Terra E… (Toward The Terra): [Random Review]
“Let’s all go… Toward the Terra “
Title: Terra e…; Toward the Terra; 地球へ
Animation Company: Tokyo Kids, Minami Machi Bugyousho
Genres: Military, Sci-Fi, Drama, Action, Space
Airing Date: Spring 2007
Number of Episodes: 24
There’s a only few shows that I consider being so extraordinary in every aspects that they are close to be called masterpieces. Terra E… is one of them. I do believe this show is an hidden gem, not underrated since the few people that have seen this show gave it good marks but not popular enough for the quality of his content. So that’s why today, I’m writing this review with the hopes of convincing you to watch this show.
“In the future, humans are living on colonized planets and are controlled in every aspect of their life by a system of computers. Evolution has resulted in the birth of people with extraordinary powers. This new race is called Mu. Hated and feared by the humans, the Mu dream of a place to live in peace: Earth—a mystical far away planet—for humanity had to leave their home long ago as pollution and destruction increased and made it impossible to stay there any longer. Jomy is a boy excitedly awaiting his birthday, the day he will enter the world of adults. Yet he knows nothing about the unknown powers sleeping in him and the shared dream of returning to Earth one day” . Source: MAL
Terra e… Is the adaption of a 1979 manga which was previously adapted in a movie in 1980. Terra e… belongs to the Space Opera genre aka huge cast, space, battles, magical powers to some extent. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the genre but mostly because I haven’t watch that many content. I’ve never been interested in checking out the most popular one: Legend of the Galactic heroes since it requires a strong involvement giving its length, but I might now. So I had no expectations for Terra e… it was my first Space Opera anime and I was only wishing it to be decent. Oh boy, I was surprised.
Basically, what the MAL summary tells us is only the very starting line of the anime. Allow me to spoil you the first two episodes, in order to, I hope, make you more interested in this anime since I believe that the summary doesn’t do much. Jomy is as everyone has guessed, a Mu. He becomes then rejected and hunted by the humans because of his difference so he has no other choice but to embark on the Mu ship, lead by Soldier Blue, the leader of the Mu. However, having lived for more than 300 years, Soldier Blue is weak and needs to find a successor which is going to be Jomy. Jomy will then, have to lead his people toward the terra, promised land for the Mu, and try to solve the inherent conflict between the Mu and the humans.
Until now, nothing too extraordinary you’re going to tell me, a normal student has magical powers and becomes the leader of some group of people. True, but where Terra e… succeeds is when it switches from a generic show about space and powers to a way more darker show dealing with deeper issues. Two races, humans and Mu which are similar in various aspects are bound to fight again each other, as if they were moved by some tragic destiny, each lead by their own leader, Keith for the Humanity and “Jomy Soldier Shin” for the Mu.
Terra e… is a sad show, sad because of the nature of the events that happen within it but also because of the topics that the show introduces and the observation, the conclusion that emerges in the end. The show starts off quite slowly, with Jomy being an annoying main character and a certain lack of deep issues that ought to be resolved. At the beginning, I thought I was watching what the initial summary said, a young brat with magical powers who has to meet his destiny, which lets be honest, isn’t really appealing.
However, as the episodes go by, the show grows darker and darker constantly adding some new developments and thoughts on various subjects to end up in a grand finale filled with loads of interesting messages that remain still actual nowadays. Because yes, two people presumed different but still similar in the end, fighting and not being able to coexist is still an actual topic. I’ve also found some echos to my old philosophy lessons especially with the opposition of conceptions of the good, the utilitarianism versus deontology theory. While the Mu are focusing more on the thoughts, the ideal and the people, the humans are more utilitarian, rationals but that’s only one of the many references that the show makes. There’s actually a lot of themes that are introduced within the show: Ecology, genocide, over controlling systems, acceptation of difference, parenthood, passage from childhood to adulthood, questionnement on the fundamental meaning and nature of humanity, friendship, clash of generations and much more. Yeah, that’s a lot.
