From Far Away Vol. #04 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: 7/10
  • Packaging Rating: 7/10
  • Text/Translatin Rating: 8/10
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 188
  • ISBN: 1-59116-770-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

From Far Away Vol. #04

By Audrey Zarr     November 08, 2005
Release Date: May 15, 2005


From Far Away Vol.#04
© Viz Media


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

What They Say
A prophecy of doom, passed down from generation to generation, has finally arrived. Manifest in the form of a young teenage girl named Noriko, the awakening promises a new world of frightening uncertainty.

But not everybody lives in fear of this ancient prophecy. Slowly, a group of sympathizers has come together to befriend and protect the vulnerable teenager. One of them, a valorous warrior by the name of Izark, continues to stay by her side despite the danger and complications that lie ahead.

In an attempt to avoid capture, Noriko and her band of allies travel into the White Mist Forest. Danger lurks everywhere, however... especially in this infrequently traveled wildwood!

The Review
Packaging:
The first thing one notices about this cover, if you've been reading the other volumes, is the dragon. Is this the famed Sky Dragon that Noriko will call to cause to rain down destruction on this world? Awww...but he's so cute! If you stare at the cover long enough, you're unsure if the dragon is looking curiously at Noriko or angrily...it's something in the way his eyes are drawn. The cover caught my interest because, in true manga (and American) tradition, the cover will mislead the reader as to the actual plot.
Pastel colors continue to reign with these covers and we're treated to yet another weaving-like boarder decoration. By the fourth cover though one barely notices truly, and as all the spines line up on the bookshelf I call it good.

They're not going to change that font on the From Far Away logo even after the 50,000 signature petition that I sent into Viz. Seriously, the font of the title isn't super great, but doesn't detract.

After looking at a couple of the reprints that DC currently produces (check out the paper in one of the new Showcase Presents) this paper seems a little less than pure white to me. Minor quibble aside, I saw no printing errors.

Artwork:
And now for the most girly part of this review: it was in this volume that I noticed the artist is having Noriko's hair grow longer! How neat is that? I can't think of the last time that an artist took the time to cause a gradual physical change like this occur. It's just a neat thing that rewards long time readers! End girly comment.
Barago, who joins our group for a while, has a Cro-Magnon design that amuses me. It's another in a long line of not just shoujo girls and bishonen character designs in From Far Away. Once again I get a bit confused telling Agol and Banadam apart due to their similar character designs. The stand-out drawings in this volume are the ones of Izark on page 118 where we see his inner demon coming out when he defeats his opponent with malicious pleasure.

SFX/Text:
All SFX are translated...rattle rattle.

