Please Save My Earth
A peculiar thing happened several months ago when my wife and I saw the local premiere of the film Magnolia. For three hours, we were intrigued and captivated by a riveting story of intertwined lives in the San Fernando Valley. However, about twenty minutes from the end of the movie, during the climax of the piece itself, the film literally leapt off the reel, and we had to return to a later showing to actually see the ending. Now the film was wonderful, and I would have thought so even if I never saw the denouement, but it was important for me to come back and see how everything came together. It reminds me very succinctly of the problem with the otherwise fantastic Please Save My Earth. Quite simply, there is no final reel.
Please Save My Earth is the story of Alice, a teenage girl who is dealing with the awkwardness of adolescence as best she can. At first, the biggest trial in her life is dealing with the bratty neighbor boy, Rin. However, as summer vacation ends, she meets two young men who have been sharing the same dreams for years. They both have recollections of being on the moon many years ago as alien (yet human) scientists studying the earth, perhaps in a former life. Alice doesn't know what to think of it all until she has the same mysterious dream...and as she meets others who have memories of their former lives on the lunar base, it becomes clear that some sins aren't forgiven in just one lifetime.
Please Save My Earth is truly a remarkable series. Full of character and depth, there is far more in three hours here than in several typical anime combined. Visually, the show is strong, with captivating designs and attention to detail and color. Although there are a few places where the animation is a bit weak, it looks great overall. The visuals are nothing, however, in comparison to the overall storyline. The series is not fast-paced, yet it feels just right for exploring the subject matter. The tone shifts into many gears throughout the program--at some points, it is funny, but at others creepy and even scary. Amazingly, it covers lots of ground without ever feeling manipulative. It's clear that a lot of effort went into adapting the manga series into a worthy set of OVAs.
What is especially unique about PSME is that it deals with a lot of complex and even controversial issues in ways that are creatively unique. For example, two of the lunar scientists were lovers back in their previous life. However, in the present, they are both male. While they still feel that strong love between them, they have incredible difficulties coming to terms with it in their current existence. The show does not condone or condemn the relationship; it merely poses a "what if" that makes you think twice. Another theme that is prevalent in the show is the discussion of whether or not previous lives should have anything to do with one's own current life--should a person's future be controlled by their past? Although my personal Christian beliefs do not include reincarnation by any means, the question at the core still rings true for all people regardless of religion...should who we were yesterday, or a month, a year, or ten years ago, determine who we can be, will be, or should be? It's a good point for discussion, to be certain.
However, there is one glaring problem with the show...it is essentially unfinished. Although the sixth and final episode does answer a few questions, there are plot strands hanging around everywhere that go completely unresolved. In other situations, you could chalk this up to the fact that modern Japanese accept and often like ambiguous endings. However, since the manga series this show was based on did have a clear finale, that's not the case here. Perhaps the show wasn't popular enough to merit releasing further episodes in Japan? Who knows? It isn't to say that the show isn't worth watching, because it is, and there are certain events in the last episode that could easily lead you to draw conclusions about how things will actually turn out. However, if you dislike this sort of thing, you will probably intensely dislike this series--especially since once you watch it, you are completely sucked in.
My final view: most people will really enjoy this show, though I imagine as many will dislike it for providing so little closure. I've dinged the show a bit in my rating because I think it's very important, because as much as I liked the whole thing, I couldn't help but feel a bit empty at the end. Since there's no distributor for the manga series in the US, either, I'm afraid that emptiness will last for a while. A puzzle with a few lost pieces may still reveal a gorgeous picture, but it's human nature to wonder what it would look like complete. If what I've discussed doesn't disturb you at all, then find a copy of the DVD, which looks and sounds absolutely stunning.
Please Save My Earth -- profanity, violence -- B+/A-