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This season's cosiest anime is perfect for Final Fantasy 14 fans

Frieren: Beyond Journey's End is great for general fantasy fans, too.

When I first saw stills from Frieren: Beyond Journey's End, I do have to admit I quickly wrote it off. I'm not always a big fan of anime that heavily draws from European fantasy, to be a bit mean it can sometimes come across as a bit a dime a dozen. But the distinctive thing about animation is the emphasis on movement, taking individual pages of drawings and turning them into a motion picture. And on the recommendation of various voices I trust, I decided to give Frieren a go, in the process finding a surprisingly thoughtful anime that I think fans of Final Fantasy 14 should consider setting aside some time from their daily duties to watch.

In many fantasy series, you'll often find your typical group of heroes - a warrior, a mage, a cleric or healer, and a barbarian - off on some adventure to defeat a demon king hellbent on killing everyone, or taking over the world, or whatever. The usual. Frieren, on the other hand, is the story of what comes after you save the world from assured destruction, and in particular, coming to understand what loss is when you yourself are practically immortal.

Take a look at Frieren: Beyond Journey's End for yourself.Watch on YouTube

Frieren, the titular protagonist, is an elven mage, and similarly to elves in something like Lord of the Rings, she ages at a glacial pace, having already lived for hundreds of years before she even met the group of heroes she defeated the demon king with. She also doesn't always quite understand why you do certain things, and her respect for others' time is minimal as she has so much of it to waste.

The catalyst, then, that sets Frieren on a course of change, comes decades after defeating the demon king, where the leader of her group Himmel dies. She's left feeling confused as to why she's sad, crying over his death, and it clearly marks a difference in her. In turn, her remaining friends from their adventuring group task her with training their own disciples, her friends now too old to do so.

Like all of the best anime, friendship is at the heart of the series, but more importantly it's about being considerate of how you spend your time with others, and the ways in which you want to help them grow.

Average Final Fantasy 14 friend group.

All of this is accentuated by an artstyle with some fantastic, thin linework, accompanied by stellar colourwork and a quiet but supportive score. Keiichiro Saito serves as director on this particular series, who previously also directed the wonderfully kinetic Bocchi the Rock from last year, and despite having quite different styles, it feels like there's a strong throughline when it comes to the character acting on display in Frieren.

The stakes in Frieren are also incredibly low. There is an overarching plot of Frieren wanting to go see the spirit of her dead friend Himmel, but for the most part it sees her and the cast of characters joining her as they travel from town to town, helping people as they go with often uninteresting tasks. One particularly lovely episode saw them clean up a beach full of shipwrecks, all so that the townspeople could enjoy the new year's sunrise together. Moments like these feel like some of the quieter Final Fantasy 14 side quests, the ones that aren't grand in nature, but feel worth it for the people they're helping.

I'm not going to say that Frieren is going to wrap up its first season as one of the most revolutionary anime out there, or necessarily the most important series of the year (that title belongs to Pluto), but it feels comforting in the way that Ghibli films can be. Not in the way people often describe Ghibli films as these politics-free, beacons of cosiness, but in the actual way that they are, with an understanding that sadness, loneliness, and quietness are comforting themes in and of themselves. Plus, it might just scratch that itch while you wait for Dawntrail.

Frieren: Beyond Journey's End is currently available to watch on Crunchyroll.

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