From the New World, Vol. 1

By Yusuke Kishi and Toru Oikawa. Released in Japan as “Shin Sekai Yori” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

The question of “how much fanservice is too much” has come up often in discussion of manga in North America, and it’s usually the case that we have a lower tolerance of it than Japan does. That said, there’s simply so much of it, particularly in Kodansha’s Weekly Magazine and its monthly spinoff, that sometimes you just have to smile and nod at the boobs and move on. I review Fairy Tail every month, and Negima back when it ran, and rarely commented on the fact that every 4 or 5 chapters would just be a blatant “look at all the naked women” bath scene or shower scene or whatever. It was rarely connected too much to the plot, so could easily be edited out of my memory.


It’s impossible to do that with From the New World, whose fanservice goes above and beyond the call of duty. The series has an intriguing post-apocalyptic premise, which a town teaching kids magic and the kids then going over the fence to explore the forbidden countryside. There is some horror thrown into the mix, as one of the lead characters gets unpersoned about 1/3 of the way through, to such an extent that the others don’t even remember she existed – that was handled quite well. And the action scenes, when they do come, are pretty decent. The story starts with a “here is how everything fell apart” flashforward, so no doubt we will soon see the entire world destroyed or something like that.

But it needs to be said: Saki and Maria (and Reiko when she was with them) have naked bathtime fun, with groping. There’s jealousy of the guys in the group, which leads to “you must THINK ONLY OF ME” and more groping. And then at the end it goes above and beyond, and there’s a full-on lesbian sex scene. I expect hot springs nudity from my Kodansha titles, but this boggled my mind, and compared to the prior mood of the series seemed so utterly jarring. I’ve no doubt that part of this was on purpose, but only part – I think a great deal of this series sells on guys buying it to see girls having hot lesbian sex. (FYI for yuri fans, think Kannazuki no Miko more than Maria-sama Ga Miteru.)

So I went to research what the hell was up with this… and wish I hadn’t. The manga is based on an award-winning novel, and also has an anime to its name. Apparently there is a vague plot-related reason for the hot lesbian sex, which I sort of guessed. But apparently two of the guys are also supposed to be in a relationship with each other. This was made clear in the novels, and toned down but kept there in the anime. The manga seems to have removed the male relationship entirely. And from what I can gather, the yuri fanservice gets even more blatant as the series goes on. I guess the editors know what sort of audience they want the series to connect to.

If you can get past the sex scenes and nudity, there’s a dark and twisted science fiction story here that might eventually pay off. I just found it impossible to do so. Which, given the amount of manga I read with nudity and yuri in it, says a lot.

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  1. There was actually a lot of discussion when this was licensed because of the ridiculous fanservice that was apparent from the art samples alone, and it was very jarring versus what the anime looked like. A lot of folks who had been following the anime were utterly dismayed that Vertical didn’t give the novels a go; while its understandable from a marketing standpoint, it was nevertheless disappointing. Vertical did say that if the manga sold well enough it’d consider the novels, so I have been considering picking up the first volume of this even though it looks terribly odious.

    I strongly recommend not writing off the franchise because of this wretched adaptation. The anime is absolutely not a fanservice-fest (no bathing scenes whatsoever, for example), and is really quite good. The “dark and twisted science fiction” story is not buried under gross crap there, and its pretty damn creepy. If you doubt me, by the way, it also sold very, very poorly, so it couldn’t’ve been showing much naked flesh!

  2. The series is based on an award-winning novel, not a series of light novels. :)

    It’s a shame about the fanservice. I watched the first few episodes of the anime and kind of hoped I could just read the manga instead because I prefer manga and Vertical’s usually pretty good about picking strong adaptations, but I guess that’s not the case this time. Oh well, I’ll have to get around to finishing the anime at some point. I would recommend it from what I saw; contrary to this version, it has a very interesting art style and often experiments with other styles as well.

  3. Sounds like one I can pass I can look past most Fan Service it just seems a little disingenuous to say that the novels are well written or the anime adaptation is good when what where looking at is the manga adaptation which decided to go that direction.

  4. I just don’t think you’ve gotten to the yaoi yet, having seen the anime, it just doesn’t happen til the second part anyway and I’m guessing vol 1 is still in the first part.
    But damn does this sound like a distracting and terrible manga, think I’ll avoid.

  5. Disclosure – I’ve watched the anime in its entirety. I haven’t read the novel, or the manga. I don’t think I’ve gotten spoilerly in my comment, but I am happy to have my comment modified if anyone thinks I have. I am also happy to discuss anything in more detail with anyone who wants to.

    There is an actual reason for all of the sexytimes that is part of this world that has been created. So I’m not disappointed that the relationships are being depicted in a sexual manner – I’m disappointed that it appears that they are being sexualized. The Saki/Maria relationship is very important! But then the B/B one is too. And Saki has important relationships with two of the guys. Each of these relationships has significance for later events, so it’s a shame that they are not being explored.

    Did the manga change one of the characters from male to female?? Because in the anime, there is a group of two females and three males. The friend that gets “unpersoned” is one of the guys. I’m not sure it’s important for the plot that this person be male versus female. But if they did change it, it was probably to amp up the yuri and erase the yaoi. (What are the names of the two guys?)

    I highly recommend watching the anime. (There is a part where it really drags, but you are rewarded in the end. I dropped it at one point, only to pick it back up after hearing comments about how it kept getting better. Glad I did.) They also did some really nice things with animation styles at the beginning. It’s just such an interesting world that the author of the novel built, and there is so much to discuss about it. It seems a shame that the nature of the world has seemingly been used for forced fanservice purposes. (When you could have had some sexy scenes as a legitimate result of the world, the characters, and their relationships with each other.)

    I was hoping that this was a case of “lets really sex it up at the beginning and then we can tone it down” but from some of the comments, it appears that’s not the case??

    • Sean Gaffney says

      The manga started with 6 kids, 3 male, 3 female. The girl, Reiko, was unpersoned. I didn’t mention guy #3 (Mamoru?) as honestly, I found him kinda boring. Then again, it is just Vol. 1,. Maria has a hate-on for him, so I assume they get together later. Satoru and Shun are the other two guys.

      As for the guys in a relationship, I admit I searched the title online and found folks saying that the guys were not a couple in the manga, so it’s possible that’s not true and it happens in future volumes. But honestly, they barely even interact in the first volume, while Saki and Maria get it on in loving detail. There’s nothing there to remotely suggest this happens with both genders.

      • Thanks – now that you mention it, Reiko might have been in the anime, too… Which makes me think my comment is unwittingly spoilerly, so you might want to scrub it.

  6. They did WHAT in the manga of From the New World? Wow. The anime is a highly underrated work that deals with sexuality and horror in an extremely mature fashion. It’s one of my all-time favourites. There’s nothing even remotely like shoehorned bath scenes. I’m annoyed just thinking of the readers whose first exposure to the series will be like this.


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