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Saikano: The Last Love Song on This Little Planet. (最終兵器彼女 Saishū Heiki Kanojo?, lit. She, the Ultimate Weapon) is a manga, anime, and OVA series by Shin Takahashi, creator of Iihito and Kimi no Kakera. Saikano was originally serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits magazine.

A live-action movie adaptation was released in Japan on January 28, 2006 with Aki Maeda starring as Chise.[1]

The Saikano manga and anime series has been licensed and is being distributed by Viz Media in English in North America. The anime series is distributed in the UK by Manga Entertainment (as "She, the Ultimate Weapon").

Although the city is not mentioned by name in the series, many of the locations used in Saikano can by all probability be found in Otaru-shi, west of Sapporo. The train station, "Hell Hill",[2] the Asahi Observation Hill, the view over the harbor, and the school all have similarly looking counterparts in the city of Otaru.[3]

Plot

The story begins with Shuji (シュウジ Shūji?), a high school student in a Hokkaidō coastal city, walking up to an observatory and reminiscing about his girlfriend, Chise (ちせ?); there he finds her exchange diaries that she purposefully left behind. The ensuing story is narrated by Shuji through flashbacks while reading Chise's diary. Chise, a fellow student in his class, declares her love for Shuji at the beginning of the series. However, Chise is very shy and Shuji is insensitive: neither know how to express their feelings very well, but they do indeed have feelings for each other.

One day, while Shuji is shopping in Sapporo, unknown bombers attack the city in broad daylight. He and his friends run for cover, but notice a fast and small flying object shooting down the enemy bombers. Separated from his friends, Shuji wanders through the wreckage - only to stumble upon Chise; here she has metal wings and weapons - apparently grafted onto her body. She tells him she has become the ultimate weapon, without her knowledge or consent, and that she is seen by the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) as the last hope for defending Japan from imminent invasion. In the anime, it is not apparent why Chise was chosen to be the ultimate weapon or why the country is under attack. It was not until the OVA episodes were released that an explanation for Chise being chosen was offered: her body has the highest degree of compatibility with the weapon system. (In fact, later in the OVA it is mentioned that Chise had been "over-developed" and was so much of a weapon that she would kill anyone regardless of what side they were on. This fact is punctuated by Chise vaporizing the Special Forces building where she first became the ultimate weapon.)

This story, as suggested by its subtitle "The Last Love Song On This Little Planet", is primarily a love story. It focuses primarily on Shuji's and Chise's reactions to her increasingly powerful destructive abilities, and the relationship between the two.

A number of minor characters who do not necessarily know of Chise's role in the war have sub-plots that concern everyday people in the context of war: a woman whose husband is constantly away from home, a school boy who joins the army to protect his girlfriend, a girl whose civilian boyfriend is killed in a bombing, and others.

War

Both the manga and the anime feature a hotly-contested war. Battles are shown through the lives of people on the front, but the diplomatic particulars of the war are not revealed to the audience. A reason is never given as to why the war broke out in the first place, but it is heavily implied that a coalition of countries is invading Japan as Japan is one of the last remaining habitable places on the planet, and that humans caused great damage to the world.

In one episode an enemy plane is shot down near the city and the pilot's one or two lines are in near perfect American English. In the manga and OVA, Chise speaks to the enemy soldiers, saying that she does not know much English, and later in the series there are some enemy soldiers that speak French. The OVAs also portray some of the soldiers speaking French.

However, in the end of both the anime and the manga, Chise remarks that many other parts of the world had experienced "horrendous things", and that "humans have done a lot of damage to this world".

The only weapons of mass destruction observed in both the anime and manga was Chise herself, who by the middle of the story had the power to destroy entire cities and did so on a fairly regular basis. In more than one battle over a Japanese city, Chise simply vaporized the city and most of the people in it. Coupled with the comments about how the enemy had nowhere to return to and how Chise has been "working" all over the world, it seems unlikely that the invasion by other nations is simply over territory.

