Please Save My Earth 21

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.

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Please Save My Earth 20

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2007 – 21 volumes

So, big reveal in this volume. A couple of them, actually. The bizarre circumstances surrounding Mokuren’s death, both in the past and present; and Alice wakes up after regaining all her memories and talks with Rin. It’s the latter that takes up most of the volume and has my full attention (there’s also some background story about how the other characters are searching for Alice), but the former is worth commenting on, as well.

It almost… doesn’t make sense? The last thing that Mokuren does. Actually, I can’t comment on it too much since I’ll spoil it, but I was a little puzzled. It was almost too new age-y for my taste, but it does tie everything together nicely, and it does attempt to give Shion hope in a rather hopeless situation. Of course, it’s not much hope, and we find out it didn’t do much good in the past. But still.

I did love and adore the conversations between Alice and Rin, though. Both make a distinction between Alice and Mokuren, and Rin and Shion. Alice tries to clearly make that distinction when it becomes obvious that Rin’s plans are conflicted because he and Shion are disagreeing about a plan of action. The distinction is also important, because Alice tries to use it to convince Rin that he’s not Shion, and that they’re two different people. Rin refuses to hear it. If he’s not Shion, then why does he love Mokuren? He can’t, and Alice would never love him if she wasn’t also Mokuren. But then Shion also doesn’t really think Mokuren really loved him back, nor does Mokuren believe that Shion loved her back, both because of the kiches on her forehead.

And that’s really the rub in this volume. Neither Alice nor Rin can properly convey the fact that they really love each other, no matter the time or place. Rin is too ready to give up, and lacks confidence in himself, where Alice still believes that Rin only loves her because she’s Mokuren, and Shion only loved Mokuren because she is a Kiche Sarjalian.

That they just can’t, no matter how hard they try, convey their feelings without running away or disbelieving… it’s an amazing handful of scenes. Adding to this is the fact that the conversations are interspersed with flashbacks to Mokuren’s death and its affect on Shion, and some glimpses of Shion’s years of isolation after that. The whole thing is tragic in so many ways, and Hiwatari pulls no punches.

I want to talk about Alice and Shin a little more, but unfortunately I don’t want to spoil things any more than I already have. I do want to talk about the ending next time, though, and I’ll do a big old spoiler cut for that so I can be satisfied. The ending is… both amazing and a little disappointing. It’s worth reading, though.

Please Save My Earth 19

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2006 – 21 volumes

Well, after Alice dropped that bomb at the end of the last volume, you had to read this volume next in order to see the scene in question in light of that new perspective. And this volume leaves off with Mokuren’s last moments on the moon, and Alice kidnapped by yakuza in the present. So of course you have to read the next one right away.

In this volume, Alice finishes remembering, and Rin springs a plan that takes almost the entire volume to set up, but when it happens, it is absolutely masterful. He moves every single person exactly where he wants them, and he winds up with the result he expected. And he does a major part of it with children, and while acting like a child himself. This is quite possibly the creepiest Rin scene in the entire series, and the best part about it is that you don’t get the full effect until all the pieces fall into place well after the actual Rin scene. Yet another amazing bit of storytelling.

The Mokuren flashback winds up here, and we get both the rape scene fallout and the events leading up to her death. Her rehearsed speech to Shion… this is the third time we’ve read it, right? The second time was definitely a slap in the face, because you realize it might not be sincere, but the third time is just painful, after you know just why she says it, and what she’s feeling and covering up. The whole situation is far uglier and sadder than it initially seems, and it was pretty damn ugly the first time through. Again, I love that the retelling here is shifting everything around so much. It’s really amazing stuff.

I’m going to stop here for now, without dwelling on the characters too much, but I promise I’ll make up for it in 20 and 21. How can I not?

Please Save My Earth 18

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2006 – 21 volumes

Okay, I’ll admit. I had been reading one volume of this a day, then writing it up here. I limited myself. I did this for about a week. I skipped a day, then read two the next day because I “had to make it up.” Then I read two more, thinking I’d just skip a day again. Then I read the last 14 volumes in a row on Saturday, because this series is that good. But my restriction was that I had to write the review here (but not post it) before I could read the next volume. Well, that broke down at the end of this volume. I read the last four volumes in what felt like fifteen minutes.

The ending to this volume… wow. I did not see that coming. That flipped things around. Quite a bit. I did wonder if there was more to the Big scene than meets the eye, because that would be very much like PSME. But I can’t believe Mokuren’s perspective flips things around that much. Or maybe it’s not her perspective, but the truth behind the feelings in the act. Or something.

