From Far Away Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Translated by:Yuko Sawada
What They Say
With each passing day, Noriko discovers more and more about the strange and chimerical world she now calls home. And the more she learns...the more frightened she gets! Everyone around her is talking about an ancient prophecy and "the awakening" that will usher in a new epoch. To some, this foretold era is fraught with uncertainty and danger. To these people, the power of the awakening must be eliminated. Ever so slowly, Noriko starts to realize that she, somehow, embodies the gift of the awakening. With the help of a valiant hero named Izark, the young teenager has thus far eluded the attention of those who wish to destroy her. But secrets are hard to keep...and with one misspoken word, Noriko could seal her very own death!
I looked it up so you don't have to: chimerical: Merely imaginary; produced by or as if by a wildly fanciful imagination; fantastic; improbable or unrealistic. (copyright dictionary.com) Huh, I thought it would mean made of many different varieties like chimera.
The cover art for this volume almost looks like a magazine advertisement for jewelry from Sears. Looking at it for a couple moments causes the eye to move to the ring and earrings that Izark and Noriko are wearing. Instead of the nice pastels of the past, this cover almost looks like it's been in the sun too long. Also the blue background makes it look like they're at a club. This time the edges of the image is surrounded by pale flower patterns, which, like the last two covers' patterns, seems a bit odd, but stays with the color scheme of the spine.
Still not wild about the logo for From Far Away, it just doesn't seem quite appropriate, but it's not garish. Do like the non-intrusive Viz shojo logo and that the spines are all matching.
Once again there are no detectable problems with the printing; thank you Viz!
The art for the first two-thirds of the volume (the main From Far Away story) once again continues on its delightful way of the former two volumes. We're introduced to a few new characters in this volume. Of note are Gaya, Banadam and Mr. Nada. While Banadam is another pretty boy and much like a lot of the "blond-haired good-looking background fellows" we've seen, Gaya and Mr. Nada have some great character designs. Gaya's design reminds me most of Ms. Q from Ceres and Mr. Nada of the Blue King from Basara. As soon as you met each new character, you knew a lot about their personality from their appearance.
There seemed to be even more elaborate backgrounds in this volume, particularly because there were a lot of different locations in which the manga took place. From barns, to nighttime, to rooftops, to bars there was a little bit for everyone's favorite background this volume.
The sidebars were filled with fun chibi versions of the supporting characters this volume; many of the characters weren't even in this volume!
The back-up story's art definitely suffers from a comparison to the From Far Away art that proceeds it. It's the same Japanese schoolyard drama art we've seen again and again. Save for the main character's family, the character designs seem generic. After looking at far away places and exotic locales for a hundred pages, it's hard to be impressed by school hallways.
All SFX are translated...TROT TROT TROT!
A few phrases once again seemed out of place and some things just didn't seem to flow. This could be the translation, but then again it could be the fault of the original words. Overall nothing striking, but didn't quite flow like the last volume.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This volume doesn't quite pick-up where the last volume left off: with Izark crawling out under debris. It's safe to assume he made it back safe and sound, as at the beginning of the volume he's fighting off ant-like monsters from attacking a group of farmers and Noriko. Noriko observes that she now realizes that Izark is unlike the rest of the population in this world. Out of their gratitude for being saved, the group of farmers invite Izark and Noriko to dinner. Over dinner the farmers talk about the awakening and the recent wars and monsters that seem to have cropped up. Noriko, able to understand the language a bit more now, turns to Izark to mention the startling similarity to the legend of the awakening and their first meeting. He angrily cuts her off to ensure that the farmers, and Noriko herself, don't realize that she is the awakening.
After leaving the farmers, Izark and Noriko travel to a town where Izark has decided to leave Noriko with his old friend Gaya. By this point, it's obvious that Izark and Noriko care for one another, but they haven't been able to fully realize it themselves and there's only a tearful goodbye when Izark coldly leaves.
That evening Banadam shows up at Gaya's house asking for refuge for the wrongly accused Duke Jeida. Because the Duke saved her tribe in the past, she gladly takes in his sons and him. The night hardly passes before they are attacked. Gaya hides Noriko in a hidden storage basement. Noriko, knowing she can't fight stays hidden until the fight ends. Coming out of the basement, she finds the house trashed and no sign of her friends. In a vain attempt to help, Noriko goes running in the direction Izark left the day before. Almost immediately, the local group of thugs-that-attack-helpless-girls (every town has one) sets upon her.
