Review: Toward The Terra

title

Anime: Terra e / Toward the Terra

Studio:  Tokyo Kids, Minami Machi Bugyousho

Episodes: 24

Original Run: Apr 7, 2007 to Sep 22, 2007

Genres: Action, Science Fiction, Drama

[Mild Spoilers]

Synopsis:

Leaving behind their mother planet that has been rendered uninhabitable by environmental abuse, humanity has settled on a number of other colonies with the hope of one day returning to their cherished Earth. The new human society is controlled by a system of intelligent computers. Birth is no longer an act of natural biology but genetic engineering, and the humans live blissfully oblivious lives that are controlled down to the smallest aspects.

The existence of the Mu, a species that has evolved from humanity and possesses psychic powers, is considered a threat to the highly regulated way of life maintained by the computers. Jomy Marquis Shin, a fifteen year old boy who discovers on the day of his adult examination that he’s a Mu of unusual strength, might be the key to the peaceful co-existence of the two races.

 

Story:

I watched Toward the Terra some years ago on TV. I liked it but never got to finish it. That’s why I picked it back up. Watching it again, I couldn’t immediately figure out why I found the show so charming in the past but I stuck with it anyway and the end result turned out to be better than what I anticipated.

story-1

It takes a few episodes to become invested in the characters but Terra’s plot is reasonably engaging from the get go. While the basic ideas are familiar ones, the anime’s crafting of a world with human colonies controlled by sentient computers and an outcast race who are mercilessly hunted is interesting all the same. The main character – and most of the characters in general – are initially generic or outright annoying but as the story progresses, they all start changing and adapting. There’s a fair amount of character development in this show and it usually feels natural. For instance, Jomy’s struggle to accept that he’s no longer humans and the consequent lashing out at the Mu come across as irritating but believable. Similarly, the Mu’s hesitance to accept a hostile new boy as the one replacing their veteran leader is also quite genuine. None of them overcomes these issues instantly but in due time, they work past them.

Speaking of time, this anime spans around twenty years even without counting the epilogue which is apparently set centuries later. That means there are timeskips along the way, ranging from three to twelve years. But these are masterfully placed. The behaviors of the characters after each gap feels like the natural result of the experiences they underwent prior to it.

story-2

Terra also becomes increasingly gripping as it nears its end. The stakes are increased, for both the humans and the Mu, all leading up to a highly emotional finale where the power of one’s will and personal bonds are highlighted as aspects that no mechanical entity can control. Though the story begins with humans as the bad guys and Mu as the innocent victims, the lines are blurred soon thereafter and by the end, they disappear altogether, leaving behind only a bunch of people struggling for the right to exist.

That said, not everything about this show is good. It can be very frustrating at times, mostly owing to the sheer stupidity some of the characters exhibit. There’s also the highly conspicuous flaw of an important city’s name changing halfway through the anime. The epilogue, a brief sequence after the final episode’s ending theme, features a spiritual twist that is heartwarming but jarring considering how nothing in the previous episodes as much as hinted as the possibility of reincarnation.

 

Characters:

There are a large number of characters in Toward the Terra but while a lot of them are important to the plot, only a few stand out. The rest just fade into the collective group of humans or Mu. Even so, the variety of them is impressive even among the more notable ones.

harley-physis-keith-matsukaHarley, Physis, Keith, Matsuka

Jomy Marquis Shin is the main character and like many other main characters, he starts out as a little shit. Granted, not many would react well to being essentially kidnapped on an important day of their life and being told that they’re not even human. But the particular circumstances of Jomy being taken by the Mu mean that he has no reasons to trust humans either. Instead of thinking things through, the hot-blooded Jomy blames the Mu for his own mutation and is generally unpleasant to watch for a while. But the story is hardly kind to him and Jomy is practically forced to accept his new life through a series of harrowing events. As I said before, Jomy undergoes a considerable amount of development. He matures, not instantly but at a more realistic pace as his childish naiveté is chipped away by the responsibilities on his shoulder. By the end, he’s a well-rounded character and good leader who works hard for the sake of his beliefs.

Another character of import who is charming from the get-go is Blue, the original leader of the Mu. He doesn’t get a lot of screentime as he’s in a coma for the majority of the anime but what he does accomplish is remarkable and his presence is felt throughout the show because of how heavily Jomy is influenced by him. Over 300 years old, Blue is not as young as he looks and possesses all the wisdom that comes with that age. He takes up the role of a mentor to Jomy before eventually succumbing to the fate mentors are often subjected to. Wise, compassionate and efficient, Blue is the kind of person who’s almost instantly likeable.

sam-tony-suena-shiroeSam, Tony, Suena, Shiroe

Then there’s Keith Anyan, a human who’s set up as Jomy’s foil. At the beginning, he’s a little cold but ultimately kind-hearted. However, circumstances push him into putting aide his innate nature to develop a more ‘ideal’ persona and the end result is an antagonist who’s just as interesting as the protagonist. Other notable characters include Keith’s Mu aide Matsuka who’s got a complicated relationship with him, the mysterious blind seer Physis, Jomy’s humans friends Sam and Suena as well as Shiroe, an absolute brat who rejects the system and is in turn rejected by it.

