Anime You'd Love To See Remadeby The Anime News Network Editorial Team,
We asked our writers a simple question: if you could remake any anime in history, which would it be and why? It can be for any reason - maybe the TV series was a shaky adaptation, maybe the animation wasn't so good, maybe the story would've fit better in a 2-hour movie than a 52-episode TV series. Whatever the reason, we wanted to hear their plans for the remake of their dreams - and now we'd like to hear yours, too!
Once you're done perusing the remake proposals our writers came up with, head on over to the forums and let us know about your dream remake!
The Gunsmith Cats manga is not an especially deep or insightful series, but it is a heck of a lot of fun. The story arcs feel like they'd work equally well in Hollywood action movies, and the series as a whole has a distinctly American feel despite its Japanese origins. The main characters run a gun store in Chicago when they're not busy with their side jobs as bounty hunters, and their vehicle of choice across many car chases is a classic Shelby Cobra GT500. The fight scenes feature the kind of explosive stunts and impossible trick shots that elevate an action series from good to great, and the cast features some uniquely charismatic characters. It's the kind of manga that you'd expect to see adapted into a successful anime series, but all fans ever got was a three-episode OVA way back in 1995.
In all fairness to the OVA, it's actually pretty decent. It hits the basic elements of what makes the manga enjoyable: heroines Rally Vincent and Minnie-May Hopkins stumble onto a major criminal plot and proceed to resolve the issue with a generous helping of bullets and grenades. The GT500 makes an appearance for a good old-fashioned car chase, and the standalone story has enough twists and turns to keep things rolling for three episodes. Unfortunately, it lacks the manga's charmingly nerdy obsession with gun and car trivia, some of the supporting characters are either completely absent or relegated to cameo appearances, and the bad guys aren't nearly as compelling as some of the manga's recurring villains. An hour and a half just isn't enough time to do Gunsmith Cats justice.
So here's what I propose: embrace the manga's action movie influences and turn some of the stronger story arcs into a series of animated films. Cover Rally's run-ins with recurring antagonists like Gray and Goldie, along with her ongoing rivalry with Bean. Instead of trying to adapt the entirety of the manga, whittle it down to around four movies’ worth of the good stuff. Throw enough time and talent at the action scenes to recreate the sense of meticulous detail, since that's what lends a hint of plausibility to the manga's more ridiculous stunts. Give the character designs a few minor updates, but preserve the late 80s aesthetic that gives the series its cool retro feel today. The soundtrack would be key to enhancing the sense of time and place, and a strong English dub would only be natural for a story set in the US. I'm not sure a Gunsmith Cats revival would set the anime world on fire, but a work with this much cross-cultural appeal could find favor with a broader audience. I know I'd watch it.
Yeah, we all know that Netflix is bringing Voltron back yet again. But while previous Voltron iterations have had their moments, they've always felt like they were missing something, at least to me. I think that a fundamental part of the magic that made the original classic work so well lies in acquiring and bowdlerizing an original Japanese TV series. So rather than a Voltron remake, what I'd like to see is a remake of Golion. Here's how I see things:
High above planet Altera, an old colonial world inhabited by humans, a long-distance colony ship arrives in orbit, filled with refugees fleeing an Earth rendered uninhabitable by a long, pitiless nuclear war. Expecting to be greeted warmly by their long-lost brethren, the Terrans are shocked with the Alteran military regards them as aliens and takes them all prisoner. The ship's leader, a bombastic politician named Takeshi Shiro, is abruptly executed for threatening Altera's fleet commander, and so the ship's young captain Akira Kogane becomes the de facto leader, with his four-man crew of pilots and engineers as his advisors.
They learn that, while the planet appears to be governed by the Alteran royal family, a military junta actually rules Altera-- one that launches their forces to meet the invading Galra Empire at the end of episode 1. In the confusion, Akira meets Prince Raido and Princess Fala, who offer him a trump card-- five robot lions, ancient alien artifacts that are beyond the understanding of Alteran military scientists. It turns out that their father, the long-deceased king, had worked out how to activate the robots—a secret he left with his kids. Kogane's team is left with both a powerful weapon to repel the Galrans and a means to protect their fellow Terrans from the suspicious Alteran military leadership.
