From Far Away Vol. #02 -

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  • Art Rating: 8/10
  • Packaging Rating: 7/10
  • Text/Translatin Rating: 8/10
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 180
  • ISBN: 1-59116-601-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

From Far Away Vol. #02

By Audrey Zarr     September 19, 2005
Release Date: January 05, 2005

From Far Away Vol.#02
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kyoko Hikawa
Translated by: Translated by:
Adapted by:

What They Say
Transported into a fantastical world of high adventure, a confused and frightened teenager discovers she holds the key to a profound power borne of an age-old prophecy. Scared and on the run, Noriko strikes up an alliance with a mysterious rogue swordsman named Izark. But now, weakened from a recent battle, this swordsman has become dependant on his young charge to nurse him back to health. Trapped in a strange world and unable to speak the native language, Noriko must find a way to save her fallen warrior... and save herself, too!

The Review
As with the first volume, the Viz cover art is actually superior to the original Japanese cover art. Although it is the same picture, Viz has the art (of Izark pulling Noriko's head to his chest) fill up nearly the entire front instead of boxed into a smaller area. The cover image gives away everything in the manga! OK, not everything, but, at a glance, it will tell you what you need about the main two characters. Fortunately, for this volume, Viz switched away from the pea green and sky blue (though the spine is still sky blue) to a dark yellow and dark green. Although this color choice better, now the spine seems a bit out of place.

Viz's logo with the title in a flowy font is okay: not offensive, but not necessarily appropriate for the world we fall into. I suspect it was supposed to invoke a dreaminess or elegant quality?

The printing is horrible, ick! NOT! Viz once again does a quality job on this manga with even the smallest details, like white stars on a gray background, coming through clearly.

Kyoko Hikawa, 1991 has called and they'd like their art back. Yes, this art is a bit dated, but after maybe two pages a reader will hardly notice as they will find that the character designs, hair and clothes all fit with the story quite nicely.

Re-reading this volume and having just re-read the first volume, Hikawa's background art impresses me more than on first blush. Thanks in part to Viz's superior printing, her night scenes that depend on white stars in a gray sky with light gray clouds and a white moon are just neat. Also, if you have a chance check out some of the details on the clothing and bags. It's fun to examine those details on a re-read and those same details give the manga a more realistic feeling.

This art is like a pleasant lazy summer day. It's comforting and fun. Furthermore, it fits the story to a T. Quite frankly, I'm growing to like it more and more.

All SFX are translated...KLUNK!

The translation seemed better in this volume than the last to this baka gaijin. There's wasn't any dialogue that made me pause to wonder if it had been even slightly "Americanized". Also, all the dialogue seemed to flow much better than the last volume.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Noriko hugs Izark and he turns into a hippopotamus. Oops! Sorry wrong manga! We find out why Izark was yelling at Noriko to "get away" at the end of the last volume: all of the exhaustion from using his extraordinary powers builds up and hits him at once so that for a couple of days he's in a weakened state. Due to the language barrier, though, Izark can't explain this to Noriko. Worried about Izark, Noriko runs to fetch the doctor they met the day before. The mayor accompanies the doctor and asks Izark to defeat the robbers who he had run into the day previous. Izark agrees, but only once he's rested for a couple days to regain his strength. Unfortunately, Han an inn worker, who's in cahoots with the robbers runs back to tell his boss. Upon hearing this, the leader of the bandits decides to attack Izark in his weakened state.

Izark dreams of his childhood and of a mother who rejected him as a monster. Upon waking he finds Noriko asleep at his bedside, unwilling to leave him until he feels better. He's obviously touched by these and her earlier gestures at helping him; due to his earlier dream, it's not too hard to imagine that he's known very little kindness in his life. At this moment, the robbers decide to attack. Even in his weaken state, Izark easily takes down eight of them. However, in order to save Noriko from being taken hostage, Izark is forced to jump out of the window on to the street below, rendering him unconscious. Straining, Noriko succeeds in lifting Izark on her back and dragging him away under a bridge to hide him. With the respite, Izark is able to recover enough to beat down the rest of their attackers and send them running. Although wounded during this battle, the next day Izark, to Noriko's relief, is completely healed, hinting again at Izark's inhuman-like nature.