 

Art and Music:

This is an anime from 2007 and it sometimes shows in the animation which is far from spectacular. The aircrafts and explosions in particular stand out like a sore thumb. But none of it’s bad enough to disrupt the viewing experience. The character and clothing designs have a distinctive flair to them.

art

Both of the opening themes – Endscape by UVERworld and Jet Boy Jet Girl by Hitomi Takahashi – are pretty alright. The first ED is unremarkable, the second less so.

 

Veridct:

I never get tired of utopia-with-dystopian-elements narratives and Toward the Terra delivers one that’s inconsistently engaging. The story really picks up towards the end.

Rating: 7/10

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About D

Just another avid anime fan.
This entry was posted in Anime, Toward The Terra and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Review: Toward The Terra

  1. Artemis says:

    I watched this a pretty long time ago so I’m fuzzy on a lot of the details now, but I do recall liking it quite a bit as well. I credit Blue’s character with really getting me into the story – it’s not too often you see a protagonist like that, who’s basically a moral ideal yet manages not to be dull or too much of a goodie-goodie stereotype to like/relate to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Yeah, he really stands out. Maybe it’s because he manages to combine his morality with practicality for the sake of his people. I was sad when he died.

      Like

      • Artemis says:

        I was too. (My friends and I have a running joke that my favourite character is always the one who dies.) Still, it was quite a feat that he had such a huge presence in the show despite his fairly limited screentime.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    Great review (but then again when are your reviews not great lol😂). I have not heard of this series but reading through this I can say this is a series I would definitely pick up. In the opening lines of your post you spoke of things being controlled by computers. I had to immediately think of The Matrix for some reason. Anyways I always enjoy shows where humanity has to leave their cradle behind and find luck out in the galaxy. Have added this one to my to watch encyclopedia. Thanks for bringing this to my attention 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I think your comments will make me smile even in the middle of an apocalypse…unless it’s a zombie apocalypse, in which case all bets are off.

      Oh man, I don’t think Grandmother (yeah they call it that) is bad as what I remember of Matrix but still, the situation is dire enough to be very interesting.

      An encyclopedia now? It’s evolving!

      Liked by 1 person

      • raistlin0903 says:

        Lol…yes although evolving into what is pretty much what I am worried about lol 😂 Grandmother huh? Wow…that is a pretty interesting name to choose. It might be my next show after Steins Gate which (finally) is beginning to get interesting 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. cainslatrani says:

    Speaking of adding shows to a to-watch list, this one is now definitely on mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      It’s payback!

      Honestly, I’m glad I decided to re-watch(kinda) this because of those vague memories. It was better than I expected and had some nice emotional moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Remy Fool says:

    A shining example of how taking a stroll through memory lane can be quite a pleasant experience! I’m a bit baffled as to why they would abrupt change the name of an important city halfway into the season, though.

    It does seem to have its flaws, but it sounds like an interesting show!

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I have no idea, man. One episode we have Ataraxia, then later it’s Artemisia. Wtf.

      Still, it was a pleasant stroll as you said. Fun fact, it’s the Mu standard uniform that first made me baffled as to why women always (well not literally but you know what I mean) wear skirts in anime.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Remy Fool says:

        That’s quite bizarre! Wonder if the explanation for the name change made any sense. I doubt it.

        Wow that is quite interesting. And it is a bit tiresome that they’re almost always wearing skirts. Gotta show them legs, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      • D says:

        I’m thinking it was just a mistake in scripting.

        It gets ridiculous when women in the fricking military end up in skirts. Yes, I I know, nice legs are hot. I’m fond of them myself. But seriously, there’s a line.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Remy Fool says:

        Really? That’s sloppy.

        Mmmm…like they’re going to be climbing the trenches wearing skirts. Maybe if they’re stuck in the command room barking orders, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This one actually sounds quite interesting! It has a lot of elements from current sci-fi shows and books that are appealing enough to capture my interest.
    I especially like the fact that the characters seem realistic enough with their decisions, personality and development. There’s nothing that turns me off more than characters being inconsistent or not relatable enough, to the point of ruining a great story. The writing doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it needs to be plausible and coherent at the very least.
    Another great review, D! 🙂 I really enjoyed reading your point of view and might give this one a try. I now know to keep pushing forward even if the initial episodes don’t immediately grab my attention, so that’s a nice heads up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Thanks so much!!

      I know exactly what you mean. Characterization is my favorite part of a story and when that’s off, the whole thing suffers for it. I get so pissed when characters are treated as plot devices to direct the narrative in a certain way. That’s just…no. Hell no.

      Even the initial episodes are interesting from a plot POV but our dear MC is a handful during them. He gets better which is good for us and bad for him since, as typical of protagonists, he goes through hell to grow as a person.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well that’s nice! It’s always those types of characters I enjoy watching the most. Give me a close to perfect human being and I just yawn hahaha
        Plus, that always makes up for great storylines and interesting interactions with other characters 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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