To Your Eternity
Once a nameless orb, now a human being, Fushi desires human company, but his very nature attracts the interest of both humans and non-humans that covet his abilities- and who don't care how many of those around him that they have to kill to acquire those abilities.
Why are you showing me this? Most of the time, the point an author/creator is trying to make is so obvious that the viewer doesn't even have to ask this question. But here the question was troubling me. Given the lavish praise heaped on the manga, I wondered if maybe I was missing something- because I had some major issues with the show.
For most of To Your Eternity follows a formula that becomes such a cliché that even Fushi becomes distressed by it: Fushi befriends someone who is, usually, some sort of social outcast; and sooner or later that person tragically dies, and Fushi then gets to assume their physical form. This is NOT an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style scenario, though; Fushi does NOT inherit the personality, knowledge, or memories of the deceased (though later it DOES seem he acquires their physical abilities.) When he first transitioned from an animal to a human, he still thought like an animal, but was gradually trained to think like a person (and given that name, Fushi.) His first human form also becomes his default human guise. Once he's assumed some sort of living form, he can change back to it at will; but sometimes he finds himself spontaneously turning into someone he hasn't seen in ages, and then he knows- that that person just died. This particularly distressed ME when it happened with someone I'd hoped was safely out of danger of becoming collateral damage in Fushi's tragic tale. (I'd really LIKED that character.)
But maybe it's even worse when it's someone still very much in Fushi's life. Rod Serling, in the old Twilight Zone series, liked to write scripts in which some chronic loser was suddenly given a "lucky break", only to have that opportunity for happiness immediately snuffed out by Fate. An example many are familiar with was "Time Enough At Last", in which a guy with bad eyesight who never had time to read finds the time after a nuclear war- and then his glasses break. But Serling wrote many screenplays for the show with this same losers-can-never-REALLY-win scenario. I had exactly the same feeling in Eternity with a character Fushi comes to know quite well. And while I knew I was supposed to feel moved to pity by the events I saw, I felt more frustrated than anything. For Fushi, this is all intended to offer Growth Opportunities; and I suppose the human loss he beholds IS what causes him to be such a pacifist- though if, like Fushi, one can be stabbed, skewered, and sliced-and-diced, and not only NOT die, but not even suffer any permanent damage or disfigurement, one can afford to be a complete pacifist. (Fushi's immortal, and seems pretty much invulnerable, but succumbs surprisingly easily to the wiles of one villain- the plot required it, I suppose.)
There's also the whole issue of The Narrator, who created Fushi, and who shows up as a character in the show itself. Anime News Network's Anime Encyclopedia credits him as The Beholder, but the only name he's ever called by in the show (by Fushi himself) is Black Thing. I'll defer to Fushi's authority and call him BT for the rest of this review. With his black robes and pale glowing skin he looks like a renegade Sith Lord. And I found some of his philosophy about as dubious as a Sith Lord's too: at one point, he tells Fushi that those who have died protecting another have "chosen the time of their deaths", i.e., committed suicide. I'd guess that in most cases that's bogus; while the defender might have prioritized another's life over their own, I suspect that they were STILL hoping, realistically or not, that THEY'D survive somehow TOO.
Anyway, while BT just originally said that he put the Orb-That-Would-Be-Fushi into the world to receive "stimulation", later he gives him a specific mission: to defeat the Nokkers, which want to steal Fushi's powers/memories for whatever reason. The Nokkers create most (though not all) of that collateral human damage in the show. They always aggregate some sort of body around themselves (animal, vegetable, or mineral, ALL are tried), but their base form seems to look like a giant human heart, with tentacles. Fushi's got a bit of an ethical quandary here; for while he attracts the Nokkers, which would seem to suggest he should isolate himself from humanity for humanity's sake, on the other hand sometimes he needs human help to defeat them. Where do these things come from? I guess that's just another silly question of mine.
I should also mention that Fushi has the ability to create objects out of his own substance; since these are sometimes large objects, and his own substance doesn't seem to be diminished, he must be creating matter out of nothing, which is a great trick to impress others with- especially physicists.
The character design seems a bit inconsistent: Fushi and a few of the other principals (a girl named Tonari, for example) have attractive, well-defined features (and another girl, named Parona, I thought was really beautiful), but elderly people here are given a generic "old people" look- even Pioran, Fushi's mentor (and surrogate parent), through most of the show, is depicted this way, though in fairness the show DOES give her a nice going-away present for her troubles.
Not to Nokk this show too much, but building sympathetic characters just to sacrifice them later for Fushi's Improvement didn't sit well with me, somehow. Still, as noted elsewhere, a lot of people loved the manga, so should I go with that and give it a higher rating, or should I be a heretic and make it a 3-star show, my default rating for shows that didn't immediately grab my head or my heart, but which are well-made and have potential to improve in later chapters? I decided to be a Heretic this time; forgive me. The Recs are two shows that also feature immortal (or nearly so) characters in medieval settings, but which I thought had more obvious points to make; plus one that this review reminded Stig of. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: No fanservice, but quite a bit of explicit violence. Crunchy doesn't seem to be suggesting a rating for this one; I'd suggest TV-MA (not for under 16 years.)
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (20/20)
To Your Eternity © 2021 Brain's Base
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