SO YOU WANT TO SEE KATIE NERD OUT ABOUT HER FAVORITE MANGA
Or maybe you don’t, but that’s too bad because she’s doing it anyway.
Please Save My Earth was a manga by Saki Hiwatari, which originally came out in 1987, so it’s at least a year older than me, which means DELICIOUS RETRO MANGA. I watched the super-shiny anime first, so the retro style (and the fact that the artist was still growing a lot at the start of the series) took me a while to get used to, but now I can honestly say I find it so charming and lovely. If that’s putting you off reading it, I hope you’ll give it a second chance or at least take a peek at some of the later volumes. Ms. Hiwatari’s art grows so much over the course of the series. As it should, since it’s 21 volumes!
The basic premise surrounds seven people who see their past lives as alien scientists in their dreams. In their dreams, they are stationed in a base on the moon, where they watch over and study the Earth. The various dramas and tragedies that ruled them in their lives on the moon begin to affect their actions and personalities in the present.
With such a large cast of characters (Seven mains with seven alter egos, plus a horde of important side characters), Ms. Hiwatari does a really fantastic job of keeping track of all of their personalities and agendas, even with such complicated things affecting how they behave. Every time I read I’m increasingly impressed with how well she handles the various plot threads and manipulates how the reader interprets characters at any given time during the story. Things I had assumed about characters from watching the anime, which only covers a portion of the events in volumes 1-6, and even from reading the earlier chapters, turn out to be ideas brought on by unreliable narration from other characters, or false portraits being presented by half-remembered events. Characters who seemed unrealistically immaculate are suddenly revealed to have so many more facets than you ever realized. My favorite character when I first watched the anime at age 12 certainly hasn’t remained that way since I read the manga, which isn’t something I can usually say. (I’m a loyal nerd.)
There are things about it that make me pause, or that I wish had gone differently. A bit of a warning, there is a rape that factors pretty significantly into the story, and the resolution of that plotline has made me think long and hard about whether I was okay with how it was written. As of right now, I’m mostly okay with it, but I wouldn’t blame anyone who was upset by it or required a bit more explanation than the text overtly provided.
There are also some gender and sexuality issues at work in the story, given that one of the characters who had been female on the moon base was reborn male on Earth. The sexuality stuff was fine until it got kind of wrapped up in what his gender was, and that is one of the only parts about the ending that I still have a problem with. It’s not big enough to affect my opinion of the story as a whole, though. I just have a little bit more invested in that aspect of the story than a lot of readers might have, probably. Haha.
A bonus for people who watch the anime is the music, some of which was done by Yoko Kanno. And holy shit, it is beautiful!
Also, while it is a shoujo manga with a lot of romantic subplots and love triangles, I don’t feel like it falls into the trap a lot of other romantic comics do. It’s largely a sci-fi mystery, really, with the relationships between the characters driving their other actions. Former Yakuza Tamura and ESPer Mikuro get a lot of really cool action sequences. There’s also a lot of philosophy/religious talk and some neat worldbuilding for the alien scientist’s homeland, similar though it may be to Earth.
Seeing PSME at a young age really shaped a lot of the stories I started back then, some of which I still play with today. They’ve changed a lot since then, but the influence is still there in some obvious ways. So much about it inspires me and makes my heart fill up in that special way hearing your favorite song might do. <3 Basically, it’s really great, and I rant about it to anyone who’ll listen.
I think it’s up on Youtube (hopefully all of it?), so if you need any more convincing and want to see the lovely three-hour animated commercial for the manga, check it out! Keep in mind that a lot had to be omitted for time’s sake, and that, great as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the manga in my opinion.
Thus ends Katie’s Nerding Out Hour! If you read all that, you’re cool and I would like to high five you.