Man, I feel like I'm writing fanfic! Anyway, the first successful sorties of the mysterious lion robots prompt an escalation of force from the Galran emperor, who's facing a crisis of his own-- his planet is out of resources, and he's being pressured by his own son to de-escalate and treat with the Alterans. When a towering, beastly Galran weapon arrives and lays waste to the capital, Kogane makes a key discovery-- the five robots combine into a gestalt of their own! But this towering humanoid robot, Golion, is sentient, and every time they combine and use it, it becomes harder and harder to control. As political pressures mount, the Golion team are forced to put down an armed conflict between the Alteran junta and their own fellow Terrans, and eventually Golion itself, maddened by millennia of isolation and infuriated by pilots that it regards as cruel puppet masters, breaks free and lays waste to the Alteran fleet in a direct visual homage to the God Warrior scene from Nausicaa.
See, it's not enough to just redesign the lion-bots and update the characters a bit-- you gotta put some meat on the bones of the story, and I think Shou Aikawa could provide plot and character work that would make this brave new Golion both fiercely politically intelligent and accessible to a broad audience. Mecha designs would be boldly updated by Masami Obari, who'd bring in his muscular, over-the-top aesthetic to great effect. The director would have to be Yasuhiro Imagawa, who'd handle the series with his typical galloping cadence and fine cinematic sensibilities, while still preserving beloved old elements like the monster/adversary of the week formula. Naturally, almost every episode of the initial 26-episode series would have to end with either a crucial revelation or a hair-raising cliffhanger.
As that 26 episodes wind their way to a thrilling climax, Princess Fala, with the help of Golion, successfully deposes her planet's military dictatorship. But in the fight, her brother Raido, now one of Golion's pilots, is killed-- only to be replaced by the Galran Prince Sincline, who turns from honorable foe to crucial ally in the continuing struggle against the Galran Emperor. Peace eventually settles across the galaxy, and if the show does well enough, season 2 can be all about the combined forces of the Alterans, Terrans, and Galrans as they face off against the Vril-- the cold, ancient, and ruthless celestial engineers who created Golion in the first place! And when all seems lost, Imagawa will reveal the story's coolest surprise: turns out that desperate trip from Earth to Altera way back at the beginning of the show was done in cold sleep, without hyperspace technology, a sub-lightspeed trip that took about 1,600 years. As the Vril prepare to destroy their defiant creation and its pilots, Earth's fleet, long since recovered from the ancient nuclear cataclysm, jumps into Alteran space, along with their own robot dreadnaught-- Dairugger XV.
Only one question remains here-- how would you turn something like this into Voltron? The way I see it, just change the names, if that. No doubt that the new CG Voltron will involve some selling of toy robots to children, but it's just as much a nostalgia vehicle for the adults who grew up watching the original in the 80s and 90s, so making a sharper, smarter Voltron shouldn't be a problem. The only element that I'm not really taking into account here is the gang of mice that the princess hangs out with. But they'd be in the mix somewhere, I guess!
My first thought for this topic was the 1998 thirteen episode anime adaptation of Yumi Tamura's Basara manga, and while that does really deserve a new version, there isn't much more to say beyond, “Make it longer!” But it did remind me of another flawed manga adaptation from the same time period, the forty-four episode 1999-2000 anime version of Arina Tanemura's Phantom Thief Jeanne.
Sadly unlicensed despite two different releases of the manga, Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne (which I'll call it to differentiate it from the manga), is a stretched out, sanitized version of the original. Comparisons to the way the original Sailor Moon anime changed its source material wouldn't be inappropriate – the story is lengthened to add in more monster-of-the-week episodes, the romance between Maron and Chiaki is brought down to PG from its PG-13 manga counterpart, and most egregiously, the final cycle is neutered in terms of its villain.
