To Your Eternity vol. 4 – Yoshitoki Oima

3 out of 5

That rating is a little misleading: it’s right in the middle, and suggestive of an average read. But, though we’re still early in To Your Eternity at this point, Yoshitoki Oima has quite proven already that the series will be more than quirk – this story about an immortal, who can take the form of those who die in their presence, is told with an eye on deeper meanings, and a willingness to ply into greyer, more interesting, emotional tones; volume 4 absolutely continues that trend with amazing artistic skill and wonderfully thrilling (and affecting) plot threads. You will want to keep flipping pages; you will want to jump right to the next volume.

However, Oima is taking some very big swings here, trying to push the story into stylistic frontiers that may be a little out of their wheelhouse at this point, requiring some clunky jerry-rigging to get us there. Just as things were a bit too poetic before Fushi gained the ability to speak, I have absolute faith that this flow will smooth out as our mangaka has these initial steps established; but: flashing forward in Fushi’s, Gugu’s, and Reina’s time together, to a point when the Nokkers again attack, the linking between the big moments very much lacks subtlety – it teeters on schmaltz. I’d say the pacing and translated dialogue of the bits was bettered in the anime, suggesting there was some recognition of it being a bit bumpy here. Now, the underlying sequence of events is quite brilliant, very much matching with the high caliber of maturity Oima has consistently brought to the title (and backed up by consistently amusing humor, as well); it’s just the specifics of its execution that stutter-step.

The same is true for the beginning of the next arc, when Fushi and Pioran find themselves on an island of prisoners, and Fushi decides to enter an arena battle to, essentially, win their freedom. Yoshitoki’s artistic abilities are amazing here, fully in to action mode, and handling crowded chaos with clarity; again, though, the beat by beat transitions to get us here feel a little lacking, and almost rushed. It’s a little hard to be wholly objective as to how that would actually affect my reading experience if I didn’t have the anime to reference as to what comes next, but I would maintain that even sans that, despite the choppiness, the creativity on display here – and the underpinning intelligence of the writing, at least as it’s translated – would still equate to the same page turning fervor.