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In the first half of this week’s Frieren, we say goodbye to Sein. To some, this may seem like an odd narrative choice. After all, why introduce and spend time with a new main character only to have him leave the party after only a few episodes? While he happened to be what the party was lacking—i.e., a healer—that was not the reason Frieren spent so much time and effort convincing him to join.
From the start, Sein was a reflection of Frieren—a person much like she had been before meeting Himmel. Both were people who regretted missing their chance to do what they wanted yet felt it was already too late even when a similar chance appeared again. Frieren had Himmel to pull her out of her funk—and change her life forever in the process. But Himmel is long dead. Now, only Frieren remains. And in a world without Himmel, she is determined to take his place. And so she has, time and again.
When it comes down to it, Sein was unlikely to stay in the party indefinitely. The other three knew and accepted this from the start. That’s why they are all fine with Sein leaving. They have their quest and he has his. For a time both were aligned. Now they are not. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a meaningful impact on each others’ lives. And who knows, in the future they may just travel together again.
The second half of the episode shows the first major bit of interpersonal drama to happen after Sein’s departure. And without Sein around to mediate, it falls to those involved to try and sort it all out. The issue here is that, despite the immortal elf’s various irresponsible eccentricities that often cause Fern to look out for her, Frieren is a second mother to Fern. They’ve been together since Fern was nine. Now, Fern is on the cusp of being an adult and feels like Frieren treats her as a kid.
This is hardly abnormal, children want to be seen as grownups by their parents at some point—especially in their teenage years. However, everything is made more complex in this case by Frieren’s perception of time. Logically, she knows that Fern will soon be an adult by human biological and cultural standards. Yet, to Frieren, it’s like she met Fern as a young child only a short time ago—and compared to Frieren’s millennium-long life, Fern will never be anything but a kid. It’s hard for Frieren to reconcile what she feels with what she knows logically—though she is trying.
However, what’s even more interesting is that the impetus for the fight wasn’t Frieren treating Fern as a child—even if Fern perceived it that way. She holds Fern’s hand for no other reason than because it’s comforting when you’re in pain to have someone with you—something she knows from experience. While she has done this to Fern ever since she was young, she is in no way doing it because she sees Fern as a child. Luckily, even without Sein, the socially awkward Frieren is finally able to get this across in a heartfelt, touching way.
All in all, another fantastic episode.
• So at what point does Frieren start wearing a WWHD bracelet?
• It’s rare we get scenes with just Frieren and Stark. I’d like to see more of them.
• Man, every scene we see of Himmel is just a hand grenade of bittersweet emotions, isn’t it?
• I wonder, if Sein ever joins up again, would he bring Gorilla along? I bet that would mix up the party dynamic a ton.