s life before he met Eisen. Seeing the lord potentially making the same mistakes his father made with him, Stark addresses the situations he sees with a surprising result.
Rather than presenting the current situation as a perfect reflection of what Stark lived through, Frieren Episode 15 instead shows the lord as fully aware of the pitfall Stark is concerned about. Rather than depicting all families as similar, the episode’s handling of the lord’s family helps to highlight how different each person’s experiences are, allowing for a more vibrant narrative to unfold.
Shortly before the day of the party arrives, Fern discovers that she must also undergo some etiquette training, so that she may play the part of Stark’s date. This leads to the highlight of the episode, when Stark and Fern take to the dance floor, looking as sharp as can be. There have been numerous hints at Stark and Fern eventually ending up together, and this moment in Frieren Episode 15 makes that outcome feel all but certain. As the pair goes from awkwardly moving across the dance floor to flowing beautifully together, the dance feels symbolic of the journey the duo has only begun to take with each other.
The animation captures the elegance of the moment, delivering every flowing movement of the couple as they glide across the dance floor. It’s similar to how the series handles the characters when in flight; the animation goes out of its way to accentuate the movement of every piece of cloth and strand of hair, giving the dancing characters a certain majesty to their actions.
Once the job is done, we get a final moment between Stark and the lord that ties up the episode nicely. Stark’s words display a level of emotional maturity that hasn’t been present before in the character, giving the episode’s narrative a final element of growth for the character.
Frieren Episode 15 delivers major moments while never feeling rushed. The opening story allows for some action as it finishes fitting Sein into the collective whole of the cast, while the second story focuses on Stark, his history, and the potential of his future with Fern. Tying it all together is gorgeous animation and a skilfully executed soundtrack that makes this a high point of this expertly crafted series.
Frieren Episode 15 is streaming on Crunchyroll.
Frieren Episode 15
Frieren Episode 15 delivers major moments while never feeling rushed. Tying it all together is gorgeous animation and a skilfully executed soundtrack that makes this a high point of this expertly crafted series.