On her way home from school one day, Noriko is unexpectedly plunged into a strange and extraordinary fantasy world. Her troubles compound exponentially when she is rescued and befriended by a handsome young man by the name of Izark. He may be brave and courageous, but inside Izark lurks the darkest evil imaginable. And according to an ancient prophecy, Noriko possesses the power to unleash that evil. Now, inexorably bound together, these two unlikely allies must navigate a world both wondrous and hostile.
Kanata kara was published in English as From Far Away by VIZ Media from November 10, 2004 to January 9, 2007. The same publisher released the series digitally as well, from March 12, 2013 to July 9, 2013.
I can't believe that no review has been written for this beautiful manga yet. I wouldn't even hold this is competition with Fushigi Yuugi, because Fushigi would never have a chance. Don't read FY. Read From Far Away. It's so much more realistic, more beautiful and Noriko could kick Miaka's ass any day. And Izark would kick Tamahome's ass.
I had been holding off on reading this one for a while. I had assumed (never something you should do) that it would be like FY. And not that I hated FY, but Miaka pissed me off. I did not like her. And there were
too many guys in potential for Miaka and that was like what the whole story was about. Miaka and these sexy guys trying to win something but there too sexy so how does that even make sense?
Anyway, I finally decided to read it. First off Noriko is 18, which hit off better with me. Because she's not some hysterical, emotional 16 year old little girl (like whine-y Miaka!). Noriko is so down to earth, and more mature.
So I started reading and at it first it was like all the other "girl who gets transported to some other world to save it" deal, but then Noriko is actually a very calm, very responsible girl. She doesn't freak out like some child and she doesn't take for granted Izark who is helping her. She actually has to learn the language, which Miaka does not, and she spends a lot of time here. You find out that she is the key to Izark and his demonic powers, and that this prophecy is all about the apocalypse. Or well you know. Of course the heroes have to save the world from the evil doers!
I think what kept me was the emotional bond that I could see developing between Izark (tragic hero) and Noriko (optimistic heroine) immediately. There wasn't this "insta love connection" and "oh he's so hot". Noriko sees Izark for who he really is, inside his heart. Despite the demons that follow him. Izark also sees the good in Noriko, her kindness, her worth despite her fragility. The bond between these two is incredibly real, much more tangible than other "transported girl" plots, and you can't help but smile. Because it's both sad and wonderful. Who they are and what they are is something that is resolved.
And it was their romance that I was so intent on reading for more for. When I was reading FY, I was always so angry with Miaka and how selfish and pathetic and whine-y she really seemed to be. The only thing Miaka did in my opinion was find the warriors. Then they did all the work. But in From Far Away, Noriko and Izark take on the world saving task all by themselves. They support each other and it was a much more mature relationship. Izark needed Noriko in ways that only she could seem to be there for (if I remember correctly Miaka did a lot of needing, not Tamahome). And Izark was their to support her as well. Noriko sees her struggles, works them out rationally, and then pursues what she can do to help her in her and Izark's quest. She tries to take on as many problems as Izark does, she just has a better handle on things and is fluid in the way she handles things thrown at her. Granted she cried out for Izark every time someone man-handled her, but could be explained by her inability to fight.
The art is something I take pleasure in. It's so beautiful and clean. Although, I could have gone without all of the bams, thuds, screeches and any other big bolded black letters that were thrown in just about every damn fight scene! That blocked out some of the picture and kept my attention diverted which I did not like. But it was gorgeous. The flow between each panel was good. And the emotions were caught perfectly.
The characters are wonderful. The development between Noriko and Izark is beautiful and lonely and difficult. Izark is full of despair and Noriko is like a bubble of courage. The supporting characters are funny and fit well in complementing Izark and Noriko. Just remember that the story is about our two heroes, so the secondary characters do take a back seat often.
The story does not focus on love, nor does it solely focus on fighting. Rather it's more the struggle between good and evil, the light and the dark that each and every single person must go through. The romance was slow, sweet and perfect. The fights were bloody. But it was the battle that people had to take up for themselves to defeat the evil that was inside them and around them.
Of course if you have read Fushigi Yuugi, I would more than just recommend From Far Away. But if you are like any other shoujo/romance person than I say read this. It's not exactly short, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Take the time to read this.
Btw, did I mention that this is SO MUCH BETTER than Fushigi Yuugi?
What makes From Far Away different? I never heard of this series before, just stumbled upon it on a random search for reading material and it blew me away. I'm not too knowledgeable when it comes to art, but in terms of storyline, progression and characterization, I was really pleased.
The first thing I thought was really interesting about this series was that the 'spirited away' girl had to learn the language spoken in the new world and it takes her a lot of times and several misunderstandings. The fact that you see her language progress and become less clumsy through the story is something I
think more writers should take into consideration. Given, the same language seems to be used over many different countries, but I'll just give my thumbs up for the original idea of language barrier.
