Manga Review: From Far Away / by Kyoko Hikawa

From Far Away, Vol. 01From Far Away, Vol. 01

by Kyoko Hikawa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

18 year Japanese student Noriko Takichi is transported to an alternate reality where she appears as “the awakening” the force that will awaken the destructive “sky demon”. Seers of the world are aware of her presence, and she must hide it in order to protect herself. Everyone is looking for her as the person who controls the “Sky demon” will control the world.

I give this series a high rating of 4 out of 5 stars. There are some serious flaws with the story and more particularly with the translation but it is still highly entertaining.

This is a typical Japanese girl transported to another world for some sacrificial/spiritual purpose where she is protected and loved by a powerful character (Izark) who usually is the key to the action; think “Vision of Escaflowne”, “Fushigi Yugi”, or “Red River”. Noriko fits the typical heroine profile of these series, a typical high school girl who tries her best, wanting to help, and finding the small things that she can do.

The most unique difference from other series of the genre is that Noriko can’t speak the language of this new world. In any other series I’ve read, the different language is explained away by “eating the food”, “kissing the guy”, or “obtaining a magical item”… or it isn’t explained at all. In this series however, she is unable to communicate — it is the first thing she can do to improve her situation — learn the language. I’m particularly impressed with Hikawa’s speech bubbles which help the reader to distinguish what language is being spoken when.

The translation of this episode, and the series in general is a bit of a miss for me. It is an older series (which often explains poor translation planning). It has the feeling that whoever translated was more interested in getting a “direct” or accurate translation, rather than creating an adaptation that would be more fluid and understandable in English.

For example, when they (Noriko and Izark) come across the travelling merchant who was attacked by bandits, he is laying in the grass calling out “here, here”… 2 pages later when Izark hands him a bottle of water, the merchant says “koko” and Noriko says to herself, “oh, koko means water”. If you didn’t have some Japanese background, you might not get the connection between these two situations. Koko means Here. So, he wasn’t saying “here, here” he was saying “water, water”. It’s situations like these that take away from the flow of the story. And, if I hadn’t reread this series in succession I might have missed it.

And don’t get me started when Noriko uses the words “Hella fast” and “Hecka cool”. They are so out of place in this comic, it’s not even funny…

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