Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Anime Music Video Compilations: “Please Save My Earth Music Image Video ~The Passing of the Golden Age~”

Publisher: Victor Entertainment
Format: VHS and Laserdisc, NTSC, Japanese Dialogue
Length: 27 minutes
Original Release Date: 24 February 1995
Animation Exclusive to this Release: Yes
Other Sources (Japanese unless noted): Please Save My Earth Volume 4 (DVD 2001), Please Save My Earth DVD Box Set (DVD 2003, Korea)
Currently Availability (as of writing): Out of Print

Note: Originally published on the “Anime Archivist” blog May 2014.

In my early years of anime fandom, the only thing I was really interested in was stuff which featured either robots or sci-fi titles. I suppose I have “Star Blazers” and “Robotech” to blame for that. Admittedly there wasn’t much else available in English at the time. It wasn’t until I started going to my local anime club (well it was more like casual monthly screenings rather than a club of any sort), that I discovered “shoujo”. While “Magic Knight Rayearth” was the title that initially got me interested (due to the fantasy and robot elements), it was the six part OVA “Please Save My Earth” that sold me on anime that was primarily aimed at girls and young women. While it does have sci-fi and fantasy elements, at its core it is about the relationships between seven (mostly) high school aged teens as they come to terms with their former lives. In order to discuss the contents of the music video compilation, I will be giving away a bit of the plot and possibly the ending of the manga. So if you don’t like spoilers, don’t read any further.

The anime version, released as a six part OVA from late 1993 to late 1994, covers up to the ninth volume of the manga (which eventually ended after 21 volumes), but does skip a number of sub plots and ends without resolving a number of plot points. The final volume of the manga wasn’t released until August 1994, one month before the final OVA volume was released. The story is set in suburban Tokyo, where we meet teenager Alice Sakaguchi who has recently moved with her family from Hokkaido. Unfortunately for the sweet and demure Alice, she is being terrorised by her next door neighbour, a seven year old named Rin Kobayashi. Even worse is the fact is often asked to babysit him by her neighbours. After an outing to the zoo with Rin, Alice runs into two of her classmates, Jinpachi and Issei. Concerned that Alice may have misinterpreted a conversion she accidently overheard at school the previous day, the pair explains that they were talking about a series of shared dreams they’ve had since primary school. In the dreams they are members of a group of alien scientists living on the moon who are studying the Earth. In the pair’s recent dreams they have discovered their alter egos are lovers. Both Jinpachi and Issei are male, but in the dreams Issei is a woman.

Later Alice is asked yet again to babysit Rin. Rin acts up and teases Alice about her interest in Jinpachi. Alice chases him to the balcony where Rin straddles the railing. Enraged at Rin’s constant teasing, Alice eventually slaps him. Horrifyingly Rin loses his balance and falls several stories below. Luckily he survives, saved by branches of a tree, but remains in a coma for several days. Alice is mortified at what she has done. Rin later awakens with the realisation he has been dreaming that he is also one of the alien scientists on the moon; an engineer named Shion. Rin’s mother later visits Alice and her family. She is there to relay Rin’s request that he and Alice get engaged. Alice faints when she hears this and has a “moon dream” as well; she is botanist named Mokuren. Alice tells Jinpachi and Issei about her moon dream as Mokuren and they decide to seek out others who may be experiencing the same dreams. They place an ad in the classifieds section of a supernatural phenomenon magazine called “Boo”. Not long after they are contacted by two people; Daisuke Dobashi and Sakura Kokusho who confirm details seen in the other’s dreams. The pair explains to the group that they believe they are all reincarnations of alien scientists who once lived on the moon. Meanwhile Rin has begun to act in much or adult way. He has also seemingly developed psychic powers and uses them to threaten a biker gang leader called Takashi, who is the son of a rich and influential family. Takashi asks Rin what he wants. Rin demands that Takashi give him Tokyo Tower.

