In the far future, humans have destroyed their homeplanet, Terra, by carelessly messing with the enviorement. In order to preserve the life of their homeland, Terra, humans have evacuated this world in order to spread life unto other planets. Humanity, now ruled by a super computer that controls the birth of children, sees the emergence of a new human race called the "Mu," whose telepathic powers have alarmed the System running all of humanity. The Mu, now hidden from the rest of humanity, have one dream, to return home, to Terra...
Beyond the rather 70-80's style/feel of the characters is a deeper story realm. Terra e has an epic space opera sense to it, and it is, and yet it's not. The rules of space are acknowledged, circumfrenced, yet the plot is kept tight. First off, I'll say there is an anime based on the manga and the reviews are quite applicable to the manga as well, though the anime carries out the sequence of events and some of the characters a little differently.
The storyline follows the characters of Jomy and Keith, though initially the reader gets Soldier Blue's POV in the prologue.The pov is clearly
delinated for the reader, which makes for ease of transition, and other minor character's pov are given throughout the story to keep the reader up to date on events. When the pov first switches to Keith it may be a little confusing since the pov shifts previously were between pre-introduced characters. Also, there are time jumps, which require a little math. Most of the time the reader is informed of these jumps via the characters' ages which appear mostly as asides - so the reader will have to do a little calculation. Thus to stay in the loop, make sure to pay attention to such things since its easy to miss. In addition, since some of the characters age more slowly than others, without this tidbit of information the reader may feel lost in the time jump.
The art is overall well done, with a futuristic style, yet 70-80's feel to the characters sometimes. Yet even beyond this is the story itself. Taking place in the far, far, far, far distant future opens several relms of posibility as well intriguing concepts reguarding use of technology and natural gifts, and yet humanity is still kept at the core. It is changes direction so it's not easy to see where or how a character will end up. The characters themselves are interesting in that, despite some ideas they ponder, still they may act against what their thinking. Many characters are actually deeper than they might appear on the surface, particularly Keith. This makes it sometimes hard to tell which way the plot will lead. The ending/epilogue might be confusing but I think going back and looking at the events in the story earlier might clearify some of the confusion, making sure to pay attention to what the characters tell the reader about themselves, their hopes and their plans.
Granted, sometimes the antics may seem over the top or somewhat unbelievable- yet still the story incorperates it in such a way tha the reader is able to maintain the suspension of disbelief to the very end.
Overall- Terra e (Toward the Terra) has copious elements of science fiction, different ways of perception, interesting characters, and a bit of mystery with a sprinkling of a few- just a few- unanswered questions.
I'm sorry; this manga isn't as incredible and revolutionary as you think it is.
Terra e... is certainly a promising manga, being a classic space opera written by one of the revolutionary Forty-Niners. I wouldn’t be lying if I said I was expecting a lot from it. However, many expectations weren’t met, and unlike Takemiya Keiko’s other works, this one went horribly wrong. And do keep in mind I am judging the original manga --not the anime.
The story begins about a millennium into the future, during a new time era known as Superior Dominance (S.D). Because humans had completely ruined Earth, they began using warp speed
technology to colonize nearby planets in hope to one day return. The initial setting was nice, not totally unusual or unique to any sci-fi manga, but it certainly had its charms. Children were born into Ataraxia (the "Education World") with the expectation of becoming a predetermined, "cookie-cutter"-esque human. The problem is, that idea in general was played around with, but it was abandoned throughout the series, leaving it behind. A shame too because that could have been something else entirely.
Anyways, it continues; chronicling two characters and their lives for the next fifteen or so years. The characterization, in my opinion, was the weakest part of the entire manga. All of the characters were flat. Static. Literally: there was nothing likable of any of them, or something to make me emotionally attached. I could really think of one character who was an exception, and sadly, he wasn't even a main (and he too was scrapped early on). This wouldn't have been so bad if the manga did not try so hard to develop them. I mean, even though they spent (probably the good half of a volume) JUST focusing on the main character's "background", it didn't really give life to him. I believe that the story in general could have been only one volume long (rather than 3) if they did not focus so much on this characterization. In addition to that, it was very difficult to know where characters were situated, simply because the transitions between the different POVs (and yes, there were more than one) was completely nonexistent.
