7 September 2017

Some Explanations on Soil

And Soil v11 is done at last, making this another formerly dead scanlation project successfully revived and finished! It's weird realizing that it's been 12 fucking years since I first read Kotonoha's initial release back in 2005. Time sure flies by, though I'm sure for many fans of Soil, the waiting inbetween releases was a much more painful experience. Please do thank my editor Kennit for his job on the series. It's not exactly a secret that I'm no stickler for releasing scans with super high resolution, amazing cleaning, and professional typesetting. I usually just work as a one-man team, and since my main focus is on translation, I don't care about the "technical" side to scanlation. So it was a great stroke of luck that Kennit offered to help on Soil, leading to really good-looking releases. Unfortunately, this'll be his last project with me so if there's any skilled editor who wants to help me out with Planet of Sutakola PLEASE do contact me.

In any case, as I promised before, I'll give a basic explanation for the mysteries in Soil. I might be repeating obvious information for many readers, but I'm explaining it for those who found it hard to keep track of plot points, especially due to the sporadic releases. Lots of spoilers ahead, so read the entire series first.

Download:
Soil v11 c89:   Mega
Soil v11:   Mega
All previous Soil volumes:   Mega


Soil v8 p154
There's a lot of LOST-like moments in Soil (remember when that was the hot show everyone talked about?) in terms of sheer I-don't-even-know-wtf-is-going-on-anymore. But if you actually try re-reading the series from vol 1. to vol. 11, most of the mysteries are surprisingly all explained. The most important reveal is probably in volume 8 as pictured above when Yomogida explains to Yokoi how the Soil manga's universe works. Basically, reality for the humans in this manga consists of two inter-connected realms, normality and abnormality. Normality is stuff like eating, playing, or reading a book. Abnormality contains things that aren't the norm but still happen on an irregular basis. So things like massacres and epidemics are elements of abnormality because they don't happen on a regular basis, but they still conform to the standard laws of reality. Surrounding this realm of reality is the much larger inexplicable realm, which I'll refer to the shorter term irreality in this post. This is stuff that is just batshit insane, violates human reason, laws of physics, etc. For example, impossible things like massive extraterrestrial salt mounds just popping up is an element of irreality. While Yomogida never explicitly states this, his diagram makes it seem the boundary between irreality and abnormality is somewhat porous. So while elements of irreality occasionally cross into abnormality, much rarer is when it bypasses abnormality to directly enter normality. So when a huge mound of extraterrestrial salt popped up in the town of Soil in a single night, that's an example of irreality penetrating normality. So how does this exactly happen?
Soil v8 p151
This is where the concept of foreign bodies come in. Foreign bodies are anything that should not, or is extremely unlikely to exist in reality. So the Suzushiro family, which was never a real family in the first place (as revealed in the end of volume 9), is an example of a foreign body. There appears to be degrees of foreign bodies in the manga. Something like the Suzushiros, who aren't even humans, are particularly strong foreign bodies. In contrast, the kind of items as pictured above that Yomogida decorates his house with are certainly bizarre, but can be created by human means so they're relatively weak foreign bodies. Now if there are enough of these weak foreign bodies, or fewer but stronger ones, their sheer inexplicable nature warps the realm of normality to create rifts. These rifts, drawn as vortexes in this manga, are basically passages that directly connect normality with irreality. This is what happened to the town of Soil over the course of this manga. As the kids began creating more and more foreign bodies, the foreign bodies warped the plane of normality to create rifts. And as elements of irreality flooded into the town, such as the salt piles, these elements in turn acted as stronger foreign bodies, thereby creating a positive feedback-loop that created more rifts to completely warp the town's normality. However, if normality becomes too warped, it eventually reaches its snapping point when it violently purges foreign bodies and other elements of irreality.
Soil v8 p159
This concept of reality/irreality, foreign bodies, and rifts, explains most of the mysteries in Soil. The blindfolded killer or the cow that gave birth to a yakuza boss' internal organs are simply examples of rifts opening up and fucking up normality. In their cases, the rifts weren't intentionally created, unlike the case of Yomogida or the kids, but accidentally created from the heightened level of violence, paranoia, fear, and anxiety. Recall that violence, paranoia, and fear are elements of abnormality. So if normality becomes flooded by abnormality, it makes it easier for irreality to cross into normality as well,  presumably because irreality can already occasionally cross into abnormality as mentioned previously. So now that I covered the underlying logic of the manga's universe, let's get to some of the major mysteries.
