Quite the deceptive cover given what goes on in this volume. Although I guess it does capture the later moments between the two. Not one of my favourite covers either. It’s ok, but it doesn’t really stand out like some of the others.

Summary


Alice begins her painful recollections after being pushed and probed by Haruhiko. When she awakens, she is now, more than ever, convinced Shion did not love Mokuren. Haruhiko tries to convince her that he did, but Alice refuses to believe it, pointing to the kiche mark still present on her forehead. Resigned, Haruhiko asks her to at least ask Rin about it.

Meanwhile Rin begins to move his plan forward. He has Majima set Tamura up to be arrested by the police for Rin’s kidnapping and stalls Mikuro, while Majima is suppose to pick Alice up. Unfortunately for Alice, she is left alone at this crucial moment as Haruhiko happens to have another heart attack (presumably because he jumped to get to Alice as soon as possible after him and Mikuro ran into Rin) and Miss Ayako takes him to the hospital. Meanwhile her brother, Hajime, leaves to talk to Rin’s mother, who is worried after hearing about the kidnapping stunt Rin pulled. So when Majima arrives, he has no resistance and easily convinces Alice that he’s a police officer and he wants to take her down to the station for questioning.

However, when they enter an unmarked car, Alice starts to get suspicious so Majima knocks her out with some sort of chemicals on his cloth (this is a popular thing to do isn’t it? Tsukasa did this to Tsukushi in Hana Yori Dango as well). This causes her to resume her dreams once again and this time we see some of Mokuren’s final moments. Volume 19 ends in what appears to be the literal final moments of Mokuren’s life.

My Thoughts


So, unfortunately Please Save My Earth didn’t fully live up to my expectations. This volume finally tells us why Mokuren stayed with Shion after he raped her and it turns out it was because she was so madly in love with him that she couldn’t bare  living without  him. What’s interesting is that Mokuren never relives the actual rape scene. Her recollections skip that bit altogether. Instead we see her recollections after walking up from the fever that followed the rape. Now I’m really curious why Ms. Hiwatari did this. I guess it could have been to be tasteful. I mean, even the actual rape scene way back in volume 10 was done with an attempt to show as little as possible of what Shion actually did to Mokuren. Yet it still retained the brutality and horror thanks to Shion’s words and Mokuren’s expressions. But I can’t help but wonder if maybe it was done to make Mokuren’s” forgiveness” of Shion and her total slavishness to her “love” seems more plausible. I mean think about it. If the actual internal monologue during the rape was shown it all its horribleness, would anyone in their right mind then swallow that Mokuren was so infatuated with him that those feelings could be discarded? I think not! It would seem utterly ridiculous.

Unfortunately, it still seems unbelievable to me. Utterly unbelievable. I mean, when she wakes up and recollects what happened, she starts screaming. Then in the shower she tries to convince herself she got what she wanted (until Enju tells her the Kiche mark is still there), but she is clearly hurt very deeply by the fact that he lied to her. Later in her inner monologue she says, “I don’t care…if it was a lie.” (page 42). What? Let’s back pedal a moment. So first you have Mokuren start screaming when she recollects what he did to her, then you make it a point that the actual rape wasn’t what hurt her the most, it was the lies that Shion said, and then you have her say she doesn’t care?! UNBELIEVABLE! I know Hiwatari didn’t have much room to manoeuvre around in given that Shion and Mokuren being a couple was a plot point that was laid out way back in volume 1, but still, Hiwatari dug herself into this hole and there are better ways to dig oneself out. For one, she could have had Mokuren react by denying it happened. If she had done that, then it would at least be believable (although still rather problematic) for her to still want to be with him. As it stands? It makes no sense. The real shame is that Miss Hiwatari has shown herself to be a master of human psychology. Shion, Gyokuran, Daisuke, Issei. All of these characters have been built up in a very believable manner. Their stories and doubts handled in ways that real persons would act. So this slip up with Mokuren is that much more pronounced and unbelievable. Yes, I’ve been saying unbelievable a lot, but that’s basically how I feel. I just cannot come to terms that the same person who wrote those four characters could make such a silly slip up as this. This has been one of the most ridiculous tropes since the existence of story telling and someone of Miss Hiwatari’s calibre has also fallen prey to it? It is truly unbelievable.

To add insult to injury, she has Mokuren repeat, “I love you” in her mind while Shion spills his guts about what he did and why he did it. There should have been many things running through her head after he told her he raped her as revenge against Sarjalim, but “I love you” is not one of them. And to make it even worse (yes it gets worse), she has Mokuren say, “I’ll be your Kiches” as if Mokuren was doing something strong and self-defining. Hell freaken NO. Mokuren isn’t being his Kiches because she wants to, she’s being his Kiches because that’s the only way she sees Shion staying with her. There is no choice, there is no self-definition in this act, please do not insult out intelligence by trying to imply there is, please! For a series that had so much going for it, I am so disappointed it couldn’t break away from the worst sorts of love cliches possible. Reading this part just broke my heart and crippled my enjoyment of the series as a whole. A shame because if Hiwatari hadn’t done this, Please Save My Earth could have easily been one of my favourite manga. As it stands now, it’s enjoyable and well crafted (barring this mess).

Outside the above mentioned mess, the tension has certainly picked up this volume as Rin finally puts his plan into motion and I’m still really curious to see how it will all end. And of course the manga ends on such a tense moment (Mokuren’s final moments) that I’m genuinely looking forward to the final two volumes. In fact, Mokuren’s recollections of her and Shion as a couple are almost tender if one can forget how they were brought together.  Which just makes it such a shame that it had to play out like that because really, the rest of the manga is so good. I’m so torn, really. I’m enjoying the story overall, but I really hate how Mokuren reacts to the rape and how her and Shion become a couple. For example, I really liked how Hiwatari is using the subjective view point to create a wedge between Mokuren and Shion that need not be there. Unfortunately, the genesis of that wedge is the unbelievable reactions of Mokuren. So I’m torn. I want to praise this manga because it’s well crafted, but I do not want to condone the unrealistic and harmful images of Mokuren’s relationship with Shion. Especially since this manga now has two female love slaves: Mokuren and Enju. :( I am seriously sick and tired of female characters that will take all sorts of shit from their love interest because “they love him”. It’s disturbing. It suggests these women have no self worth if they are perfectly fine with how badly these men treat them or that it’s somehow ok to allow oneself to be treated like crap in the name of love, and that is something I do not want to give approval to. Yet at the same time, I don’t want to throw out the rest of the manga as irredeemable because there is a lot of good still there. So I guess I’ll have to settle with having mixed feelings for Please Save My Earth from now on. Onward to volume 20, which hopefully will continue with the things that make this series good.

–SW

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