two magical girls and their dreams

I’m a sucker for magical girl shoujo manga, recently I’ve read the first volumes of From Far Away (Kanata Kara) and Queen’s Knight (Amazon), both of which feature heroines who dream of other worlds.

From Far Away tells the story of Noriko, a girl who has been having haunting dreams of a strange land. One day she gets blasted into an alternate reality and wakes up in a strange world. She’s menaced by a giant insect, but is rescued by a man who seems to be almost superhumanly fast, strong, and is very handy with a sword. His name is Izark, and he seems to be a classic reluctant hero — he doesn’t seem to like the idea of helping out a strange Japanese girl who doesn’t speak his language who may be the fulfillment of a horrible prophecy, but somehow he can’t stop himself from helping out.

This manga was written in the early 1990s, and it shows in the art which has a retro look to my eyes (very round eyes, not very defined noses and tiny mouths). Noriko at first seems very tentative about being transported to a world with deadly giant insects, but she starts to fight her initial fears and decides to start learning Izark’s language. This might end up helping her out in the long run, because his motivations for watching over her seem a little ambiguous.

I knew I’d probably like Queen’s Knight, because the other work I’ve read by Kim Kang Won (I.N.V.U.) was totally hilarious. There seems to be a theme of maternal abandonment in Kim Kang Won’s works — in I.N.V.U. the heroine’s mother suddenly decided to go to Italy, leaving her daughter with a credit card and sending her to live with a strange family.

Queen’s Knight focuses on Yuna, the youngest child in a family with three older brothers. Her mother is studying music in Germany, leaving the family behind. Yuna is haunted by dreams of a mysterious knight on her first day back from school after her winter break. Yuna had a somewhat traumatic vacation as she went to Germany to visit her Mother, went for a walk, and and fell into a gorge and broke her leg. Back home, her brothers refuse to take her to school even though she’s still wearing a cast, so she gets a ride from a classmate, Kahyun. The storyline switches back and forth between the current troubles Yuna has in school with backstabbing girls, her crush on Kahyun, the knight that invades her dreams, and her trip to Germany. Strange things happened back in Bavaria, because after Yuna’s accident, she was rescued by the strange knight she continues to dream about.

Although Queen’s Knight certainly has the elements of the fantastic that you’d expect to find in a manwha of this genre, the real strength of this title is the humor and the interactions between the characters. Yuna bickers with her brothers, tries to deal with their strange interpertations of how to cook a family meal, and struggles with school. There are so many storylines being juggled in this book, it ends up being very entertaining.