Characters

Main characters

Chise (ちせ?) Voiced by: Fumiko Orikasa (Japanese), Melissa Hutchinson (English)

She is the main female character of the story. Chise is a shy, clumsy girl with very little self-esteem and has poor grades in everything except for World History. She was constantly hospitalized in Tokyo during her elementary years, and thus, has very few friends (except for Akemi). She starts dating Shuji, with Akemi’s help, and tries to make her relationship work with him despite his apparently aloof personality. However, Chise is very inexperienced and does not know much about relationships to the point she reads shōjo manga for advice. She was turned into the ultimate weapon against her will and the series revolves around her and her fading humanity. Chise tries to come to terms with her new weapon body by convincing herself that she’s protecting the one she loves, but comes to admit to herself that the only thing she can do is to destroy. She feels horribly guilty for all the pain and death she has caused and shies away from Shuji, believing she doesn’t deserve any happiness. As Chise’s weapon-side starts to take over, her heart stops beating, her body lacks warmth and her sense of taste and touch are dulled, but other senses (especially sight) are accentuated and she’s basically immortal. However, a second darker persona starts to emerge halfway through the series, a cold, ruthless machine that delights in her growing, destructive powers and killing people without mercy. In the end, her love for Shuji is the last of her humanity she can cling to. It's implied at the end of the anime and manga that Chise has become machine god-like in its immortality and destructive power.


Shuuji (シュウジ Shūji?)Voiced by: Shiro Ishimoda (Japanese), Mark Atherlay (English)

He is the main male character of the story and narrator of the series. He is a somewhat antisocial 17-year old high school student who gets higher than average grades and used to be on his school’s track team. Shuuji is very unsure of his initial feelings for Chise and feels that their relationship is more trouble than its worth, though his feelings deepen as the story progresses. At first, he wanted to break things off with Chise, but he then changes his mind and wants to give the relationship another try. However, things get complicated when his first love, Fuyumi, reappears in town. He is the only civilian who knows Chise is the ultimate weapon and promises that he will never divulge her secret. Shuuji is torn by this side of Chise; he loves her deeply, but he is terrified of her weapon capabilities. This causes a very noticeable strain on their relationship and he finally succumbs to Fuyumi’s advances because of this, although it is unclear whether he actually has sex with her as she desires. Shuuji is feeling constantly guilty and useless because his irresponsible actions tend to hurt Chise and because all his loved-ones are dying around him. Later on in the series, he comes to accept his love for Chise and vows to protect her at all costs. He’s the only human being left alive in the end--thanks to Chise’s sacrifice in the anime and thanks to her desire to spare him from annihilation in the manga. The manga ends with him entering a giant ship which claims to be all that is left of Chise--she says she has been trying to get "big and strong" so she can protect him in this way. He is left alone in a spaceship flying away from a devastated Earth, with the human Chise in his heart. It is unclear whether or not the spaceship is an actual spaceship or if Shuji just went insane and imagined the whole thing. The anime changed this into them having another go at life in the memories of his past. In both endings, without food or water, Shuji's fate is unclear.


Akemi (アケミ?) Voiced by: Yū Sugimoto (Japanese), Amy Provenzano (English)

She is a childhood friend and classmate of both Chise and Shuji. Akemi is also Chise's best friend, and usually gives her advice on love. A typical tomboy, but she has some insecurities about her appearance, always questioning why any man would fall for her. She always comes to Chise’s defense whenever Shuji inadvertently hurts Chise verbally. She harbors a secret love for Shuji since she was young, which he is oblivious of, but still encourages Chise to confess to him. She later starts dating Atsushi, knowing that her love for Shuji is unrequited. Akemi gets fatally injured due during an earthquake that hits their little town, and with her dying breath, she tells Shuji her real feelings.


