krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
The anime series "From the New World" caught my attention and kept my interest when I saw it streaming. There seemed a good deal of "world-building" complexity to the future society of psychics elaborated in it, and its story had some suspenseful developments. I wound up hearing it had been adapted from a science fiction novel (as opposed to the more familiar adaptations of less involved "light novel" series), which in itself did keep me thinking how English-language written science fiction has seemed to me inclined since the 1970s or so to step away from presenting "psychic phenomena" as if abandoning it to the "visual SF" its fans then turn around and dismiss as much less thoughtful and reasoned. As much as I'm inclined to skepticism about "the paranormal" in the real world and aware that even the most reasonable and non-conspiratorial "psychic SF" of the 1950s might amount in the end to invoking phenomena without plausible mechanisms, the whole subject getting narrowed down to "superpowers" does sometimes seem to miss new opportunities for storytelling, opportunities that just might have been presented in the anime series.

As an adaptation, though, the series was opened up to "I proclaim this fault in it to be a matter of details from the original getting boiled away" criticisms, criticisms which just might happen to show off how the person making them can take in things hidden behind language barriers for less enlightened types. The chances of a thick original novel being translated for a potential audience of mere anime fans didn't seem good, though, but there seemed a trace of hope in how Vertical was licensing the manga also adapted from the novel as if to test the waters. As soon as the cover art of the first volume was available, though, fresh criticisms cropped up. It was pretty clear just from the main character's costume on it, much more abbreviated than anything she wore in the anime, that the manga was being pitched with a thick coating of "fanservice." Feeling myself a little more capable than some at not being offended by that, I bought the manga anyway to run into a particular interpretation of one idea presented back in the anime, namely how one feature built into the future society to keep people from attacking each other with a mere effort of will was to be more like the bonobos than the chimpanzees and encourage sex as a tension defuser. I've adapted to one particular anime message board well enough to at least try and quip "you say 'gratuitous teenage lesbian scene' like it's a bad thing," but in being absolutely circumspect about what the male characters might be doing (a further difference from the anime) I was aware the manga was opening itself up to a whole new slew of criticisms.

I stuck with the manga, though, even though comments about the novel eventually being translated had more or less vanished. Aware of what had happened in the anime, I was aware events were telescoped or rearranged in the manga (although this did move the familiar explanation of just why the female characters were up to what they were up to to much later on), but when I was convinced some of the more exploitative stuff was now past new opportunities for it kept being invented, which eventually did get a bit creepier yet. In the very last volume, however, all of a sudden things were sort of different. I could remember a plot resolution in the anime that had, on first experiencing it, seemed just a little too much like "so why'd you go to all the trouble in the first place? Well, that was convenient..." In the manga, there was just a bit more development to make it easier to accept. That did seem to improve my feelings towards the manga in the end, and even made me think a bit more approvingly of getting back to the anime (which I now have the Blu-Rays of) to watch it again.
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