Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Episode 18) – First-Class Mage Exam

Frieren Beyond Journeys End Title

They arrive in Äußerst to take the First-Class Mage exam, although Frieren plans on making Fern take it instead of her. Then, someone recognises her necklace and she’s in too. The first part is a team event!!!

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Episode 18) – First-Class Mage Exam

What happened?

Mages from around the country are gathering in Äußerst for the First-Class Mage exam. It only happens once every three years and you need to be a Fifth-Class Mage to take part. And, since Frieren only has her holy emblem necklace, she’s not planning on taking part. Luckily, someone recognises it and allows her to enter. It’s quite a surprise since Himmel, Heiter, and Eisen didn’t recognise it eighty years ago! Since they need a First-Class Mage to enter the Northern Continent, both Frieren and Fern enter, leaving Stark to catch up on his sleep…

They’re both taking part because the success rate in these exams is remarkably low. Some years, no one completes the test and there are often casualties and sometimes fatalities. Anyhow, Frieren and Fern do their best to prepare. After two months of training, the exam begins and for the first round, the mages are split into groups. Fern finds herself with a girl with the eyes of a killer and a studious-looking fellow. You can tell because he keeps adjusting his glasses. Frieren, however, finds herself with two young mages who know each other. That might be great if they weren’t constantly fighting.

For this first round, the parties will need to capture a Stille – a small orange bird. To pass, they must have a Stille in their cage by sunset and have all party members present. The thing that will make this extra hard is that the Stille is a remarkably tough bird that can fly faster than the speed of sound. The mages have their work cut out for them, and that’s before they even consider how the team dynamics will play out. Frieren finds herself looking after a couple of kids, so at least, that should be familiar…

What did you think?

I enjoyed this episode and loved that we got to see Kraft again, if only for a moment. It’s been a while since we’ve had an episode that didn’t contain at least one complete mini-arc so that automatically made things feel a little different. Of course, this arc will continue into the next episode and I’m guessing several more after that. At first, I was a little concerned that the First-Class Mage exam started with a group test. For me, that feels like it should be a latter part of it. Gather the strongest mages first and then see if they can work with others. No doubt, being a team member is important, but does it matter more than pure magical ability? I don’t think so in this instance.

Anyhow, it was a nice episode and once again shows us how a show can hold onto our attention without screaming characters and over-the-top action (as much as I love over-the-top action). I wonder if we’ll get to see how Fern is doing in the next episode, especially as she has the mage with the killer eyes, as Kraft puts it. She has a history of killing instructors too so she could be trouble. For a moment, I was worried that we were entering a school arc, which has not done any favours for several other fantasy stories. I feel like that won’t be the case here because of how well this story has been written. Don’t let me down, Frieren!

Frieren Beyond Journeys End Episode 18 Fern and Frieren taking the exam

Episode highlights

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  1. I was a little disappointed. This arc feels like filler. It is your basic free–range school tournament. No doubt to pass you have to be something other than powerful and violent. Maybe gentle or clever.

    Frieren already helped defeat the last Demon Lord and she has to go thru this? That’s just insulting.

    If you did go north without an officially designated first class mage, what are they going to do? It sounds like an unenforceable law. Such laws are bad laws.

    I’m hoping that there’s more reason for this detour than stretching out the story. I’m sure it will be an enjoyable detour, regardless. The show’s strong point is characterization.

    • Agreed. Hopefully, it won’t be a standard fluff piece and we’ll actually explore more of the characters and the world, otherwise why bog down the story with this sort of arc? This isn’t a battle shounen…

      And yeah, making Frieren have to prove herself is ridiculous. It wasn’t that long ago that they defeated the Demon King so there must be some records of who she is.

  2. The Mage Exams are not what they seem. The Exams are densely packed with strong and intricate plot tropes which explain this world of Frieren, and it’s not pretty! Frieren as you noted is strong on characterization, but during the exams the author develops his characters to a major degree. Even Frieren is explained in some depth as to who or what she really is to this world and many very dark secrets are suggested about who the Demon King is or was! Much of this is not connected explicitly in text but is rather sub-text. Nothing is what it appears to be. There is a great deal of fraud and lying going on by everyone as the story begins to show it’s very dark side. The Demons of this imaginary world are not just monsters, but also live in the hearts of many of its characters, as they do in our real world. For all it’s comedy and cuteness, Frieren: Beyond Journeys End is a morality tale, very much like LOTR.

    • That’s what I was hoping for. The thought of taking a break from the story to engage in some high school tournament shenanigans really doesn’t appeal to me. I was wondering if we would learn anything from the arc or whether it’s just a detour. You’ve given me a little more confidence that it’s not going to be fluff, so thanks.

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