Having watched around a hundred anime episodes this year, there were a handful that stood out to me and left a lasting impression. The Magical Revolution‘s fifth episode, brimming with a soulful and phenomenal performance of the main duo; Oshi no Ko‘s sixth episode, provides a sad glimpse into the harsh realities of our world today and reminds us that the smiles we see on our screen are also humans just like us; and Mygo’s tenth episode, delivering a touching showcase of the overall development of the band. Among these, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End episode 14 titled “Privilege of the Youth” undoubtedly takes the crown as the most beautiful episode I’ve witnessed this year.
I genuinely didn’t expect “Privilege of the Youth” to be this amazing, given that it doesn’t mark the climax of an arc or introduce a new one. Yet surprisingly, it turned out to be the best episode of the series so far. What sets this one apart is that it’s not just one scene that made me claim this episode to be beautiful but the multitude of heartwarming scenes that were produced into the epitome of beauty. Not to mention, the parallels drawn between the past and the present, the subtleties of each important scene, and every aspect and element of what makes up an anime were all carefully woven together to create a masterpiece.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End continues to showcase that it doesn’t rely on intense emotions to captivate its audience and draw them fully into the series as in episode 14, there were no wildly thrilling action sequences or heart-wrenching moments. If anything, it was just filled with slice-of-life tidbits and revolved around seemingly mundane aspects. However, it’s the show’s brilliance in turning these ordinary elements into something entertaining and inspiring, and this is the essence of Frieren‘s charm.
Being an Adult
I really love how Sein embraced his role as the adult within the party. Despite Frieren being the oldest, her maturity doesn’t always align with her age. Sein, however, recognizes the pettiness in Stark and Fern’s quarrel, understanding it as a privilege of youth. Sein also adds that being an adult, you learn how to distance yourself to avoid petty conflicts such as this, which somewhat echoes the behavior of many adults today who mind their own business. While he didn’t take sides, the way Sein handled the situation by giving Fern some helpful advice so that she could make up with Stark was beautiful. Fern and Stark also had moments together in this episode which surely made us all scream, “JUST GET MARRIED ALREADY!”
Frieren also couldn’t take her eyes off Stark and Fern, showing her genuine concern for their relationship. This reminded her of Heiter’s wise words, “Children need adults who will provide them with emotional support, especially ones like Fern who try their hardest.” At this point, this line also resonates with Stark as we all know he’s also doing his best to overcome his weaknesses and be the vanguard the party needs.
As Frieren head patted Sein for being a supportive adult figure to Fern, a parallel between Sein and Heiter unfolded and sparked a beautiful flashback scene. The interaction between Frieren and Heiter was moving to say the least. Despite Heiter’s frailty due to his old age, he still cares for Fern deeply. Witnessing this, Frieren grasped the timeless truth that adults, regardless of age or physical condition, hold a boundless love for the younger generation. She realized that despite how old adults are, they knew that the young generation need all the support they can get for them to become stronger, independent, and move on once the adults are gone.
But the question is: who watches over the adults when they, in turn, care for the children? In his case, Heiter responded that the Goddess would be there for him until he reached heaven. Frieren replying to Heiter that she will praise and comfort Heiter for now after hearing all that from the corrupt priest was so sweet. Times like this showcase that Frieren is slowly understanding human emotions. She cherished that time with Heiter, knowing that his time is now short and she mustn’t have forgotten that Heiter and Eisen were there to comfort her during Himmel’s death.
A glimpse of baby Fern peacefully asleep, accompanied by a soothing acoustic backdrop, painted a serene picture of the night. A simple conversation between former comrades, and adults conversing with each other was transformed into a beautifully rendered moment by Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End. Again, this anime made these little things become ethereal to watch. Frieren’s playful head patting of Heiter may seem like a whimsical payback for his actions during Himmel’s burial, but it was sweet and a lovely act to end off a beautiful flashback. However, this wasn’t the most beautiful thing that happened in this episode.
Frieren Episode 14 – The Most Beautiful Scene of the Year
After Stark bought Fern her birthday gift, little did he know that it had a design of the mirrored lotus which symbolizes eternal love. This lack of awareness paralleled Frieren when she picked a ring with a similar design in the past as her reward by Himmel. What were just a page and a half in the manga turned into a touching scene in the anime. Frieren once again went far and beyond on this one.
When I was reading the manga, the impact didn’t resonate to me as deeply as it did on the anime. After watching that scene, it struck me that Himmel’s seemingly simple act carried a lot of emotions and nuances. The heartbreaking part was Frieren realizing this act of love only after Himmel is already gone. Honestly, I cannot vividly describe how I felt watching it, but I can say tears welled up as Himmel was on his knees, placing the ring on Frieren’s finger, subtly expressing his love for Frieren. That whole scene was probably one of the best scenes that was ever produced this year. The music and the animation were blended exquisitely. It made me speechless and I drowned in my tears because of how beautiful it was.
Also, the reason why Himmel probably didn’t tell Frieren about the ring’s design is because it wasn’t the time yet for Frieren. To be clear, Frieren doesn’t fully understand the concept of love and emotions yet. When the time comes that Frieren now knows about the ring and how it was an expression of love from Himmel, perhaps she will remember him for all eternity.
Images via Muse Asia
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© Yamada Kanehito, Abe Tsukasa /Shogakukan / “Sousou no Frieren” Production Committee