Meanwhile, although Izark has made it to another town, his thoughts are entirely on Noriko. He's surprised at how he can't get her out of her mind. : He mulls this over as he sits for a drink. Mr. Nada, a rich man who likes seeing people fight and kill each other, watches him from the balcony. Miles away Noriko calls to Izark for help; somehow Izark hears it. Deciding he should go ensure Noriko isn't any trouble, he gets up to leave. Barring his way is a huge champion fighter from Mr. Nada's arena. Izark pushes this man aside, but there are several more waiting to fight Izark. He easily avoids each, trying to get back to Noriko, until he faces one with wind powers who knocks Izark unconscious. As Gaya watches from the bushes in surprise, Izark is dragged to the same prison as Duke Jeida.
Noriko, in an attempt to elude her pursuers, hops over a bridge and right onto Agol and Geena, the father and daughter team we saw in the first volume. Agol quickly beats down Noriko's attackers, whom remind him of the fellows who recently robbed him. Due to the recent robbery, Agol and Geena are out of money, but more importantly, the thieves took their fortune-telling stone. Without the stone, Geena, who's blind, can't be a seer. In thanks, Noriko shares what little food she has and takes them back to Gaya's house to stay the night. Upon hearing Noriko introduce herself, Agol is shocked to learn that this girl is the very one his employer has him searching for.
The last third of the volume is taken up with a back-up story called "See You Tomorrow!" the third episode of "Girls Have a Lot of Room in Their Hearts". Basically, this is a day in the life of eleventh grade Japanese school girl. It tells of a typical day in the life of Tomomi. We follow her as she catches the train to school, goes through each period in her school day and to after school activities. The running conflict through the story is her reflection on how life is ever changing and each year is different.
This volume was in a word, disappointing. Mostly due to the fact that a third of it isn't even From Far Away, but instead a back-up story. Part of the reason that this is so disappointing is that there were so many interesting threads started in this installment! The father and daughter from the first volume, whose names we learn are Agol and Geena, show up again. What will they do once they learn that Noriko is the awakening? The Noriko/Izark romance has really begun, just in time for them to separate. It's pretty obvious that Izark will be fighting in the arena... what will happen there? What's up with Gaya and where does Izark know her from? There is some fun humor in this volume, mostly revolving around Noriko's misunderstanding of the language.
Further, I'm getting a little tired of the write-ups on the back (which I never read before starting to write reviews). Frankly they're just off. Either they give too much away or, upon reading them, I wonder if they're for the wrong volume.
Middle Schooler Safe
Besides the intense yaoi scene in chapter 2... Just kidding. This volume is middle schooler safe, 100% percent. There is some mild violence, but nothing worse than someone would see on a Trix commercial. Silly rabbit, shoujo manga is for kids!
If You Liked This Story
You're probably already reading Fushigi Yuugi (especially the new Genbu Kaiden stuff), Red River, Basara and Queen's Knight. If anyone else knows of a manga or even a book in this genre please shout out in the posts.
Great Volume To Jump On To The Series?
The story hasn't gotten so deep that this volume would leave someone confused as to what is going on. I would recommend beginning at the beginning (and when you get to the end stop), of course, but if you have volume three or nothing, don't despair, though do know that most of the other volumes are not a third back-up story.
Back up Stories
I am at a loss sometimes for why there are back-up stories in volumes of manga. I would figure that publishers would just wait until there was enough of the regular story to fill a volume. Even in the case where a manga-ka is sick and doesn't bring out very many issues over a few months, I would figure: just wait until you have the needed eight installments (or however many you need to fill a volume). I understand, of course, if it's the last volume and the story simply finished up in say four installments, there's room left. Then there's side stories with the characters in the main story; totally cool, I want to read such stories. Other than that, though, what's up? I've -never- seen a back-up story in the really big releases, like Kenshin or Fruits Basket or the like....
Having ranted that way, I will admit that there has been an incident or two where I preferred the back-up story to the main story. A prime example would be in the second (and last) volume of X-Day. Has anyone else experienced this? In the case of From Far Away Vol 3, though, as in most cases, I just want more of the main story and feel the back-up story is just a waste of time. Can you imagine this happening in paperback books or American comics? We don't have a full volume of X-men, so here's a back-up story about Scrooge McDuck!
Mania Grade: 7
Art Rating: 7/10
Packaging Rating: 7/10
Text/Translatin Rating: 7/10
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left