Needless to say, it was a very confusing read.
It wasn’t all that bad, however. The plot was very secure; I can tell that a lot of thought went into creating this story. And I know that it never trailed away from the main storyline, which made it pretty straight-forward (and no I am not contradicting myself by calling the story straight-forward and the actual schematics confusing). I’m not sure whether or not to call it fast-paced or not, simply because there were lots of time skips, but I found there wasn’t any complaints about the whole narration in general. And I don’t judge mangas on art (as it's very subjective), but if you’re a prospective reader wanting to know: it used simple devices such as thick lines during action scenes, or thin lines during more emotional scenes; a very 70/80’s style.
Well. Terra e... was an interesting experience. I think I had been hoping for a lot more (since this is by Takemiya Keiko!), but I don’t think I’d change a thing. There were good parts, and bad parts. It's ending was alright, but it left some questions unanswered (and no, I'm not talking about the super ambiguous epilogue). It’s value and creativity,, however, is extremely high for it’s time, which then brings my initial rating of a 6.5 to a 7.0. Frankly, I think this is manga for someone with an specific taste. So if you think you may like this, just try it out.
This manga has a really intesting plot, very usual in 70s western sci-fi and i had yet to see it's presence in japanese works.
Somewhere in the 70s when ecological worries started to come up - ozone depletion, pollution, extintions, etc; the very prolific sci-fi community took these subjects and exacerbated them into apocalyptic proportions and came up with a solution. This solution took notions from the space race and computation:
Earth eventually becames inhabitable and the human race has to go into space and find new planets to colonize, it's also frequently present in these works of fiction a longing for Earth, even when adequate
planets are found. No planet is ever as blue as Earth.
To Terra is about that longing, and this longing implies a greater longing, it's actually about a longing for humanity. In Terra, when humans leave earth, to allow it to heal, they also give up free will. They admit that humanity is flawed and unable to choose the right path, and submit to a computer, that makes good choices for them. That system is called SD - Superior Dominance.
This means total submission and repression, wich is actually the true theme of To Terra. This manga is about those who are unable to accept repression, question the system, long for an ideal and fight for it.
On To Terra, children are born in vitro, selected by the computer, and then raised by professional parents. When a child reaches 14 he becomes an adult, it's the moment when the major repressive action is taken. The adult exam, wich consists in deleting all past memories. Gifted children carry on to become leaders, the rest just become obedient members of society.
As a child is being tested for adulthood, there is a chance that a flaw is found, this means the child is Mu. The Mu are humans with frail constitutions but special mental powers. They are able to resist the brainwashing and are the only ones opposing the system. Because of this they are pursued by Superior Domination.
The story begins as the main character Jomy, a particularly lively and clever boy who is about to take his adulthood exam. He had already been detected by the Mu (which are literally an underground organization) as a potentially powerful Mu. Jomy is indeed powerfull since he posesses both strong mental powers and a healthy and strong physical body. Jomy becomes the leader of the Mu and takes over the mission of returning the Mu to earth, something that, also means fight for the right to coexist within the human society.
The notion that the Mu, the rebellious agents are created by the repression process itself is very interesting and cleverly explored. The issue of acceptance of the Mu by the humans is also quickly resolved as repression and rebellion are somewhat incompatible and nimbly turns into a fight not for the freedom of the Mu, but for the freedom of Humanity.
The art is compelling and there are several brilliant spreads depicting space battles, massive computers, and particularly, telepathic action (something like an astral/abstract plane).
It also has an unusually high amount of characters, without making the action or plot confusing.
Strangely, the antagonist, Keith, at some point becomes more interesting than Jomy (Jomy himself realizes this), and has big development since unlike the Mu, he is the epitome of Superior Dominance and yet he is able to question the system from the inside.
The pacing sometimes feel a little off, but I believe it has to do with the familiarity that exists today with most of the concepts present in the manga. A lot of this stuff had so much impact in the 70s that they became tropes, and don't cause much surprise and engagement when read today.