Given the close runs of the manga and the anime (the manga also finished in 2000), this last part really did not sit well with me, especially since it undermines the full power of Tanemura's message, which was about needing to believe in yourself, because ultimately only you can be your own rescuer. This is largely symbolized in the story's final arc, which reveals that Maron's adorable mascot character, angel-in-training Finn Fish, is actually working for her enemy, the Devil. Maron has therefore been using the Devil's power, not God's, in order to transform into Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, to say nothing of suffering the ultimate betrayal. (Years before Puella Magi Madoka Magica pulled the same basic trick, I might add.) The end result is that Maron loses her ability to transform until she believes in herself, something which has always been difficult for her since her parents abandoned her to pursue their own jobs – Maron has always felt, as many children do, that her parents' problems are her fault, making her unworthy of love. While this aspect is handled relatively well in the anime, especially the relationship between Maron and her best friend Miyako, the decision to tone down Finn Fish's part in the story ultimately robs the show of its impact. Finn is the proof for Maron that belief in her own abilities and power is the best way to “save” herself – if she doesn't have herself, she doesn't have anything – while at the same time teaching the heartbreaking but important lesson that you simply can't save everyone. By removing this from the story, the anime may be more suitable for the kiddies (although the manga did run in Ribon, which hardly has an adult audience), but it also makes it a much more cookie-cutter production. Maybe that sold better in 2000.
But guess what? It's 2016 now, and Madoka made the darker magical girl story more palatable than it was sixteen years ago. So now would be a great time to remake Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne after the style of Sailor Moon Crystal – with a storyline that more faithfully follows the manga and leaves the more serious and upsetting aspects intact. I don't necessarily need fancy redone character designs (Tanemura's art is difficult to adapt to simplified anime art anyway), and I certainly don't want to see the amazing transformations changed; watching Maron leap from the top of a skyscraper to transform on the way down was breathtaking. But I do want to see the real story animated this time, with all of its impact. In a twelve to twenty-four episode series, this could be done with relative ease, and it ought to appeal to both old fans and new. Maron's story is worth telling right, and I think the industry may be ready to do it.
Jacob Hope Chapman
When it comes to material that's ripe for remakes, people are understandably quick to pick out stuff that didn't do so hot the first time around. Maybe the work suffered from incompetent production, messy adaptation, or just a poorly-timed inability to reach its true audience, but whatever the reason, these are the most common hallmarks of the shabby could-have-beens most in need of a revamp.
So of course, I'm compelled to pick Fruits Basket, one of the most beloved and popular shojo anime of all time, which was adapted nearly panel-for-panel from its source manga by a uniquely talented director, Akitaro Daichi. It has none of the major problems people associate with the need for a makeover, but the truth isn't that simple for me. The Fruits Basket anime doesn't "need" a remake from the world; I'm the one who needs a remake of the Fruits Basket manga.
The 2002 anime's visuals aren't my main concern, but they are the most immediately outdated part of the experience. Being produced in the early days of digipaint did Fruits Basket no favors, and I find its flat colors and jagged edges pretty hard on the eyes today, to say nothing of the barely-present animation. The manga's art starts out a little busy and rough, but becomes drop-dead gorgeous inside of several volumes, especially compared to the anime's somewhat garish designs. (You could fit the entire cast of Free! in Tohru's Olympic-pool eyeballs.) So yeah, the anime could absolutely stand to look prettier, but people remember Fruits Basket for its moving story and characters. Unfortunately, that's the part of the show I really want to see overhauled.