Atsushi (アツシ?) Voiced by: Tetsu Shiratori (Japanese), Joe Wyka (English)

Shuji’s best friend. Atsushi is a mature, open, down-to-earth guy who holds a fascination for the military. Atsushi always looks out for others, as can be seen during the Sapporo raid where he's desperately trying to keep his friends out of harm's way. He decides to join the JSDF to protect the girl he loves, Akemi, despite being aware that she will never love him back. When he’s finally in the army, he’s appalled at the bad state the country is in, and never knows what exactly the weapon “Chise” is since the other soldiers never gave him a clear answer. He dies when Chise destroys the city he’s in, holding Akemi’s photo in his hand.


Tetsu (テツ?) Voiced by: Shinichiro Miki (Japanese), Abie Hadjitarkhani (English)

Regiment leader, Fuyumi’s husband, and the sole survivor of Chise’s first platoon. He’s very much like Shuji in terms of looks and personality and that’s why Chise is initially attracted by him. He treats Chise like an ordinary girl, not a monstrosity, and even goes shopping with her; this makes Chise like him even more and finds understanding and compassion in Tetsu. Later on, he gets injured during a fight and staggers to his quarters to hide, but four enemy soldiers were waiting for him and open fire. He dies shortly from his wounds, but manages to tell Chise that he loves her, mistaking her for Fuyumi. He's one of the characters to be featured in the OVA, where Mizuki, his former commander, was shown to have a crush on him.


Fuyumi (ふゆみ?) Voiced by: Miki Ito (Japanese), Elaine Clark (English)

Shuji’s first lover and Tetsu’s wife. She used to train the track team when she was younger and her students called her “Fuyumi-senpai” because of the close age difference. She had an intimate and inappropriate relationship with Shuji when they were younger--the manga shows her giving him detailed instructions for pleasuring her--and keeps bringing this up when she seduces him. She hates feeling lonely since her husband, Tetsu, is never home since he’s always away in the army so she decides to take comfort in Shuji, who has a remarkable similarity with Tetsu. Shuji finally stops her advances after Tetsu dies, saying that the only person he wants to protect isn’t Fuyumi. She admits she has always used him to fill her own physical and emotional needs, slaps him, and rides her bike to her parents’ house, never to be seen again. In the manga version, she is seen in her parents' house, helping her sick father and reminiscing about Tetsu the night before Chise destroys the city.


Mizuki (ミズキ?) Voiced by: Ai Orikasa (Japanese), Brooke Campanelli (English)

Seen only in the OVA, Mizuki was the prototype for the weapon system which would later be used on Chise. She was an officer who was badly wounded in an attack, but returned to the battlefield because of the prototype weapon system. Initially disdainful of Chise's behavior, and bitter because of her body's inability to use Chise's advanced system, Mizuki began to have second thoughts after seeing what the new system was doing to Chise. She then became an elder sister/motherly figure to the young girl. She also had a crush on Tetsu, her former deputy. Realizing that she was about to die due to extensive damage to her body, Mizuki decided to do one last mission to prevent Chise from going berzerk. After her body gave out in the battle, she activated her self-destruction system. But, she managed to return Tetsu's lighter to him.

Minor characters

Take Voiced by: Kishô Taniyama (Japanese), Abie Hadjitarkhani (English)

The most extroverted guy in Shuji’s circle of friends and Yukari's boyfriend. Take is the first one to get a girlfriend in Shuji's group (a fact Nori is very envious about). His girlfriend is named Yukari and they have been going out for two months by the start of the series. They constantly fight with each other (a fact only Chise seems to notice). He decides to buy a rose quartz at the Sapporo mall to try to get on her good side again. He dies during the bombing, holding Yukari’s pendant in his hand. His classmates put flowers and a framed picture on his old desk as a tribute to him after his death. In the manga version, he survives the attack.


Nori Voiced by: Hiroki Shimowada

The most immature guy in Shuji’s circle of friends. Nori is a naive high-school student, who believed that the war would never reach their hometown and they should stop worrying about it. He desperately wants to have a girlfriend, and is slightly jealous of Take for having one. He later gets a crush on a second-year girl named Miho but it is unknown if his feelings are reciprocated.


