With the space program attempting to travel to Mars, 21st century scientists were tasked with warming up the planet so that humans could survive on its surface. They came up with an efficient and cost effective plan of sending cockroaches and mold to the surface so that the mold would absorb the sunlight and the insect corpses would serve as a food source for the mold.
It is now the year 2577 and the first manned ship to Mars has landed on the planet and the six crew members are ready for their mission. But what they find are giant mutated humanoid cockroaches with incredible physical strength. The crew members are easily wiped out, but not before sending a transmission back to Earth. Now, humanity will send elite warriors to exterminate the mutated bugs and claim back Mars.
Terra Formars has been published in English by VIZ Media under the VIZ Signature imprint since July 15, 2014. It has also been published in Spanish by Ivrea since December 2013 and in Brazil by Jbc since July 2015.
A live-action film of the series is in development and will be directed by Takashi Miike.
Terra Formars is a halfway decent Gantz knockoff that is interlaced with Japanese nationalism and general xenophobia as rabid as it is unsubtle, pushed to such a ridiculous extent that it's not even offensive anymore. Okay, it can get a bit offensive. Most of the time it's just eye-roll-worthy though. I won't even get into it...
The concept of Terra Formars is that cockroaches were used in the terraformation of Mars (bad-title origin hint) and within five hundred years they have evolved into savage and violent black humanoids who wear no clothes and use primitive weapons like some kind of African
tribesmen. They sometimes are referred to as "those black shitstains," and they have nappy hair plus exaggeratedly broad facial features, but hey guys, hey, no racial. Squads of good bug people are sent to exterminate these filthy bad bug people once and for all. What's that? You think this premise sounds like that of a comedy? Mayhaps that of an old "so bad it's good" campy sci fi horror flick? Preposterous. Terra Formars is serious business, guys. Real serious. Or at the very least, it completely ignores the fact that it is fundamentally absurd in its scientific inaccuracy and physical impossibilities, squandering any potential it ever had along the way, and it then uselessly attempts to force the audience to take it seriously anyways. The plot would be better if the author didn't try to explain anything scientifically, but he unfortunately seems to be under the delusion that he is an intelligent and distinguished evolutionary biologist, or at least that he has the first clue what he is talking about. Just in case you were wondering, he actually does not have a single clue what he is talking about. A simple "just because" or "aliens" explanation like in Gantz would have served the plot far better.
The characters are all cliché and none of them are significant in the slightest. Terra Formars attempts to create tension by killing the vast majority of the characters off, but this tactic is rendered entirely ineffective when the audience simply does not have any reason to give a flying fuck about those characters in the first place. The dynamics between these characters are consistently recycled and this, among other things having to do with the manga's general lack of variety, makes Terra Formars feel incredibly repetitive, a problem that its oft proclaimed spiritual predecessor, Gantz, only came close to suffering from in the very end, and that was for far more forgivable reasons.
The artwork is laughable, in a literal sense. Character designs are repetitive along with being anatomically inaccurate; female characters are only there to provide poorly drawn fanservice and ryona. That said, the real issue with the art is the cockroaches, the "scary" antagonists. The facts that the antagonists are all identical and all possess the same recycled faces and expressions could be partially overlooked were they not so ridiculous in appearance. I have a large album of pictures of them saved on my computer, because they are just that hilarious. This manga would be far superior in quality and infinitely enjoyable was it a slice of life about the cockroach people forming a club at school, drinking tea, running in the street with toast in their mouth, and perhaps even engaging in a steamy and moderately comedic romance with the cutest misunderstood bad boy in school. That concept would properly play to the, admitted few, strengths of the artwork, which clearly do not include terrifying imagery or fluid action. Unfortunately, we instead get stuck with a half-assed plot and pointless fanservice.
This manga is filled with psuedo-depth and characters (plus the irritating word of god narrator who also spiels on about nets and insects and pretentiously quotes barely-relevant scripture) who muse, redundantly and at great length, about the fascinating (except not actually) relationship between cockroaches and humans. You see guys, it is simply so genius and profound that you probably completely missed the complexity and intricacies of it; the roles of the two species have been reversed. We used to kill them just because, and now they kill us......just because!!!! Dun dun dun. Right? Get it? Got it? If this concept is too difficult for you to understand then, don't worry your pretty little head over it, the cast of flat and often identical characters will spell it out for you over and over again, in the same exact way every single time, of course. Sound deep? Sound interesting? Insightful, perhaps? No? Good, because it actually isn't.
Gantz may have had a bad ending, and you might want more, but, for the love of god almighty, do not be tricked for one moment into thinking that Terra Formars ever comes anywhere close to being as good as Gantz was in its prime. It lacks the self-awareness, quality art, satirical nature, characterization, immediate general appeal, pervasive camp, creativity, variety, and sense of humor that made Gantz good. All of that being said, even if the humorous nature of the manga was completely unintentional, and the antagonists were lame, they did offer a bit of entertainment. Terra Formars does have something about it that moderately entertained me and kept me reading despite, or maybe even because of, it being extraordinarily bad in an objective sense; just for that, I will go ahead and slap on two extra points like the generous and forgiving critic that I am. I give this manga four offensive racial underto- points, I meant to say points, out of ten. Read chapter one of Death Face if you want a more enjoyable, touching, and profound story about cockroaches.
