"So Far Away" – Kieli (manga) – 8/10 Sugar Cubes


War does not determine who is right – only who is left. ~Bertrand Russell

Genre: Supernatural/ Drama/ Spiritual/ Fantasy

Review Status: Full (3 Volumes/ 3 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: What can I say about the art? It’s somewhat stylized, but wonderfully detailed. It… just… looks…. Good.

Summary: “Kieli sees ghosts. It’s an odd ability for a 14-year-old girl, and it makes her a bit of an outcast at her boarding school. Her only friend, in fact, is the (semi-) departed spirit of a girl who used to inhabit her room. That is until the two encounter a young man who appears to share Kieli’s “gift.” It doesn’t take long to discover, though, Harvey is an altogether different sort of creature – one of the infamous Undying, the reanimated corpse of a dead soldier. Could it be that in this cursed fellow Kieli has finally found a kindred spirit? Throwing in her lot with this strange, soulless man and his possessed radio, she means to find out…” (Borders.com)

Review: The story is very interesting. This does not waste time with filler, instead going straight to the story, from Kieli meeting the Undying soldier, to being intrigued enough to follow him, to discovering that what she knows is a fabrication and that the war was far more complex and horrible than she had learned. It has just the right complexity, with it being more than a fight-the-bad-guys, but not complex enough to hinder the story. There’s an interesting bad guy, a good guy that has a history, and a girl who is drawn in not entirely unwillingly, but ends up in something bigger than she expected.

The characters are all well-rounded and complex. Kieli is a normal girl who’s been disillusioned, but has mostly come to terms with her experiences and what her life is like. She’s kind, but is no pushover. Harvey is trying to atone for the pain he inflicted on others. He’s not always the nicest, but his sensitive side does come out fairly early, giving an explanation for why he is like he is. And he’s willing to sacrifice himself to protect his friends. Corporal was sympathetic- a soldier that had seen the horrors of war, had a strong sense of duty, but also had a soft side for his friends, even if he wasn’t inclined to show it and it isn’t as soft as others you might compare him to.

It isn’t afraid to play around with themes of war and isolation, from the Church being separated from the people and hiding the truth to Kieli believing they were abandoned by God. And it uses these themes effectively, even in the short volumes this story was given.

My only regret was how short this manga was- it covers the first light novel incredibly well, but since there are more light novels, you get a feeling that the story, even though it has a solid end to it, isn’t complete.

Overall, this is a great manga, but I’d suggest picking up the rest of the light novel series to find out the rest of the story.

Recommended: Sure! This is a nice short read, and gives you something to think about.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Mail (manga),
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (manga),
Natsume’s Book of Friends (anime and manga)
Ayakashi –Japanese Classic Horror and the spinoff of the Bakeneko arc, Mononoke (anime),
Ghost Hound (anime),
Ghost Hunt (anime),
Zombie Loan (manga),
Shinigami no Ballad (anime and manga),
Bizenghast (manga)

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