To Your Eternity is a fascinating manga that defies easy characterization. It opens with an orb – it. It, we are told, is more than an orb, because it can replicate any form.
“I decided to cast the orb unto the Earth,” explains an unknown voice, “and observe the results.”
The orb turns into what it finds around it. It starts as a rock, copying another rock. Moss forms on the rock, and for a time it is moss.
But, eventually, it becomes more complicated, taking on the shape of a wolf. As a wolf, it wanders through the snow until it stumbles upon a dwelling with a boy living there. The boy recognizes — or so he thinks — the wolf as his pet, Joaan. So now it is living as a sort of domesticated wolf with this boy. The boy says that everyone else left five years ago, to find a land of paradise and then come back for him. He meanwhile is supposed to take care of the elderly people. However, the elderly people have since passed away, and the travelers have not yet returned. So boy and wolf travel out into the snow, searching for something better.
A wolf won’t be the last form it takes during this first volume. Nor is it explained who the “I” of the beginning is. But it uses very interesting storytelling techniques, feeling mystical and like something taken out of myth. It reflects on the nature of Earth, creation, life and death, as well as the patterns and behaviors of humans. It shows humans doing things now considered to be from the dark ages, like continuing to use human sacrifice. It also shows humanity’s desperation to survive, and the kindness that humanity can show to one another and to animals. It talks about immortality, and if it’s possible. Sometimes characters are talking, and other times all communication is done through the skilled art of Yoshitoki Oima. Some characters look rounded and cartoony, giving to more humorous scenes, but Oima is also very adept at precise, detailed imagery. The loneliness of an abandoned landscape is felt through the art, just like the emotions exchanged silently between boy and wolf.
In a world with plenty of bombastic, exciting manga, To Your Eternity gives a different feeling. It’s atmospheric, haunting, enigmatic, and it feels both simple and complex at the same time. It’ll be interesting to see where this series goes after giving us such a intriguing opening.
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Story & Art: Yoshitoki Oima
Danica Davidson, along with Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya, is the author of Manga Art for Intermediates. In addition to showing how to draw manga character types in detail, the book describes how professional Japanese manga creators work, including common techniques and what drawing utensils they use.