Content Warning: Death, isolation, mental health issues
What’s it about? A mysterious narrator sent a white orb to Earth so that it can observe and take on the shape of anything that leaves a strong impression on it. At first it was a rock and then eventually took on the form of a dying wolf that was trying to get home to a lonely boy living in the frozen arctic alone.
I’m not sure how to talk about this show, so let’s start with the music. Utada Hikaru sings the opening theme and it’s a lovely melancholic song to finish off the heavy things that happen in this episode. My major gripe with other premieres like Those Snow White Notes is that it tries to pack in too much emotionally intense themes without slowing down, but To Your Eternity manages to capture that slow, sad and gentle storytelling that I’m used to seeing in shows like Natsume’s Book of Friends and Mushishi.
I’ll admit this series had me fooled into thinking this was going to be a story about a boy and his wolf traveling to different lands together, so you can imagine how surprised I am that this story is going in a different direction. I had to rewatch this episode again because I definitely missed the early foreshadowing of the boy’s fate when the real wolf named Joaan died with the same injuries the boy would later get towards the end. I barely knew the real Joaan, but the fact that this beautiful wolf tried their best to make it home to be with that lonely boy makes me sad and weepy.
Thankfully, the boy is spared knowing the real Joaan’s fate since the orb took on Joaan’s form and began to grow fond of the boy. The orb is an interesting character because while it’s still trying to develop an identity and feelings, it’s not a heartless entity either since it truly tries to support the boy during his most difficult moments.
It’s hard not to feel empathy for the boy because he really tries his best to be optimistic and have faith that his fellow villagers will come back to deliver good news of their travels to the mountainous areas in the south. Hope is literally the only thing keeping him alive and pushes him to wake up everyday with a smile. All the orb can do is just watch as the boy deals with his depressing circumstances, but it’s easy to see the orb wishes it can do more to ease the boy’s pain.
I’m interested in learning more about the orb and why it was given the task to observe life on Earth, but for now it seems the orb will most likely be a background character just watching people and events transpire. I’m wondering if all this observation is going to lead to something “grand” or if it’s going to be like Mushishi, an episodic series that will never end even after the final credits roll.
The only comfort I have is at least the boy wasn’t alone in his final moments and believed the real Joaan was there with him. It also warms my heart that the orb now has more incentive to travel widely and experience new things because now he is doing it in honor of the boy that can’t pursue that dream anymore. Also, the fact that the spirit of the real Joaan made it back home and was waiting for the boy made me cry.
This is going to be a real tearjerker, so I definitely give this a cautious recommendation in the sense that you have to prepare your heart for whatever emotional rollercoaster this show is going to make us experience on a weekly basis.