Yukari Voiced by: Sachiko Kojima

Take’s girlfriend and part of Chise's group of friends. They fought constantly while he was alive, but she still had strong feelings for him. After her boyfriend’s death, she leaves the school. Soon after that, she gets a new boyfriend and decides never to love anyone seriously ever again. Later on in the series, she joins the neighborhood watch to find the enemy plane that crashed in the woods. She finds the soldier accidentally while looking for the plane. She is momentarily lost and kills him crying out Take’s name. She loses her life in the return fire, and clutches the pendant just like Take did.


Nakamura Voiced by: Kishô Taniyama

Young soldier on Chise’s former company. He admires Chise very much, telling her that her combat skills saved his life. He is later mortally wounded by enemy soldiers when Chise fails to appear on a mission, instead opting to go on a date with Shuji. Tetsu takes pity on him and kills him to end his suffering. He also appears in the OVA, alongside Tetsu.


Kawahara Voiced by: Atsushi Ii

Head scientist in charge of Chise. He is a nervous man that perpetually wipes his forehead with a dark-blue cloth. His wife and daughter were killed during the Sapporo bombing. He gives Shuji some pills saying that Chise needs them so her machine side won’t take over and later gives her some much-needed maintenance. Feeling his job is finally done, he shoots himself in the head. He also makes an appearance in the OVA.


Others

Sergeant Itou Voiced by: Manabu Muraji

Chise’s chaperon. He is in charge of keeping Chise up to date with headquarter decisions and keeping her schedule in order. He later goes insane after witnessing the full extent of her powers. He also appears in the OVA.

Shingo Voiced by: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Atsushi’s army mate. He’s a playful, teasing person and gets along well with Atsushi. He dies when his military base is attacked.

Rie Voiced by: Hiromi Konno

Girl who is part of Chise's circle of friends. She was spying behind a locker (along with Akemi, Seiko, and Yukari) when Chise confessed her feelings to Shuji.

Seiko Voiced by: Kiyomi Asai

Girl who is part of Chise's circle of friends. She was spying behind a locker (along with Akemi, Rie, and Yukari) when Chise confessed her feelings to Shuji.

Hana

The only female recruit that is seen in the series. She joins the military to avenge her boyfriend’s death. Hana loses her life while fighting since everyone mistook the gunshots as someone beating a drum.

Satomi Voiced by: Yumi Kakazu

Akemi’s younger sister. She’s a very optimistic and cheerful girl who sometimes acts as a messenger between Akemi and Shuji. She's also part of the track team. Her fate after the destruction remains unknown.

Shuji's mother

She is a kind and gentle woman, who always worries over her family. It is presumed she is killed during Chise's massacre.

Shuji's father

A man who cares for his family, though like his son, he is somewhat reserved. He along with his wife are presumed to have died in the end.

Media

Manga

File:Saikano manga cover.jpg

Originally serialized in Shogakukan magazine, the complete manga series runs for 7 volumes. The Saikano manga has been licensed by VIZ Media and translated into English. It has also been translated into Spanish by Glénat, into Italian by Panini Comics, into German by Carlsen Verlag and into French by Éditions Delcourt.

The anime follows the manga very closely until the end, where it takes a dramatic turn. In the manga, Chise is portrayed as the one who, after having been almost completely replaced by machine, decides to "liberate" what is left of mankind from its suffering of having to exist on a devastated Earth. In the anime, Chise tries to save the last of the Japanese population from an impending natural disaster coupled with an arriving foreign attack force, but fails. In both, Shuji becomes the last surviving member of humanity. The anime ending is rather disjointed from the rest of the story, where Chise is actively attacking and eliminating population centers around the world.

