Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
From the New World
Saki and Satoru prepare to face the fiend who is Maria and Mamoru's child in a final battle against the morph rats, a fight that will have grave consequences for their understanding of what it means to be a human. In the aftermath, Saki leads her town in a comprehensive battle against both morph rats and what they know to be true about themselves and their world as she hopes for a future that is better than the present in which she lives.
Endings are not easy. From the perspective of the reader, endings mean that it is time to say good-bye to a story and that it is now up to us to process the events of a tale and what, if anything, they might mean. For authors, endings are a challenge to wrap things up in such a way that the story stays with the readers and gives them something to mull over, while at the same time leaving things in a satisfactory place. From the New World adds the third issue of the manga adaptation, which presumably leaves out some elements of the original novel. The resulting final volume is one that both works and doesn't, rushing its aftermath wrap-up in a way that leaves nearly as many questions as answers.
The story picks up in the ruins of Tokyo, where Saki and Satoru, along with Kiromaru of Giant Hornet colony of morph rats, are trying to slay the fiend morph rat rebel Squealer has raised. As far as they know, this child, the son of Maria and Mamoru, lacks the shame-death code, which is why he can kill humans with no fear of involuntary suicide. Satoru plans to use an old biological weapon to kill the fiend, but Saki begins to realize that they may simply be pursuing the fiend's destruction from the wrong angle. The solution, which costs the life of a friend, will be easily figured out by anyone with a basic knowledge of how baby animals imprint on their mothers, but for Saki and Satoru, it is a frightening, and mind-blowing, answer. It, along with their relationship with Kiromaru and their early encounter with Squealer as students, makes them begin to rethink what they have been taught about the morph rats, ultimately leading to a discovery at the end of the book that shakes their beliefs.
I have long wondered about the title's similarity to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, itself taken from a line in Shakespeare's play The Tempest, and the revelation about the morph rats certainly points to some Huxley influence on author Yusuke Kishi. While this may simply be due to the generic conventions of futuristic science fiction, there are definite similarities between the two books, from the expectation of recreational sex from childhood on to the caste system. It is this latter that gets more development in the final volume of the manga, more fully tying Kishi's work to Huxley's in an interesting way. Kishi uses the truth about the morph rats and the shame-death code to highlight man's inhumanity to man, bringing us back to the irony of Miranda's speech in The Tempest: “How many godly creatures are there here!/How beauteous mankind is!/ O brave new world,/That has such people in't.” The new world that Saki's forbears created is one of a beautiful humanity ruling as gods; the newer world she and Satoru hope to leave their children will be one without such people in it – a world that is braver and better than the one that killed their friends.
While all of this can be interpreted from the manga's final chapters, there is still a sense that we are missing some transitional pieces of the story, which makes this a slightly more difficult read than it has to be. For example, when Satoru is prepared to use the biological weapon, the psychobuster, on the fiend, it isn't clear precisely what is happening, which makes the aftermath very confusing as we try to figure out why no one is dead. There is a fair amount of jumping around in time in the finale as well; once Saki and Satoru return to their town, the plot hops back and forth in time, which creates some confusion as to when everything is actually happening. Toru Oikawa's highly sexualized artwork can also be a bit distracting, specifically pertaining to Saki's illogically-contained breasts and Satoru's way-too-defined musculature in his one nude scene. This is, however, the only book in the series not to contain a random lesbian scene, making it also one of the few books where a girl doesn't die, since “girl has sex with Saki” seems to have been a series death flag.
From the New World's final volume isn't as satisfying as it might have been, suffering from some jumbled presentation of events and a mixed-up timeline at the very end, but it does make you think. Choosing Saki as her successor might have been the best thing that the former leader could have done for her world, as Saki and Satoru are determined to learn as much as they can from the past in hopes of creating a better future. Whether or not that future is ever attained is unclear, but the seed of it has been planted. There is no neat tying off of ends to this conclusion. Endings are not easy, and in the case of From the New World, we wouldn't want it to be. If there's going to be a new world, Kishi wants you to know that it has to be worked for.
Overall : B+
Story : A-
Art : B
+ Interesting revelations point to links to classic science fiction works, ending isn't tied up too neatly, which would have undermined the point. Saki and Satoru find a measure of peace with their pasts.
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