To Your Eternity

5 out of 5

Directed by: Masahiko Murata

covers season 1

While certainly not a guarantee of sustainable quality, it’s at least notable when the first episode of your series elicits an emotional response. In To Your Eternity’s case, that’s firstly some chuckles, then some Awws, and then goddamned tears. And it comes by this stuff honestly – it doesn’t feel manipulative, even if it involves a dog making cute faces – which is really a testament to how perfectly studio Brain’s Base nailed the look and feel of the source manga: Yoshitoki Oima’s work has a patient, poetic way of sifting through its emotions such that the gravitas it carries feel rightly earned, bringing characters to life and easily gaining reader investment. Add fluid animation and effusive color work, and perfectly cast voice actors – plus, I’d say, some improvements upon passages that are maybe slightly too etheric in print form – and, yeah, laughing and crying. And this will happen more than once during To Your Eternity’s first season, but that’s where the pacing proves masterful as well: heavy-hitting moments, and the arcs in general, are spaced out for maximum absorption. You get to know everyone relevant, and the growth of our lead character – an immortal named Fushi – is painstakingly procedural without being plodding; the dips into action have step-by-step ante ups that make sense and maintain tension when they occur. Between, we get to laugh and cheer as Fushi makes friends and enemies, and learns… how to be alive. It’d be easy to attribute this all to the manga, seeing as how the tone and beats are very much contained therein, but that’s a magic trick anime pulls: choosing what to make a single half hour versus multiple episodes; what sequences to editorially chop up or let play with extra emphases – such decisions can very much determine whether or not it’s a successful adaptation, and more importantly, whether or not the adaptation can stand on its own. Which TYE does: it is surely worth reading, but it is also absolutely worth watching. And when that poeticness still occasionally gets the better of some moments – where a little bit of extra choreography or explanation might’ve sharpened a point – the piling-on effect of the high quality sound, acting, smart palette choices, and slick and humanistic animation absolutely overwhelm these minor, rare hiccups.

A mysterious hooded being has dropped an orb to Earth. When the orb absorbs the seeming essences of that with which it comes into contact, and can them become those things – such as a rock, some moss – eventually able to morph into a dog. The dog learns basic tasks like walking and eating anew, and when its owner passes, the orb can now shift into a human form, or back into the dog, or back into the rock. His travels begin in earnest. Soon, he will take the name Fushi, and for 20 episodes, Fushi learns the language, learns about being “human,” learns more about why the hooded being brought him here, and… learns that he’s not necessarily so immortal.

There’s a drive to the show, and the addition of a threat to help spice things up, but it’s one of the rare creations that can truly get by just on the air of curiosity it inspires: it is emotionally satisfying just following Fushi around, and discovering the world with him. But, y’know, bring some damn tissues.