As far as translation, nothing stuck out to me. If anyone else noticed anything or has read the original Japanese please send a note to me and I will update this baka gaijin's review.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The volume opens with Noriko thinking depressing thoughts but quickly cheering herself up by keeping herself busy cleaning Gaya's ransacked house. Meanwhile, Agol looks on, despairing that he's used his daughter Geena's talents as a seer to help accomplish his seedy missions. And speaking of seedy, nearly at the same time, Lord Rachef is holding a meeting about Agol and his disappearance. It's decided to send some additional people to look for Izark and Noriko. Also at the same time, (important things happen in several places in manga at the same time I suppose) Keimos, Sabertooth to Izark's Wolverine, muses on defeating the only man who has ever defeated him: Izark. Lord Rachef, his employer, isn't too happy with Keimos' out of control behavior.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Izark wakes up from his drugged state, surprised to find himself in jail. In the next jail cell are the men who were being harbored by Gaya, Lord Jeida and his sons. Overhearing their talk about Noriko, Izark worries that she may not be safe. Across the distance between them, Noriko seems to sense Izark's feelings and wakes up only to find a ghost haunting her asking for her help (this will become more clear).
Gaya shows up and enlists Agol's help in freeing Izark and the political enemies she was hiding. This discussion is interrupted when Noriko is somehow able to see and hear Izark over the distance. Before they can have a proper conversation, Lord Nada comes to inspect his new prisoner. Due to his insolent behavior, Lord Nada decides in the next day's tournament that Izark will face all seventeen of his champions in an exhibition of death.
The next day Agol sneaks into the palace and, through some misadventures, joins up as another of Lord Nada's champions. Back at Gaya's house we learn a little bit more about Geena's abilities as a seer, and that Gaya, due to her sister being a seer, is well versed in their ways. Geena, because of the strange energy surrounding Norkio, suspects the older girl may be the awakening.
Barago, the champion that Izark wiped the floor with last volume, realizes how pathetic his life has become working for Lord Nada and decides to help Izark by warning him of Lord Nada's plans. Noriko is able to contact Izark once again and inform him of their plan before he's to go into the ring. AND IN THIS CORNER WEARING THE BISHONEN LOCKS: OUR HERO IZARK! AND IN THIS CORNER SEVENTEEN BIG NASTIES! Izark defeats his opponents as Agol and Barago go off to fetch some sleeping drug that Izark uses to prevent being beaten by the man who knocked him out last volume. After drugging most of the stadium, Lord Jeida, his sons, Agol, Banadam, Barago and Izark escape. Izark and Noriko reflect on their feelings for one another and how much they miss the other. As this is shoujo, however, they don't communicate this to the other person.
In order to avoid recapture, the group decides to travel to the next country. Based on Geena's advice, they decide to take the route through the forest rather than the guarded road. Upon entering the middle of the woods, they enter the Twilight Zone. Instead of Rod Serling, they encounter an abandoned village, that despite the path they take, is where they always end up no matter which way they goThe situation drives the horses crazy and then begins to drive the people crazy, Banadam especially, who almost comes to blows with the rest of the group (think Borimir). Noriko realizes what's occurring and comes to the rescue(she's watched the Twilight Zone with her father being a sci-fi writer, I would bet). As it starts to rain, the group takes shelter in one of the abandoned buildings. Before they can decide what to do a hair monster attacks the building, grabbing Noriko, who it has identified as the most dangerous in the group. Izark saves Noriko, causing the hair monster to refocus its attacks on him.

Comments

This is another solid volume in this series. It seems to be - and this is conjecture only - that we have our group together that we'll be traveling with for a while. It's nice to get a good diverse group like this instead of say... a group of bishonen teenagers traveling around. It's interesting to see how Noriko and Izark's actions influence the people around them; mostly for our heroic group, their actions are inspiring. This volume only hints at, once again, what the big bad has planned, and one wonders when this plan will be revealed. The revelation about Noriko and Izark's ability to communicate with one another over long distances is an interesting one, both in a magical fantastic sense and a squishy romance sense.

My husband, who doesn't read very much manga, enjoys reading this one. I think the more "girly" aspects of shoujo are a bit more toned down and the characters are just generally interesting. I think this would be a good story for a fantasy reader looking for a manga they might be interested in.

Middle Schooler Safe
Minor violence, but nothing graphic, peppers this volume; nothing that's worse than a Monday Night Football game. There are some small sexual innuendos throughout as different characters ponder whether or not Noriko and Izark are together.

If You Liked This Story
You know the drill by now: if you like this then hit up Fushigi Yugi Red River, Basara, Queen's Knight, maybe Magic Knights Rayearth, Alice in Wonderland or Pride and Prejudice. Um just imagine Elizabeth Bennet is actually from the modern day and has fallen back into England during the Napoleonic Wars. And Mr. Darcy is really a prince under a magical spell by the evil villain Wickham. Lydia? Well she's just really dumb. And a little bit like Sae re: Peach Girl.

If I don't like it by now...
Oftentimes in suggesting anime or manga series people say things like: "just give it three episodes" or "it doesn't get good until season three, but you have to watch the first two seasons to really get why season three is cool." With this series I think you need to give it at least two volumes, but if by this point (volume four) you're still on the iffy fence, I would give the title up. I have only read as far as volume six, but I believe I can safely say that for here on in, it's more of the same...with perhaps a touch more romance. In other words, if you've liked it so far, you should like the rest. If not, there's always Death Note or Iron Wok Jan waiting!

Foppish characters
Lord Nada bears a remarkable resemblance to a character in Basara: The Blue King. I'm curious at this characterization type as villainous. I believe what we are supposed to find evil are these characters' idleness and corruption of power; my pondering is as to the visualization of these characters. It reminds me of either the French nobility, which in the later reigns would fit this perfectly, causing the French Revolution on the supposed basis of an aristocracy that crushed the classes below it with its indulgent ways. Whenever I read these characters I get a hint of sexual perversity. Is this my American culture training just honed into me? What do others think about these characters and where they come from?

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