I tend to be a “The book was better than the adaption” guy. That is, if a story first exists as a novel, is later adapted to some other medium, and I have the opportunity to experience both, odds are I will prefer the book. This has been the case throughout my life, and remained so after I discovered anime and light novels. Of course there are exceptions, cases where I see the adaptation as having merits of own that allow it stand equal with its source material, or even instances where I prefer the adaptation over the original. Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World is NOT one of those exceptions.
An anime adaptation of this story aired in fall 2020, and my first impression of it was underwhelming, to say the least. I somehow stuck it out and watched the whole season and…yeah, I should have used that time for something more worthwhile. However, in the anime’s favor, I confess that piqued my curiosity enough that I checked out the light novels. The characters are better developed and plot points are clearer, naturally, but beyond that, the books provide basic information like the names of people and places and their relation to one another. I’m not talking about spoilery information that it might have made sense for the anime to withhold, just the kind of things that helps keep the world from being painfully generic and/or confusing. So yeah, I can recommend the Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World light novels, and also recommend that you skip the anime.
Confession: the entire premise for this post was that the aforementioned light novel has the word “rise” in its title (not even “arise,” just “rise”) and thus is tenuously relevant to the week’s theme. Well, actually, the connection goes a little deeper to encompass the word preceding “rise” and the four words that follow it: “The rise of a new world.” Because the world itself couldn’t help but be changed when God entered it in human form, died, and arose. The world before the cross and the empty tomb was different than the world after the cross and the empty tomb.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” (Isa. 65:17)“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet. 3:13)
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” (Rev. 21:1)
Like with many of our Lord’s promises, there’s an already-but-not-yet quality to these statements. By “already-but-not-yet,” I mean the kind of thing Jesus meant when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well: “…the hour is coming, and is now here” (John 4:23). We hope for just such a new world, one that “is now here” and yet is also still “coming.” But it’s not just the “world” that is getting a makeover: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Through the Lord’s death and resurrection, he will re-create us, and indeed to some degree he is already re-creating us through the Holy Spirit.
Let us take heart and hope.
Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World is available through Yen Press.