Side story

There is also a one shot side story called "Love Story, Killed". The story is of a 17 year old Japanese sniper, who hides in the remains of a block of flats and kills enemy soldiers so that he can collect their guns. At the start of the story, he kills a group of enemy soldiers who are about to rape a Japanese girl. While collecting their guns, the sniper is confronted by the girl who picked up one of the guns, but the sniper eventually befriends the girl and takes her back to his room because he wants to have sex with her. It is revealed that he only has five rounds left, with his final round being his good luck charm that he keeps in the pocket, and that he wants to die because it will relieve him from the war. However, after getting to know the girl better and having sex with her, he becomes afraid of death, and when firing on an enemy squadron that came looking for him, he misses and reveals his position. Eventually, he finds himself unable to fire his good luck charm round due to his fear of death. Suddenly the girl appears in the doorway, bringing the guns and ammo of the soldiers he has just killed, saying that he now has the ammunition to kill more soldiers and can keep fighting in the war. Right as the sniper smiles however, three enemy soldiers appear behind the girl, kill the sniper and then rape and kill the girl. The enemy soldiers themselves all die two days later.

Anime

The television series ran for 13 episodes and faithfully adapted all of the chapters in the manga. However, the last TV episode strayed from the manga's continuity and gave an original conclusion to the anime.

Saikano first aired on the Family Gekijou channel from July 2, 2002 to September 24, 2002. Two 30 minute OVA episodes were also released.

Opening Theme
"Koisuru Kimochi" by Yuria Yato
Ending Theme
"Sayonara" by Yuria Yato

Staff

Director  Mitsuko Kase
Music  Takeo Miratsu
Original Manga  Shin Takahashi
Producers  Shigeru Kitayama
 Tatsuya Hamamoto
Chief Animation Director  Masayuki Sato
Music producer  Takeshi Ando
Original music  Yuki Kajiura
Theme songs composition  Yuria Yato
Art director  Junichi Higashi
 Toshihiro Kohama
Sound director  Keiichiro Miyoshi
Character design  Minako Shiba
 Satoko Miyachi
 Satoshi Ohsawa
Editing  Aya Hida
 Kengo Shigemura
Music Editor  Yutaka Gouda
Color coordination  Eri Suzuki
Sound Effects  Takuya Hasegawa
3D Director  Hiroaki Matsuura

Live-action film

Numerous differences exist between the live action movie and the anime, due to time restraints. In the movie multiple characters are missing, such as Take, Yukari, Nori, and Akemi’s sister Satomi. Shuji never quit the track team, and Fuyumi was never his middle school teacher-–their relationship never goes past playful flirtation. Tetsu is initially hostile to Chise, and sees her as a monster, but he changes his mind and decides to take care of Chise (in contrast to his immediate embrace of Chise in the anime); also, Tetsu’s death is a very brief affair in the live action movie compared to the anime. In the live action movie Atsushi does not enlist in the army for the sake of Akemi, while in the anime he dies clutching a photo of her at his death. Akemi does not die in Shuji’s arms from an earthquake, rather she dies in a hospital from injuries sustained during an air raid; however she still confesses her love to Shuji. Chise and Shuji do not run away to a harbor city in the live action moive, but to an isolated farm house; here Chise is not shown as becoming progressively inhuman, as she was in the anime. Also, the circumstances of the invasion are clear in the live action movie; the invading countries are doing so due to the creation of Chise herself – they also threaten nuclear attack unless Japan destroys Chise by a certain date. Overall, the live action movie does not actively portray the suffering of a besieged Japan: such medicine and food shortages as are shown in the anime are not present in the live action movie. Importantly, the world is not destroyed in the live action movie.

References

  1. Script error
  2. http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/hokkaido/otaru.html
  3. "Hell Hill" is mentioned, together with live footage of the area, in the talk show feature on the second disc of the North American DVD edition of the anime (VIZ).

External links

ko:최종병기 그녀 it:Lei, l'arma finale lt:Saikanopl:Saikanoru:Saikano sv:Saikano tl:Saikano th:Saikano อาวุธสุดท้ายคือเธอ zh:最终兵器少女

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