WARNING: The following contains spoilers for To Your Eternity Episode 20, “Echoes,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.
To Your Eternity had one of the best premiere episodes in anime. It was captivating, heartbreaking and utterly beautiful to watch, immediately setting the show as one to remember. The series finale has a similar level of execution and emotional pay-off. This is partially because there were some elements found in Episode 20 that were introduced in the first, bringing the series full circle. The episode's title being "Echoes" is fitting, as in many ways it is an echo of To Your Eternity's premiere. Here's how.
To Your Eternity's Inevitability of Death
When To Your Eternity viewers saw the Nameless Boy's leg get injured, there was a slow and horrifying certainty that he would not live past Episode 1. We all knew but Fushi didn't, because he hadn't quite grown into his consciousness yet. He didn't really have a concept of what being alive or dead even meant. When the Nameless Boy sobbed after finding out his family's fate, Fushi didn't quite understand his pain. Similarly, when the Nameless Boy succumbed to his injuries and died, Fushi didn't really know what was happening. It wasn't until after some time had passed and Fushi had gained more life experience that he came to understand.
His helplessness comes out in a much more profound way when he loses Pioran. Fushi has grown a lot since meeting the Nameless Boy die, having seen many of his friends die and feeling first-hand the pain of losing someone he loves. Although he is more capable of protecting his friends now, no amount of fire or brute strength would allow him to win against a loved one's dementia. Viewers knew that Pioran would slowly lose herself as time went on. Although Fushi has matured since the beginning, his understanding is still relatively limited; he doesn't quite understand what Pioran is suffering from, yet he treats her with an extraordinary amount of patience and care.
As To Your Eternity progressed, death became a pervasive presence throughout. We lost fan-favorite characters like March and Gugu. But what made the series' premiere and finale so powerful was the slow and inevitable realization that these two characters were going to die -- and the immortal Fushi's utter powerlessness to stop it.
The Song "Rut" Appears in To Your Eternity's Premiere & Finale
One of the OSTs, titled "Rut," appears in To Your Eternity's premiere and finale at similar points, and that's when Fushi is accompanying the Nameless Boy (Episode 1) and Pioran (Episode 20) as they travel on their journey. In the premiere, this track comes on just after the Nameless Boy's leg gets injured and they're traveling through a snowstorm in the hopes of reuniting with the Boy's family. At this point, the Nameless Boy is still optimistic but the grim nature of the OST foreshadows that he won't be able to find what he's looking for. The song changes when the Boy discovers the broken remains to show his grief.
When the OST is played in the finale, Pioran, in the beginning stages of dementia, is being carried by Fushi. Despite his worries, he just allows her to throw her tantrums without saying a word. The OST still plays a role in foreshadowing Pioran's fate and remains just as grim, but the sentiment is slightly different and more bittersweet. We can see Fushi almost smiling as he carries a kicking Pioran around. He's happy because having Pioran like this is better than no Pioran at all.
The OST abruptly tapers off when Pioran tells Fushi she is happy to have met him. Her words, coupled with the timing of the OST's end and ensuing silence, is particularly poignant because Fushi believed he brought misery and devastation -- which was why he'd tried to leave Pioran in the first place. Having her say that at such a moment released him from his guilt and self-punishment.
How the Finale Brings To Your Eternity Full Circle
It seems only fitting that the last person to die in Season 1 of To Your Eternity would be the oldest, as the first person to die was on the younger side. It's even more fitting that it would be Pioran, whom Fushi has known the longest. Her soul even gets absorbed into the same orb that Fushi started as back in Episode 1.
The Nameless Boy draws pictures of those who have died in his family, in the hopes that he wouldn't forget them. Likewise, his last words to Fushi are a request to remember his friend -- which Fushi always did. Because of his abilities, Fushi will forever carry the vessels of his loved ones, no matter how much it pains him to remember that they're dead. In Episode 20, it's heartbreaking to see Pioran lose her memory and forget Fushi.
In To Your Eternity's premiere, Fushi lived to carry on the Nameless Boy's dream of seeing the world. Thus far in the series, he has been living according to other people's wishes. But now, Pioran's final message is a reminder that he is his own person and should do whatever he wants to do. Now, Fushi has his own dreams and will follow them.