Soil v10 p188
"What's the deal with Inspector Sakurada and Sakura?" This is never explicitly answered but it's more than likely that they're some sort of beings from irreality and that their monster forms are their original forms. On v10 p192, Sakurada states, "We're the real 'reality.'" A being born in irreality would naturally consider irreality to be reality rather than the other way around. An analogy would be how an alien from Mars would think of us Earthlings as "aliens" rather than the other way around. So what're they doing in reality and why are they trying to eliminate foreign bodies if they're beings from irreality? Again, this is not explicitly answered but my theory is that they're trying to preserve their existence in reality. Recall that normality will purge elements of irreality if it becomes too warped by foreign bodies. So by preventing foreign bodies from proliferating, they can prevent normality from reaching its snapping point and continue to live in normality.
Soil v8 p96
"What's this white thing supposed to be?" This white thing, which actually first appeared back in vol.3 p32, is also never explicitly explained, but it's pretty obvious that it's the ghost of the girl that Youhei liked and locked up in the basement as revealed in the final volume. Since she was buried in the abandoned building at the edge of the town, her vengeful spirit lingered there, which is how the building came to be known as a haunted ghost building.
Soil v10 p160-161
As a ghost, she briefly possesses Yokoi's body in vol. 10 to give him her memories that she had as both a living and dead human. That's why Yokoi sees an image of Ms. Kosaka burying the corpse from the corpse's perspective as well as why Yokoi immediately starts shededing tears afterwards. Plus, the fact that it shows Yokoi where her body is buried is a pretty dead (no pun intended) giveaway that the white thing is indeed the ghost of the murdered girl.
Soil v10 p143
"Why did the Suzushiros disappear?" There are some obvious and less-obvious parts to answering this question. The obvious stuff is what Yokoi himself explains in volume 10. Basically, Suzushiro Mizuki sprouted a sense of awareness causing her to do things unbecoming of her existence as a picture-perfect daughter of a picture-perfect family. Her having sex with Kentou was when she entered adulthood, which would contradict her existence as a picture-perfect adolescent daughter, hence why she disappeared at the moment of vaginal penetration. Since she's not meant to be an individual but rather an inseparable element of the picture-perfect Suzushiro family, her parents also disappeared as well. The less-obvious part to this mystery is how were her parents fully already aware of their existence as fake humans but not erased earlier? Or why did Mizuki even sprout a sense of awareness in the first place? For the first question, a sense of awareness doesn't actually negate a foreign body's existence. Mizuki negated her and her family's existence because she stopped being a pure, perfect girl, which was the very purpose that she was created for. For the second question, the sheer amount of hatred and acts of vandalism committed by the townspeople on the Suzushiros caused Mizuki to think that something was weird since her parents never got angry. Her parents never got angry because they already knew that they were fake humans and were perfectly comfortable with that. Mizuki, however, wasn't aware of that and grew increasingly paranoid and anxious as she did. This anxiety would eventually cause Mizuki to have sex and negate her family's existence.
Soil v6 p100
This leads to the third question, why was Mizuki more troubled by her growing awareness as a foreign body but not her parents? My theory is that this was due to Mizuki's actress being the only dead one, while the actor and actress for her parents were still alive. When Mizuki's actress died, her sense of identity (a metaphysical concept) was no longer limited to the confines of reality and could infect the fake Mizuki if and only if the fake Mizuki started doubting her own sense of identity. This is why in volume 6 as pictured above, the fake Mizuki's growing sense of awareness triggers elements of the real Mizuki (in this case, the birthmark on her chest) to appear. I'm not too confident in this theory, however. It may just be that since Mizuki is an adolescent, she is inherently less comfortable in her own skin compared to her parents who are adults. Who knows?