Germans do not name their kids "Adolf" anymore. Just saying. I have a distinct feeling that “Nazis” is all the author knows of Germany and “Communists” is all they know of Russia.
Also, I have a hard time believing that geopolitical relations have barely changed over the course of five hundred years. The battle between Capitalism and Communism in real life progressed more in a decade than it did in five hundred years in this manga. In fact, nothing about the atmosphere of the series is futuristic in the slightest; that kind of advancement in time will have massive changes in culture, not just technology. The “futuristic” technology does not go much past space travel and gene splicing either. This all shows a huge lack of imagination, depth, and vision.
Additionally, the mere assumption that an insect's strength and abilities in proportion to its size would be retained were they scaled up to humanoid dimensions ranks among the dumbest things I've ever heard. A bit smarter than "people die if they are killed" and "I will be hokage ninja master believe it," and yet a little bit dumber than "fun things are fun."
While I do'nt find this series to be a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination,i do'nt feel it entirely deserves it's bad rep either
the story itself is lame.....but creative nonetheless i do'nt recommend going in with too high of expectation cuz the premise on its own is'nt anything special but come on we've seen much worse...though i gotta admit they do push the bug philosophies a bit too far
The story itself is divided into 2 parts (3 if you include the 1-shot)
The Bugs 2 arc (Which covers the first volume) follows the bugs-2 ship and it's crew of rejects/outcasts that recieved the BUGS
surgery,where they're merged with insect DNA giving them the abilities of said insects going to Mars and coming in contact with the Roaches
The Annex-1 arc (which starts in the 2nd volume) follows another group being assigned to Mars this time to acquire Roach samples to find a cure for a virus that is believed to have originated from Mars
This time however,there seems to be a bunch of conspiracies and backstage politics as well as the unsolved mystery of the Roaches extreme evolution.Due to this,unlike the previous arc,the characters are'nt primarilly rejects and outcasts and consists of 3 types of people
-Outcasts who have nothing left and joined to earn money (or something along those lines)
-Characters whose loved ones were infected and ended up throwing everything away to assist in finding the cure
-Characters (sometimes military) who joined in service of their country to carry out certain missions
it's setting is pretty weak,it's 500 years in the futureand not much has changed.though after a few chapters the setting shifts to mars anyway so theres that
The Art for the most part is well detailed and (for lack of a better word) cool as most of the chicks are hot (though not in the annoying Harem or moe kinda way),and all the guys mostly looks like muscular Body-builders (Not as exaggerated as something like Hokuto or Jojo,but along the lines of Guts from Berserk),though I'm rather hesitant to call it realistic.
The action scenes as well as the charater's many base organimsms well drawn and Detailed and let's not forget the explicit gore which depending on your views can be a plus or a minus
Also,Ignore anyone who rambles on to you about how racist the roaches supposedly are,as they are based off of the Homo-Erectus....Though admittedly the design can be hard to take seriously by some,while at the same time can also add to the weird/creepy factor
well nothing we have'nt seen before but the writer tries hard to flesh out the personalies and some backstory before they meet their eventual gruesome demise some characters are pretty cliche.though they fortunately did'nt include the overused annoying stereotypes and unless you're someone who enjoys nitpicking stupidly i believe you'll find characters that u like even if they do use racial stereotypes
overall the characters are'nt anything special (except Adolph and Asimov.....those guys are awesome),but at the same time they're nothing too annoying or harmful (unless you take the supposed RACISM too seriously)
overall i really enjoyed it and would love to see it animated
i'd reccomend it if you're an action fan,as it mostly plays out likes some cheesy 80s anime or action flick and it's for the most part a fun series to read through
But if you for some Drama or complex plot,you'll really just end up dissapointed,so do'nt bother yourself
oh yeah and try not to think too much while reading this
omg this manga. this manga is just... wow... talk about despair-inducing.
in a nutshell, the manga is about human-sized cockroaches who were sent to live on mars so that humans could colonize it in 500 years but the humans definitely didn't plan for them to be human-sized and... evolve to be intelligent as well. so, if you dislike cockroaches, insects, bugs, anything like that in general -- AND THE GORE -- well, i recommend that you should not read the manga because lord, there's so many references to bugs.
the suspense is so great and i love how the art is so action-oriented -- it just
keeps you reading and reading, and there's never a moment to stop for a rest (except in flashbacks) so it really highlights the action drama of this manga. since i'm reading just four volumes (about thirty-six chapters out so far), i really want the manga to delve more deeply into the story rather than just action.
