Please Save My Earth
ぼくの地球を守って (Boku no Chikyuu wo Mamotte)
Shoujo – Drama, fantasy, mystery, psychological, romance, tragedy
21 Volumes (complete)
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.
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.
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…
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!
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