Manga Review – Please Save My Earth

Please Save My Earth Volume 1

Please Save My Earth
ぼくの地球を守って (Boku no Chikyuu wo Mamotte)
HIWATARI Saki
Shoujo – Drama, fantasy, mystery, psychological, romance, tragedy
21 Volumes (complete)
Viz Media
Out-of-print

Summary:

Alice is a crybaby with a lot to cry about lately. She is having trouble adjusting to the city, and the little boy next door, Rin, keeps harassing her. While Alice can talk to plants, she discovers two of her schoolmates their own strange ability: connecting dreams. But those dreams may also have roles in Alice’s and Rin’s lives… both their pasts and their futures.

Review:

If you have browsed various posts on this site, my love for Please Save My Earth is no secret. It’s not just me though: lots of artists cite Hiwatari and/or her magnum opus as inspiration, including Tanemura Arina, Takeuchi Naoko, and Hatori Bisco. Please Save My Earth is tragic. It’s engaging. It’s real.

Yes, it may seem strange to call a manga about reincarnation real. That’s the strength of Please Save My Earth though: if such a situation actually happened in the real world, I can see the story playing out exactly this way. A girl has a feeling of homesickness she can’t explain. A little boy awakens as a man. A young man struggles between memories of being a woman with an unrequited love and a guy with a straight male best friend. A boy has a hard time accepting a god would allow war to rage. Love, hate, guilt, acceptance, repentance… Please Save My Earth thrives on emotions.

But let’s take a step back and talk about the actual story.

The manga starts off relatively light. Alice is crybaby. She’s not a loud crybaby like Usagi of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, but she is very emotional. This makes her an easy target for the bratty kid next door to pick on. Shortly after transferring to her new school, Alice happens to overhear a suggestive conversation between her classmate Jinpachi and another guy named Issei. They talk about seeing the Earth from space and living as scientists. Then the manga adds a load of drama once Rin has a near-fatal accident. His personality suddenly changes, and he has secretly develops psychic abilities. Now he will use any method to get what he wants: Tokyo Tower and Alice.

This is where the series establishes itself as more than just a “let’s continue our idyllic lives” story. The seven scientists slowly assemble, but Rin’s motivations are only the first mystery out of many. The past holds many secrets, and memories are revealed both to readers and the characters piece by piece. Flashbacks often last several volumes. This may seem boring, but Please Save My Earth builds both the past and current worlds. It’s not just “things happened” but “this happened which caused this to happen which caused this character to do this”. The series wants to explain the main characters’ motivations and scars, and it does a very good job in doing so. We even see some scenes from different perspectives, and it’s interesting to go back and discover what characters were really thinking at times. Whose recollection is most accurate, or is the truth somewhere in the middle? Several mature themes are covered, and some of the big revelations can come as quite the shock. But even when we as readers have all the information, we don’t have to agree with the choices the characters make. In many cases, you absolutely shouldn’t! Even the story’s cast would agree not to do what they did. Which is part of the whole point of the manga.

Of course, the series isn’t perfect. The first volumes includes lots of pop culture references and breaking the fourth wall. Hiwatari is an admitted fangirl and includes shout-outs to a number of popular series like Black Jack, Saint Seiya, and Doraemon. When Jinpachi and Issei are attacked in volume two, their faces are comically swollen in SD style. These comedy bits are meant to draw you in before the drama builds up, but they just are the weakest part of the story. Plus these references are arguably catered to the Japanese audience. Even as I really start “getting” the jokes over the years, they still are unnecessary and distracting. (While the anime is very rushed in some parts, I do like how the overly-exaggerated faces and showing characters in Saint Seiya armor are dropped.) In addition, some parts of the story may seem strange or even outrageous to modern (especially Western) readers, like how Alice the babysitter spanks her charge Rin. But once you see the dramatic reunion between Shion and Shukaido, the story starts revving up and loses the awkward humor.

In between the comedy and drama, Please Save My Earth includes quite a bit of action and mind games. Thanks to his powers, Rin starts messing with a motorcycle gang early in the first volume. The leader’s caretaker tries to figure out who the mysterious S is and why he is after his charge. He finds it hard to believe E.S.P. exists, but the evidence just piles up. Psychic abilities are used not just to deliver messages but to terrorize others. There’s more violence here than what you may initially expect. Don’t expect an overload of blood and gore, but characters will be injured. The manga earns its OT rating in a number of ways.

