4 out of 5
While Yoshitoki Oima’s second collected volume of To Your Eternity maintains the sole weakness I found in the former volume – being a bit too visually poetic at times, and “shooting” a scene like a movie instead of a comic – it maintains all of the very, very strong positives of story and humor and characterization, improves on the consistency of the already-stellar artwork, and then adds a surprising layer of stakes to things.
We’re traveling to Yanome with March and Parona and the old woman. Though I have to admit I find the specifics of what Hayase’s intention was with bringing the trio there a little cloudy (this somewhat ties into that cinematic aspect a bit), it’s not disruptive – it “feels” right for the flow of the story, and the way Oima does a bit of fish-out-of-water humor with March and Parona in a more civilized village, and then uses that to underline the tragedy of what’s occurred is narrative brilliance; Yoshitoki’s writing in this regard (and how it’s translated) has been striking from the start, and it’s quite amazing how ‘To Your Eternity’ doesn’t appear to reach for these moments, but arrives at them very naturally.
There’s an exciting jailbreak, and a very exciting chase. And then assurance that this series is likely going to be emotionally turbulent the whole way through.
Later, as Fushi departs to go his own way, his runs back into the old woman, who starts to teach him some more phrases, giving us the stepping stones to a speaking character. The night before they are to meet the woman’s apparent lover at their next destination, while camping Fushi is attacked by a being that’s as “other” as he is, but without his reactive nature – it is wholly aggressive, and our godly narrator pops into the story as a hooded figure to explain to Fushi that this being is very much out to destroy him, and has the ability to do so. This is entirely unexpected: the general tone of Eternity seemed to be one of discovery. Laced with sadness, yes, and spiced up with some action and adventure, but introducing a legitimate threat to our immortal is a fascinating addition to things, and a smart one.
As I’ve been watching the anime, I’ve been able to fill in some of the story beats that haven’t been as clear to me in the manga as they are in the animated version – again, the aforementioned poetic / cinematic aspects, when Oima’s visual over-cleverness perhaps sidesteps some clarity. I’m curious if this is something we’ll see evolve as the series goes along, or if I’ll just get used to it. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.