And now on to the music videos;

“Prologue: ~Kiniro no Toki Nagarete~ (The Passing of the Golden Age)” performed by Akino Arai
Before I start, I must mention that while most people assume the entire soundtrack of the series was composed by Yoko Kanno (of “Cowboy Bebop” and “Macross Plus” fame), that’s not true. Only three of the eight tracks here have any involvement from Kanno. This particular track was composed and arranged by Kanno with lyrics by Akino Arai. It first appeared on the “Please Save My Earth Image Soundtrack Volume 3” which was released in November 1994. The video begins with a live action shot of falling gold dust, then static shots of the galaxy, which then segues into live action shots of the Earth seen from space. The video then shifts to new still images of Mokuren singing in a festival on her home planet with younger versions of the scientists watching on in a crowd, and then images of her growing up. Footage of Mokuren and Shion together culled from the OVA ends the video with dialogue saying how much she would like to visit Earth.

“Mikadzuki no Shindai (Crescent Moon’s Cradle)” performed by Akino Arai
The second video uses another Akino Arai song, though this time it is entirely her own composition. The song originally appeared on “Please Save My Earth Original Soundtrack Volume 1” which was released in January 1994. Like the first video, this one contains new animation, though these are mostly still shots. It begins with dialogue from Mokuren’s father who is talking to her about the trees and flowers on their planet. The video essentially chronicles Mokuren growing up as a child, though you would most definitely needed to have read the manga to understand what is going on the in the video. Spoiling the plot for the manga, Mokuren was born with a mark on her forehead which means she is a Kiches Sarjalian, a kind of holy person. At age three she was taken away to be raised as a Kiches Sarjalian in a government facility is not allowed any human contact. The video also depicts the father of Mokuren’s only friend, who is a circus performer, being badly injured in his act. Though the Kiches Sarjalian have the power to heal the wounded, they do not receive this power until later in life. The young Mokuren feels guilty she could not save her friend’s father. The video also features new dialogue from a Kiches Elder called Sairochou which I think features in the 15th volume of the manga.

“Yume no Sumika (House of Dreams)” performed by Rie Hamada
This song by Rie Hamada was originally released on “Please Save My Earth Original Soundtrack Volume 1” in January 1994. It is sung in a rather childish and sing-song way. In fact some parts of really do sound like a children’s song. Because of this I find it to be the most annoying song in the compilation. Unfortunately there isn’t much to say about this music video. The video itself focuses in the on the relationship between Alice and Rin and of course Mokuren and Shion. Most of the footage is culled from the OVAs and contains no new animation at all. In fact it repeats the new animation previous found in the preceding videos. Of note is the footage from the OVA of Shion as a child with his temporary foster parent La Zlo and his strange giant cat called Kyaa (easily one of the best moments in the OVA). While it’s adequately edited, this is easily the most disappointing video in the compilation.

“Moon Light Anthem ~Enju 1991~” performed by Akino Arai
Unlike the other songs so far, the music used here predates the anime by five years. It comes from the “Please Save My Earth Image Album” which was released in August 1988, about a year after the manga began. Mostly a piano piece, it features new dialogue from Enju (who was reincarnated as Issei on Earth). In the video Enju walks with a friend in a snowy forest talking about going to the moon in order to study the Earth with her friend and fellow scientist Gyokulan. It’s bleedingly obvious that she has romantic feelings for Gyokulan. However in her reincarnation on earth, Enju is now male and this relationship can never be as Jinpachi (Gyokulan in his previous life) is also male and obviously has no romantic feelings for Issei, regardless of what happened in their past lives. Despite the cheap nature of the new animation (mostly still shots), it works quite well.

“Ring” performed by Gabriela Robin
The second Yoko Kanno track in this compilation with her alter ego Gabriela Robin providing vocal duties. This track first appeared on the “Please Save My Earth Image Soundtrack Volume 3” which was released in November 1994. The music is almost identical to the first video, “Prologue: ~Kiniro no Toki Nagarete~ (The Passing of the Golden Age)”. It’s almost like a reprise of that track. This video begins with Rin’s childhood up to the point of his fall from the balcony. It then switches to scenes of Shion’s relationship with Mokuren using the same animation from the first music video that was culled from the OVA. The video then focuses on Rin’s evil side culling shots from the psychic battle with Tamura, who is essentially Takashi’s confidant and bodyguard, and Tamura’s brother, Mikuro who has ESP. However the most interesting section of this music video is the new animation which depicts the ending of the manga, where (spoilers coming up…) Rin attempts to destroy the moon base using Tokyo Tower to transmit the order. The title of the song comes from the manga in which it is explained that “Ring” is apparently an alternate spelling of “Rin”.