Anyway. It made me realize that, frequently, we are left to interpret the characters’ thoughts ourselves based on the dialogue. I’m not sure why this took me 18 volumes to figure out. This is particularly difficult for Shion, since he’s constantly trying to hide his real feelings. We do get a lot of narration during his flashbacks, but during scenes with other characters, we are forced to interpret dialogue exchanges as we see fit. I have a hard time telling when both Shion and Ren are being sincere about something, since they can both lie pretty smoothly. This shouldn’t be difficult for manga characters, but the reader is usually in on it when it happens, and Shion’s lies are both in character and exactly what the reader wants/expects to hear. Or maybe they aren’t lies? I’m still not sure.

But yes. I literally threw this volume aside and grabbed the next one, at 2am, when I had to be up at 6am for work. I needed to know what all this meant that badly. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read a series this addictive, where I liked the characters and the story this much. Even Basara was something I could read in big chunks. I think the last series I read like this was Let Dai, and even then, I read it on a night when I didn’t have to go to work.

The password collection continues. I wondered how Hiiragi’s password was going to be obtained, since he was so dead set against giving them out, even in the present when it would’ve been worthless. It happens… well, the same way Rin gets everything he wants to happen. Actually, he uses one of this threats over again. But it’s effective.

There’s a confrontation between Mr. Tamura and his old Yakuza rival, engineered by Rin. I wondered if that went at all how Rin planned it, since Mr. Tamura’s psychic friend got involved and stopped anything from happening. I had thought the point here was to eliminate Mr. Tamura, but it’s interesting how the Yakuza rival is actually used. That comes later, though.

And the rest of it is the present, where Alice is puking her guts out and trying not to remember the Conflict between Mokuren and Shion. Actually, I’m going to cut this for spoilers. I want to talk my way through this, but I can’t do it without giving a bunch of the plot away.

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Please Save My Earth 17

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2005 – 1 volume

The opening to this volume as a very cosmic circle of life talk given to Mokuren by her father. In response to whether or not she can hear plants dying as she picks them, we find out that the plants ask that of her. And that plants, trees, and animals all accept their death, knowing that they are going to be fed back into the earth, or nurturing humans to become a part of them, only to become dust later themselves and be reincarnated later. It was pretty heavy stuff to be telling a little girl, but I loved trying to wrap my brain around it.

More flashbacks, although it hasn’t quite made it to the big Shion scene yet. Mokuren, Shusuran, and Enju all have a point, though. Shion does obsess over Gyokuran quite a lot. That was one of the other things that bothered me about the big moment in Shion’s flashback. He kept asking Mokuren about Gokuren. It was… a little terrible. And yes, it makes Mokuren think things, apparently.

And wow, things are really getting intense. Not only do we have several situations where Mokuren can have everything she wants in Gyokuran, she continues to pine after Shion after he makes it more than obvious he wants nothing to do with her. This type of drama is just my style, and watching Mokuren trying to parse the situations, especially in regard to Gyokuran, is really interesting.

But really. Gyokuran is a little bit too persistent. It’s unfortunate.

At the end of the book, we get some really sweet Shion memories. It’s completely out of character for him, honestly, and I almost don’t believe they happened, but they’re sweet all the same.

Once again, I’m going to cut this off a little short. I really, really want to read the rest of this Mokuren flashback, and I can’t read the next volume until I finish writing. I need to know about the crime!

Please Save My Earth 16

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2006 – 21 volumes

It’s an act?! Seriously? Holy crap, that is cold.

This is the more interesting part of Mokuren’s flashback, the time just before and right at the beginning of her stint on the moon base. I thought that Mokuren would somehow turn into her sweet and mild self through some event. Mostly, she just becomes a good Kiche Sarjalian. Watching everything play out from her point of view is very, very amusing.

Aside from the comedy, I also like all the expectations she went onto the team with. Her prayers to Sarjalim just before she met the rest of the team cracked me up too, and her… perspective on the team members made reading some of the same scenes again a lot more informative.

Also, I did like that Hiwatari saved a lot of new material for this flashback. Some of the differences between the two flashbacks are simply a matter of things Shion witnessed on the base verses things Mokuren witnessed (different talks with Gyokuran and Shukaido, for instance, or more of certain events that Shion only saw the aftermath of). I didn’t realize that until just now, and it appeals to the side of me that is fanatical for alternative narrative techniques. That one is BRILLIANT. Some of them are new for this flashback, though, such as a really terrible Shion/Mokuren moment that the volume ended on. I wonder if that will be a turning point in their relationship. Hmm… That Mokuren remembered it and Shion didn’t might be a clue that Shion didn’t think it was worth remembering, or that it was more important for Mokuren.

