License request day: Global Garden

Melinda Beasi and Michelle Smith took their Off the Shelf column on the road this week, discussing Saki Hiwatari’s Please Save My Earth (Viz) over at The Hooded Utilitarian. I enjoyed the discussion so much that I took a look at other works by Hiwatari. One of them features the ghost of Albert Einstein.

If you’re anything like me, this is all you need to know to want to read at least one volume of the series, because legendary theoretical physicists just don’t show up in shôjo manga as often as they should.

The series, Global Garden, ran for eight volumes in Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume in the early 2000s. In it, two young men share a precognitive dream that the world tree is dying because of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They foresee a young girl being able to heal the tree and save the world, so Einstein branches out into theoretical pharmacology and gives them something to slow their aging. Einstein dies, and his disembodied spirit offers these eternally youthful do-gooders guidance as they wait about 50 years for the girl who can save the world. Along the way, someone manages to make a clone that’s half psychic slow-aging guy, half Einstein. So, one of the protagonists has a baby with Einstein, basically.

Global Garden also promises several items off of the classic-sounding-shôjo menu: gender fluidity, a seriously magical girl, and complex blended-family dynamics, and mixes them in with an environmental message. Plus psychic powers. And Einstein’s ghost. Hakusensha offers some preview pages of the first volume.

It’s been published in French by Delcourt as Global Garden: Einstein’s Last Dream. I suspect this is because the French are better at marketing manga and know that, when you’ve got the shôjo Einstein card in your hand, you play it.

This isn’t Einstein’s only appearance in manga. Most obviously, there’s Edu-Manga: Albert Einstein (Digital Manga), written by Isao Himuro and illustrated by Kotaro Iwasaki. A teen Einstein clone is part of the student body of Kumiko Suekane’s Afterschool Charisma (Viz). It seems odd that he’s not a cast member of Kouta Hirano’s Drifters (Dark Horse), but perhaps the available information on that series is incomplete.

Since we’re on the subject, what are some of your favorite examples of actual people from history showing up in manga under unlikely circumstances?