It’s not immediately obvious, but if you look closely at the title on the cover of this manga you’ll notice a web forming between the words. This exemplifies the theme of life and living in this book. This story, by A Silent Voice creator Yoshitoki Oima, aims to capture an early and unforgiving time in human history when surviving was humanity’s main focus, all from the perspective of an orb.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A new manga from the creator of the acclaimed A Silent Voice, featuring intimate, emotional drama and an epic story spanning time and space…A lonely boy wandering the Arctic regions of North America meets a wolf, and the two become fast friends, depending on each other to survive the harsh environment. But the boy has a history, and the wolf is more than meets the eye as well… To Your Eternity is a totally unique and moving manga about death, life, reincarnation, and the nature of love.
Why does this matter?
If you’re interested in poignant and moving stories you’ve come to the right place. Oima is good at it and this story captures the delicate beauty of humanity. Through the eyes of only a few characters, we peer into the positivity and hopefulness that makes people so great.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
In the beginning…
This manga starts off with a curious orb that’s dropped down from what appears to be space to become a rock. It quickly moves to other higher life forms before it takes on a wolf. Not just any wolf, but the pet of a boy who is living alone amongst the ice. Oima follows this character and their hope that his tribe will return, even though five years have passed. The boy speaks to the wolf, once a rock and before that an orb, but it doesn’t know how to reply. As the manga progresses we see the boy teach it to eat and to possibly even feel something. It’s an emotional story that is easy to empathize with and ultimately feel a pang of sorrow in. We know this boy is probably doomed, but they stay positive and hopeful, which makes you pull for them.
The story isn’t just about this boy though, and it pushes on as the orb becomes a human and meets a strange culture that involves sacrifice to a god. It appears Oima’s goal is to continue to show this orb move on and react with higher life forms, beginning with a solitary boy and moving on to an entire culture. In this culture, we meet a young girl who wants to be an adult, but her society chooses her as the sacrifice. It’s not fire, much like it wasn’t fair the boy suffered starving and cold on the ice, which again makes you empathetic for these characters.
The story has a mythical quality that’s quite cool, especially if you like stories of early people. Oima introduces a rather simple thing to start with the orb, only to have it learn and observe on its journey. You can see how it may become a creation story in its own right and it’s deeply interesting as to why the orb exists at all. There’s no telling if we’ll ever find out, but in the process, we witness the society’s beliefs in practice and possibly a god itself when a giant bear attacks.
This bear attack is very big in scope with detailed trees being smashed and thrown about. The art in this manga is quite pretty and detailed, with a more complex use of layouts you don’t normally see in manga. You might see as many as 11 panels on a page and it varies depending on the story’s needs. Later in the manga when the setting turns to forest, Oima packs each panel with an incredible amount of detail in the environments. The ground itself is littered with lines to convey the dirt and detail of the surroundings. It’s a nice way to separate the previous environment of snow covered ground which was simple and basic. There’s also some great detailed work when it comes to the orb’s transformation and later its regenerative abilities. It’s very graphic, but also beautiful and it helps sell the supernatural side of the manga.
Curiouser and curiouser.
It can’t be perfect can it?
In the second half of the manga there’s a new character who is a very little girl. She’s maybe five years old or so. She’s very expressive which suits the character, but she also looks very odd, as if she were a penguin. She lacks a nose aside from two dots, has strange black beady eyes, and when we first meet her she has some kind of face paint that blends into her hair. She doesn’t look human. The design is clearly a way to convey her cuteness, but it threw me off and pulled me out of the story. It went from very realistic every step of the way to a character that could be swapped with a Pokemon.
Is It Good?
To Your Eternity is deeply meaningful and thought provoking. A manga with a ton of heart mixed with a fascinating mythical story. In a time when a lack of empathy for our fellow person is so low stories like this are a good reminder there is a goodness in all of us we should respect and understand.