Manga Review: Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Volume Two

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Volume Two continues chronicling Frieren and Fern as they go on their journey.

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Volume Two
Written by: Kanehito Yamada
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 11, 2022

Unlike the first volume of the series, Volume Two doesn’t have all the skipping around in time. In fact, the entire volume is set 28 years after the death of Himmel the Hero. At the beginning of the volume, Eisen parts ways with Frieren and Fern, who are heading to north to find Auerole, the land where souls rest so Frieren can talk to Himmel. But before they part, Eisen tells them where they can find his disciple, Stark, because he thinks that he could be of use to them.

Before they can get there, though, they encounter a village where people are going missing. It’s rumored that ghosts have taken them away. From talking to witnesses, Frieren and Fern learn that the ghosts look like deceased relatives or people that the victims knew. Upon investigation, Frieren deduces that this is the work of phantom demons called Einsam. The demon makes an appearance, and for Fern, it takes on the form of Heiter. For Frieren, she sees Himmel as a young man. While Fern hesitates, Frieren takes on the demon. After seeing what Frieren does, Fern also attacks. Frieren mentions that she was surprised to see Himmel and not her master. I think this plot point with the Einsam really shows how much Frieren is regretting not getting to know Himmel more while he was still alive.

After this, Frieren and Fern make it to the location where Stark is. But before they meet him, they try to take on a dragon that lives outside of the town because Frieren wants the grimoire that’s in its nest. They don’t succeed, but luck has it that the dragon doesn’t try to go after the village. Stark summons the two of them and tells them not to mess with the dragon because that will endanger the village. From talking with Stark, Frieren and Fern learn that even though the people of the village consider Stark a hero, he didn’t truly do anything to the dragon when it attacked. It just looked at him and flew away and hasn’t returned to the village since. Stark believes he’s not strong, just a coward, and will probably run away. However, Frieren and Fern manage to convince Stark to help them with the dragon, and in the end, Stark is the one who takes down the dragon by himself, thanks to all of the training he’s done. Stark ends up joining them on their journey, in large part because Eisen told them to take him with them.

The three of them make it to the northern checkpoint, which is currently closed because the northern lands are filled with wandering monsters. Frieren doesn’t seem to mind, because she can take her time to do some magic research. However, after Fern overhears that it may be at least two years before the checkpoint opens back up, she and Stark keep trying to brainstorm ideas for how to get around the checkpoint. Unfortunately, nothing pans out. But in the end, everything works out when the castellan of the town realizes who Frieren is and gives the party permission to pass through. When the other two ask Frieren why she didn’t mention who she was when they first arrived, she answers bluntly that she thought it wouldn’t help. After reading this chapter, it seemed like the point of it wasn’t so much the fact that the three of them had an obstacle on their journey, but it was here to allow the reader, as well as Fern, get to know more about Stark and the type of relationship he had with his mentor. Getting to see these glimpses of Stark’s past helped me to better appreciate him as a character.

After the party leaves the northern checkpoint, they end up in a town that is celebrating the Liberation Festival, which marks the day that Himmel the Hero and his party defeated the dragons that had taken over the region a little over 80 years ago. Frieren has a flashback to Himmel marveling over a statue made of him, and Frieren questioning why the statues are made. At first, he gives a selfish reason about leaving a record of his handsomeness for posterity, but then seriously answers so that Frieren won’t be alone in the future. I really liked the fact that a picture of the people gathered around the statues of the heroes took up a whole page by itself, and I thought the drawing of the statues themselves was given a lot of care.

The final four chapters of Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Volume Two take place in Graf Granat’s domain, and Frieren senses demons are in the town. As a group of them pass by, Frieren is grabbed by guards as she looks at Lord Lugner, the leader of the demon group. When talking with Lord Lugner, though, Frieren states what she knows about demons and their intentions, and she’s thrown into the dungeon in Graf Ganat’s mansion. Fern learns that the demons are “peace envoys” for Aura the Guillotine, one of the seven mages of destruction that went missing after a battle with Frieren, Himmel, and the rest of their party. Frieren knows that letting them in was a mistake, and she has a flashback to a demon child that Himmel had decided not to kill and the consequences that this decision had. But it turns out Graf Granat has no intention of talking peace with the demons, but he is captured and tortured when he tries to raise a hand against them.

Meanwhile, Frieren gets a visit in the dungeon from Draht, who serves as an executioner for Aura the Guillotine. Frieren manages to free herself from her executioner’s noose and kills Draht in the process. However, as she escapes, she sees that one of the prison guards has been killed, and it’s been set up to look like Frieren is the one who killed him. Frieren runs into Fern and Stark in town and they come up with a plan. Stark makes it into the mansion in order to try to free Graf Ganat. Unfortunately, he is unable to cut the ropes binding Graf’s hands. When the demons return, it looks like Stark may be a goner, but Fern steps in and stuns the demons enough that she, Stark, and Graf can get away. The volume ends with the revelation that some of the blood of one of the demons has ended up on Stark and Fern, so they can be tracked and won’t be able to get away easily. Also, we see Lord Luger having a flashback of Frieren right at the end of the volume. I thought this was a good note to end Volume Two on, and as a reader, it made me interested in wanting to read Volume Three.

After reading this volume, I thought that Stark made a great addition to the series. Not only is he a much needed warrior to accompany Frieren and Fern, but his flashbacks to his time with Eisen when he was traveling with him as his apprentice helped to develop both Stark and Eisen a little more. While at first, it seemed like Stark was traveling with them simply because Eisen expected him to, he seems to start genuinely wanting to be around Frieren and Fern as they continue their travels in this volume. And I also like how Frieren continues to have flashbacks to her travels with Himmel and the others, and how these flashbacks tie in with the events that are taking place in this volume. I believe that Volume Two successfully builds off of the previous volume and continues to build up the world that Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is set in.

I really enjoyed reading Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Volume Two, and at this point, I believe that this is one of the stronger fantasy manga titles that I have personally read.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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