"What's the deal with Kataoka Misa?" If you don't remember, this was the middle school girl who was gang-raped by the hoodlums and nearly murdered by them. In the manga, she riles up the other kids to create enough rifts in Soil to get Kento and Mizuki meet again. In doing so, her goal is to warp Soil's normality so much that the whole town disappears. And the only way she was able to get Kento and Mizuki to meet again was to recreate the night of the Suzushiros' disappearance as well as sacrifice her life by getting killed by Youhei (though she ended up getting killed by Ms. Kosaka instead). Why did she need to sacrifice her life? My guess is that by offering up life, that life was somehow able to be transferred to the new body of Mizuki which sprung from a tree. My evidence is in this page below, when the sound of the gunshot that killed her is immediately followed by the Mizuki's body waking up.
Soil v11 p110
How exactly Kataoka knows how to do all this is unclear. Maybe she also somehow briefly entered irreality as Yokoi did and somehow understood the greater truths. But who knows? As for why she's trying to destroy the town, her actions are the consequences of the sins of the town, or more specifically, the sins of adults. The council president molested and raped many children, including the three hoodlums whose trauma led to them wanting to seek revenge on the town by kidnapping and gang-raping girls. It was these hoodlums who, in turn, raped Kataoka. Moreover, the whole reason why Kataoka wandered alone into the haunted building where she was gang-raped was because at the Town Council President's funeral, she was disillusioned by the adult women, including her own mother, accusing each other of murdering the Suzushiro family since they had all vandalized their property out of petty jealousy. Kataoka isn't the only who has a grudge against the adults, which is why she was able to incite the other kids who were also disillusioned by the sins of their town's adult figures, but she's the one with the strongest grudge and why she acts as the leader. And so, in an attempt to prevent their adolescent purity from being corrupted by the sins of adults, she and the kids set a plan in motion to wipe away the whole town.
Soil v11 p148, when Kosaka commits murder
This interplay between adolescence and adulthood in terms of an original sin committed by adults having a chain-effect is, I think, a core theme in the story of Soil. It also applies to the original cause of the very first foreign body in Soil. While Youhei was the one who trapped his crush in his basement, it was Youhei's mother, Ms. Kosaka, who decided to not report the crime and actually killed the girl. And even though it was Youhei who suggested that they could bury the corpse at an abandoned building at the edge of the town, it was ultimately Ms. Kosaka who drove the car carrying the corpse, dug the hole, and poured concrete over the buried corpse. This was the original sin that set off the entire chain of events in soil. This act of murder and cover-up gave birth to a rift through which foreign bodies from irreality entered Soil. Just what were these foreign bodies? If you missed this, read the epilogue again. If you still don't know what it is, here's the exact page.
Soil v11 p270-271
This is the very last page in Soil. As Ms. Kosaka drives home after burying the corpse, we see the Suzushiros also appear in Soil for the first time.
Soil v11 p247
The last major question that some readers might have is what's up with the epilogue. I already explained what the last page means, but there's also other stuff to explain. As shown in the page above, Onoda appears to now be a fat hikkikomori obsessively looking at the news of a supposed meteorite crash site where the town of Soil should have existed while Yokoi has become a second Yomogida by collecting junk to turn into foreign bodies in his make-shift home by the riverbank. My theory is that because normality had become too warped by the meeting of Kento and Mizuki, the only way for nomality to maintain itself was to erase the very fact that the town of Soil had ever existed. And so the solution was to simply switch to a parallel universe where Soil was never built, which is why the news report in the epilogue states that the large crater was from a meteorite landing and that there was never any town located there. Presumably, all the real humans that lived in Soil are now alive in this new parallel universe but just living in different places since they never moved to Soil. It's not clear if Onoda and Yokoi of this universe have any memories of their other selves, but since they were both able to understand the truth surrounding Soil as well as that of irreality in the story's initial universe, even in the new parallel universe, they remain obsessed as ever with foreign bodies and rifts.
Hopefully that answers all the major questions you may have. If you're still confused, I highly recommend just re-reading the series from the start. And if you disagree with the theories I posted, post your own theories. It ain't like I'm Kaneko Atsushi and am infallible about this manga's plot points.

