Japanese Title: Terra e… (TV)
Related: Terra e… (Movie – old version)
Xam’d Lost Memories
Watched in: Japanese
Genre: Action Drama Science Fiction
Length: 24 episodes
- Grand scope with proper closure.
- Intriguing open.
- The sci-fi elements make for an engaging story.
- Needs stronger key villains.
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In another anime with the premise of a protagonist realising his world is a lie, we have Toward the Terra. Where No. 6 setup an ordinary world for the protagonist to exit from, Terra echoes events closer to the likes of The Island or Logan’s Run with a dash of RahXephon and Battlestar Galactica.
In Jomy’s world, talented people join the elites of humanity on the day they reach adulthood. This is an exciting occasion. Who wouldn’t want their child to lead humanity to greatness? This is also a lie. The test of adulthood is actually to identify any potential “Mu” among the populace. They are an evolved race of humans possessing psychic abilities that strike fear in the government. All Mu are executed.
Jomy’s birthday takes a turn for the weird when a mouse starts talking to him telepathically at an amusement park. It’s not long before he’s on the run as one of the Mu and the lie that is his world tears at the seams. Not only is there a race of psychics that live on a ship among the clouds, their leader Soldier Blue has fallen into a coma and wants Jomy to inherit his power and the burden of leading the Mu to a brighter future.
Toward the Terra immediately differentiates itself from the pack of like-minded stories by going off in a wild direction. This story spans years and ventures to places I didn’t predict. One could watch the first episode of Terra followed by the final episode and have no idea how it got from A to Z. No character is the same by the end of this series.
The first act sets up so many questions about this world and its characters. Where did the Mu come from? How blind is the average human to reality? Did Jomy’s human parents really love him? Is it possible for Jomy to undo the brainwashing on society? Who is leading the humans? Why are they so insistent on killing the Mu that aren’t a part of their society? Unlike No. 6, which setup many question but either forgot to answer them or gave meaningless payoffs, Terra delivers some great arcs and story conclusions.
This is my kind of sci-fi anime.
That said, it doesn’t reach greatness when looked at as a whole. There are moments of greatness – the setup episodes and other key events I won’t give away – but the problems are intrusive. The one that has stuck with me since having finished Terra months ago is the switch from Jomy’s perspective to one of the human elites in training.
We follow Keith, a Spock-like character except boring and with no personality. Furthermore, we have no clear idea why the focus is on him for so many episodes (turns out, he’s a major villain – no spoiler, they should have alluded as much from the start). Even furthermore, we don’t see Jomy during this section. It all makes sense in the end, of course, yet the structure of this early second act feels so disconnected from the plot that instead of enjoying the story, I’m asking, “Why does any of this matter?” for too long. It needed a back and forth of perspectives.
Oh yes, almost forgot – Keith’s main rival at the academy is a smiley evil guy. A laughable character. No one would just stand there and take his sneering for more than a day before removing all his teeth. When at this stage of the story, I thought all the good the premise had setup was going down a black hole. Thankfully, it picks up again once Jomy re-enters the scene and Keith’s role matters – he even becomes interesting after the academy years are over. The villains in general are on the weaker side.
Several other moments also standout as blots in the story. I can’t go into detail without revealing too much (as I said, this story goes in such unexpected directions), but they are in the vein of characters doing stupid things for the sake of forced conflict.
There is also a minor annoyance where each episode starts with several minutes from the previous episode. This isn’t a “last time on Terra…” bit, but a straight repeat of scenes. Could do without it, though not a deal breaker.
In all, the good outweigh the bad with the premise being a story type I love accompanied by strong sci-fi elements. I enjoyed Toward the Terra and may even rewatch it in future.
Art – Medium
The technical quality is average, but the creativity of the sci-fi world is good old retro-futurism. Beautiful skies. There is this one character, an alien scientist with the dumbest and most out of place design, like a stick figure in a scene of elfin people. I laughed every time she came on.
Sound – Medium
Solid acting and the soundtrack is suitable to the anime, though you won’t remember the details.
Story – Medium
On the cusp of adulthood, a boy learns he is an alien linked to the first of his race, which makes him an enemy of society and all humanity. This grand space voyage has a lot in it that works for the most part.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: For sci-fi fans. Toward the Terra’s sci-fi elements will make it a pleasure to fans of the genre, but those same elements will alienate others. And the characters aren’t strong enough to carry interest if sci-fi the premise doesn’t hook you.
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7 thoughts on “Toward the Terra – Anime Review”
I’ve seen the original film, but not this TV remake. It’s something I do like to see since I thought the concept of the Mu being mistreated had so many realistic parallels to so many oppressed ethnic groups and with colonization.
Great review! I love how you mention Logan’s Run, I was immediately reminded of it but it’s not a film many young(er) people have seen. I have to watch RaXhepon.
There’s just one thing I’d like to add, regarding the “needs stronger key villains” statement. I find Terra e… to be special exactly because there is such a fine line between villains and heroes. The divided POV betwen the Mu and the humans allows the viewer to see both sides and while killing off a whole group of people is terrible, the desire to continue living in a peaceful and regulated society is very understandable too (Psycho-Pass explores this conflict even better). Rahter than talking about villains, it makes more sense to say that Terra e has two protagonists, Jomy and Keith, who are in conflict with each other, and one subtle but pervasive antagonist.
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Yes, I agree with you on the shades of grey for both sides. Perhaps instead of saying villains, I could have said “needed better rivals”. Legend of the Galactic Heroes is the prefect example of nailing this.