The flow of the story is really good. It keeps you on edge: "will he become the monster that brings the end of the world"? and, for the wide range of supporting characters, you never have the feeling you have to stop and think hard about who is what.
The romance element was just perfect -in my opinion- because I felt there was no rush. It's not love at first sight, and it's also not a "bickering couple" a la Pride and Prejudice style which seems to be a trend when it comes to romances. The characters just slowly grow to love each other. There's also no love triangles, which I find refreshing (ok, so there's a guy who starts liking Noriko, but she flat out rejects him short after). The way Noriko and Izark tease each other was endearingly sweet without it being too mushy.
As someone who doesn't believe in absolute good and evil, it was somewhat bothering the fact that there's "good people" and "bad people"... but by the end of the story this matter is resolved in a way I felt was satisfying.
The interaction between main characters and supporting characters was really good. You can see how their personalities influence each other and allow the main characters to grow.
Now, when it comes to the characterization of the main couple, I'm very pleased with Noriko's characterization, but not as pleased with Izark.
Noriko is different from most female characters in these "spirited away" series in that she is very mature and she doesn't throw childish tantrums or fight with the people who help her. Very early on she decides to trust Izark (who just saved her life) and you never see her questioning her trust on him. She's usually very coolheaded, and doesn't usually run into trouble out of stupidity. In her growth as a character she becomes a lot more self-confident and brave, but she's still no warrior. Overall, a great character.
Izark was a lot more of a standard character for this sort of genre. Beautiful, powerful with a dark past and a darker destiny. Considering all the times this guy must have been bashed and beaten up, you'd at least expect him to have a broken nose at some point, but apparently he's so good looking he can pass as an actor (is this something to do with his regeneration abilities?). There's a lot of development on this character from an aloof lone warrior to a person who can even make jokes every now and then and even ridicule himself for the sake of his friends. I think his interaction with Alef is exquisitely rich. Still, I wouldn't call him the most original of characters. As Noriko first notices, he's a good guy.
All in all, even if this series is not perfect, I think it's a must-read for people into fantasy shojo. It's really a good story and unless you're really not into shojo or fantasy, I can't think of one reason why you wouldn't like it.
I must say I am a huge fan of this wonderful manga and amazed at how under rated it is. At first I had feared that the main character, Noriko would be another one of those stupid, weak, useless female characters, however I gladly admit I was mistaken. She was very strong willed and central to the story. The story it's self is a very good one, with an exciting journey and a wonderful plot. It has romance without being all gushy about it and a nice dose of action. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this manga and plan to reread it in the near future.
This is undeniably one of the most inspirational mangas I have ever read. No matter how many times I reread it, I feel like I'm reading it for the first time. The romance between Noriko and Izark is so adorable and really develops over the course of the story. I can feel my heart getting all warm and fuzzy whenever their together, as if I was the one falling in love XD
Not only are the characters enjoyable and wonderful people, but you also get the sense that they behave realistically, with a basic understanding of their own limitations and common sense, which is surprisingly
rare in most other manga and anime.
Noriko is a wonderful take on the dependent female character type. She gets kidnapped a few times, but in general she gets kidnapped for legitimate reasons. While other dependent females get kidnapped because they're pretty and the enemy wants to bone them, Noriko gets kidnapped or almost murdered because her mental faculties and pure, loving heart make her an asset and a threat to evil. Not to mention, she has such a wonderfully positive outlook on life, that it is simply contagious. I also love, that she is the one dependent female character I can think of whose personality or characteristics cannot be changed. If you change Noriko in any way, the story just doesn't work the same or as well. Noriko literally just being who she is is what gives her and her friends strength. It's very inspiring and empowering, especially in the real work were magic and superpowers don't exist.
One thing I especially love about the story is the world building and the continuity. You can really tell that the manga-ka spent a lot of time building this world and the many different cultures and governments within it, with prophesies, misinterpreted prophesies, and other worlds galore.
Also, unlike other, more episodic mangas, characters and events which happen and appear towards the beginning of the series actually come back and influence the later half of the manga in a very big way. And by that I mean that if Noriko and Izark didn't go to all those places, meet all those people, and gain all those experiences, the ending of this manga would have been DRASTICALLY different.
On the subject of world building, I just want to note how much I appreciate that the manga-ka actually addressed the whole issue of a language barrier when traveling to another dimension or time (as opposed to being completely brushed aside by a magical deus ex machina such as in Daughter of the Nile and Red River). Just wanted to mention that.
The art in this manga wasn't mind-blowing, but I didn't really care. It's obviously a 90s art style and some of the character designs, especially for non-main characters are somewhat cartoony, but that didn't stop me from going humina humina whenever Izark was on the page, and especially whenever he was dressed sexily.
My ONLY regret with this manga is that there isn't more of it. I want more Izark and Noriko!! DX