I do like that certain events were finally explained. The ones that were mentioned in passing by other crew mates during Shion’s flashback, and then perhaps again in conversation in the present, were driving me crazy. Now I know for sure what was going on.

I also like Mokuren’s perspective on some of the characters. How certain friendships are too impenetrable for her to enter. How she hates being treated special because of her Kiche, and how it pushes her away from certain people. And how friendly warnings seem to reveal ugly intentions to her. I can’t figure out if her memory is painting a more accurate portrait of the characters or not. Maybe just different. I’m not even sure if Mokuren and Shion’s memories together really give us a good idea of the characters in the past. And maybe that’s one of the major themes. What face are you showing others, and what do they do with that information?

It’s pretty amazing, and I’m 16 volumes in. I can’t get over all the subtle nuances and storytelling and whatnot, and that all this work is still being put into it. It’s obvious Hiwatari is telling the story she wants to tell, and it makes me so happy to read it. I just can’t get enough.

One more thing. My favorite scene in the volume, and one of the most beautiful in the series so far, was when Mode, Mokuren’s attendant, asked her if she found anyone she could be friends with. There was a page that lingered on Mode and Mokuren, before Mokuren told Mode that nobody would be a friend like her. Which is true, she told Mode everything without putting on her Kiche face, and Mode was one of only a few people that treated Mokuren like a regular person. Their friendship really was special.

Please Save My Earth 15

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2006 – 21 volumes

…and here’s the beginning of Mokuren’s flashback, where we find out about her time in Paradise. Again, I’m not all that interested in this, but there are two things that caught my eye:

1. Paradise is still a no clothes facility, at least for the Kiche Sarjalians.

2. It’s interesting that I mentioned Alice being a passive character last time, because we see Mokuren really, really isn’t during her early days in Paradise. She’s quite a troublemaker, actually.

It was rather amazing how similar Mokuren and Shion’s stories were. I wasn’t expecting that at all, though I knew Mokuren’s time in Paradise wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows. The story about her parents was simultaneously sweet and also… well, a little much. Really? They’re so caring they burst into tears over everything? They have a perfect love? Then that happens to them? Even I have my limits for drama-tastic situations.

I can’t spoil this too much, and there are no other characters involved just yet so that I can comment on their development, so this entry is rather short. Plus, I’ve been flying through the volumes and want to read the next one now. I’m really, really, really enjoying this.

But one more thing. Something young Mokuren says here turns an unbelievably sweet and forgiving scene between she and Shion in one of the earlier volumes into an act that seems like it’s nearly as cold as Shion himself. I couldn’t believe it. I’m dying to see her thought process behind those lines. For the time being, they’ve been robbed of all meaning, though.

Please Save My Earth 14

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2006 – 21 volumes

Normally I dislike passive heroines, but I do like Alice. It wouldn’t be the same if she had the personality of, say Jinpachi. She does sit back and let things happen to her in early volumes, but I almost feel like her passiveness is good lately, because it means she simply sits back and takes in what everyone else is doing, keeping her opinions to herself in the meantime. She’s not really being forced or manipulated into doing anything. Though it would appear those around her are manipulating her into remembering or forgetting her past life, she seems to have roughly the same outlook as everyone else, so it doesn’t seem to matter too much in the end. She did surprise me when she explained what was happening to Rin’s mom, though I think she was motivated to do that out of guilt more than anything else.

And, admittedly, passive heroines are a little easier to relate to. Especially in this story. What can anyone do, when confronted with the type of stuff Alice is dealing with here? I think letting her sit back and watch is a great strategy.

This volume… it was a big one. I almost thought I was going to get the Rin/Alice reunion I was hoping for, but it looks like that’s still not in the cards. What does happen is that Jinpachi, Issei, and Rin go meet Mr. Tamura for an explanation as to what Shion’s been up to. And Mr. Tamura gives it to them. We know the whole story, of course, but it’s a complete shock to the three of them. I was a little upset that they didn’t talk about the implications of this more, and wonder what Rin was really up to. I suppose there’s not too much to say.

