To Your Eternity
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 5 of
To Your Eternity ?
Well, it finally happened. It only took five weeks, but after all of those promises of how To Your Eternity would reduce me to a crying, blubbering mess, the show finally made good. Let's just rip the bandage off now, since we're going to be breaking it down for this entire review: March is dead. After escaping the Yanome prison, Parona, March, Fushi, and the old lady Pioran find themselves being pursued relentlessly by Hayase. Though Parona makes a valiant effort at defending them both, one of Hayase's arrows slips past her guard, and March doesn't hesitate to push Parona out of the way to shield her. The end comes swiftly enough, and March dies in the back of that rickety wagon as Parona grieves, while Fushi takes on the form of Oniguma to tear the warriors of Yanome to pieces.
There isn't much plot or worldbuilding to be analyzed here – the entire episode consists of the girls' escape, March's death, and Parona's sad trek back home, alone. Instead, we are left to see how March's death impacts the people (and orb-things) around her, which is also to see how her life impacted them, as well. Parona is the most obvious and easy one of March's found family to reckon with, in this sense. In a flashback, we get some more context for the game of “Mom and Dad” that she and March were playing back in Episode 2, and for why Parona is so attached to the girl to begin with. Having been shunned and exiled for escaping the sacrifice as a child, Parona was entirely alone before March took her in as a brand new “Sissy”. To Your Eternity has walked a line between portraying March as a saintly beacon of pure goodness versus a sweet, normal girl who is just fundamentally decent, though in her death we can see how March was both of these things to Parona. March literally saved her from life as an outcast, and this entire extended misadventure has simply been Parona's efforts to repay that priceless gesture in kind.
Then there's March herself, who is actually afforded an opportunity to react to and reflect on her own death as the same kind of specter that we briefly saw The Boy become when he died. I'm not sure whether this spiritual afterlife is simply a cosmological reality of To Your Eternity's universe, or if Fushi's presence is specifically allowing us a glimpse into an otherwise hidden aspect of the world. Either way, I can tell you with utmost certainty that this was the scene that really broke me. I was already getting a bit leaky around the eyes when March had to die in such a sad way, leaving Parona to futilely bandage her wounds and pantomime their little “thank-you food” game. Then, the show goes so far as to give March a brief vision of her unrealized life, getting to grow up and become a mother like she always wanted. It isn't to last, though, and then March has to watch as Parona cradles her own broken body before attempting suicide.
Just after coming home from over nine hours of emotionally draining work at my school and sitting down to watch this episode of To Your Eternity, my cat came meowing for attention like she always does, and the chance to engage in her daily ritual of tearing up my slacks (and knees) with her very sharp claws. I admit, I was in such a poor mood that I snapped at her, and it wasn't until March was screaming and crying about not wanting to die, about all of the things she never got to do, that my sweet little cat finally nestled into my lap. The acute combination of watching a viciously sad anime while hearing the loving purrs of this sweet, tiny creature that only wanted to love and to be loved after a day at home all alone…well, you can imagine the mess of mucus, tears, and incomprehensible sputtering that began to pour out of all my face-holes.
The way that To Your Eternity weaponizes the emotional impact of March's death is just so precise and cutting; I'd be tempted to call it downright cruel if it wasn't such a cathartic end to this chapter in Fushi's story. His growth as a living being expands exponentially here, not only on account of his rage and grief over March, but in his newfound flashes of empathy and human connection. He can't talk yet, and the bit of spiritual connection he shares when they save Parona's life makes it hard to know how much of his expressions are his own, and how much are echoes of the beings he is imitating.
But that's the thing, isn't it? At a certain level, we are all of us little more than amalgamations of the people and experiences that we reflect throughout our lives. The parents that did (or didn't) raise us; the friends that sacrificed themselves for us, or the ones who kept us going when we were at out lowest; the monsters in the forest that had us running for our lives; the lessons we were taught to keep us alive along the way. Fushi might be an unkillable, shapeshifting ball of space Play-Doh from another plane of existence, but he's learning how to live the same way as we all did, once upon a time. The same way we all do now, like every time we push a loved one away for no good reason, or when we realize how much we ought to know better, and they let us hold them close again in spite our sharpest ends.
Fushi is going to live a longer and more difficult life than anyone around him could ever imagine, I reckon, but he's got the same path to walk as the rest of us, in the end. I am as eager as I am frightened to see where it takes him next.
Orbs and Ends
• Hayase got to survive Fushi's wrath with little more than some horrible scarring and a lifetime of psychological trauma. She deserves worse, by my count, but something tells me this isn't the last we've seen of her. Don't worry Parona – you'll get her next time.
• We learn that Fushi has added March's form to his repertoire, which makes perfect sense, though I don't know if my heart can bear seeing the girl up and walking around so soon after losing the “real” March. As sad as I am to see Parona exit To Your Eternity's stage (hopefully not forever), it's probably for the best that she stays behind while Not-March goes traipsing through the woods in search of more pears to eat.
To Your Eternity is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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