WARNING: The following contains spoilers for To Your Eternity Episode 12, “Awakening,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.
With each new episode of To Your Eternity, the emotional storytelling evolves the characters and exhumes deep meaning about life and humanity. The anime is brimming with symbolism, whether it be mysterious orbs or Fushi’s fascinating foes. One recurring image at the heart of To Your Eternity is the lovely purple flower which frequently appears as the unique journey unfolds.
Yoshitoki Ōima immerses fans in To Your Eternity’s vivid fantasy world in which the immortal shapeshifter Fushi wanders. Starting off as a clueless and unfeeling creature, Fushi develops his personhood with each new mortal he connects with on his path. In the most recent arc following Fushi in Takunaha, he befriends Gugu, a troubled boy in a chameleon mask who falls for the wealthy girl Rean. Their love story is delicately tied to the symbol of a special purple flower, but what does it truly represent throughout the series?
Named the “dream bellflower,” this violet blossom is first shown growing in a green field in To Your Eternity’s musical opening. It’s seen again in the end credits as a bouquet unraveling in a burst and falling from the sky. As the series progresses, it becomes evident that the flowers stand as a symbol of the Takunaha arc telling Gugu’s narrative – but there’s also an underlying significance to their all-pervading presence.
The bellflowers work their way into the plot in To Your Eternity Episode 7, “The Boy Who Wants to Change.” In this episode the young girl Rean is plucking the purple flowers from a small patch, wishing she could have a dress of that color, when a large log comes loose from a cart and rolls down the hill. Noticing that the distracted Rean is about to be hit by the log, Gugu dashes over to her and pushes her out of the way, taking the brunt of the hit himself. The log crushes his face, permanently disfiguring his features so that he wears a chameleon mask to cover the scarring. When Rean recalls this moment in later episodes, she’s entirely unaware of Gugu’s role as her savior, only lamenting her own small cut on her arm.
However, this heartbreaking story resurfaces in To Your Eternity Episode 11, “Gift from the Past.” Remembering Rean’s interest in the purple flowers, Gugu decides to buy one for her as a present for her birthday party. Though her family reacts poorly to the gift -- afraid it will stir up traumatic memories -- the flower instead helps her think back to the moment of the accident, asking Gugu what really happened. The flower serves as a key to the past, linking their stories so Rean finally realizes Gugu’s noble actions, her own romantic affections for him fully blooming.
While this climactic moment of mutual recollection is beautiful and cinematic, it’s cruelly cut short by the Nokkers who create a rift in the balcony they’re on, causing Gugu to once again push Rean out of the way as he falls off the cliff. However, as seen in To Your Eternity Episode 12, he manages to survive and the two find their way back to each other. Rean finally returns the favor as Gugu’s savior, pushing him from falling rubble. Yet shortly afterward, the rubble continues to cascade down, burying the two. Gugu’s strength is the only thing holding the earth up, allowing them one final scene together.
With the dream bellflower still clutched to her chest, Rean lies beneath Gugu, gazing at him with her worried purple eyes. Noticing the flower has wilted after all the commotion, Gugu promises he’ll buy her one tomorrow, to which she responds “let’s go pick some together.” Blood running down his face, it’s clear he’s not going to make it to tomorrow, but the flower allows him to still entertain his fantasy. In his last words, he tells her that he loves her and they share a kiss. While their final embrace is incredibly sad, it’s also graced with hope and promises. It only makes sense that the dream bellflower inspires the couple to dream of a future, even though it will never come for them.
After witnessing the dream bellflower become a central part of Gugu and Rean’s love story, it may seem to be primarily connected to romantic love -- but it could also be an emblem of sacrifice. Gugu gives his life to save Rean who’s picking the flower, and that same flower appears behind March when she’s laid out to be sacrificed in To Your Eternity Episode 3. The dream bellflowers behind March aren’t fully bloomed, and she ends up fleeing from the sacrificial bed to live another day. Yet their presence alludes to her later sacrifice to save her sister, signifying her dreaming spirit that lives on in Fushi.
Themes of love, sacrifice and dreams all emanate from the purple flowers, but they also bring meaning to Fushi's story as a wandering immortal. Fushi’s profound connection to Gugu allows him to take his shape when he dies, but Gugu’s character arc also teaches Fushi many integral facets of humanity.
To Your Eternity's Takunaha arc is the first chapter that lets time pass for Fushi as he absorbs the gifts a human’s pastoral life has to offer. As hopeful youths growing up in this village, Gugu and Rean grow to experience the beauty of love and dreams of the future, but also the pain of sacrifice and death. Harboring great friendships with both of them, Fushi witnesses this complex yet poignant emotion which helps shape his understanding of humanity as a whole. Moreover, Gugu’s tragic tale now lives on within Fushi, the imagery of the purple flowers an undying symbol of the human heart.