From Far Away Volume 2
[openbook booknumber=”1591166012″] [rating:4/5]
Transported into a fantastical world of high adventure, a confused and frightened teenager discovers she holds the key to a profound power born 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 dependent 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!
I was expecting things to maybe slow down a little and we step back and really get to see this world poor Noriko has gotten plunked down into but unfortunately for the characters, and fortunately for us, the adventure picks up. Izark is struck by a strange, sudden illness and Noriko finds herself floundering in her attempts to help him because of the language barrier in place. She is forced to mime her intentions and more often than not she misinterprets what is being said around her and reacts inappropriately.
But that isn’t the biggest problem they face, because now that Izark is considered out of commission the robbers we met in the previous volume decide now would be a great time to strike and attempt to kill Izark before he can kill them. What follows is frankly stunning, and I won’t spoil it but it shows some fantastic character reveal for Izark and some real character growth for Noriko. The scared little girl from Japan, actually proves she can do and be more than just a helpless, hapless female in constant need of saving. Her actions are purely defensive and show quick thinking and a lot of nerve. I have high hopes for Noriko as the series progresses.
My only negative points were the same ones I have with a lot of manga and that is occasionally there is too much telling and not enough showing. A man who had been badly hurt in the previous volume gets hurt again and cries out that, “My wounds have reopened!” Another time characters fix tea and one character explains to the other as they are making it that it’s so they can stay up late almost as if he is more speaking to the audience and not the other character. I’m never sure if that is the author putting that in or bad translation or what. Another problem I had was the author put several autobiographical comments in panels throughout this volume. It was disconcerting and kept pulling me out of the story. I love reading author’s notes at the beginning or short fun comics at the end that talk about the author personally or their process, but I have no interest in having injected in the middle of a fight scene that the author likes Jackie Chan movies. It also made me take a moment when we got back story on Noriko to realize what was going on because it was in the same tone as the autobiographical comments before. I almost skipped over the back story thinking it was more author trivia and not character history germane to the plot.
I hate to sound so negative about a series I am really starting to enjoy! The mystery around Izark deepens, Noriko is learning how to stand up for herself, and the fantasy elements and possibilities of the world continue to grow. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to these teens next.