「要な殺し」 (Hitsuyou na Koroshi)
I guess the truest form of flattery is imitation. Of course, Togashi Yoshihiro is accustomed to it. But who really believed that Sousou no Frieren needed a secondhand shop Hunter Exam storyline just when it was about to take off? There have been suggestions that the reason behind the delay could have been an editorial choice to prolong the series’ run, given its strong sales. That makes perfect sense, I guess, but authors write stories, not editors, for a reason.
Although Übel’s transformation into a Hisoka figure is undoubtedly the most egregious epic fail of the arc, there are several reasons why what benefits one person may not benefit another. To begin with, there isn’t much suspense in this. It is certain that Frieren and Fern will endure, and they have already proven to be nearly invincible. The fact that there were characters in the Hunter Exam arc who were clearly stronger and more experienced than the four heroes made the threat seem real and made them feel as though they would need to be extremely cunning and/or lucky to survive (never mind pass). This was one of the cool aspects of the original Hunter Exam arc, which was better placed near the beginning of its series.
Ironically, I believe that the moments in this arc that are supposed to be anti-climaxes are when it works best. Similar to how the Wirbel-Übel conflict ends when the omnipotent Fern appears and how Fern puts Ehre to sleep (not even on camera, mind you). In fact, the third match in this group concludes with the mage who is clearly stronger eliminating the other player. The whole thing comes to a funny conclusion when Wirbel stumbles onto a stille where he can perform his binding magic while carrying his two weaker comrades, making the whole mess essentially meaningless (possibly serving as a metaphor for the entire storyline and its aftermath).
This, in my opinion, works best because it at least sets Sousou no Frieren apart from the series it is blatantly referencing. It is better if this show doesn’t strive too hard to be Hunter X Hunter because it can’t be that. For that series, it works when candidates murder other candidates for amusement, but not in this one. It is more consistent with Frieren’s brand when candidates hesitate to strike the decisive blow and attempt to win without doing so. Even while the exam proctors are undoubtedly first-class DBs who don’t give a damn about who survives or dies (thus echoing the source, though they were considerably more fascinating as characters in and of themselves), the mage applicants are not required to go along with it.
Naturally, all of it builds to the one matchup in this brawl that has any genuine interest: Frieren vs. Denken. Not about who will or would prevail—that much is certain. However, we don’t know much about Denken’s colleagues, and he is a fascinating old gnome, so we’ll see how it plays out. Richter, his coworker, presents himself as a merciless individual who would kill Kanne and Lawine without hesitation or modesty, even if they thought it would be easy. Denken states unequivocally that killing other wizards is not worth passing the exam, and Frieren concurs. particularly a “couple of kids” such as these. Richter informs Frieren that Serie, the leader of the organization and a “living grimoire” who also happens to be an elf, will give anyone who passes the exam one spell of their choosing. This is the true motivation for passing the test. And she seems to be familiar with them all.
Finally, Denken and Frieren have their chance, as Richter uses his magic to separate himself and the children while the third member of Team Denken utilizes “Jilmer,” a hypersonic spell, to seize the stille. I don’t believe any of them would murder the other if given the chance, which she will undoubtedly have, and we already know that Frieren will prevail in any strength test. So where will this confrontation’s drama come from? More than I’m curious about any other thread in this fabric, at least these two intriguing personalities have intriguing viewpoints, therefore I’m interested to find out.