To Your Eternity

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    Review:

    To Your Eternity also known as Fumetsu no Anata e is a supernatural/adventure Drama series that was first released in the spring 2021 season and consisted of 20 episodes. The premise to this story is a rather unusual one. The main character begins life as an orb which is cast into Earth. The orb is capable of changing forms when it makes contact with objects or living beings. The first form it takes is that of a rock when it lands on the ground. Over time as the temperature rises moss forms around the rock and the orb transforms into this moss. After a period of time a wolf dies on the moss which results in the orb taking the shape of the wolf. It is at this point when the orb develops a sense of consciousness and awareness.

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    It is curious a start that leaves you pondering where the story will go given its unusual premise. On this count it largely delivers as while the opening arc is intriguing and good what is really memorable is what comes next.

    To me this start is one of the big highlights of the whole series and is the point where To Your Eternity delivers in all categories. The plot depicted here is not only good but it handles a delicate story that is not often seen in many Anime series. On top of this exceptional storytelling is the way the characters are introduced and then built up. What this show does, and does well is it makes you quickly become invested in the characters plights. Whilst the characters shown are not without their flaws, they all have a resilience and strength that is remarkable given the circumstances and obvious weakness they have.

    It is this great character development coupled with exceptional story that makes the conclusion of this arc all the more dramatic and poignant. It was certainly emotional. This leads me to my next point which should act as a warning of sorts. To Your Eternity tackles many difficult issues chief among them being death. One of the great points of this series is the way it develops its characters who are all made relatable for the problems they experience. It is this character growth that makes us get attached to them but conversely when bad things do happen it can be all the more difficult to handle. Death comes often and it comes frequently. No matter how much it happens it always had an effect on me so it something that you should be aware of. If you have trouble dealing with loss then this may not be a series for you.

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    The subsequent story arc whilst still good does not live up to its early promise. That is not to say the plot turns bad; I would certainly recommend you watch it for the character development and growth which remain strong. It is just that the story cannot match the strength of the cast. As stated before, the plot line covers difficult topics such as rejection, alienation and sacrifice which does garner emotional scenes at various moments. These are good bits but unlike the first arc the over arcing plotline does cover a topic that is more typical of other Anime series. Moreover, this more typical plotline is also more reliant on the classic Anime tropes. The usual character types are also on display and it is at this point in the show we generally see more of the shounen elements that we are familiar with in Anime.

    What does become clear around this point is the main antagonist of this show. The purpose for them is not made clear but what this element does bring to the show is a sense of mystery and suspense. If you keep watching this series it will also become a source of grief. It should be said that not a great amount detail is ever made about their motives however despite this lack of detail, I found the way they were portrayed was good as the emotions we had towards them echoed the thoughts of our main character Fushi. To me a story that can make us side with the protagonist is a sign of good writing.

    Unfortunately for the show this description of good writing cannot be made for some of the plot points in the final arc. I felt one of the main twists made in this part of the story relied on a major asspull that happened with no foreshadowing. There is plot armour and poor explanations attached to this twist that I found difficult to swallow. However, if you can ignore the twist the story did deliver a contrasting shift in tone from the previous arc that can make one overlook that point. Moreover, character development remains strong and I found it nice how my opinion of one of the main characters was subverted. All things considered the ending is good and if we consider the role of the antagonist, one is left excited at the prospect of a second season coming. It is just a shame the wait will be a long one with the preview stating it will come in the Autumn of 2022!

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    What is also noticeable is that as the series progresses the quality of the animation does take a significant dip. It was never the best and this was especially true in the more action orientated scenes but I felt from the midpoint onwards the drops in animation quality became more prominent and frequent. It was frustrating as the stories and characters shown here deserved better animation. The soundtrack is fairly strong throughout the show and I did enjoy the opening "Pink Blood" by Hikaru Utad. I felt more indifferent to the ending theme which was "Mediator" by Masashi Hamauzu.

    Overall, To Your Eternity is a series I would recommend many to watch. The story has an excellent start that makes you think that you are onto an absolute classic. Unfortunately, the subsequent arcs can’t quite deliver to the same standard but are still good despite the flaws. Characters growth and developments are consistently good. What’s more the problems and issues they face are all unique meaning there is little repetition when hearing their backstories. It is the main draw for watching To Your Eternity. It is this strong cast that makes it easy to overlook the bits when the story stumbles and stutters.

    If there is a caveat I would make it is that the strong character development becomes a poisoned chalice of sorts. We may love the characters but when bad things happen (and bad things do happen) it makes those climatic scenes all the harder to handle. It all underscores the main point of this series that death is difficult to deal with and it is this topic of suffering and grief that forms the biggest challenges and opportunities of growth for our main character Fushi.

    Story 7 – An exception start which easily gets you hooked into watching the series. Whilst the subsequent arcs are still good, they do cannot match the start of To Your Eternity. The topics matters can be upsetting at times and are one of the more unique elements of the story. There are times though where it can rely on tropes and there is a point near the end that was written poorly.

    Characters 9 – Strongest part of the series. Many of the characters depicted in To Your Eternity have to deal with major obstacles that can range from sacrifice, abandonment to rejection. The way the characters navigate these problems is relatable and believable. On this score the series consistently delivers and this strong character growth does a very effective job in enhancing the most climatic moments of the story.

    Animation 6 – The animation is serviceable and is actually pretty strong at the start. However, things take a turn for the worse as the series progresses and this drop is most noticeable in the action scenes which comes quite frequently in this show. Given the overall quality of the story and characters this is a shame. Musical score is solid but not ground breaking.

    Overall 8 – One of the better shows of 2021. Most Anime fans will enjoy this series as it has a solid and unique storyline which is supported by a great cast. Whilst the middle and ending arcs prevent this from being an absolute classic, they are strong enough that this still remains a very strong show. I would recommend this to all viewers regardless of your preference of genre. The only people who should avoid To Your Eternity are those who have difficulty dealing loss or if you have lost a loved one recently as the topic of death and loss could be too much to handle.

    If you have time, check out the extensive To Your Eternity gallery under the spoiler tags!
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