To Your Eternity
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 9 of
To Your Eternity ?
In a way, episodes like “Deep Memory” are To Your Eternity at its most insidious. Oh, sure, it might seem adorable and emotionally rich and wholesome on its surface. I mean, who among us has the power to resist the glorious montage that opens up the episode, where Fushi and Gugu embrace their roles as the towns local “monsters” by spooking the hell out of everyone in sight? And when Fushi does a little cackle and returns Gugu's proud fist bump of brotherhood? My God, I defy even the most cynical and stonehearted of you weebs to keep from cracking a smile. With their Very Good Boy/Orb-Thing™ powers combined, the Monster Brothers may well be unstoppable. But underneath all of that mirth and merry making, well…we know what's coming, sooner or later.
That said, I cannot understate how delightful it is to see the leaps that Fushi is making in his growth during this time with Gugu. His expressions have become more nuanced, his emotions are more complex, he is communicating entirely in complete sentences. Our little Orb-Thing is growing up right in front of our eyes, and not just in what he can do for himself, but in how he relates to others. When Gugu collapses from near starvation, Fushi is able to draw from his memories and goop up some fresh fruit and skewers for Gugu to eat. When Rean's dog Meer shows up at the tent, Fushi mistakenly calls it “Joaan”, the name of the wolf whose form he took, and this leads into Gugu learning about the dead boy whose face Fushi also wears.
When Gugu expresses some morbid excitement at how the “emotional pain” of his own death could allow Fushi to take on Gugu's form too, Fushi genuinely inquires as to what “dying” is. He has understood the pain of loss well enough to be “stimulated” by it, but only now is he understanding that, for every living thing in the world other than himself, there is an inescapable point of collapse. When Gugu slumps on to his back and goes silent for just a few moments, there is a long cut to Fushi's face, and the breadth of fear, curiosity, and confusion that Reiji Kawashima communicates when Fushi croaks out Gugu's name is just…well it's enough to break your heart all over again.
To Your Eternity isn't pulling the rug out from under us yet, though, thank goodness, and Gugu isn't dead. In fact, when Rean shows up to convince Gugu to come back home to the brewery, the way he shoots up and screams his lungs out in awkward embarrassment shows us that Gugu is very much still alive. As it turns out, this whole episode is really the big moment for Gugu and Rean to bond as friends, and for us to figure out what the rich girl's deal is. Fushi goes off to find Gugu's old mask, which leaves the two kids plenty of time to be awkward little dorks together.
Here is what we (and Gugu) learn about Rean over the course of their impromptu little date: The terrible wound she has suffered is little more than a slight scar on her arm, but she takes it very seriously, despite Gugu's (untestable) incredulity. Truth be told, these two couldn't be more different in the trials and tribulations they've suffered: After all, Gugu was the former servant/slave of a wealthy family who then went on to be abandoned by his dipshit brother, only to get his head crushed by a tree and his body turned into a monstrous makeshift pot still by a crazy old man whose first name might genuinely be “Booze”.
Rean, on the other hand…well, she's really, really privileged. Seriously, that is her plight: Her family pampers and coddles her to ridiculous extremes, and she cannot take up the simplest hobby without her family hiring on the most expensive tutors to shape her future for her. The closest thing she has to a “real” crisis is the fact that she blames that scar of hers on an attack done by “someone who hates her father”, so it seems like she doesn't know how Gugu got his scars — but boy, oh, boy, do we know how Rean got hers, and Gugu does too.
The show doesn't play up Gugu's secret for needless drama and betrayal – at least not yet – and I'm very happy that the show really takes the opportunity to make Gugu and Rean feel like real kids that live in a real world, or at least a world that feels as real as this fantasy landscape could be expected to. The scene where Gugu places Rean's pot-helmet on her head, and the two of them sitting uncomfortably on the hill as they search for ways to be good to one another, is one of the simplest and sweetest scenes that To Your Eternity has delivered yet.
This is the same show that made us watch March die in Parona's arms, though, so of course this good day had to be ruined by Rean's maid coming to take her back home for good. Wait a minute, did I say that the maid ruined everything? That was silly of me, because all that lead to was Fushi transforming into March and pretending to be bleeding to death to buy the kids time to run off. It's absurdly twisted and dark if you think about it too much, but its pretty damned funny.
No, what really ruins the day is when that freaking vine monster comes back to try and suck out all of Fushi's hard-earned memories again, leaving Gugu as Fushi's only protector. Look, I know that Gugu's odds of surviving much longer are slim given the show's track record, but I will not be okay if the poor kid gets strangled to death by Spooky Vine March next week. Gugu deserves better, dammit! Gugu. Deserves. Better.
Orbs and Ends
• I really loved how Fushi reacted to The Beholder's presence by angrily throwing fruit at him. It's equal parts fascinating and heartbreaking to see how Fushi's anger and confusion continues to grow as he comes to terms with how much he doesn't know about the world and himself.
• Can I just say that the bit where Wolf!Fushi shouts “I found it!” when he finally digs up Gugu's soggy old mask might literally be too cute for me process, psychologically. There is only so much Very Good Boy™ that a human can take in a single sitting. To Your Eternity might end up being the death of me before too long.
To Your Eternity is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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