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3 Things Thursday: Please Save My Earth

Given that I spent the past week pretty much fully immersed in a re-read of all 21 volumes of Saki Hiwatari’s Please Save My Earth (followed by a full three days’ discussion and editing of same), it should be no surprise that I’ve got PSME on the brain.

And so, for this week’s 3 things Thursday, I give you…

3 reasons to re-read Please Save My Earth:

1. Alice Sakaguchi – Considering the way I felt about her the first time I read the series, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am. Alice Sakaguchi kicks ass. No, seriously, she does. Is she restless & feisty, making her mark everywhere she goes? No. Does she have a quick temper? No. Does she confront her enemies with anger, telling them where to shove it? Definitely not. But she’s far from passive and definitely not dumb, accusations I might have hastily hurled at her when I first read the series. What she actually is, is thoughtful, compassionate, careful, and mature, and the only one of the kids in the series who will not let herself be controlled by the person she used to be. If you’re like me, and you originally read Alice as passive, I urge you to read the series again. I was stunned by my experience, and perhaps you will be too!

2. Humor - Though it’s easy to remember the series’ most dramatic moments, the biggest surprise waiting for me as I began my re-read was just how damn funny the Hiwatari can be. It’s a rare author who can genuinely pull off occasional remarks made to the audience (even some of the asides in Paradise Kiss make me cringe), and Hiwatari does this beautifully. I laughed out loud numerous times during the first volume, and that’s not even counting my delight over the artwork depicting Rin Kobayashi’s prowess with rhythmic gymnastics. Priceless, truly.

3. Art, art, and more art – Saki Hiwatari is a gorgeous artist, obviously influenced by the 49ers (among others), but very talented in her own right. Every panel in this series is wonderfully crafted, clear and expressive, regardless of tone. Drama, humor, romance, she draws it all, and she draws it well. This isn’t just pretty artwork, it’s powerful visual storytelling that gets better and better with each volume. It was difficult to stop scanning pages for our HU piece, because I found myself wanting to display everything, that’s how well the art in the series works for me. I found this a lot easier to appreciate on a more leisurely second read.


Yeah, I’ve got PSME on the brain, and I’m definitely proselytizing at this point, but that’s kinda what I love about manga, my friends. It makes me want to share.

So, readers… why would you re-read Please Save My Earth? Or why might you read it for the first time?

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Comments

  1. I was actually surprised how often Alice does lose her temper. She only does it with those who’re close to her, though. Mostly Hajime.

  2. I read it for the first time because of the OVA, which I was fortunately able to find cheap. Then it kinda…only goes through almost volume 7. So yeah, there’s another good reason, the OVA barely starts to cover the awesome.

    I also loved Mokuren, I liked how radically different she was from Alice and how feisty she is! She’s my sort of feisty, not at all a ditz or clumsy, but not beating up everyone in her path either, she knows when to push buttons and when to leave well enough alone (and boy does she push a lot of buttons to get to Earth). But she’s also putting on a mask for everyone else, which is rather sad, and has no idea that not everyone will adore her for it. It’s funny because when you first see her from Shion’s perspective, she seems like such a phony ditzy clutz, and she’s really nothing like that when we see her from her perspective.

  3. I bought all of PSME after loving the first three volumes, especially Alice – and then completely stopped reading at v12, because I *hated* Rin (and I thought the narrative thought he was great). Feel free to convince me back again!

  4. I love the way Hiwatari uses point of view. Just when you thought you understood what was going on, she would shift to another point of view and make you question your assumptions (and often the other characters’ assumptions). It was humbling and frustrating and maddening and glorious in the end. The way we perceive others is so very distorted by our points of view and our baggage. PSME really made me think about this fact when I first read it and upon every re-read. I’m so glad it’s getting some well-deserved love! Thanks for your preoccupation/proselytizing. :)

    • Yes, she does that very well! That’s one of the main points a commenter at HU put forth. She doesn’t assume that everyone remembers things perfectly, so the memories often conflict, and of course they’re also colored by individual biases and so on.

  5. I very much agree with all three of the reasons you list! Alice is wonderful (I think I was determined to like her from the start just because of her name, but she’s very worthy), and the humour at the beginning really captured me—especially Rin and his goofy kid-pranks. Oh, I love that Rin. I am a fan of fourth-wall-breaking generally, too. The art style took some getting used to, but now I love it.

    In addition to these reasons, her storytelling strikes me as very vivid—I think PSME is sort-of grouped with a couple of her other series as a body of work referred to as “Vivid Memories” and that always seemed a very fitting name to me. In your Off The Shelf post you two brought up the “disclaimers” about the work being fiction and I remember that both times I read through the series, I always had really vivid, memorable dreams. Not dreams that I was an alien moon-scientist specifically, but they still felt somehow connected to my reading. It’s a great experience, reading something that stirs up my imagination so.

    I also think Mikuro deserves a mention, because he is so interesting to me. I know he’s a character she’s used in her other works, so maybe that contributes to the sense of his depth and background that we don’t see the entirety of in PSME. I was really happy when he was introduced, and I love how he complicated things from being a simple This(/These) Character(s) vs That Character. He has a great role, I think.

    I’m really happy you guys did this discussion, now. I’m another who, like you, only read the series more recently (2009), and as with many older series I discovered late, I feel like I missed all the discussion and I couldn’t really think of the series as “mine” because it already “belonged” to the other, more longtime fans. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s nice to have the chance to read and respond with others. And that’s just why we need to have the series back in print, so it can keep finding new readers to make it their own!!



Trackbacks

  1. [...] Melinda Beasi and Michelle Smith head over to The Hooded Utilitarian for this week’s Off the Shelf column, a discussion of Please Save My Earth. This in turn inspired David Welsh’s latest license reques: Global Garden, which is by the same creator. And Melinda’s Three Things Thursday post at Manga Bookshelf is… three reasons to read Please Save My Earth. [...]



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