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Anime saves the day as man helps stop knife attack on Taiwanese subway, inspired by Himmel from Frieren

"It's what Himmel would have done," explained real-life hero Xu Ruixian

Himmel in Frieren: Beyond Journey's End
Image credit: Madhouse

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We love heroes around here. Whether they are saving the world from alien invasions or smiling in the face of imminent danger so we don’t have to be afraid, they don’t just protect the citizens of their fictional worlds – sometimes they inspire us to protect each other as well. That’s what happened when an anime fan in Taiwan prevented a knife attack on the subway, inspired by Himmel from Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End.

On May 21, 2024, a knife attack occurred on the Taichung Metro in Taiwan, with 17 members of the public helping to apprehend the assailant. On June 4, the local government brought those individuals together to commend their actions, and, when given the chance to speak to the gathered reporters, Xu Ruixian explained his inspiration for stepping in. “It’s what Himmel would do. If I could go back in time, I would still make the same choice.” Xu would go on to use his moment in the spotlight to urge people not to look down on otaku like himself, despite the negative stereotype the subculture carries in many countries.

“It’s what Himmel would do,” is often quoted by fans of Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End because of how Himmel inspired the other characters in the anime to help others. In turn, fans have been inspired to help those they can, something that doesn’t always mean something as dramatic as helping to stop a knife attack.

Heroes, no matter where they are from, inspire us to save ourselves and each other in a million different ways every day and that is why we need them. In this case, an anime character inspired someone to protect innocent people and, in a world that can be cruel, chaotic, and violent, this is the kind of story we love to see.

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