As this series is divided into three main parts, then split into two worlds, and then groups characters according to different storylines, the manga builds up quite a cast. This is not one of those series where the reincarnations and their past selves live in almost a bubble. The four main characters’ families are explored, and several people in the modern world are also dragged into the characters’ lives. Due to the plot, some are given prominent or recurring roles in certain story sections and may pretty much disappear until later. The major cast members each get at least one significant monologue or reflection about life. Meanwhile, despite the focus on the life on the moon, one of the scientists really doesn’t play much of a role, and another character is pretty much spends the story giving advice to another. I wish these characters were given more attention. Otherwise, Please Save My Earth centers around the two leads, and their main love rivals play the next most important roles in the manga. I could cover more about these characters, but I don’t want to reveal too much. Like real people, they all have good and bad aspects to their personalities. Alice, for instance, is quite reluctant about being Mokuren’s reincarnation, but her stubbornness also allows her to keep from being swept up in the past.

There’s also a big elephant in the room I should bring up: Rin’s age. He’s seven, and he spends much of his time obsessing over a 16-year-old girl. The reasons for this are key plot points in Please Save My Earth. Much of the manga is centered around complex situations, and this is just one such aspect. Things are complicated, and that is part of the reasons that this manga is so addicting. Rin’s age is a major part of the story; Hiwatari didn’t do this to make the manga funny or to make this a shotacon series. Again, this part of the whole “read but don’t agree” warning I gave previously.

Please Save My Earth started its serialization almost 30 years ago. As such, the art is quite different than most modern shoujo. The series itself goes through quite a change, and Hiwatari draws the characters quite differently now. It’s to be expected after a manga goes on for eight years as well as the genre itself going through artistic changes. Rin’s weird fox-faces and Alice’s subdued expressions may come quite a shock to readers used to manga starring bishounen classmates or senpai and genki girls. Faces are much more rounded which is especially noticeable when characters are at an angle. Effeminate Issei may not seem so girly compared to some modern androgynous characters. Despite the large cast, the manga does a good job of not overloading the reader with new persons and also keeping the characters distinct from each other. It’s quite amazing since there are some artists who can barely keep a basic four-person cast from looking like clones. We get everything from little kids to old men here. The art becomes sharper and cleaner over the course of the manga’s serialization. There are some striking images in the series, like the light from a lightning strike reflecting off a character’s face or the crazed look of a man betrayed. It’s no surprise this series had three artbooks published in Japan. If you can get past some of the dated designs, you will be rewarded with some heart-moving scenes.

Translation:

No honorifics are used. Several lines had to be changed because of this. Characters also generally use first names, but most refer to each other by their last names. So while Rin is really the only one to call the main character “Alice”, everyone does here. Because of this, some lines are easily misunderstood as to who is speaking. In one case, I thought Haru was laughing at Alice, but in Japanese, it has to be Rin because Haru uses an honorific. The English does keep the distinction between names like “Moku Ren” (written in katakana) and “Mokuren” (written in kanji). This is very important, and I’m glad they took care about maintaining the difference. Unfortunately, due to the lack of personal pronouns in English, not much is done with Rin’s boku/ore switching. Mikuro’s Kyoto accent is dropped but is mentioned in the dialogue and editor’s notes. “Key word(s)” is changed to “password(s)”. About two-thirds of the volumes have very nice notes explaining some of the old Japanese pop culture references as well as the meaning of flowers. Keeping the Japanese shout-outs were also a nice touch. The editor even explains why “Ring” is often printed near Rin’s image.