The Fruits Basket anime was a charming experience that did a great job spreading its vision of unconditional kindness and cute animal-boys to bookish tween girls across the globe. It's a lovely bowl of chicken soup. But the manga is like a ten-pound savory pot roast that sinks down into the pit of your stomach and fuels your whole body with its uncompromised raw emotional power. The anime is mostly composed of vignettes where sad things happen to the Sohmas purely because of their cursed circumstances, before Tohru sweeps in to cure their sadness with a smile. The manga follows up on these vignettes with the tempest of painful recovery the Sohmas would have to endure in the years to come. There's plenty of joy and happiness to be found in their relationships with Tohru, but there's also an authentic heap of fear, manipulation, jealousy, and hatred that comes back on themselves, their fellow cursed cousins, and even our heroine. Even unconditional love can't just make their trauma go away, and even Tohru doesn't have the power to talk them through everything. As it turns out, she has jaw-dropping skeletons in her own closet about her own parents, despite only ever describing them in the most angelic terms to others.
Unfortunately, the manga can't start plumbing these depths right away, opting instead to lure in the audience with more conventional shojo and fairytale tropes, which is probably what gave Akitaro Daichi the idea to soak his adaptation in perpetual twee whimsy, even during its most tragic tales of child abandonment. By the time the anime dumps all its undiluted angst into the finale, it goes too far and feels too overwrought for the circumstances. The manga showed more restraint, solace, and subtlety when telling all these same stories, and this more mature tone difference only becomes greater the further you read. The Fruits Basket anime is by no means a bad show (it's still pretty good, visuals aside), but it is one of the most striking examples I can think of for missing the spirit of a work despite copying the plot beat-for-beat.
It's like comparing The Hunchback of Notre Dame novel to the Disney movie. They're both good at what they're trying to do, but they're trying to do wildly different things.
Daichi has been frank about taking on Fruits Basket because it was heavily recommended to him, but also that he didn't personally understand its appeal and just tried to stay faithful to the plot. The original author Natsuki Takaya vocally disliked his adaptation and said a sequel could only happen if he didn't direct it. The two just didn't really get each other, and I would be ecstatic if someone who truly understood the core of Takaya's work could adapt it faithfully in spirit, even if they have to cut some chunks out of its 23-volume run to make it happen.
And hey, if nothing else, the original anime never got around to introducing the entire Chinese Zodiac! Don't you want to meet the Horse and the Rooster? They're gonna make you cryyyyy...
I fell in love with the visuals of Pet Shop of Horrors before I could even enjoy its story. In 2001, I received the first three Japanese volumes of the 1995 manga as a birthday gift from a worldly friend. I pored over page after page of delicate, macabre art that was so evocative of the plot I couldn't yet read, in which a mysterious man named Count D sells the perfect pet to each lonely and desperate person who enters his shop. Of course, each pet has a Gremlins-style catch, and when owners fail to follow the rules, their encounters with the pets turn deadly.
Fortunately, the Pet Shop of Horrors miniseries came to America shortly after I discovered the series, and I wasted no time securing a DVD. But imagine my disappointment when the embellished gothic art style was replaced by cheap animation, a lifeless color palette, and ho-hum voice acting. It's no wonder it only got four episodes! The DVD was soon discontinued, but Sentai re-acquired the rights to sell it in the US a while ago, thankfully at a price that reflects the… value of the content.
I can't recommend the DVD that turned Pet Shop of Horrors from a richly illustrated and thrilling bestiary into a B-movie horror flick because, in the years between my birthday gift and now, I fell in love with the manga all over again in English this time. Tokyopop acquired the rights for all 10 books—41 chapters in all—in 2008 and I immediately devoured them, (much like these gorgeous and misunderstood pets devoured so many of their unfortunate owners). Tokyopop eschewed the beautiful book jackets and expensive cardstock from my raw copies, but retained the incredible art and story. I discovered that the plot was far more nuanced than a look at the untranslated manga or this old miniseries could indicate, continuing the thread of D's escapades with Leon, the Los Angeles cop who is convinced Dee is trafficking drugs. (If only he knew the truth was so much more disturbing!) There's beauty and gore in these stories, but there's also heartstring-tugging drama and even comedy. Of course, good luck getting your hands on the manga today because, well, Tokyopop.
