Please Save My Earth 18
November 10, 2011
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.
It looked like rape, and Mokuren reacted like she was being raped, but I wondered if that was what was going on in Shion’s flashback. We are certainly led to believe it was, but there was some ambiguity. I wasn’t sure if it was for story reasons, or because this was a shoujo manga. I wasn’t certain they had actually had sex until the end of this volume. Like I said, I couldn’t tell if Shion’s force was in the middle of the act and he forced her to finish, if he forced her through the entire act of having sex, or he began to force himself on her, and the two were interrupted before he could do anything. Rape is rape, certainly, and any force is a bad thing. I’m not trying to excuse the rape. I’m trying to figure out how much Mokuren wanted to have sex with Shion before he started ranting about Gyokuran and asked him to stop. She did go in there to have sex with him, after all, and she was in love with him, and he had admitted his love for her.
It was my impression, even during Shion’s flashback, that she did want to have sex with him, but stopped when all he could talk about was Gyokuran. But I could see how it could be read both ways. I really didn’t think she was doing that out of love for Gyokuran, and her refusal of Shion during sex didn’t read to me as if she couldn’t bring herself to do it because he wasn’t Gyokuran. But all we ever got on a possible Gyokuran/Mokuren relationship in the way of concrete evidence was Shion constantly berating her, both internally and aloud, for having a crush on Gyokuran. I was pretty sure that didn’t make it true, though.
I started to worry though, when the story clearly avoided this event (understandable, since it was a rape), and Alice kept throwing up when she knew she would eventually have to remember it. But the anxiety… turns into something else by the end of the volume. I’m not sure if she’s anxious throughout this volume because Jinpachi (or maybe Haru?) told her plainly that Shion raped Mokuren, and she doesn’t want that memory, or because, somehow, Mokuren doesn’t want to remember and get her heart broken again. Which I guess is why it’s taking Alice so long to remember in the first place?
I’m further confused by Alice’s words in conversation with Haru: “A man could never understand how it feels! Whenever I try to remember, I feel like I’m going to throw up!”
Does this indicate Mokuren was actually rather brutally raped by Shion that night? Is it Alice dreading the memory, because she doesn’t want a memory of being raped? Is it Mokuren fighting the memory because she doesn’t want to remember the cold rejection by Shion?
It seemed to me, through this whole flashback, and even before, that somehow Alice knew what was coming. Her tears at the end of the volume struck me as just… rock bottom sorrow, that she would have to remember that the act of love between Shion and Mokuren wasn’t love, because Shion didn’t love her back. But looking at it now, it could be a raw grief, fresh understanding because she just remembered or realized that Shion had lied about loving Mokuren.
I hate to say she wasn’t being raped during that scene, because I’m pretty sure she was, on some level. But I don’t think the sex was the problem there. I think the problem was that Shion, the only person she ever met that didn’t treat her like a goddess, the person she fell in love with, would lie to her about being in love, then take advantage of her solely because she was a Kiche Sarjalian. Now I have to read that volume again. She stopped when he started talking about Gyokuran, which would put anyone off during sex, but did she start crying before or after he began ranting that taking away her kiches was his revenge against Sarjalim?