Something that I’ve been trying to get across in these reviews of To Your Eternity is how surprised I’ve been by the show’s straightforward and simple pleasures. I anticipated a barn-burning face-melter of a season based on that first episode, and while I don’t know if the show has quite managed to achieve the same level of cinematic sheen since then, it has been able to do something that is in many ways just as impressive: It has been consistently supremely enjoyable to watch, and my regard for its world and characters grows with every passing week.
It’s “long game” storytelling at its finest, and that is something that takes a great amount of skill and confidence to pull off. How many anime have we seen that have kicked open the doors with a gobsmacking premiere, only to burn out or out-and-out implode by the time they’re through? We’re only halfway through TYE’s run, of course, but the fact that it has delivered ten straight weeks of Really Goddamn Good Anime is something that absolutely needs to be commended. Instead of one heart-stopping and fist-pumping climax that comes every few weeks, TYE has instead opted to deliver a bunch of little “daws” and “hell yeahs” in every single episode, and that is probably the more sustainable approach in the long run.
Take Gugu’s big hero moment this week: With Fushi on the ropes with the Entity from the woods, Gugu takes it on himself to save his adopted monster brother, and it turns out he has a perfect secret weapon in store. It may have been incredibly messed up for Booze Man to turn him into a makeshift flask, but all of that hard liquor in Gugu’s stomach has turned him into a walking flamethrower of sorts (which makes the salamander helmet very appropriate, in retrospect). In order to save the day, Gugu has to drunkenly stumble his way back to the brewery, mumble his way back into a full stomach from the Booze Man, and take on the Entity with nothing but a torch in his hands. He also manages to slur out a love confession for Rean while he’s at it, and her parents are even there to reckon with all of this weirdness with her. Gugu lights up the Bear Creature well and good, and Fushi lives to Orb another day.
The fight itself is very well animated and directed, but it’s the emotional spectacle that stands out more than anything else. Here is Gugu, our awkward little Booze Boy, going to bat against an unfathomable plant monster by weaponing the things he thought made him unworthy of love. It’s the culmination of weeks’ worth of character development for him, and it’s just so unbelievably satisfying to see. And don’t you dare try to convince me that you weren’t moved when Wolf!Fushi pops back into being and realizes what Gugu has done for him, barking out one of the most sincere “Thank Yous” I’ve ever heard in an anime. If that make your heart grow at least three sizes in your chest, well, I don’t know if we could ever be friends.
The show’s masterful control of its mood and pacing is perhaps its greatest strength, here. You feel everything you’re meant to feel, at exactly the time you’re meant to feel it. Once the threat is taken care of, Fushi is confronted by The Beholder once again, who urges the Orb to take his leave from this place to become strong enough to face the Nokkers, which is what he calls those destructive entities that keep trying to ruin Fushi’s day. Fushi refuses, because he feels like he needs Gugu’s strength to move forward, and whether or not that will ultimately prove to be the “right” choice is beside the point, for now. As The Beholder himself proclaims at the top of the episode, the freedom of choice is a right that all living things should possess. So he respects Fushi’s choice, and Fushi stays.
Four years pass. Gugu becomes quite tall (and quite yoked). Rean has stayed in our heroes’ lives, since Gugu’s affection was enough to give her the strength to go back home on her own terms. Pioran and Booze Man might have their faults, but they’ve given enough to Gugu and Fushi to make this weird little family work. Fushi is even growing a beard! It was the ideal spot in the story for a time skip, and To Your Eternity nailed it.
That’s really the takeaway of “New Family”, for me. The action, the pathos, and that intangible sense of mystery and wonder – The show just nails it, every time. To Your Eternity is such a joy, so even though I don’t know what’s coming next for Fushi, Gugu, Rean, and the rest, but I am glad we still have so much time left to find out.
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