Title: To Your Eternity Vol. 1
Author: Yoshitoki Oima
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
To Your Eternity is a story from Yoshitoki Oima, the creator of the critically acclaimed Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice). An unknown entity drops a sphere into the world that can take the shape of anything that it wishes to. The sphere will then collect data based on whatever shape it takes. At first, the sphere takes the shape of a rock and learns about moss. Then, an injured wolf happens to collapse next to the rock and it takes the form of the wolf.
The wolf had an injury, but the sphere has regenerative powers and within twenty seconds, the wound is healed. The wolf wanders until it stumbles upon a cabin where it meets a boy who is trying to survive on his own. All of his villagers, even his family, have left in order to find “paradise” on the other side of the mountain. He stayed behind to take care of an elderly couple that couldn’t make the journey. The couple passed on some time ago so it was only him left in a run-down shack awaiting their return. One day, he decides that he has had enough living alone and sets off to find this “paradise” on his own. He takes the wolf with him, whom he refers to as Joann. Apparently, Joann was the wolf that was injured that the sphere shapeshifted into and had frequently visited the boy and kept him company over the past five years.
During their journey, the boy ends up falling through thin ice, injuring his leg. He comes across the remnants of his entire village as it was pretty apparent that they never made the journey. The boy tried his best to not believe what he was seeing, but knew deep down that the only option would be to return home… so he does. His leg was severely infected at this point and shortly after returning back to the cabin, the boy dies. The sphere takes the shape of the boy and continues on its journey to find and collect more data.
The second half of the volume focuses on a small girl named March who comes from a tribal village. Each year, the surrounding communities hold a vote as to which village will offer a young life to Oniguma, a being that they hold in reverence to that of a God. March’s village and, subsequently March herself, are chosen to be this year’s sacrifice. They bring her up the mountain to Oniguma’s altar; however, March ends up escaping when the party is attacked. As March runs away, she runs into the sphere as a corpse of the boy. The boy regenerates, but March isn’t scared of him. Instead, she ends up feeding him fruit and like an animal that has been fed, the boy begins to follow March.
March is found with the boy and taken back to the altar, but it’s there that they are attacked by a massive bear. The boy shows up and transforms into his previous wolf form and saves March from the bear. It is decided that they are going to abandon the customs of the villages and make a fake report of March’s death, allowing March as well as her friend Parona to escape. This brings our first volume to a close..
The biggest character here is the one without a name… The Sphere. We don’t know who, or what, dropped the sphere onto the Earth. What we do know is that the sphere can take the shape of whatever it wants as long as the stimuli and desire to learn is there. The sphere does not gain any intelligence, per se, of the shape it takes. For example, when it took the shape of the boy, it didn’t know about going to the bathroom and soiled itself. It also didn’t know about feeding itself and ended up dying of starvation. Even though it died, the sphere possesses regenerative powers and so it just kept coming back to life. Each time it died, the time of regeneration got shorter and shorter. Its learning curve is very rudimentary so far, but it is slowly, but surely, learning things as it continues to exist. I have a feeling that it will, eventually, start taking on more and more human characteristics as time goes on. This has to be, hands down, one of the most interesting characters I’ve read so far in any manga. The concept of a sphere learning about the world opens the door to endless possibilities for character development and I’d say we are off to a good start so far!
The Boy didn’t really have a name, but you kind of felt sorry for him after you learn that he was stranded in the remnants of his village. He was very talkative around Joann (the sphere in wolf form) showing just how lonely he really was. The fact that there was just an animate object there for him to talk to was more than enough for him. Because of his talkative nature, it gave profound meaning to a line uttered earlier in the volume when he said that it had been months since he last saw Joann. With his village been gone for five years, that means he had been alone with no one to talk to for that entire time Joann was gone. That just speaks volumes about how lonely he must have been. When he passed on, it almost felt like a relief more than sadness. His suffering and loneliness were brought to an end. Death almost seemed like a gift in his case. While he tried to be as positive as possible, you could just tell that the boy was just being tortured by his loneliness on the inside. It was actually quite sad.
March was a character that I found to be a bit on the annoying side. I mean, she is a small child after all, but I’ve seen small children portrayed in ways that didn’t actually make me look forward to her sacrifice. I felt that making her have such a personality really made me disconnect from the character as a whole. While I understood the gravity of the situation with her and her offering, I didn’t really feel any sadness or guilt knowing that she was going to die. I felt the moments of the boy protecting her were more heartfelt and emotional than the March character as a whole.
Parona didn’t really have much in the way of development, but you could tell that she wanted to be an archer, but didn’t quite have the skill or acumen to be one. When everyone gathered around to watch her shoot, you got the sense that she was some sort of archery prodigy; however, you soon realize that they only gathered to see if she would actually hit the target this time. They didn’t really make fun of her for it… in fact, they even offered to help her practice. The fact that she returned early from practice to play with March gives you the sense of how it went. She was the one who attacked the procession as they were bringing March up to be sacrificed and, in the end, won March’s freedom at the sphere saved them from the bear. I have a feeling that we’ll see more of these two in the second volume.
This is, certainly, a very interesting manga. I am really loving the concept here of an ever-learning, ever-evolving sphere. The story with March is just one of many that I’m sure the sphere is going to experience. Since it appears as if the sphere is immortal, I can only imagine just what kind of experiences it will have in the years, decades, centuries, and millennia to come. Whether or not this series will explore that far ahead remains to be seen, but as I mentioned earlier, a character like this has endless possibilities.
I love how the sphere itself is trying to evolve. It seems that it learns by mimicry as it takes in everything around it in a literal sense and then applies that logic to itself. The only difference is when it changed from the boy to the wolf to protect March and Parona. That shows that there is an “X Factor” with the sphere where it can make sentient decisions and not just rely on black and white information.
There were certainly a lot of emotions to be felt in this first volume and a lot of profoundness if you stop to read between the lines. It’s a manga that makes you think about the characters and develops them beyond using words, but more so, situations. It tells character stories in such a way that lets your imagination formulate a backstory for them, but does so where it also confines your imagination to within a set parameter. It’s a pretty interesting approach that you don’t really see done all that often. Most of the time, an author will give you a character and tell you this and that about that character and they draw the conclusions for you whereas Oima gives you just enough information to understand a character at face value and then tosses you a few tidbits about them and let you think about those characters in your own way.
For example, I felt how lonely the boy must have been without Joann around for all of those months. Just from his talkative nature, I concluded my perception about his loneliness, but what if he actually enjoyed the quiet? What if he only talked, not because he was lonely, but because he could express his inner thoughts? Maybe he talked to keep himself sane? Perhaps he talked to the wolf because it was his friend and he just wanted to have a conversation? There are so many avenues you could go that are never stated. It’s up to you to interpret all of that.
This is going to be an amazing series and I cannot wait to see what the next volume is going to bring to the table!
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