Pet Shop of Horrors is a manga that risks being lost to Western fans forever, with only a bizarre, bland little 4-episode TV series to uphold its legacy. This cannot stand! Pet Shop of Horrors needs the richly imagined remake it deserves. I think it'd be a great candidate for the Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo digital layering treatment, to give it the colorful and ornamented look the manga has. Really, any studio that takes it on would be wise to take a cue from Pet Shop of Horrors cosplayers, who have brought the manga illustrations to life far more accurately than the dull series managed. Edgy and horrifying, but at the same time humane and hopeful, Pet Shop of Horrors has a story that will certainly still resonate with anime fans today. It just needs an equally intense remake to match.
While reviewing the latest Fate/stay night anime adaptation this past fall, I was preoccupied by the question – is there any way to adapt the visual novel in a way that contains all three routes? For those of you who don't know, the Fate/stay night visual novel consists of three routes in which the protagonist, Shirou, pursues each of the three leading ladies. Taking place over the same span of time, the three routes are mutually exclusive, containing a different set of events, character alliances, and revelations. However, Fate/stay night's thematic narrative only emerges when the three routes – Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven's Feel – are played in sequence.
On the surface, Fate/stay night might not be something that you think we need more of. It's already had two full series animations (Studio Deen's from 2006 and Ufotable's from 2014), as well as a film planned for some time this year. By all accounts, we have too much Fate/stay night already. But here's the rub – each version only adapts one of the routes. As a result, they're each necessarily lacking around 2/3rds of the story's content. Many characters (Caster, Gilgamesh, Sakura, etc.) only get a proper ending in one of the three routes. In the other two, they're these weird, vestigial narrative appendages that suck up time to little purpose or outcome. So the question becomes – is there any way to combine the three routes into one story where every character gets their most dramatically appropriate outcome?
Basically, the challenge is to shove a non-linear story into a linear medium. I think that's possible, although it would require some creative rejiggering. I think the key is Archer – as the future Shirou from a failed timeline, he's the glue that holds all this together.
First, I'd take the fan theory that each route's Archer is the previous route's Shirou and make it canon. Start the story from the events of Unlimited Blade Works, telling the Fate route in hindsight as Archer's backstory. End Unlimited Blade Works with tragedy (Shirou doesn't learn his lesson about not taking the world's burdens onto himself, becoming Archer again) in order to begin Heaven's Feel. Then tell Heaven's Feel from Archer's POV so that the entire show has a consistent protagonist. Archer in Heaven's Feel is Shirou from Unlimited Blade Works. Compared to UBW Archer, HF Archer understands his younger self better. This Archer's influence allows Shirou to finally break free from his toxic delusions about heroism, ending the time loop. In this way, all three of Fate/stay night's timelines could be adequately represented in a linear story that has the same thematic trajectory as the visual novel.
Of course, the devil is in the details here. How do you make Saber's story satisfying when her trajectory over the three routes is a slide into despair and corruption? How do you take Gilgamesh out of the story gracefully when the third route chucks him to the side in such a humiliating manner? How would you do justice to all three of Shirou's romances? Thinking about this, I can see why it's never been tried. It'd be a supremely difficult adaptive balancing act. But that's also what attracts me to it - I look at it like an intellectual and artistic challenge, a puzzle box waiting to be solved. The reward would be the most powerful version of Shirou's story ever presented onscreen. The Fate/stay night visual novel loses 2/3rds of its power when transplanted into a linear medium, but I think that it'd be possible to recover that through careful narrative engineering. Kinoku Nasu is ambitious in how he constructs his stories, and while the Garden of Sinners film series matched the scope of his sprawling light novel series, Fate/stay night has yet to see its equivalent in anime.
I am not a stickler for an anime adaptation staying slavishly loyal to its source material, partly because I usually find the way that it deviates interesting enough to douse any complaints I might have about the changes. Hence my pick for this subject, the 1993 OVA series Battle Angel, is based much more on how there was a broader and deeper story to tell than what the original anime version got into.