Download:
Soil v11:   Mega
Soil v11 c81:   Mega
Soil v11 c82:   Mega
Soil v11 c83:   Mega
Soil v11 c84:   Mega
Soil v11 c85:   Mega
Soil v11 c86:   Mega
Soil v11 c87:   Mega
Soil v11 c88:   Mega
Soil v11 c89:   Mega

28 comments:

  1. Thank you for the release!

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    1. Thanks for continuing to work on this.

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  2. Thank you so much for picking up this manga and completing it
    and yes, a summary would be awesome too.

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  3. I'll just wait till you complete it and then read it all from the start, this manga is too much of a brainfuck to pick it up after years of not reading it, even with a summary haha.

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  4. Thank you for your amazing work. No to indulge...

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  5. Thanks very much for completing Soil! I've been waiting for this ever since I started reading manga... Which, looking back, was 8 years ago O_o

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  6. Thank you Kennit and Hox!

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  7. Thank you for this.

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  8. BTW, watching "Twin Peaks, the Return" stumbled upon couple of scenes where some vortex-like portals were making their monstrous, CGI, appearance, sucking my mind straight to "Soil".

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  9. Well, in "Soil" there's a white horse that seems taken from the originale "Twin Peaks", the connection is already there

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  10. Thank you very much for your continued hard work to complete, I'm really happy to read!!

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  11. Thanks! What are you gonna work on next?

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  12. Thanks a lot y' all – how about some more of Atsushi Kaneko?

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  13. Thanks for finishing it.
    BTW, what did the incompleteness theorem on chapter 58 have to do with all this? I can come up with some sort of broad stroke interpretation but nothing that explains anything precisely.

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    1. I think the Kaneko Atsushi simply used it as a convenient reference to link its concept of "an unprovable theorem" with the manga's plot of "unsolvable mystery." I don't think there was any deeper meaning beyond that, since the book was used only for its burned out pages being a symbol, rather than for the contents of the pages.

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  14. Never thought that this would ever get finished, thank you!

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  15. Would definitively have to re-read this from the start, i find recreating reality into a parallel universe is a bit too extreme for just a town, but having Onoda and Yokoi reappear somewhere else at the same time as Soil is destroyed, but with different backgrounds gives a lot of credence to this theory, it would be even better if we also got a peek of more characters on that parallel universe.

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  16. Hox, much obliged! For finishing and helping us understanding this manga!

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  17. Thank you guys so much!

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  18. Deeply satisfying. I love it when an unconventional story drives its point home and not just peters out or go for the "it was all just a dream" cop out. There is logic in Soil, an inhuman logic, but still. It looks like Kaneko actually had the scope of the story ready in the beginning. This is why I felt so betrayed by the ending of "21st century boys".

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  19. I started reading this manga in 2013 and lost hope that it would ever be completed. Thank you so much for the closure! Keep up the great work.

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  20. I was one of few guys who kept asking for a translation of this manga in /a/ years ago. Glad that I don't have to do that anymore.
    Thanks a lot guys!

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  21. hi guys, otaku and friends there is a new manga call My Mangalist you may choose offline reading or download it, complete and always updated visit the website My Mangalist

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  22. Thank you Hox for translating another manga I'd wanted to finish for a long time now. I love the theories you've posted and they align with my own thoughts as well. Thanks again!

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  23. Thank you very much, Hox! Great manga and great work done by you.

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  24. Thanks very much for reviving and completing the scanlations! I picked up Soil in June, I can only imagine the pain the others had to go through to wait for the full release.

    Soil's universe makes me think of Junji Ito's works, but with much stronger (albeit more metaphysical than purely physical) cause-and-effect links. Both portray cosmic horrors, but in Soil, every single thing is connected. Amidst the whimsical storytelling and the tight pacing is a clear awareness of the audience - just when you think you're reaching an explanation, new events give you just a little better view of the big picture, and you're back to the drawing board yet again. It was a sublime read, truly one of the top in the genre!

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  25. Kotonoha was an amazing scanalation group. Though I got introduced to Manga through Naruto, it was many manga titles that this group scanalated that made me love Manga even more. This was one such manga. Thanks Hox.

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  26. IT IS DONE (´・ω・`)
    thank u HOX .. i knew u were the chosen one
    rest in peace kotonoha

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