Friday, January 18, 2013

Manga Review: Please Save My Earth (volume 1)

Ash Brown once again had a manga giveaway on their site Experiments in Manga and this time the entry comment had to be about shojo science fiction, a phrase which sums up why I will never knock on shojo manga. Sure it doesn't seem to be in-style right now to have epic, sprawling sci-fi/fantasy shojo stories like you found in the 1980s/1990s (or if there are some like that out there now I just haven't been able to find them) but how can I completely dismiss shojo manga when it's given us so much awesome like this list Ash complied? So of course when they had a giveaway for a manga I had already been convinced that I needed to try (thanks to House of 1000 Manga on ANN), heck I'd already grabbed two random volumes of the series at a con after that column, I was going to enter and hope my luck held out.

Please Save My Earth (volume one) by Saki Hiwatari

Summary: Alice is having a hard time adjusting to her new school after her family moves and things aren't helped by the fact that her elementary school neighbor keeps messing with her. But then two things happen, she stumbles across two classmates who are having strange dreams of a past life they shared on the moon (causing them to act a bit strangely) and then her neighbor also starts acting strangely after getting into an accident.

The Good: At the risk of using a bad pun, the story was much more "down to Earth" than I expected and I liked all of the small moments between Alice and her classmates (I've seen so much shojo manga that isolates it's protagonist that it's nice to see one that remembers that teenagers can be mean or nice and sometimes they're just unsure of what to do). Actually all of the important characters feel more rounded than I'd expect out of a first volume and I'm really curious to see how they handle the fact that they're reincarnations of aliens.

The Bad: I read ahead a bit and I really hope that future volumes of the manga come with a character guide, the story introduces characters just a bit too fast for me and so trying to keep track of all of them, the past lives, and everyone's relationships is a bit much for me. Also, this volume has a problem that a lot of long series does, the basic premise pretty much spoils the entire series (hence why my own summary is a bit vague) so I almost felt like I wasn't to the "new" material yet. I did expect that going in however (the series is 21 volumes long after all)

The Art: The art didn't look nearly as dated as I expected (I actually thought the series started in the 90s from the art, it has a lack of crazy 1980s hairstyle/clothing) although the character designs look different enough that it's clear the story isn't from the Noughts. The art works well for both it's more serious moments and it's silly ones and I rather like the more minimalist style for the eyes, it certainly makes the art distinctive.

So, bring on more volumes, I'm game! Although checking on ANN it looks like some volumes are going for truly outrageous prices, so far I haven't had to leave a series incomplete (well, I haven't finished collecting books for plenty of series but I've grabbed the most expensive ones for great prices, like Twin Spica and Afterschool Nightmare), fingers crossed that this won't be the first series where I can't get them all.