.Kanata kara article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 5, No. 2, January 2002
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
Kyoko (first o long) Hikawa's style is quintessentially shojo, yet her action rivals that of shonen artists. This is especially true of the romantic adventure Kanata kara (From Far Away). Currently at twelve volumes, this top of the charts series takes its high school heroine into another world, one filled with mystery and danger.
Noriko Tachiki is a normal girl, except she keeps dreaming of a world full of strange beauty. While discussing it with her friends, the news in the background warns that criminals may have left bombs in shopping bags around town. A boy's ball bounces past, and like Alice after the white rabbit, Noriko chases it. The ball bounces off a shopping bag under an electric pole, then the bag explodes.
Noriko finds herself floating in a void. She sees her friends. They wonder if she's been blasted into another dimension, for there's no trace of her anywhere. This vision fades and another appears in which people worry about the ‘Awakening' because the water has turned the color of blood. Noriko sees more visions filled with evil portends. Some begin hunting the ‘Awakening', for they want to rule the world. The cryptic visions fade into one vast, otherworldly landscape populated by a lone man.
Noriko wakes on a mound of gold fluff beneath the tall and airy roots of a massive tree; it's a place unlike any she's ever seen or imagined. The situation scares her, and she's soon calling desperately for her family. The lone man watches, drawing closer, then he notices the approach of men on winged beasts hunting the ‘Awakening'. Noriko's debate as to whether or not she's dreaming becomes moot as she finds herself in the middle of a stampede. She soon discovers what all the forest creatures are running from --a huge, spiked, carnivorous worm! Before the beast can strike, Noriko is whisked away by the lone man who effortlessly cuts the worm down. Panicked, Noriko grabs him until her racing thoughts slow. Once calm, it occurs to her she's hugging a stranger... She looks up into the face of a beautiful, somewhat irked man. He detaches her and gathers his things as Noriko babbles an apology. Finally, he responds. "I don't understand a word you're saying."
Noriko's rescuer is Izark Kia Tarji, and he does not speak Japanese. This language barrier keeps Noriko from realizing she's the ‘Awakening', a legendary force said to revive the ‘Demon of the Heavens'. While others seek to possess the ‘Awakening', Izark had planned to destroy it, not knowing it would be a person. Naturally, he can't kill Noriko, and his super- human strength makes him the one person who can protect her. Although she has no martial skills, Noriko faces her many adventures with remarkable courage and determination while remaining her sweet, good-natured self. For three books, Noriko slowly learns the language as she struggles to adapt to the strange new world around her. This difficulty provides plenty of opportunity for comedy and character development amidst the action-packed plot.
With help from the four languages it's been translated into, the universal appeal of From Far Away has garnered the series fans around the world. Fans hope the recent six CD dramas may be a precursor for an anime series, but the language barrier which makes From Far Away so unique may be one of the factors keeping it from being animated. Hopefully it will be considered a challenge, not a barrier, because a story this enjoyable deserves to be seen.