A few parts of the translation are dated, such as when Tamura calls for his “homies” over the rest of the gang/crew. Overall, though, like most translations, I like some parts, but others were…a bit shaky. There are some good changes and not-so-good ones. For instance, a simple, “Eh?/Huh?” in Japanese is replaced with, “Why not let her go?” I like the first better because Haru is taken aback. There are also instances where the adaptation could have been more clear. “Since I was a girl…” Alice starts to recall. Um, she’s always been female, and what she has to say has nothing to do with how being born a boy would have been different. She meant to say, “Ever since I was a little girl…” The overall meaning is the same, but there are parts that could have been smoothed over. On the other hand, in the English version, Sakura advises Issei his life will be “a big mess” if he continues with his crush. In the original Japanese, she says he’ll be a pervert. Yeah, the English is less offensive, and it’s my preference. The switch in translators late in the series means there’s a bit of a difference in tone, but not much since she had been working on the series already. At times, the manga has flashbacks told from different perspectives, and care was taken to use the original English translation instead of re-translating it for slightly different dialogue. It shows the team actually cared about the series and didn’t just push out whatever.

Like most of the company’s releases, the sound effects and background text are replaced with English, but there were a lot of times I wished they had been left alone. The sound effects are also quite dated; “fap” just isn’t right for shaking hands or waving anymore…

Final Comments:

Yes, it’s old, but Please Save My Earth is a classic, as it has a little bit of everything. If you can get by the rocky start, you are bound to get swept up in the drama. Please Save My Earth is one of my personal favorites, so I hope I encouraged others to read this manga. I reread it often, and even now I go back and discover new aspects and nuances.

The print version is out of print, but the series is available digitally. Most of the physical volumes can be still be ordered on Amazon and elsewhere as of now, but a couple are already over MSRP. Volume 13 is around $100, but the whole series has sold for around $200 on eBay. I have noticed a couple of my volumes starting to yellow, so be aware. I wish the series’ 10 volume aizouban version would be brought over…

Viz Media also released the anime OVAs. These quickly cover the first eight or so volumes of the manga. There was also a movie and music videos made, but these were not released in the U.S. The dub wasn’t that great, so most people recommend the Korean boxset that compiled everything and used Viz’s subs for the OVA series. It looks like it’s hard to find now though. Surprisingly, a Please Save My Earth CD was released in the U.S.

CMX published Hiwatari’s Tower of the Future manga.

The manga has a completed sequel, and a sequel to the sequel is being published. A couple of related one-shots were also released. The series also has quite a few artbooks, a tribute book, drama and image CDs, and more. Unfortunately, none of these have been released in the U.S. For the CDs, the highlight is “Young Soul Rebel“, a duet between Jinpachi and Issei. Nothing like the voices of Tezuka from The Prince of Tennis and Naraku/Sephiroth of Inuyasha/Final Fantasy VII not-so-subtly sounding like they’re coming out of the closet!

Reader Rating


0/5 (1)

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20 Comments

  1. Cat

    Awesome, I love seeing more love for this amazing series! I remember acutely crying after riding through the manga and that conclusion completely shook me inside. It’s such a beautiful story and the way it’s delivered is so delicate and on point, definitely a shoujo that transcends typical conventions and target audience.
    I’m sad this series never got what it deserved: a longer adaptation that stayed true to the original but skipping the weaker parts of it.
    I do admit the manga starts as old looking, specially when the characters are in profile, but the story definitely carries it to the point that the art becomes good. If that makes sense (^_^;)
    Though I’ll admit this series probably isn’t for everyone, the content it has is so varied in terms of story and how it deals with the characters issues, that I can see why it isn’t wildly popular. It’s definitely a niche title, and that’s its biggest strength, I still haven’t found another shoujo that has PSME themes and the sensibility it carries.

    Sorry if I rambled/didn’t make sense (⌒_⌒;)

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      Always glad to find another big fan of PSME! It deserves the love!
      I know, this series deserves a proper adaptation. The cast in the OVA was just perfect, and I think a good anime would draw in even more people. A lot of people (myself included) complain about stereotypical shoujo, but there’s just so much here.

      Reply
      1. Cat

        The cast in the OVA was definitely amazing, so I felt it should’ve gotten more than just an OVA ORZ
        A good anime would definitely make people more aware of the series!
        Yeah, there’s a lot of weeds in shoujo, but when a shoujo does it good and different like PSME and After School Nightmare, it is out of this world good <333

        Reply
  2. insightblue

    I remember watching the anime a long time ago, but I never read the manga. Sounds like something I would enjoy…guess I better read this! Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      Would love to know what you think once you read the series!

      Reply
  3. Raven

    Ooh, this is also one of my favorite manga of all time.

