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To Your Eternity, Vols. 1 + 2

The cover of To Your Eternity, Vol. 1To Your Eternity, Vols. 1 + 2
by Yoshitoki Oima, translation by Steven LeCroy
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13 +)

An immortal being wanders through the ages, taking on new shapes and forms, learning and growing, slowly becoming something resembling a human being, but what exactly does that mean? From Yoshitoki Oima, the creator of the critically acclaimed A Slient Voice, comes To Your Eternity, Vols. 1+2.

Yoshitoki Oima uses the Fushi—the name given the shape shifter—to explore ideas of humanity and what it means. She also uses him to suggest identity is not a monolithic inherent aspect of a person. As Fushi interacts with more and more human beings, he slowly begins to take on an agency of his own. However, Yoshitoki Oima also makes it clear that the personality he develops isn’t something that automatically exists within him as a pre-existing, eternal concept. Instead, his personality grows from his taking on the forms and possibly souls, of the people he encounters. His personality is a literal gestalt, comprised of everyone and everything he encounters. Indeed, in the second volume it’s shown that he can actually loose these memories and aspects of his personality, stripping and reducing his concept of self in the process. She’s exploring some rather heady territory and challenging concepts of humanity and our own identity. Are there aspects of ourselves which are eternal, independent, and essential, or are we composed of a mishmash of those we interact with. On a certain level, it’s the old nature vs. nurture argument taken to a fantastic extreme. Being a fantasy manga, however, Oima does suggest that the stakes are higher and more existential than philosophical ponderings, as a literal deus ex machina appears at a key moment with some cryptic remarks about the intent behind Fushi’s existence.

An example of Oima’s action scenes.

As with A Silent Voice, Oima’s artwork excels at conveying emotion. Facial expressions, body language, and more are all utilized to produce some wonderful and powerfully emotional moments. The first chapter in volume one does an amazing job at depicting the loneliness, pain, and quiet desperation present in its tale. The two page splash towards its conclusion is simple, but heart wrenching. What is perhaps most surprisingly about To Your Eternity, is just how good Oima is at action sequences. The shots she chooses, and the way she utilizes the main character’s abilities result in some wonderfully creative and clever scenes. The detail she puts into the backgrounds and the clothing results in a world that feels like a physical location, something that helps with the rest of the world building the portions of the story which deal with differing cultures, political machinations, and religious beliefs. The different tribes and regions look different, but are similar enough that they feel like they could exist next to each other. As a result of all this, To Your Eternity looks absolutely amazing.

To Your Eternity is off to a fantastic start with these first two volumes. Yoshitoki Oima’s artwork is fantastic, and those who are only familiar with A Silent Voice will be amazed at good she is at crafting and depicting a fantasy, medieval world. It’s a gripping, emotional read and one which becomes doubly amazing considering that it’s only Oima’s second work as a solo creator. If these two volumes are anything to go by, then Yoshitoki Oima has only begun to scratch the surface of what she’s capable of, and that’s very impressive indeed.

To Your Eternity, Vols. 1 + 2 are available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

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