The original two 29 minute episodes are a greatly condensed version of the first two tankoubon of the epic sci fi manga GUNNM (aka Battle Angel Alita in its English release). The manga's next story arc wasn't yet complete at the time of the episodes’ production, so that was all that could be done then. While those two episodes do capture the basic essence of the story, they skipped a lot of material which could have dramatically fleshed out the character and world-building without encumbering the storyline too much. The second episode in particular also felt rushed in the part of the story it did choose to tell, and its ending did not capture a full sense of the depth of Gally's reaction to the episode's climactic events. Also severely curtailed by the OVA was the distinctiveness of Gally's combat style, although mediocre animation is equally to blame for that.
The original proposal that James Cameron made for a live-action version emphasized the Motor Ball arc which dominates the 3rd and 4th tankoubon (by American release), and I agree that truncating the first two volumes to allow for a bigger chunk of focus on that element would be a fine way to go for an anime or live-action movie. The end of that storyline would only take eight or nine TV series episodes to properly cover, however, so some content from the later stages would have to be included to make a full TV series. Hence my recommendation would be to expand the first two volumes out to 4-5 episodes total, use another 3-4 to adapt the Motor Ball arc, and then fill out the remainder of a 12-13 episode first season with a trimmed version of the Barjack storyline. Sure, it would be nice to take time and carefully adapt everything, but in a practical sense there's a lot which could be trimmed without crimping the overall story much.
I further recommend using a second 12-13 episode season to adapt the follow-up manga The Last Order, with the content of volume 9 of the original series dumped entirely to allow for the transition. Yes, its 18 volume length suggests that it should have a 24-26 episode season all on its own, but frankly, that series drags in the manga. It gets too invested in hugely detailing character backgrounds, draws out some fights, and has some characters in it which could be dispensed with entirely without harming the overall story. Ruthlessly trimming it down to fits into a 12-13 episode series would be a blessing if you could find the right director to do it.
Lastly, get a studio and director who actually understands sci fi action scenes. Not sure who I'd recommend here, but the manga was one of the all-time great sci fi action series, and any new anime production should reflect that more than the run-of-the-mill original effort.
There's obviously an inherent degree of presumption in saying Clannad needs a remake - after all, the show already has a relatively recent and highly popular version animated by one of the industry's premier studios. But speaking personally, Clannad never really worked for me, in spite of how much I appreciated some of its foundational ingredients. And while the current Clannad works fine enough as a faithful adaptation of a visual novel, I just don't think it's a very good show.
There are a number of compromises inherent in adapting a multi-path visual novel into an anime. In a visual novel, each individual path can stand alone without compromising the integrity of any other; the accepted mechanics of the medium basically make these parallel lines come across as natural. But in a linear storytelling medium where the viewer has no agency, things are different - you either have to fold stories into each other, frame your show as a series of vignettes, or do the most common thing and have your protagonist simply run through one story after another.
Clannad chose the third option, and in the context of a romantic drama with some very specific central themes, I think that choice basically hobbled the show. “Clannad the story” is about Tomoya finding joy in life through Nagisa, his friend/girlfriend/eventual wife. Then tragedy strikes, and Tomoya is forced to come to terms with loss, the process of which eventually brings him to a fuller appreciation of life and even peace with his once-hated father.
Clannad the anime is only one-third about that - the rest of it is Tomoya durdling around in a series of small woman-saving arcs, where he does everything from teaching a genius girl that her parents actually loved her to reuniting a woman with the ghost of her dead boyfriend, who now lives in a cat. Clannad's small arcs not only muddle the power of the core narrative and make Tomoya into a harem cliche, they also just aren't very good stories. Jun Maeda has a number of weaknesses as a writer, from his predilection for helpless female characters to his repetitive sense of humor and tendency to swing for tragedy before he's earned viewer investment, and I think a ruthless revision of Clannad could downplay his core failings while also clearing up Clannad's fundamental narrative.
