Please Save My Earth 21
December 12, 2011
Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2007 – 21 volumes
The ending to Please Save My Earth… part of it was a little disappointing and anti-climatic, but it was mostly just really, really great. I could not read this fast enough. Tokyo Tower is the final stage, and it was mostly one non-stop action scene the entire volume. It was exciting, a little bittersweet, and beautiful. Just wonderful.
I don’t want to say too much to spoil it, but the scene where Rin is rattling off all the passwords was one of the most memorable in the series for me. Far better and more effectively maniacal than a simple psi battle would have been. It’s exciting because it balances on whether or not Rin will do the right thing with the passwords, but it is devastatingly effective at dredging up all the flashback history as well, since you recall the history and reasoning behind all the passwords as he’s reciting them. Such a good narrative device.
I also loved that Shion spent seven years trying to decode them, when two of them were simply the full names of the crew members. As if that wouldn’t have been one of the first things to try. He would have had three of them. I would like to think four, since Gyokuran’s password would have also been easy to guess.
Anyway, I’m going to cut for spoilers.
It is a little strange that a series like this ends with whether or not Rin/Shion will control the world (which he can’t do anyway unless Mokuren/Alice consents to it, right, since she’s the only one that would know the black oratorios?) or blow up the moon base. And the anticlimax comes when it’s revealed that all was for naught, since the “dangerous device” Shion built in his madness was a continuously looping video of Mokuren singing to make the plants grow, thus destroying all the technology on the base as the plants grew out of control.
Am I the only one that thought that full page illustration of Shion’s rotting corpse was a little creepy, rather than the poetic image of the cycle of life and death it was intended to represent?
Having said that, the ending was still a really, really great read. All the characters show up to battle Rin in order to stop him from controlling the world, so there is plenty of fighting. Rin is, of course, unstoppable and insane. In addition to the fighting, there’s also plenty of desperate reasoning, with all of the reincarnated moon staff begging Rin to let Shion’s soul rest in peace, to move beyond Shion and live his own life, that their past lives on the moon and their hope planet have absolutely nothing to do with the fate of the Earth.
But it’s Alice that steals the show in that respect. Seeing her desperately beg Rin to stop, over and over again, as hard as she can, while he’s rattling off the passwords only makes that scene more powerful.
The fallout from all this is also quite beautiful. Hiwatari lays Shion and Mokuren’s souls to rest for good in a very beautiful scene, and watching all the present reincarnations reconcile with one another and finally come to terms with the present is very rewarding.
Best of all, Alice and Rin finally connect. For real. As Alice and Rin. This is a double-edged sword, though. I’ve been waiting for this for twenty-one volumes, and it is just as lovely as I imagined it would be. On the other hand, suddenly, I realized that Rin was… what, eight? I mean, he obviously has the soul and experience of Shion behind him, and doesn’t act like an eight-year-old. Still, somehow, Alice’s heartfelt confession to Rin lost some of the shine for me when I realized it was a teenager confessing to an eight-year-old. But what can I say? It’s not like that hasn’t been the case for the whole series, and nothing physical happens, so that’s okay.
One of the last pages of the regular story is a two-page illustration of Jinpachi finally giving up on Alice. I love that things came completely full circle.
I did like that the epilogue acknowledged how creepy that was, though. That made me like the series even more. The epilogue ties up all the loose ends and the futures and relationships between the characters via a letter exchange between Alice and Haruhiko, along with a very funny field day event at Rin’s school where Jinpachi heckles him. It’s a nice way to handle things, and I like the epilogue wasn’t set so far in the future that we had to sit through explanations of everyone’s completely different family situations. But everything is resolved, and the series ends on a very pleasant note.
This has definitely been one of my favorite shoujo series of all time. I love the well-written characters and their relationships, and I love the way the fantasy themes and flashbacks were handled. Plus, the art is more than up to the task all the way through, and I love that Hiwatari seems to know how to use full-page illustrations and compositions, not to mention character facial expressions, to full effect. I can’t think of a single thing I would do to change it, really, and now that I’ve completely written it up, I’m thinking about re-reading the whole thing again, just to see how all the foreshadowing works now that I know what’s going to happen. Certainly it’s worth a re-read just to see how all the alternate viewpoints play out. But I have to admit, I envy myself the experience of reading it for the first time. It’s absolutely wonderful in every way. I can’t recommend it highly enough.