by Whitney Grace
From the New World takes place one thousand years in Japan’s future, where magic is commonplace. Saki, Maria, Shun, Mamoru, and Satoru all eagerly wait the day when their powers will awaken. Saki is especially excited, because she wants to explore the world beyond her cordoned off provincial village. When the children’s powers finally do awaken, Saki being the last, they graduate to a magic school where they are taught how to control their magic. Not everything is all fun and games for the friends. There are rumors about a vicious monster that devours students with weak magic and Satoru has disappeared. Even stranger is when the rat monsters start attacking humans. The friends know something is wrong, so they decide to cross the rope and find answers outside the village.
From The New World is based off a novel by Yusuke Kishi. He won the Japan SF Taisho Award for this novel, which gives the impression that it is a well-written piece of literature. The same can’t be said about the manga. Comic book adaptations of prose novels are tricky in the US and it appears the same problems exist in Japan as well. While the first part of the comic starts out strong with character introductions, establishing events and possible conflicts, and then hinting at larger mysteries. Once the group sets out into the bigger world, the story slides downhill into confusion and fan service. The characters can’t pin down exactly what they are questing for other than that it concerns the rat monsters. The rat monsters are another crazy aspect, because supposedly they revere humans as gods. They are, however, being invaded by foreign rat monsters that are also attacking humans. The rat monsters are barely mentioned in the first part of the manga, then suddenly they become incredibly important. During the latter half of the comic, a few of the characters decide to engage in sexual activities while they profess undying friendship in a clichéd shojo manner.
Parts of From the New World are forced, while others are simply to please the reader’s more carnal longings. This is clearly a case where it is better to stick with the original work over the comic adaptation.