Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > To Your Eternity, Vols. 3 + 4

To Your Eternity, Vols. 3 + 4

Cover to "To Your Eternity, Vol. 4"To Your Eternity, Vols. 3 + 4
by Yoshitoki Oima, translated by Steven LeCroy.
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Older Teen (16 +)

As Fushi—a bizarre shape shifting being of unknown origin—makes their way through a fantasy laden world, absorbing information and likeness from those it encounters, it slowly begins to grow and develop a sense of self-awareness and individual identity. Yet, what will this sense of self bring to Fushi? How will the time it spends with the abandoned, mutilated, masked, servant boy known as Gugu shape its world view? Yoshitoki Oima’s moving exploration of humanity and existence continues with To Your Eternity, Vol. 3 + 4!

One of the most interesting things about To Your Eternity is the format Yoshitoki Oima uses to tell the story. Instead of establishing a main character and a regular supporting cast the series, so far at least, is almost an anthology. It follows Fushi as they weave their way in and out of the lives and stories of others, while they almost take the role of a supporting player. This ever shifting cast of characters and situations, allows Oima to tell a wide variety of tales in any number of settings without getting bogged down in a single, dominating, narrative or being beholden to a specific long term group of characters beyond Fushi. This tactic is on clear display in these two volumes, as the main story revolves around the young man known as Gugu.

Page from "To Your Eternity, Vol. 3"

An emotional moment from “To Your Eternity, Vol. 3” showing Gugu attempting to re-enter society without the mask.

Born into poverty, Gugu was a good natured, hard working, young man until a moment of selflessness resulted in an injury which mutilated his face to the point where he’s forced to wear a mask simply to interact with others. A lot of time is given over to following Gugu’s life as he struggles to survive and find happiness despite some truly horrible circumstances. When Fushi is finally introduced, the story is firmly about Gugu and Fushi is cast in a supporting role. Thus, this arc finds itself framed by the larger story about Fushi’s dawning awareness of self as an individual being. The friendship between the undifferentiated Fushi and the outcast Gugu proves mutually beneficial, as Gugu slowly comes to regain his own sense of humanity and belonging, despite his monstrous appearance, Fushi’s own sense of humanity and individuality deepens. By the end of these volumes, Gugu’s story comes to end, while Fushi’s continues, carrying with them the lessons and personality developed through his friendship with Gugu and the rest of the cast from this arc. It’s a wonderful approach to an ongoing series, which also helps to ensure that there is no throwaway or filler story, as each encounter and story Fushi interacts with results in them developing some new personality element or physical ability. Everything is ultimately funneled into the emotional and personal growth of Fushi.

This shape shifting ability is one of the most interesting aspects of To Your Eternity, as it parallels questions of identity often faced by protagonists in cyberpunk stories. Fushi’s ability to literally lose memories calls into question ideas of identity and, combined with their shape shifting ability, externalizes and literalizes ideas of the interconnectedness of the development of individual identity. Paradoxically, the more people Fushi absorbs and is emotionally connected with, the more individualized they become. Losing the memory of an individual leads to a regression, something that not only affects Fushi’s knowledge and abilities, but something which is surprisingly powerful for readers to watch, as Yoshitoki Oima depicts literal holes in Fushi’s memory. There’s an amazing powerful sense of loss present in pages where events are remembered, but the absence of those involved are depicted via a void; empty, blank profiles where a person once existed. Fushi’s frustration and desperation to regain the memories is palpable and its impossible to not feel for them. Especially as their dawning sense of humanity makes them more fully aware of what is being taken from them.

With To Your Eternity, Vols. 3 + 4, Yoshitoki Oima continues to impress! Her ability to create compelling and sympathetic characters, while also using them to tackle much larger questions helps this tale stand out amongst racks clogged with fantasy series. The series continues to be a highly engaging, emotional, thought provoking read that’s sure to leave readers wanting more.

To Your Eternity, Vols. 3 + 4 are available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

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