Yoshitoki Oima has seen her reputation soar to new heights with western manga readers with the release of the widely acclaimed series A Silent Voice. Her powerful storytelling and art style brought her acclaim from both sides of the pond, and led to an equally acclaimed anime film adaptation from Kyoto Animation which had a theatrical run in the UK this year and has recently been released on DVD/Blu-Ray. Therefore, now is the perfect time to check out her latest series that whilst having a vastly different setting does not ease up on the punches to the gut.
A lonely boy wandering the Arctic regions of North America meets a wolf, and the two become fast friends, depending on each other to survive the harsh environment. But the boy has a history, and the wolf is more than meets the eye as well…
I’ve written about A Silent Voice several times for this blog and it all more or less amounts to showering the series with praise. Oima has a serious gift for taking her readers on an emotional rollercoaster with her handling of disability, bullying and redemption being some of the best you’ll see in any medium. To Your Eternity covers none of these tropes but does not ease up at all in the emotional department. The main chunk of this volume follows a mysterious orb that arrives on Earth. After spending many years as a rock; it takes the form of a wolf that has died in its location and end up following a boy who had been living with the wolf before it died. The main act of the orb is simply to observe the events it encounters or becomes involved in and as a result, we get a deep look into the boy – who is living by himself in an abandoned village waiting for his fellow residents to return.
The boy has a boundless optimism about him which ends up creating a hopelessly tragic effect. His talks to the wolf about eventually reuniting with his fellow villagers and his fruitless attempt to track them down through the hazardous Arctic conditions create some of the most emotionally raw sequences you’ll see in any manga. His discovery of an abandoned/destroyed settlement and his momentary moment of self-doubt when he questions if he is just talking to himself when he speaks to the wolf is particularly crushing. It definitely raises a lot of thoughts on how these experiences will resonate with the orb as it continues on its journey of observation.
Oima’s art was one of the major highpoints of A Silent Voice with every panel packing a punch regardless of tone. She is in top form in To Your Eternity with the harsh winter surrounding being particularly formidable. The boy and his optimistic nature almost at times feels out of place in this bleak setting, but Oima makes it work as she slowly wears away at his cheery form. The aforementioned moments when the boy discovers the wrecked settlement and when he questions his resolve and sanity are particularly powerful. Oima’s amazing grasp of emotional expression is on full display with the boy going from boundless enthusiasm to despair while the orb possessed wolf watches blankly on.
Whilst it has a vastly different scenario to her previous work, Oima easily adapts to this change of setting with her powerful storytelling and incredible artwork on full display. Fans of her previous work will definitely love this new series and anyone who hasn’t yet experienced her work shouldn’t miss out on one of the best creators working in manga today.
9781632365712 – P/B – £10.99
Post by Leo