REVIEW: To Your Eternity Celebrates Life

Season aired: Spring 2021

Number of episodes: 20

Genres: Fantasy, Drama

Thoughts: To Your Eternity is the adaptation of an award-winning manga. Written by Yoshitoki Oima-sensei, famous for writing A Silent Voice, it features an immortal being created from a mysterious cloaked man. Starting off as nothing more than pure existence, Fushi, translated to literally mean “immortal,” experiences life by taking the form of the things that cause stimulation. Through its journey to understanding identity, emotions, and life, Fushi meets many different people who all teach him valuable lessons and help him grow into himself.

I had high expectations for this anime. Not only is it written by such a famed author known for her intense dives into human connections and emotions, but the premiere episode quickly sets the tone and expectations for the entire series with its heart and music. The first episode is so strong that, despite the fact that it aired more than three months ago and that I have been watching many more anime since then, I still remember the feelings that bubbled out of me. In 20 minutes, the story made me care and cry for characters I have no background or attachment to, and I wholly expected that writing strength for the remainder of the series.

I can’t say the story ever reached the same level of magic the first episode provided, but I do think it remained strong. Firstly, the series is better binged than watching weekly. As Fushi starts off as a ball of essence and nothing else, the first arcs are incredibly slow because he knows literally nothing. He cannot speak, write, eat properly, or understand the concept of death. The arcs considerably pick up the pace once Fushi learns to communicate, but before then, each episode drags on because the narrative largely follows him. The only few times the narrative does follow the other characters is to solely establish backstories and world setup that would eventually impact Fushi. While some may complain about the slow arcs at the beginning, I cannot see any proper way around it because of the rational progression Fushi makes. 

Incredible premise

The good news is, even as a weekly watcher, I was touched by the characters and the story. To Your Eternity introduces an incredibly diverse cast with characters of equal importance to Fushi’s growth. We have elderly characters who are energetic, silly, wise, and inquisitive. We have children who provide perspectives that adults often forget. We have young adults fighting for better lives, and we have disabled people who are heroic and strong. This wide range of age, gender, and cultures really feeds into the concept of exploring and understanding life, and how all types of people contribute to the idea of “living.”

Of all the supporting cast, I liked every single character for their personalities and what they teach Fushi. As a testament to the anime’s writing, even supporting characters I originally disliked, I end up caring about. There was one character in particular that I actively despised and had to constantly remind myself of the character’s young age to remain sympathetic to her plight. By the end of the arc, I had come to not only understand how her background made her the person she was, I also wished for her to accomplish her dreams and find happiness.

One of the supporting characters

My biggest critique of the series is the two antagonists. One of the antagonists operates similarly to Fushi —  a supernatural being that steals what Fushi gains in his journey in life. We have very little understanding about them at the end of the first season, and they seem to be Fushi’s enemy just because they exist as the foil. However, they are still better than the single human antagonist who has absolutely no redeemable qualities and seems to exist to have the audience hate her. Her motivations make little sense at best and are laughable at worst. While anime has no shortage of despicable antagonists who are evil for evil’s sake, they still maintain some relevance by being charismatic, chilling, or insightful. The antagonist in To Your Eternity, however, has none of that, and every time she shows up on screen, I just can’t wait for her to leave so that the story can return to what interests me — the exploration of humanity and mortality.

As sad as living can be, To Your Eternity is a celebration of life. It shows that even if life is painful, there is equal joy and love. It doesn’t shy away from how difficult navigating life and ethical decisions can be, and Fushi absorbs all these complicated lessons throughout his journey.

This anime couldn’t have gotten this across without the pitch-perfect soundtrack. Its music changes to tell us about the different locations and cultures Fushi encounters, and the emotional sequences would not have the same effect without it. Additionally, while this isn’t an action-heavy anime, the anime does pull out stunning animation to supplement and support the story when fight sequences do occur.

Exploration of bonds

Despite feeling initial disappointment after the almost-perfect first episode, the last episode of the season lands in a stunning fashion by featuring one of the most mundane yet most emotionally resonating character arcs shown so far. When I take a step back and look at Fushi’s journey thus far and where it currently ends, I am able to appreciate the beauty of what this anime teaches us. Sometimes, life can feel too slow. Sometimes, life can feel too painful. Sometimes, taking that extra breath is what you need to love and admire the struggles you have survived and the person you have become. The life you lead is always worth it.

Rating

Plot: 8 (Multiplier 3.5)

Characters: 8 (Multiplier 3.5)

Voice acting: 7

Art/Animation: 7.5

Soundtrack: 8

FINAL SCORE: 78.5

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