During the fight with the bandits, the leader was able to get away and attempt to get help from a merchant who has been lending him support. Unfortunately for the bandits' leader, the merchant was entertaining a man who exhibits powers similar to Izark's. The man's name is Keimos, who, due to his huge, thin eyebrows, make us pretty darned sure he's evil. At the merchant's request, Keimos kills the bandit and agrees to hang around and protect the merchant in hopes that Izark will show his face.

Sure enough, when Noriko wakes up she finds Izark gone, having left to chase after the remainders of the bandits. He runs into Keimos and a mighty battle ensues, although it becomes obvious fairly rapidly that Izark is the superior fighter. A magician and a mysterious figure are watching the battle between the two men from far away (not the title of the manga, they're actually far away). They intervene so that Keimos isn't killed and Izark falls off of a cliff. An inhuman-looking hand emerges from the rubble where Izark has fallen.

I finally realized that Izark's character design reminds me of a lead guitar player in a hair band in the late 80s. This is particularly true in the manga "eye-catches" at the bottom of some pages. The design around the title "From Far Away" is just SO 80s that the addition of a sketch of Izark just has to invoke Poison or the ilk.

Hikawa's free space talk columns begin appearing in this volume (there weren't any last volume) and they tend to be succinct and amusing; a bit like her manga. In one she simply writes "I like Jackie Chan movies" and has a little caricature of Jackie Chan. Contrast this with the ramblings about video games of so many other manga-ka...

In my write-up on the contents, I didn't mention a lot of the little moments between Noriko and Izark which bring out her character and set up for a later romance, though there's barely a hint of it now. The greatest relief, to me at least, is that Noriko is not just a helpless girl waiting to be saved. She tries to understand and help those around her. Further, she doesn't run off needlessly, giving excuses for Izark to have to go and save her. Instead, she tries her best to help Izark as she can and to do what he thinks is best. The moments between Izark and Noriko are what make the book truly enjoyable... especially if you're a lover of shoujo.

We get a little bit more of the plot with Keimos and the figures behind him. I had some problems with Keimos: he tells the merchant that he doesn't want to be a bodyguard, he just wants to find someone decent to fight. Then, when he's fighting Izark, he doesn't thrill in the fight as say The Beast in Kung Fu Hustle. Instead he gets frightening and is frustrated at the fact that there's someone stronger than he. Is he lying to himself about his love of fighting or is it perhaps a bit of bad writing?

Middle Schooler Safe
I would hand this to a middle schooler in half a second. There's a bit more violence in here than in the last volume. Of particular note is the crushing of a fellow's head, but it's not actually seen and only implied through images. More importantly it's nice like: "Woo ho! Isn't that violence so cool and isn't hurting people so super cool! Hey kids, let's go crush people's skulls!"

If You Liked This Story
Go read Basara, Fushigi Yuugi (more bishonen per square inch than any manga I've read), Red River, Queen's Knight and go see Labyrinth with Jennifer Connley and David Bowie a real live bishonen!

The Shirley Temple Effect
Why isn't Izark attacked by women? I mean, why doesn't like a gang of twenty women attack him and drag him off to use him as their own personal bishonen? He's obviously the best-looking guy around: why doesn't anyone else seem to notice? I tend to call this type of thing the "Shirley Temple Effect". The reason being that every time I watch a Shirley Temple movie, I'm struck by the odd realization that no one in the story wants to grab this remarkable girl who can sing, dance and is incredibly adorable and whisk her away to Hollywood. Instead, they seem to act as if every single girl can tap dance right next to Bill Robinson.


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jnager 3/13/2012 7:06:05 PM

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