Last episode, Frieren (Atsumi Tanezaki) and Fern (Kana Ichinose) successfully completed the first stage of the First Class mage exam. But to do it, Frieren broke a protective barrier that had been erected for the exam by Serie. While Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Sousou no Frieren) Episode 22, “Future Enemies,” could have leaned into the rising tension between Frieren and the test-givers, it instead takes a more slice-of-life approach. The exam participants have some time to kill in town and that’s what this episode focuses on.
A quiet episode, we see each of the mages in different situations. It gives a lot of time to Himmel, Freiren, and Fern. It’s a beautiful episode that highlights the series’ strength. Instead of just being a stellar fantasy series, Frieren Episode 22 shows the intimate character stories that are also worked into the series. As usual, Frieren has a sense of loss while she moves through the daily routine of eating and helping some villagers.
At dinner with Fern and Himmel, Frieren explains that they need to enjoy their meal while they can because the flavors will never be the same again. It’s a somber note that undercuts a happy scene. Enjoying her plate of meat, the chef assures her that the recipes will live on for hundreds of years. But do they? Frieren responds, “They all say that but then all put their own spin on things.”
It’s a small thing, but it brought it tears to my eyes. The impermanence of life and memory is something that this series grapples with constantly. It’s what makes it unlike any other and in a throwaway conversation about food, Frieren Episode 22 does it again. Flavors and the memories they hold are sacred, but they are also deeply tied to the people who make them.
For a decade I’ve tried to make the beans my grandma made. A couple of years back my mom said they tasted like them. But since then, the flavor is something I’m chasing again, small changes in the amount of spice, a small addition of beef tallow instead of bacon grease to refry them. These small changes pull me farther from the recipe I remember. I’m at the point now that I don’t fully remember what her food tasted like. I have the memories and the joy but the flavor is lost. Sure, this is me mapping a lot of my own life onto this fantasy RPG anime, but the power this series has to do exactly this is unmatched.
For Fern’s part, we learn more about her personality, or rather Himmel does, when she fights with Frieren. When Frierien forgets to do something she promised, Fern starts to give her the silent treatment. While Fern lets go of a lot of her comrade’s mistakes, she holds everything in until she “explodes.” Only Fern exploding isn’t kicking and screaming, it’s the silent treatment. The humanity in this episode and the relationships on display are beyond expectation for an anime in this genre.
But the final part of Freieren Episode 22 that hits incredibly hard for all of its subtlety is when Freieren asks Himmel why he helps other people. At first, Himmel says it’s because its the right thing to do. But then he changes, and is more honest. It’s for himself. “To live is to be known and remembered by others.”
Again, memory takes centerstage in this gorgeous and wholesome episode. When Frieren asks Himmel how she can do that, his answer is simple: “Change someone’s life even in just a small way. That should be enough.”
This sequence arrives in the closing moments of the episode and it’s the core of the series. Not becuase Frieren has changed the lives of those around her, but because you can see the small ways that those that she’s met have etched themselves in her lives. She holds onto her memories even as they leave her. She is immovable in time, but as those she loves and cherishes pass through her life, they leave small impacts on her life that keep mounting in emotion.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Episode 22 is a beautiful exploration of the mages and who they are as people. It touches a emotional cord in the smallest of ways that deliver a large impact. There is far more at play than just the key moments that hit me, but that’s the beauty of the city. It contains a tenderness and intrigue all the same.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Episode 22 — "Future Enemies"
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Episode 22 is a beautiful exploration of the mages and who they are as people. It touches a emotional cord in the smallest of ways that deliver a large impact.