This fifth volume is action-packed.
To Your Eternity is a manga that makes you feel something. In each volume Yoshitoki Oima builds and develops the characters in a way that makes them almost feel real. And yet, the main character is still alien and strange somehow, maybe because we know they originated as an orb. Yes, this manga is strange, but at its core it’s about being alive and caring for your fellow man.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Monstrous killers from many lands are banished to Jananda Island. There, Fushi must win the island’s fighting tournament to save Pioran and gain their freedom. While immersed in the brutality and the tyranny of Jananda, Fushi further learns what it means to be human.
Why does this matter?
Fushi, the main character, continues to grow, and the manga’s rules continue to develop as it goes on. It’s amazing to think about how Fushi’s first challenges were so simple in comparison to those found in this volume. The character has slowly learned about humanity and is now in a big city prison where anything goes.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
As we learned in the last volume, Fushi’s guide wants him (though Fushi doesn’t really have a sex, I’ll be using he/him pronouns) to learn new fighting techniques and to get stronger. It’s the only way to defeat the creature known as Nokker. Fushi has more reasons now than ever to kill the bastard. It killed his best friend last volume, so you’ll be rooting for Fushi to build up his powers even though he doesn’t want to. Like the last volume, Oima ends this one with an epic battle and a new lesson learned while fighting Nokker.
Much of this volume is less about Fushi learning culture (like in previous volumes) and more about the strange prison island known as Janada. Oima probes its strange rules as well as its strange inhabitants, one of whom is the person who brought Fushi to the island. This allows Oima to explore a new sort of society and reveal to Fushi how awful humanity can be. Tonari, the most major character among the inhabitants, gets a full backstory in the opening pages. She’s spunky and willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants, but she still has a heart of gold somewhere inside her. She may be a love interest going forward, though as it stands she’s more of a friend.
The visuals continue to be highly detailed with a lot of time given to the rock blocks that build up walls, as well as structures like catapults. The characters have realistic-looking faces too, with varying complexions and features that help make Janada seem like the center of the world.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The focus on Tonari limits my enjoyment of the book because Oima never sells you on her being a good guy. She brings Fushi to Janada after all, and at one point she seems to only be out for herself, but then a scene later she seems to be a good leader. The hint that she may be a love interest to Fushi on the last page comes out of nowhere too; there’s zero development between Fushi and Tonari up until that point. Unlike past installments, this volume doesn’t get at the core of what it is to be human; instead, it seems to be about memory and loss of memory. That isn’t tethered to an understandable reality though, since the memories are more about Fushi’s powers than anything else.
Is it good?
This volume is filled with great art and fight scenes, but it lacks the emotional resonance of previous installments.