|English Title: From Far Away|
|Length: 14 Volumes|
|Mangaka: Hikawa Kyouko|
|Vintage: 1992 – 2003|
|Intelligence Agency Report by: dheu|
|Noriko is just your average high school student in present day Japan when a strange explosion launches her into another world. There, in a bizarre forest populated by dangerous monsters, she meets Izark, a young man with mysterious powers who grudgingly protects her. Unable to understand the language and trapped with no way of getting home, Noriko is forced to rely on Izark as they are hunted by monsters and evil men. It’s only later that she discovers she is the long foretold Awakening and the key to the resurrection of the terrible Sky Demon, which is prophesied to destroy the world.|
|Research Agent Report by: dheu|
|(not an average)|
|Schoolgirl-trapped-in-a-strange-land storylines are a dime a dozen. It’s a popular theme for shoujo and a scenario that easily creates a sympathetic heroine while simultaneously showing off her inevitable pluck as she experiences her epic destiny. I’m usually not that impressed by these kinds of plots, mainly because they tend to be predictable and flimsily concocted. For one of these kinds of stories to really shine, it has to not only develop the characters, but also form the environment around them into a believable world. Few series get it right, and From Far Awayis one of those few series. Little description is given of Noriko’s life in Japan before she is transported out of it, but this is surprisingly a good thing since the time is better spent delving into the strange land she finds herself in. Right off the bat, this series does not play into popular conventions; Noriko does not somehow mystically understand everything around her. She doesn’t even understand the language, which is a nice touch as it allows room for significant character development. And develop she does. Although she begins as a helpless, confused girl who is frightened by everything, she gradually grows into a strong character who will stand her ground even when faced by evil. Izark also matures greatly throughout the course of the series, and the relationship between Izark and Noriko deepens naturally without the need for annoying and cliché romantic plot twists. The side characters have less time dedicated to them, yet they also have their moments to shine. This character development is constant right into the last chapter of the last volume, making this a very rewarding series to read if you like complex characters. Character development is the strongest aspect of this manga and the element that sets it apart from series with a similar story, but the overall plot itself is also strong and surprisingly in-depth. While the basic premise is rather clichéd, the series more than makes up for it by expanding on the world around Noriko, to include the politics – and occasionally the culture – of the places she travels to.
There aren’t any truly bad aspects to this series. The dialogue is intelligently written, and there are no wasted scenes. The artwork is relatively simple and of a rather old-fashioned style, but the action sequences are well-done and the art is very expressive, particularly when it comes to character emotion. From Far Away does not have a huge emotional impact, but what it lacks in that area, it more than makes up for with its consistently lovable characters and expansive alternate world. This series is perfectly rounded out by the single most satisfying conclusion I’ve read in a manga to date. Fans of good shoujo fantasy will really enjoy From Far Away.