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.