The fourth volume of To Your Eternity dropped this week in America from Kodansha Comics and I couldn’t have been more tentative about this one.
Yoshitoki Oima is incredibly good at making you care about characters and then doing the worst to them to make you really sad, but in a good way. Oima is a genius when it comes to tugging at your heartstrings and making you appreciate being alive. This series’ entire premise is to explore the frailty of life, but also how we must remember as much as we can to respect everything in it. That’s profound, guys.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Four years dedicated to his family have molded Fushi into an approximation of a human. But Fushi’s new acquisitions in that low-stimulus life have been few. When he attends Rean’s birthday party, Fushi is attacked by a Knocker. Can Fushi, fighting with the help of his brother Gugu, defeat the Knocker and defend his family? This is a story of turning pain into strength.
Why does this matter?
Aside from the deep emotion this manga will make you feel it’s also masterfully drawn with incredible detail. The character has slowly grown over the last few volumes, and that has made for an enjoyable reading experience, too.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This volume opens with Fushi and Gugu being a family and working hard to make a good life. They’re brothers (not by blood of course since Fushi is basically a god) and this is the longest bond Fushi has had with human yet. Gugu has taught Fushi many things and it’s their bond that makes a lot of the first half of this volume meaningful. They also share a friendship with a rich girl named Rean who likes to abandon the daily rituals of being wealthy to help and hang out with them. Gugu has had a crush on her ever since he saved her life and had his head crushed doing so, and their budding love makes up quite a bit of this manga.
I was surprised by the direction Oima went with this story; I was expecting a love triangle but got a romantic arc that will have readers rooting for the characters to kiss. This is one of those stories that builds to a positive point where you’ll be screaming, “Oh god, when does it all fall apart?” Boy does it fall apart, but I’ll refrain from spoiling. Let’s just say I was on the edge of tears at one point, and the romantic nature of the climax and the utter loss are so great you’ll hear a soundtrack playing in your head to go along with it. Seriously, this chapter will eventually make it into an anime or movie and it will destroy you.
The greater purpose of Fushi is explained in a clear way, which is a huge development since Oima has been so cryptic about it up until now. The mysterious The Beholder reveals much and there’s good detail explaining the monster, known as Nokker, that has chased Fushi since the beginning. Oima is telling a story that may span centuries, which would be super cool if done that way, and it’s fun to see how Fushi grows to develop the means to fight the Nokker.
I’m certain the art is getting better with each volume and Volume 4 proves it. There are some incredibly detailed backgrounds and the Nokker creature requires incredible detail to pull off. The mask Gugu wears is also detailed and it’s amazing how Oima can capture its complexity from any angle. For a series about life, and remembering every detail due to its importance, Oima does the scenery and characters justice.
It can’t be perfect can it?
While I do like a lengthier manga, the last chapter is more of a first chapter to Volume 5 than the final part of this story. It starts Fushi on a new quest and completely flips the script, moving away from the family theme and onto a gladiator theme. It suits the new direction Fushi is taking to become better at fighting but it also seems almost tacked on here.
Is It Good?
To Your Eternity is a celebration of life in an emotional character story with epic action.
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