“Tokete Yuku Jikan (Time Passes On)” performed by Hajime Mizoguchi
This track is an instrumental composition performed by Hajime Mizoguchi, who also worked on the soundtrack to “Vision of Escaflowne”. Mizoguchi was married to Kanno at the time but they divorced in 2007. The song is taken from “Please Save My Earth Image Soundtrack Volume 2” which was released in April 1994. Being completely instrumental, the audio is overlaid with dialogue from Mokuren. She discusses her dreams with Shion, such as her vivid dreams being a girl living on Earth. She tells him that she wishes for a future where the two of them can be together forever. While the majority of animation is taken from the OVAs for this video, part of it is taken from the new animation which features in the previous video “Ring”. There also seems to be a number of newly animated shots of Alice and Rin, but I think these have been taken from the theatrical version of the OVA.

“Toki no Kioku (Memory of Time)” performed by SEIKA
This is the beautiful end theme for the OVA series and the music and animation vary very little from what was seen in the OVA release. In fact the only difference in this version is that a shot of Alice and Rin looking out to the ocean has been replaced with a similar shot of Mokuren and Shion. The song was composed by Yoko Kanno with lyrics by Takako Nishikiori and ARION. It was first released on the “Please Save My Earth Original Soundtrack Volume 1” in January 1994.

“Epilogue: Etude ~Tensei Gensou~ (Etude ~ Fantasy of Reincarnation)” performed by Yuuji Nomi
This simple piano track was taken from the “Please Save My Earth Image Album” which was released in August 1988. The video is just the same “falling gold dust” live action shot taken from the first video with scrolling credits superimposed over the top of it. That’s it, there’s nothing else to say about it.

This compilation is one of my favourites. I loved the OVA series so much and the additional animation does fill in a bit of the story which was cut short in the OVA. Though having said that, you will still need to read the manga to figure out what the heck is going on. However like a lot of anime music video compilations, there’s just one problem with it; the cheapness of the new animation. But I suppose these kinds of releases don’t sell as many copies as the anime itself, so of course the budget is going to limited. It’s just that it’s REALLY limited at times. Most of the new material comprises of still shots, with occasional overlaid existing animation from the OVA or panning in an attempt to make it look less cheap. Like the OVA, the animation was produced by Production I.G, and as you’d expect its quality stuff – when there is actual real animation, not just still shots. The proper animated sequences look almost as good as what is in the OVA, especially in the video “Ring”. The music on the other hand is a little bit of a mixed bag. The Yoko Kanno tracks sound drop dead gorgeous of course, but a couple of the other tracks misfire. I found Rie Hamada’s “Yume no Sumika” to be particularly grating.

While Viz Media released both the manga and anime series, they didn’t release this compilation or the compilation film “From Alice to Rin-kun” which also contains a few more newly animated shots. The only real options are imports. Unfortunately it’s a little hard to come by. Occasionally laserdisc or VHS copies will pop up on Yahoo! Auctions Japan from as little as ¥500. Amazon Japan has second hand VHS copies in only “good” condition starting at ¥5,000. Victor Entertainment re-released the compilation movie and music videos on the fourth volume of the DVD release of the OVA in October 2001. Naturally it’s out of print and there’s no DVD box set or blu-ray re-release. The shocker is the price of that disc in the second hand market; ¥7,000 and above. There was also a Korean box set released in 2003 by a company called DVD Ani which included the music video compilation. While all of their titles have been legally licenced from Japanese companies, they had a nasty habit of adding English language material to their discs which they had no right to. Whether that bothers you or not, it’s your call. However that set is pretty much impossible to find.

While it is a pretty good anime music video compilation, due to the prices on the second hand market (and cheaper versions only being available in dead formats) I really think that this one can only be recommended for diehard fans of “Please Save My Earth”.

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