They survived a giant bear. They escaped from the deadly ritual. But the pain doesn’t end for Fushi, March, and Parona in the 4th episode of To Your Eternity.
“All that remains is psychological manipulation and occupation”
The episode begins with Parona’s life. Born in the same village, Parona existed under the same archaic rule that dictated countless young lives. A tragedy in her past is what drives her in the present. Why she desperately wants to protect March. A young victim like her.
Meanwhile March is smiling through the chaos. Young and full of imagination, she experiences each new change in the way that she knows, smiling and excited. And she takes in her new world, ready to learn more. But she’s a far cry from home. Far from where she was born, and far from those she loved. And while she escaped from her earlier fate, she hasn’t escaped from darkness.
All the while, the immortal Fushi is constantly changing. Slowly but surely, Fushi becomes more and more aware. With every learning experience comes a new change. And every new change slowly makes him more and more human. And every human, and inhuman act Fushi does, the world around him feels the ripples.
“’Fushi’s an immortal, huh?”
‘So far, so good’ is the easiest way to summarize the episode. Just like all those before it, the 5th episode still maintains the quality so far. Though, now that it is reaching a sort of post-midpoint in the arc, it is tending to get a bit slow. If the slow moments is a bother, then the episode will probably leave you wanting. Though it isn’t from poor writing, if anything it attests to the level of detail the team wanted to maintain in the animation. But it only has that inevitable filler feel since it has to lay further groundwork for the climactic end for this part of Fushi’s story.
Or rather, March and Parona’s story. One of the surprises some watchers may have is how little Fushi actually interacts with anything that isn’t related to the main drama. Fushi acts more like the plot moving tool to help keep things interesting for viewers who couldn’t care enough for the more nuanced stories of March and Parona. And it is not a bad thing. Fushi doesn’t really have a personality beyond the need to eat and having stares that evoke some existential response in March and the audience. Fushi won’t really be a proper human for some time, so it makes sense to focus the story on the actual humans that can evoke emotion. And if they can also push a theme about grey morality of even the most horrendous acts and the most horrendous beings, then that’s just a sign of efficient story writing.
“You’re just like me, huh?”
Speaking themes, the episode is all about the flip flop tendencies of life. If the sudden twists and turns to the story isn’t a big indicator of this, then the reasons of the characters and their backstories definitely are. It isn’t as existentially tragic as the first two episodes (and definitely not as traumatic as episode 01), but it does provide greater context to everything. No one here is purely bad. If anything, it’s all for survival. Or for some twisted sense of obsessive patriotism, in the case of one character at least. And that’s a good theme to apply to any show that wants to be philosophical. Easy to talk about because everyone can relate. And that makes the show feel more real and grounded in fact.
Though, not everything about the show is noteworthy. The way that To Your Eternity approaches its story is very indirect to the main character. As previously stated, Fushi is just learning to be human. That means everything that happens to the other characters are ultimately just a reflection for Fushi to learn more about their world. And in a story telling perspective, it creates a weird distance and confusion for who is exactly the hero of the show. If the very being that is supposed to be the center of the show doesn’t actually feel emotions, that makes experiencing anything the show throws at Fushi feel ineffective and fall flat. What’s the point of torturing a character that doesn’t experience pain?
Thankfully, despite this problem being intrinsic to having characters like this, it also makes the pay off worthwhile. Stories with stoic unfeeling characters have the greatest potential for emotional climaxes. All part in parcel of the emotionless slowly developing more humanity. So for the frustrated viewer that wants to give up, hold on and keep watching. To Your Eternity is more than the average anime show after all.
Slow and steady, To Your Eternity asks for the patience that it hopefully rewards.
New episodes of To Your Eternity coming out every Monday. Watch Episode 4 on 10 of May 2021 at 10:50 PM (JST).
Official English website: To Your Eternity
Official Japanese website: To Your Eternity
Official English Twitter account: To Your Eternity