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07 January 2010 @ 02:31 pm
Another anime review to finish last year's reviews before I do a big recap  
Towards the Terra

In the future where Earth was ecologically destroyed and humanity fled to the stars, doting itself of a computer controlled and fairly totalitarian government so as to avoid the mistake of the past. Children are created by biotechnology, then given to foster parents until they're 14, when they pass an "adulthood test", get most of their memories of their childhood erased and get send to orbital schools. Jomy is a teenager who, on the day he passes his own adulthood test, finds out that he is a Mu, one of the humans gifted with psychic powers and reviled by humans for it. As the computer orders his death, he is rescued by other Mu. On the other side of things, Keith Anyan is an elite young student who mysteriously retained zero memories of his childhood as he starts his higher education, and whom the computer controlling the orbital school has very high expectation of.

Adapted from a 70s manga, Towards the Terra really rocks the old school Sci-Fi vibe. I guess it might be a bit of an acquired taste, but AE Van Vogt and MZ Bradley were my favourite writers when I was 12, so I loved it. It helps that it's got some excellent storytelling and very decent characterisation, with the emotional high point of the series really compelling and well executed (with the exception of the finale episode, which felt a bit badly rushed through) and a good sense of epic and tragic events making the plot. It's got a very quick pacing (sometimes perhaps a little too quick) with some pretty drastic time jumps, which are well used to develop characters. Some of the plot development are slightly melodramatic or rely too much on unlikely coincidences (like the way Jomy's childhood friends are kept in the story) but with the right kind of suspension of disbelief, extremely fun. While the thematics are fairly cheesy in the way they are presented, they are well explored and set up by the characters and the way we follow both Jomy and Keith a lot. Jomy's a fairly archetypal young, hot blooded hero at first, but gets well developed; Keith's your average not!quite!so!emotionless and sarcastic anti-villain, and is quite fun as such, especially early in his story. Other important secondary characters are also well done (and it looks like the adaptation made a good work of filling some flimsy characterisation in some cases) though none are very original or deep.

The animation is pretty good and fluid, and I rather like the character design style - old school that it is. I love how characters wear capes and diadems and even headphones of power. It's all very disco ;) The soundtrack is also very good and atmospheric.

Sadly, the setting also shows its age on the gender, with female characters saddled with little presence, agency and power - despite the effort of adaptation to increase their relevance - or on the weird way the only place we see dark skinned are two minor characters amongst the Mu. On the other hand, we have a lot of slashiness, which should come as no surprise given that the original manga was written by Keiko Takemiya.

For a very random appeal, Towards the Terra has a couple of vague plot resemblance with the new BSG, except it executed those right and mostly coherently which made me feel very vindicated.

In conclusion, a very solidly entertaining work, if it fits your taste.
Tone: geekygeeky
Nannitiamatschild on January 7th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Oh! I've read the first volume of the manga for this, which is gorgeous and strange and evokes the atmosphere of places very well, all while being very seventies. I really want to read the rest.
Anne-Elisa: fairytaleetrangere on January 7th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
I believe the manga is only two volumes long? From hat I read the anime series filled it a whole lot to make the 24 episodes (but without feeling like fillers). I really need to read it too!
Nannitiamatschild on January 7th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, awesome, that means I just have one more to get ahold of. I can believe it's that short: it's very compact. Fast paced is not exactly the word, but certainly compact.
twhitesakura: Cute - Liechtensteintwhitesakura on January 8th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
This sounds very intriguing. *fights urge to begin watching immediately* XD
Anne-Elisa: *g*etrangere on January 8th, 2010 07:42 am (UTC)
*grins* doitdoit
twhitesakuratwhitesakura on January 10th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
Finished it last night, and loved it. I think LotGH whet my appetite for space operas. I also had some trouble with the pacing and am still confused with how Mother was handling the Mu factor, but the anime stayed with me and I can't seem to let go of it quite yet.

Have you seen these?
Anne-Elisa: cuteetrangere on January 12th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)

The pacing is a little bit quick, but I thought that mostly worked.

Yes, i've seen those ^^ I've downloaded subbed (there's also a trailer with slightly different character design).

What did you think of the characters? ^^
twhitesakura: Terra e - Bluetwhitesakura on January 12th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
Well, I loved Blue. I have a thing for tragic heroes, I guess. XD

As for the other characters, I liked most of them. I was a little surprised at how Keith and Swena turned out after their teenage years. I would have liked to see more of that change happening (especially Swena). I wanted to like Matsuka, but his (abusive) relationship with Keith made me cringe.

When Karina decided to become a nurse and a mother, I sort of rolled my eyes a bit. Especially when the other girls were saying they wouldn't mind the pain of childbirth in exchange for being fulfilled as mothers.

Hmm. Jomy was okay. I think the time-skips moved the action along faster, but it didn't allow me to get to know the characters as much as I wanted to. I thought Tony's change from teenage brat to someone wiser and more thoughtful was sort of abrupt (although believable enough with all that happened to him).
Anne-Elisa: *g*etrangere on January 23rd, 2010 12:54 am (UTC)
Blue's pretty adorable all around. I love his headphones of power XD

I missed a bit of a transition for Keith, yeah. I actually really liked how Swena turned around. Lots of credit to give to the adaptation there, I think.

I actually loved Matsuka & his abusive relationship with Keith XDD I love dysfunctional ships way too much I'm afraid XD too bad there's so few fanfics.

I agree the turn with Karina was very annoying... not so much that she wants to have kids and be a nurse (more power to her), but that all the girls agree :(

Tony was pretty weird all around with the quick growing up. I didn't really think he was all that wiser or thoughtful at the end really, though perhaps slightly less of a brat. (Really those characters overall were so, so very 70's XD)
twhitesakura: Terra e - Bluetwhitesakura on January 23rd, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
I liked Swena too. As for dysfunctional relationships, I'm not sure. I love Seishirou & Subaru but that's because Sei-chan seduced me along with Subaru when he was posing as a veterinarian. He wasn't actually kind, but he fooled me and Subaru until it was too late. That didn't happen with Keith. I liked him when he was younger and more vulnerable, but by the time he met Matsuka, he had basically closed off those kinder feelings toward other people.

Karina's not a bad character, it's just that there are too many old sci-fi shows where the woman ends up being a communications officer or nurse, and gives up her career to be a mother. So, I was more rolling my eyes at Karina fulfilling a stereotype.

I guess you're right about Tony. But considering the people who died around him, and that he's now Soldier, I really want him to be wiser! XD