Clannad had two full seasons, but my Clannad would not - it would cut the series in half and just excise characters like Fuuko and Kotomi altogether. Essentially the first half of each season (where the show just rambles in self-contained arcs), would be cut, while preserving the characters like Kyou and Tomoyo, who actually have a dynamic with the leads outside of “needs to be saved.” Give Nagisa more consistent screentime and a fuller personality, and prioritize both her positive presence in Tomoya's life and his counterbalancing feelings about his father. Maintain and emphasize the adult slice of life sequences both before and after tragedy - living out hard but happy days as a newly married couple, struggling to connect with an estranged child. More than anything else, these segments are what make Clannad unique as a show and Kyoto Animation excel as a studio.
And finally, don't sabotage the ending through a magical “it made sense in the visual novel” contrivance. Clannad is a story about growing up, and that involves both accepting loss and growing into the person you want to be. Perseverance, honest work, and people lifting each other up are all emphasized throughout Clannad, and a fairy tale ending only cheapens those themes. Don't take back the earlier tragedy, but also don't kill off Ushio for bonus tragedy points - have Nagisa's consistently mentioned connection to the hospital actually give Tomoya the strength to get Ushio there, tying off both their arcs and letting Tomoya become the person he wanted to be, someone who was once defined by his desire to be unlike his father, but who is now fully his own man.
This version of Clannad would admittedly be a very different show, and I'm sure it would make many fans of the visual novel furious. But personally, I think there's a great, thoughtful drama hidden in Clannad that would actually be stronger for its lack of loyalty to the source material. And surely making even more people appreciate the story's core strengths is a goal worth aiming for.
Considering how much I enjoyed Please Save My Earth's early ‘90s OVA series, the fact that I'd like to see it remade may sound odd. While these episodes are fluidly animated and set the stage for a truly epic tale, the entire series is essentially one long prologue to a show we'll never see. They tease a compelling story about reincarnation, revenge, ESP, and alien scientists, only to leave the audience hanging. They introduce characters who stay with you long after the series is over and hint at mysteries that aren't fully answered—and then flash quickly through some scenes of events yet to come at the end, like that's supposed to explain everything.
Based on a 21-volume manga series (not to mention the two sequel manga series that came out in Japan many years later), the anime adaptation covers roughly the first eight books. It's decently paced and not terribly confusing, but a story this complex can't be told in six half-hour installments. Regrettably, when Viz originally released the anime in the U.S., the manga had not yet been translated, much to chagrin of fans who were eager to see what came next. (Luckily, the manga was released in English in the early ‘00s. The physical copies are out of print, but the series remains available in digital form.)
Taking its length into consideration, the anime does have a decent, if inconclusive, ending. The OVA primarily focuses on seven-year-old Rin, the reincarnation of alien scientist Shion (one of seven alien scientists sent to observe Earth who was later reborn in Japan) and what drove him to become so full of hate. The anime ends after exploring the only time in the orphaned Shion's life when he was truly happy: the days he spent with an adoptive father who loved him despite his difficult behavior. Unfortunately, his adoptive father (and beloved adoptive giant cat) died, and Shion went back into the (alien) orphanage system, never again really knowing love until he met Mokuren, a goddess-like scientist for whom half the crew was pining.
The series ends on a warm, fuzzy note, but so much is left untouched. The anime makes it seem like Mokuren and Shion were madly in love—and they were prior to their deaths. However, the manga reveals that at one point, Shion actually raped Mokuren, which puts a very different spin on a romance that transcends time and space. The battle between Rin and Mikuro, an ESP-user from Earth, is never fully finished, nor is Rin's goal of blowing up the moon base via the Tokyo Tower sufficiently elaborated upon or achieved on-screen.
For years, I've longed to see Please Save My Earth get a remake, ideally in a two-cour or even year-long format. Unfortunately, I doubt many studios are clamoring to re-adapt a shojo manga that ended over 20 years ago. Still, a number of shojo bigwigs (including Naoko Takeuchi, Bisco Hatori and Arina Tanemura), cite the series as one of their foremost inspirations and the second sequel series is still being published, so nostalgia may ultimately help this series find new life.
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