    Great character drama, great mystery, and even some great action (*that sequence when Mikuro fights Rin was awesome). It’s also nice to see Hiwatari’s art and tone improved dramatically from the early volumes, as you said.

    Do you know if the sequel’s any good?

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      The sequel starts off focusing on more new characters, but then it starts concentrating more on dealing with the reincarnations. It has a lot of drama, but obviously it’s not as heavy as PSME. It’s more..sci-fi-ish I guess. Almost everyone gets a cameo, so that’s always fun. I haven’t gotten ahold of the sequel’s sequel yet, so I don’t know much about that one.

      Reply
  4. Arria Cross

    Oh my gosh, Pres! This is one of my most favourite romance manga ever! It’s epic and awesome, although the art style was a huge drawback when I first started it, but I got used to it soon enough because the story absorbed me. It’s so interesting that spiritual elements such as reincarnation and psychic powers are combined with a sci-fi setting. I’m not that fond that the characters are always crying, but the drama is so intense that it actually hurts. I also read the sequel and the art style of the mangaka improved a LOOOOOOOOOOT that the characters look completely different, like they’re not the same people at all. This is an old manga, definitely a classic. The art style may intimidate newer readers, but I agree with you that this deserves more attention. Love it!

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      +10 LP (Lyn Points) to you for being a big PSME fan! 🙂

      I know, her style is so different. It took me quite a while to adjust since I was so used to her “old-school” art!

      Reply
      1. Arria Cross

        Yay! I do love my Lyn points! Gotta work hard to earn more. 😉

        I know, right? It was such a huge difference, but I think it’s for the better. The pages look a lot brighter compared to PSME which has a lot of dark tones. I like PSME more though than the sequel. PSME is like more on intense romance while the sequel is more for the whole family.

        Reply
        1. krystallina

          It would nearly be impossible to top PSME. But at least the sequel has better humor than PSME, but like you said, it’s more for the family.

          Reply
          1. Arria Cross

            I agree. It’s awesome though that we can read a sequel. At least we know that Rin & Alice are living happily with their kids. I’m looking forward to the sequel. Haven’t read it yet. Although to be honest, I’m not expecting much.

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  6. shiroyuni

    Oh man, I read around 10 chapters of this but I couldn’t shake off the fact that Rin was so young and Alice is 16 … and it really turned me off. I have a gut feel (still do, and re-confirmed in reading your review) that this is one of the few rare shoujo x sci-fi x tragedy gems around, but even though I know that Rin doesn’t stay ‘young’ throughout the whole time in the story I couldn’t get past that fact >< Does it get better? I wouldn't want to miss out on a good series just for something like that to be honest. xD

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      Rin’s age is meant to be uncomfortable. When we were young, there were times we felt so mature and adult-like, but looking back, we weren’t. Rin is like an extreme example of this. The age gap never narrows, but the reasons why there’s an age gap as well as dealing with the gap makes this manga interesting. I hope you will give it another chance.

      Reply
    2. Arria Cross

      Shiro, try to read it again! Ahahaha! I don’t want to force people into reading stuff that I liked, but I think that PSME is a slow-starter when it comes to holding the interest of a reader. Me, too. I was a bit turned off that Rin is so much younger than Alice, but think about this. Inside that young boy is the reincarnation of a manly man, and that’s what adds to the drama because at the latter half, the boy is overwhelmed and confused that his child self can’t cope with the very adult memories and feelings of his previous self. Okay, excuse my babble. Can’t help it since this is one of my faves. I hope that you’ll give it another chance, and maybe love it as much as President krystallina and I do.

      Reply
      1. krystallina

        ^Couldn’t have said it better myself! ^_^

        Reply
      2. shiroyuni

        Hmm, since both of you have indeed talked about how the interesting aspect of is indeed that age difference and the dichotomy it presents, perhaps I can overlook it since it seems like an expansive & major plot point. I really want to read a shoujo series with good world-building which crosses over to sci-fi, so consider me convinced! xD I’d try it out when I have the time to. Thanks for the explanation! 🙂

        Reply
        1. krystallina

          Yay, would love to read your thoughts after you finish it!

          Reply
        2. Arria Cross

          Yay! Yay! I hope that you change your mind about it once you read more of it. It’s really good. President krystallina & I are looking forward to what you think about it.

          Reply

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