Dec 19, 2014
Stark700 (All reviews)
You know something no one wants to see at a lunch or dinner table? Cockroaches. Those little critters stalks around with their creepy legs and spreads disgusting odor near your delicious food. Worst yet, they want your food. But do you know what’s even more disgusting or perhaps terrifying? It’s when you become the food. No lie. Terra Formars reverses the situation when humans are the prey as cockroaches (also known as Terra Formars) hunt down humans to eliminate them from existence. There’s something to think about…

For a series based off of the same name, adaptation pacing becomes a chore to handle. I don’t give much credit for the studio or director when they do a sloppy job as the first few episodes can really make people wonder if this is all worth it. Forget the word ‘all’, but it’s more like partial considering the first few episodes broadcasted on TV were obstructed by arsine censorship. (they do fix it later though) But beyond that technical point, Terra Formars isn’t really a groundbreaking show.

Taking for face value, the show is actually pretty simple to understand. It takes place in a futuristic setting far beyond our present year. We also get alien species known as the Terra Formars, creatures who look like cockroaches but are many times its size with irregular body structure and abnormal thirst for destruction. Then, there are the humans that fights them on planet Mars. Actually, their original goal is to collect research examples as a deadly virus has taken hold on the human population but now they are playing a case of survival game against these creatures. As unoriginal as the premise sounds, the show has plenty of reasons to why viewers might be interested. The idea of fighting against alien species is thought provoking as it opens many opportunities to explore the show’s gimmicks, mechanics, and characters. The problem is that the first episode leaves open a gap that needs to be filled when in terms of getting everything started. It launches the characters on full scale towards their mission and skips their background and origins. That’s not the main problem though as the show accelerates fast into outer space for the main course. There’s not much time for preparation either as the crew gets ambushed on their way to space.

This season covers the Annex I arc detailing the stories of a group of crew members including lead protagonist Komachi Shokichi. Made up of members of many different countries of origins, the series’ characterization is shallow at best for the first half of the season. We don’t’ find out too much about much of the main characters except a select few such as Komachi. The case of death flags are also raised high for certain characters as flashbacks are played and their actions are recorded as last wills. However, the show does give more sympathy and depth for other characters later on. A prominent example is Adolf who is highlighted by flashbacks to characterize his motives and roles in the series. And as such, the reality can easily be realized of the cruelty on the frontlines. After all, the show is clearly violent, gory, and obviously isn’t afraid to kill anyone in the show. Whether you’re a badass action girl like Michelle or a first year newbie, Terra Formars preys on humans as if they are helpless drones. And to be honest, this show doesn’t stray far from that as humans are portrayed as the underdog. However, action does contradict this later on as we see humans fight back in a tale that can be described as “bug war”. I label it as such because humans who have experimented on themselves are able to adapt insect-like attributes and possesses their abilities to fight on par with the Terra Formars. For the action itself though, this show can only be watchable when it’s not obstructed the black censors of death. The original TV broadcasted aired the first three episodes that made itself look like a comedy. When you get scenes blocked by black bars or basketball shaped ovals, it really makes itself look like a joke. (example: Luckily, the show eventually got uncensored versions although the gore is still not as explicit as the manga. While shock value may sometimes be looked down upon as trying to sell its product, I think it’s necessary for this show to adapt that with justice. This is because the show is violent. It is explicitly gory that needs to get the message across of what a sci-fi horror should be like. Although certain scenes are left out from the manga, the uncensored action is tolerable with sensible OST.

On the scientific side of the story, the show falls apart with the explanation. In retrospect, it is vague and hard to take in all at once. We don’t know much about the origins of the Terra Formars besides their basic attributes and we can make from their evolution. Speaking of which, the show actually adapts more of that as we find out how well the cockroaches adapt to their environment. Still, the generational concept weakens itself and tries way too hard when it comes to its elements. It’s lazy when it comes to crafting the story by skipping certain parts while lauding viewers to experience what the ‘bug war’ is like. But to experience that, the show also needs to make us feel attached to the characters. Unfortunately, it’s far from achieving that with the certain deaths of various key characters. I do give some credit for the daring risks this show takes though as well as some unpredictable twists that comes by a few times. However, Terra Formars is more like a sci-fi horror that is treated as an action flick rather than a creative story. It has this engaging premise but is over-egged with saturated action with not enough context.

In terms of artwork, the show is crude on most parts but not in terms of actual quality. It simply creates a mature atmosphere with the main characters in this futuristic setting. Speaking of which, the series hardly has any world building so don’t expect the setting to steer its engine towards that direction. What you do have are adult characters, in contrast to the teenagers we often see trying to save the world. This is actually a positive and refreshing to see as we can tell the series has a more serious feeling. The characters are designed to look like troops ready to go to war. Their face expressions tells of a tale of horror just by looking at them. Besides some oddball fan service on occasions, the series has decent artwork and fitting character designs. However, the Terra Formars are crafted in a way that can spark some controversy because they resemble Homo Erectus. It’s also hard to take them seriously with their ridiculously shaped eyes, overly enhanced muscle structure, or just in general of what they look like that seemingly resemble humans.

Soundtrack has a moderate coordination with some suitable OST supplemented by the OP and ED songs. The background music is fitting but repetitively used on certain episodes. Not only that but emotional scenes sometimes lack the atmosphere that it tracks to convey. As for the character voice mannerism, I can hardly remember any of them besides a few climatic moments. Almost none of them stand out much since they are screaming most of the time while fighting for their lives. The Terra Formars are probably only memorable for their actions and occasional groans. Most of the time, your headphones will be filled with screams of terror. No intelligence. No credible humor. Just a of bucket load of hellish cries.

In the end, this shows is a glorification of a mixed bag adaptation. While it reasonably adapts some of the core elements, its main problems lies with the world building and weak story. Its unoriginality and generic tropes with invasion and sci-fi horrors themes may makes it seem like it can be interesting. However, its lack of charisma and it’s hard to fathom what the show is trying to even achieve. Fighting against the Terra Formars, saving mankind, or just showing us some sci-fi adventure with shock and cruelty. This show is like a callous cash-in with an attempt to adapt an engaging premise but never able to make the cut.