there IS some story, mainly characterization and the secret behind the project. there are definitely women in this manga, which is great, but also not so great because they're usually the ones to be killed first (save for a few). however, there's not much character development that extend beyond just a few chapters because (almost) EVERYONE DIES. it's a type of human survival manga, except it's in an environment that is not the earth.
art is pretty good, extremely macho if i do say myself (maybe it's inspired by rob liefeld's artworks?) and the drawings of the cockroaches are very uniform yet unique, at least distinguished from the humans. character design is done really well.
tbqh i just want this manga to reveal the answers to the mysteries and to maybe slow down with a respite from the violence that's going on and I WANT EVERYONE TO HAVE HAPPY ENDINGS (except cockroaches) but most of all i just want this manga to go at least /somewhere/ that's not just fighting.
I don't know what's going on here, but every other person that is reviewing this manga is full of bullsh*t(except Yakub).
Terra Formars is a gore-intense manga set in the distance future of year 2577. 500 years ago in the 21th century, scientists came up with the plan of mass-dumping cockroaches and moss onto Mars in order to increase the overall temperature of planet Mars, so that it would be suitable for human inhabitation.
However, when the ship Bugs 1 lands, something unexpected happens. They discover that the supposed cockroaches were replaced by giant 2 meters(7 foot) tall muscular humanoid creatures with incredible strength, thus the
communication from Earth and Bugs 1 were lost. Learning from this lesson, genetic engineers worked to increase the potential of human by implanting insect genes into the bodies of humans that were to aboard Bugs 2, the second attempt to colonize on Mars.
The overall manga is characterized by a complete, uncut, and explicit gore that the manga provides. With the massive cast it has, many of the characters die off ususally in violent and cruel ways.
With that being said, lets get to the reviewing of its elements.
The artwork is rather realistic in the shading and drawing of the characters. Though the faces of the characters can't be said to be 100% realistic, they are most certainly not exagerrated such as in many moe-based manga are.
The designs of the Cockroaches are very athletic bodies of human, as well as detailed drawings of the spaceships earns an "8" for this manga
This is where the scores starts to drop. While an overall premise exists, the plot and the characters that are piloting it are generally ignored throughout the course of the story as it turns into more of a battle manga than anything, the story can still be enjoyed, though it is to keep a note that the plot isn't as prominent as the seemingly mindless fighting.
Also, many plot points broughht up earlier in the manga are almost never touched.
The setting is the worst part about the show. To enjoy this manga you would need A LOT of suspension of disbelief. As this show is set in 500 years in the future, how could Cockroaches evolve into gigantic sizes in such a short time? Is it even necessary? Since they are the only form of life on the planet, all they have to do is adapt to the environment and then feed off of the mosses. And what about the countries? Its hard to imagine that the political situation isn't much different from today. Hell, one of the characters even called the Russian guy(who got a bit of cameo) a "born communist", you are telling me that communism vs capitalism is still alive and well, 500 years in the future?
And what about monitoring? With such a huge project, surly the world is anticipating it, probably even more than we would have anticipated the moon landings, I mean, a premise of the series is that "Earth grew unhealthly overpopulated", so Mars is suppose to be our next hope right? Even now, we can see Mars from our Telescopes, its hard to imagine, FIVE HUNDRED YEARS INTO THE FUTURE, we are still not able to spot countless giant man-like creature on the closest planet to us.
Most of the characters are given a back story, but that's it. Many characters do no survive into the story, so they are somewhat irrelevant. But what is bad is the modern-day stereotype in the series. The German is named Adolf, and the Chinese barely have any screen time, as well as the Russia being a "born communist". Many of them sound the same on manga, its almost difficult to distinguish between the characters.
And of course, a disproportional amount of the main cast are Japanese, which is somewhat unrealistic considering there were basically 1 character to represent each MAJOR country otherwise.
However, it is still interesting to watch the cliched speechs and the problems they overcome.
The style of telling the story is confusing to say at the least with multiple view in many different characters, the flow between them almost seem to not exist. The story is based on battle and battle, as well as genetic engineering. Early on in the manga, there would be info-dumps about some kind of insect, or some obscure animal that the main characters have underwent surgery for.
The style of art is brutal and realistic, making no qualms to show the inside of the human bodies, as well as a person's spine when his head is pulled out of his body.
Should I read this Manga?(TL;DR)
If you enjoy gory depictions of humans facing against a seemingly superior being, as well as the premise of space travel, you should definitely pick this one up. Though if you are looking for deep character development, or a light-hearted romcom slice of life series, avoid this at all costs. Beware also if you do not enjoy oddly paced story telling.
You should also watchout for the info dump in the series on the various animals of our planet, that is one of the most interesting points in the stories and you may learn a lot more.
In essence, Terra Formars is a good manga, but not as much as the other reviewers praise it to be. it has obvious flaws but can be considered a rare series where intense battles can be seen with lots of gore, if you are willing to suspense your disbelief.