It was interesting that the biggest point of contention was not that Rin was a murdering creep, but what Shukaido did to Shion in the past. This made everyone stop, think, and react with revulsion. Somehow, it was Haru’s fault, which just goes back to the whole “they aren’t really dropping their past lives” thing.

And then Alice begins acting strangely. She doesn’t really want to accept her memories. She’s afraid. But they come for her anyway. The strange quirks that begin happening around this time are… interesting, to say the least. I need to read the next volume right now. Hopefully it won’t be a long flashback to “Paradise,” though the fact that it’s a nudist colony, of sorts, amuses me greatly.

Please Save My Earth 13

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2005 – 21 volumes

For some reason, this volume is hard to find. I got lucky and bought it, along with most of the rest of my PSME volumes, in a comic shop that still had it in stock a year or two ago. I’m very happy, because I almost didn’t pick up this series out of fear of having another Basara-like experience tracking a volume down. But now I’m thrilled. I think I like this series better than Basara.

I like that the story took a step away from Rin in this volume. He is interesting, but at the same time, the story has been fairly obsessed with him these past several volumes, and we haven’t really been hearing from the others. This one almost feels like the characters going through the motions, though, as they’re still following Rin’s lies and taking the long way to figure it out.

Alice figures it out, though. Not all of it, but the part I was waiting for. It doesn’t really change things, since she has nobody to talk to about this. I also appreciate the fact she seems to be keeping the information to herself for the time being, because I have the impression the others would flip pretty quickly when they figured things out. But I do hope something major happens within the next volume or two. I’d love to see how another conversation between Rin and Alice goes after the last blow-up.

I’m still loving the fact that everyone is still trying so desperately to just set the past aside, but they just can’t help themselves. I thought this might have gotten old by now, but they seem to do it unconsciously. They aren’t making any easily-preventable mistakes, either, where you just want to slap them silly because they’re doing something obviously wrong. They’re just being themselves, and falling back into old habits that aren’t necessarily a good idea in the present. They’ll have a conversation about forgetting every little bit of the past, then decide to go to Kyoto to confront Shion. What can you do?

I don’t have that much to say this time, mostly because I’m just waiting for the Alice/Rin reunion. Perhaps Alice will have her memories by then, too. I’m curious to see what will happen, which is pretty much my stance on this whole series. I love that I have literally no idea where any of this is going. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Nothing is terribly obvious to me, except for the fact that Rin and Alice will probably end up together, and I don’t know how I feel about that. The way it will happen is still a ways off, though, since Rin is so irrationally negative.

Please Save My Earth 12

Saki Hiwatari – Viz – 2005 – 21 volumes

Things take a turn for the weird when all of Rin’s plans come crumbling down. Mr. Tamura finally makes a play that seems to shake Rin, but not before Rin reveals another play he’d been working. From the hospital. Seriously. That little kid’s a creep.

Plus, he takes something Alice says the wrong way and goes into a full-blown fit of anger, forcing her out of the hospital room. Alice doesn’t understand what the problem is, only that it has something to do with Gyokuran. With the past lives again. Part of the problem is also that Jinpachi and Issei are doing some digging about the incidents that Shion has put in motion, thinking that Haru is Shion. Alice begins to suspect that Shion isn’t a good person after all, even though her heart and unremembered personality is telling her otherwise.

There’s a rather romantic scene between Jinpachi and Alice towards the end of the volume, too. I hated it a little bit. It’s got all the right things happening, but I can’t explain why it’s so uncomfortable. Perhaps because, after bravely professing that he wanted to forget the past and Alice didn’t have to remember, he continues to give a speech about how much he loves Mokuren and how evil Shion is. Plus, he’s still forcing his feelings on Alice.

There’s a fantastic scene at the beginning of the volume, too, where though Alice hasn’t remembered Shion’s personality, she just keeps circling the truth again and again. You become certain she’s going to go home and remember, or that Rin is going to tell her, or that she’ll somehow say it out loud and know. It was maddening. I kept waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop. That scene ended spectacularly anyway, but that opening was still spectacular.

And that wasn’t even the best scene in the volume. That would have to be when Rin travels back to the moon base and meets Shion after he lost his sanity. Since Shion was insane, Rin can’t know the memories, so it’s interesting that the alternate method is to confront Shion and have conversations between Rin and Shion. But after he went mad, Shion built something that’s upset even Rin. Rin doesn’t know what it is, but he’s obviously very, very shaken. It’s highly unusual to see him like that. Also unusual is that Shion doesn’t seem insane. He seems at peace, and Rin holds that against him. Hmm.


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