Wadachi and Great Earth
[My first Wadachi post covered tankobon vol. 1 = 9 chapters. This post covers the first half (7 chapters) of tank vol. 2. I’ll cover the last 6 chapters of the series in another post]
The selected Japanese are now in space. Dr. Sado is informed that a New Humanity Council, made up of elite, beautiful people, intends to shortchange the rest of the travelers. Sado is worried about this, but he’s delighted that Earth has been left behind. The reason is ugly and perverse. Sado hasn’t just prepared to take the Japanese to a brand new world, but he’s also rigged Earth with explosives. He plans to destroy the planet, because of a mixture of personal and national (Japanese) complexes resulting in a brutal hatred of foreigners…
The Japanese leadership places Sado under house arrest when they find out his criminal intentions, and the man kills himself. Wadachi weeps over him, even as he helps the committee explain to Earth how to disarm the explosives. Wadachi says he understands Dr. Sado’s sentiment.
The story keeps going, mixing the disturbing with the comical. The elite people crash land on the new planet (dubbed “Great Earth” because it’s 20 times the size of Earth) and all except 22 of them die. The rest of the Japanese arrive safely. There are about 100 million people on this enormous planet now, so procreation is a high priority. Wadachi has his heart set on Moriki, who used to work for Sado and was one of the 22 survivors [it later turns out she has already chosen to be with another man]. There are reports that non-Japanese on Earth are trying very hard to build ships and chase the Japanese to Great Earth.
The 100 million live in a miniature replica of Japan, parts of which are perfect (Wadachi’s hostel in Tokyo is exactly the same as the original, probably because Sado prepared it for him), parts of which are imperfect (Matsuyama city in Shikoku is apparently a big mess) and parts of which are non-existent (Wadachi’s Kyushu, or maybe just his hometown in Kyushu, is nowhere to be found).
The strongest folk are encouraged to pair up and go out to settle the brave new world. Even though Wadachi doesn’t have a girlfriend, he decides to go. Many of the settlers turn to cannibalism because they can’t find fruits or animals. Wadachi learns that the trees on this planet can move, and that they seem to prefer some people (e.g. Wadachi) over others and so he is never lacking food. What looks like a shooting star turns out to be a combat plane from the New United Nations. Wadachi sees the wreckage and soon after runs into a beautiful woman who calls herself Yukie Nozaki.
Aha! At last, 350 pages into the manga, we get to meet this person whose voice we heard at the very beginning when Wadachi was dreaming in his hospital bed. Wadachi is scared Nozaki might want to hurt him or steal from him, but she disrobes to show him she has no weapons. She asks to travel together with him. Hours later Wadachi gets tired and decides to take a nap. Alas, Nozaki uses some futuristic telephoning device and calls someone to say she is with a dwarf who can always get food (because the trees like him). The voice on the other head tells her to stay with him, an airplane and ship/s are on the way!!
The philosophy of Dr. Sado, and even more, Wadachi’s seeming agreement with it, are very difficult to swallow. Sado is a sad, sad man; he is the epitome of Nietzschean ressentiment. He resents (pretty) women and he resents foreigners. Wadachi sympathizes with the sour and pathetic Dr. Sado (he buries him single-handedly and always refers to him as the Great Doctor). If we think of the manga’s main character as representing the author in some fundamental way (as I often tend to do), then Leiji comes out looking rather bad in this manga, at least to us non-Japanese.
One of Matsumoto’s childhood memories is of seeing Allied bombers on their way to level the city of Matsuyama (mentioned in this volume), the capital of his mother’s prefecture of Ehime, where Leiji’s family had taken refuge.