The two maim themes of the show that stroke my attention the most were the global interrogation on humanity and its relation towards the other. Because the Mu are different from the humans, they are rejected from the society and from a system which is meant to represent “Humanity in is purest form”. Humans living under this system are influenced by it and end up hating the Mu because they are afraid of what’s different. I’ll quite Master Yoda here: ” Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering” which I think can resume one of the messages of the show quite nicely.
The whole show can be seen as a interrogation on the fundamental rightness of things and on the directions and actions that we should take to achieve our goals. Which road shall we take, what do we have to scarify, to abandon to achieve our goals, what is the right path in the end? Never the show tells you which answer, which path is right and if the actions taken by the characters are the right ones. The reject of any Manichean approach is something quite dear to me and having found this in the show made me rally happy.
However, each time, you won’t find any big sign telling you ” EH LOOK! NOW WE ARE DISCUSSING THIS TOPIC”. All those interesting thematic are more something that lies within the story and which sometimes comes to surface when a character prononces some well thought lines. The show talks about so many different and wide topics that it would be impossible for me to explain in detail all of them, and quite spoilery too. However rest assured that at any moment you’ll be lost because of those topics, like I said, there’s no big sign showing them, and they remain perfectly merged within the story. To put it more simply, let’s say that you can see them only if you want to see them.
The characters are in my opinion one of the strongest point of this anime. The way they are developed too, there’s a few time skips and changes of focus during the series but it’s never used as a way to skip some stuff that the directors were too lazy to explain, in fact, I’d say that those devices serve the story.
I’ve read a few critics of this show and one of the most recurring critic was that the characters were one of the weakest points of the show since it was impossible to like them, to identify with them and therefore to feel empathy or to be interested in their destiny. This lack of identification being due to the fact that most of the characters are irrationals, are acting like dicks or idiots and I somehow agree with that.
It is true that you won’t like all the cast nor being able to completely relate to one character, but that’s exactly the point here. This is a show who tries to reject the Manichean approach saying “there’s a bad guy and here there’s the good guy”. In that aspect, no character is entirely good or bad, expect one but he’s meant to. Each one of them is driven by its own passions, goals and has some faults which makes them human in the end.
Another reason why the character development in this anime is amazing is that the characters are deeply bound to their environment. The entire cast, Mu and Humans, are evolving in two different environments which reinforce their differences but also the way they are developing. The show succeed in that aspect, some characters will under come some drastic changes due to some decisions or actions made by other characters and so on. Because humans are deeply bound and influenced by their environment, the characters of this show aren’t simple individuals with only one of two characteristics and are constantly changing. It is impossible for me to resume the cast with simple archetypes nor to explain the true nature of their characters . They are complex, but that exactly what humans are supposed to be.
If I couldn’t identify with a single character since you can’t put them into cases I was still touched by them and never hated a single one of them. Not even the bad guy since in the end my feelings towards this character were not hatred but rather incomprehension. The bad guy of this show is, I think, the most and best developed character of the show, following his progression was a emotional roller coaster, I liked him, hated him, tried to understand him, forgave him.
So even if I couldn’t identify with the characters, I was still deeply affected by what was happening to them. One of the characters’s death, character that I did not particularly like at first, is probably the saddest anime death that I’ve seen so far… Just… It’s on Youtube and every time I see it, I can’t contain the tears. This particular scene was so well written and its impact, on us the audience but also on the other characters is something that I’ve barely seen in Anime. Those who have seen the anime must know which scene I’m referring too, it’s one of the most heart breaking scenes that I’ve ever witnessed, yeah, even ahead of Clannad.
