Please Save My Earth at The Hooded Utilitarian

For our second joint venture at The Hooded Utilitarian, MJ and I take a look at the sci-fi shoujo classic, Please Save My Earth.

Summarizing a series this long is a daunting undertaking, but MJ does an admirable job:

Please Save My Earth is a 21-volume soft sci-fi epic about seven Japanese children (six teenagers and one elementary school student) who discover that they are the reincarnations of a group of alien scientists who once studied the Earth from a remote base on the Moon. Their discovery is made through a series of shared dreams, in which the children re-experience their past lives, including the destruction of their home planet and their eventual deaths from an unknown illness that spread rapidly through the group during their final days. Now reborn on earth, the children seek each other out, burdened with unfinished business from their past lives while simultaneously struggling with the present.”

To check out the rest of our conversation, which touches upon the series’ themes, characters, humor, and artwork, please visit The Hooded Utilitarian.

The Moonlight That Surrounds Me 1 (Japanese) by Saki Hiwatari: C

From the back cover:
Rin and Alice have brought closure to their past lives and are living happily. Their son, Ren, is a completely normal boy. One day, his guardian angels appear to him. But what is their true form!? And what is the power closed inside Ren!? Inherited thoughts and abilities… The first volume of the long-awaited Please Save My Earth second-generation series has arrived!

Alas, this is not very good. I didn’t expect much, but reckoned for something better than this.

Ren is likeable (and kind of goofy), but because he couldn’t resist bragging about his parents’ powers at school, everyone there thinks he’s a liar. His only friend is Kachiko, daughter of ESPer Mikuro. In the first of three stories, the spirits of Shion and Mokuren protect him from a villain practically straight out of Sailor Moon.

In the second story, Kachiko and her tiresome angst about her father spending time at his ESP research job in America take center stage. It grows worse when Shion gets involved and imbues Ren with powers so he can go harrass Mikuro for making Kachiko sad. I feel like Shion’s dignity has been sullied.

In the last story, Rin has no memory of promising his son to tell him about Shion and Mokuren, so everyone worries about him acting strangely. Turns out, Shion has been “hijacking his consciousness” because he wanted to interact with Ren.

Also, Shion and Mokuren can now apparently appear in the physical realm to those with ESP ability. The only scrap of explanation given for why they never did this in the first series (that I recall, at any rate) is a lack of motivation. Uh-huh. Shion was pretty motivated to get those passwords.

Lastly, Hiwatari’s artistic style has changed a great deal and I don’t like it as well. Jinpachi looks absolutely nothing like the character did in the original. I realize they’ve grown up, but the rest are still recognizable, even if it did take me a couple of seconds to realize who Shion was upon his first appearance.

I doubt I’ll be continuing with this series. Hiwatari herself admitted she doesn’t know where things are headed. The only truly interesting parts to me were the moments where Alice and Rin were alone together, or when it became clear that Haruhiko still has feelings for Alice, and even those weren’t enough to quell the notion that maybe I should’ve just let the original stand on its own.

Please Save My Earth 21 by Saki Hiwatari: A+

From the back cover:
Eight-year-old Rin is still tormented by his past life. As Shion, an engineer stationed on Earth’s moon, he spent nine years alone after his home planet was annihilated and a deadly virus took the lives of his fellow scientists. Now, in the conclusion to the Please Save My Earth series, Rin’s plot to destroy the moon base—and all traces of his past life—reaches its denouement. Alice begs Rin not to let his past life as Shion rule his future—and even threatens to jump off Tokyo Tower if Rin chooses to pursue his plot of eventually controlling the world…

The final volume to this series provides a very satisfying conclusion to the story. Some things required a bit of thought to really appreciate what had happened, but it all ultimately made sense and was not a let down after all this long build-up.

The best parts began when Rin goes to Tokyo Tower. I especially like the first few pages there (58-62), where he’s walking around alone. The worst bits, thankfully scant, were when Mr. Tamura tried to be helpful and ended up making things worse. The last chapter is an epilogue.

I will definitely be rereading this series in the future, and recommend it to any book lover, whether or not they think they have any interest in manga.

Please Save My Earth 20 by Saki Hiwatari: A

From the back cover:
Rin is finally face to face with Alice again, and he is determined to get the computer password she used in her past life on the KK moon base. But even in the face of his vicious threats, Alice steadfastly refuses—unless he’ll tell her why he needs it. It turns out that Rin’s motives, tied into his past identity as Shion, are more complicated than his former moon compatriots could imagine…

Another excellent volume. This one primarily consists of Rin and Alice finally talking about all of the things they’ve needed to talk about for a while. We learn why Rin wants the passwords, and also more about Rin’s internal struggles. This bit felt a little tacked on to me, but that might just be because I haven’t read the earlier volumes in a while.

The art and expressions are top-notch, and I particularly liked the few pages without dialogue when Rin enters the room where sleeping Alice lies. Because of the layout, it has the potential to be an extremely quick read. I only took longer with it to reread a few pages, since the conversations that were transpiring were so pivotal.