The two main characters, Jomy and Keith are especially well written. Jomy starts off as the annoying dumb main character that everyone hates to be the leader of the Mu, ready to scarify everything for the sake of his people but yet unsure about himself and the direction he should take. On the other hand, you have Keith, the soldier of humanity, meant to be the perfect human, for a perfect system who we follow as he tries to fulfill the aim given by the system while questioning his own identity. The two of them have quite similar goals and can understand each other without fully acknowledging their respective point of view. AND THAT’S GREAT! THAT’S SO GREAT!
Art and Sound:
The anime made is made in 2007 but takes the art style of the manga written in 1979, so of course, the art style can strike as odd and might not play in favor of the show for maybe young audiences. While I don’t consider myself as a fossile since I’m 19, I personally had no problem with this art style, in fact, I tend to prefer this kind of drawings to sometimes, new animes that are coming out nowadays but that’s just me. However, rest assured that if the Art style is from then 1979 the animation remains good for a 2007 show ( maybe better than some shows nowadays… ). However the CGI feels quite crappy sometimes but again, I’m not the biggest fan of CGI in general so I can’t really evaluate it.
As for the music, it remains really good. There’s a few tracks that are played quite often, especially during heart breaking scenes but I never got bored of them. Especially “Aoi Houshi”, which does a great job a transmitting the epicness yet sadness of the show. The Op and Ending are good too, my favorite track remains the first ending, which is a amazing mix of sadness, melancholia, regrets but yet optimism which is what the show inspires me. You can listen to it here if you want to taste the mood of the show.
The only critic that I could make is that the ending that feels quite rushed. A lot of other reviews have mentioned this point and I agree with them. While the end remains really good in my opinion, adding one or two more episodes to fully develop the consequences of all the events and characters’s acts that happened would have been better to perfectly conclude this show.
There’s so many things I would like to discuss in more details regarding some actions, some characters, but I simply cannot since those aspects are deeply linked to some important events and discoveries that happened. It would be then, spoiling you the show to discuss them here and since my goal is to make you watch it, that’s not the smartest move that I could make.
My warning concerning this series will be to not trust the first 4 episodes. I never wanted to kill a main character this much in the first episodes of a show. The funny thing is that now, Jomy is one of my favorite characters ever. Oh yeah, also, by the way this is NOT a shounen Ai at all. The girly faces and scenes from the Op are misleading too, it’s the just the 1980 art style, pretty boys with girly faces but I personally love it.
Sadly, I don’t think this show is for every one. Although I’d like everyone to watch it, it is most likely that it will appeal to more mature audiences. I’ll recommend this show if you seek something different from what we are used to see everyday. If you are not afraid of the Art style and ready to ask yourself questions on a wide range of topics, go ahead. Also, if you like to suffer, to cry a lot go ahead, you won’t be disappointed. This is one of the few shows to really make me cry. Really cry, not just a little tear on the cheek… Torrents of tears. This show left a strange taste in my mouth, soon after finishing it I felt depressed but yet amazed. A bit like after watching Hotaru no mori e, if you’ve ever watch this short movie and felt depressed for 2 days after watching it, then you’ll understand. How can I explain…. Oh, I have a quote from Pierrot le Fou, a french movie that quite fits: “Ten minutes ago, I saw death everywhere. Now it’s just the opposite, look at the sea, the waves, the sky. Life may be sad, but it’s always beautiful!”
It has been a while since I’ve watched something really great, a show that I will remember for a while and won’t hesitate to recommend. Sorry if I was too enthusiastic in this review, I’m just so happy I’ve watched this that I needed to write about it hoping that it will get more popularity.
I know I’m almost ten years late, but I joined the Terra e… fan base. Well, the few people that actually know the existence of the show. So I really hope I convinced you to check this anime out, that’s the least I could do to thank this anime for existing and making feel so many things. It definitely deserves more recognition so go watch it, that’ll make me happy and I hope it will make you happy too. And if you ever need a shoulder to cry because this show made you depressed for a long time, you can always find me and we’ll cry together.
Go watch it.
-Screenshots from Episode 1-