Please Save My Earth 19 by Saki Hiwatari: A+

From the back cover:
Mokuren awakens from a fever-induced coma a week after her attack, tormented by the realization that Shion lied to her when he said he loved her. After all, if he really did, her Kiche, the mystical mark on her forehead, would have disappeared. Even so, and even though he’s now treating her like a sacred being instead of a fellow human, she can’t stop loving him.

On Earth, Haruhiko tries to convince Alice that Rin needs and loves her. But Alice finds herself in deep trouble, and her disturbing dreams continue, showing her the end of Mokuren’s life on the KK moon base…

This volume truly has it all. It’s about evenly split between memories of the moon and present day. The former provides insights into Shion’s motivations, his relationship with Mokuren, and their final days together on the moon base. The latter features everyone trying to protect Alice from Rin, as hers is the final password he needs, and Alice reacting to the things she’s remembered. Much drama, and it’s all great.

There’s a cliffhanger of sorts in each time period, but since we know essentially how things turned out on the moon, it’s the present day resolution that I’m eagerly anticipating. I’m very glad I waited until I had the last few volumes before embarking on this final arc because waiting would totally dilute the impact.

Please Save My Earth 18 by Saki Hiwatari: A-

From the back cover:
Though just a boy of 8, villainous Rin is wreaking havoc among the group of teenagers who remember a past life on the moon. In his quest to destroy the moon base, Rin will stop at nothing to learn the computer passwords of his former compatriots on the KK research team. To force Daisuke, the moon mission’s leader, to reveal his password, Rin takes his younger brother hostage. The others desperately try to dodge Rin and are especially mindful of keeping Alice safe. But how long can they keep one step ahead of him?

A whole lot happens in this volume, which is almost entirely set in present day. It’s been so long since any significant time was spent there that I hardly remember a few of the people who make appearances. Rin continues to be very cool, and in so doing, adds some depth to another of the reincarnated moon base folk who was sorely lacking in personality. I also completely adore Alice’s brother, Hajime.

We also get a little bit more information as to why some of the others are so against just letting Shion have the passwords that he’s after. This is starting to feel like the beginning of the end, though many essential revelations are still forthcoming. I have no idea what’s up with a couple of ideas dangled about Haruhiko. I just hope it ultimately all makes sense.

Please Save My Earth 17 by Saki Hiwatari: A-

From the back cover:
Mokuren yearns for friendship, but she keeps overhearing the members of the KK research team bad-mouthing her. Handsome Gyokuran treats her with kindness, yet Mokuren is instead drawn to bad-tempered Shion, since he’s the only one who can see her as a fellow mortal. When the team learns that their star system has been destroyed, Gyokuran turns to Mokuren for a miracle, not understanding that she is just as emotionally devastated and powerless as everyone else.

Meanwhile, in the present world, Jinpachi and Issei learn how to see Alice’s dreams, but she’s reluctant to visit the painful events of her past…

Volume seventeen is almost entirely Mokuren memories, but contains more of the present day than the previous volume. The repetition (four times) of Mokuren overhearing a conversation about her got a little annoying, but I really liked how much more is learned about Enju, Shusuran, and Gyokuran here. Not only more about their personalities, but also their interactions with other members of the team. Shusuran’s development particularly stood out. I wouldn’t say that I like her personality, but I like her as a character, and especially seeing her and Enju together.

I caught something here that I didn’t previously—that the team seems to think Shion wants their passwords to use the base to act as God over KK. Perhaps we were supposed to think that was possibly Rin’s true ambition all along, and I am coming to the realization late.

The volume ends before Alice can dream about the rest of what happened when Shion was in confinement or any of the events afterwards. The concluding chapter takes place in the present day and really worked to build suspense for what will happen when she has seen everything. As if I weren’t impatient enough to see some progress in the present day story!

Please Save My Earth 16 by Saki Hiwatari: A

From the back cover:
Mokuren’s perspective on the moon base tragedy is vastly different from Shion’s. Though she seems to be an ethereal goddess, she has her own insecurities and frustrations. She’s troubled by her lack of female friends and aggravated by men who are only interested in the rarity and celebrity of her Kiche, the mystical mark of their god, Sarjalim. When she learns of the opportunity to join the research team on the KK moon base, she eagerly applies for the position, over the protest of the Lim Lians. Her wish to join good-looking men on the team is fulfilled when she meets handsome Gyokuran and Shion—but will either one quench her desires?

Doesn’t that read like the description for the first volume of a series rather than the sixteenth? We continue with Mokuren flashbacks in this volume, up through the early days of the moon base. A couple of the scenes from volume nine, which were then presented from Shion’s perspective, are retold from Mokuren’s point of view. It’s interesting to see what she was really thinking at the time. The insights into her character that this volume provides really answered for me the question of why someone seemingly so angelic and perfect would be interested in someone as infuriating as Shion. There are some cute moments in this, too, where he is very goofy and/or embarrassed.

There isn’t a lot of plot advancement here, and only about three pages of the modern-day characters. Hajime (Alice’s brother) watches over her as she sleeps (I’ve totally forgotten why she is sleeping so much or if she’s sick) and briefly wakes before submerging into the moon dreams once more. I am happy to get to know the real Mokuren, but I hope that soon we’ll get back to the current tale and what’s going on with Rin. There are only five volumes left, after all!