The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Toward the Terra

Title: Toward the Terra aka Terra e…
Genre: Drama
Company: Aniplex/MBS/Sky Perfect Well Think/Minamimachi Bugyousho/Tokyo Kids
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 7 Apr 2007 – 22 Sep 2007

Synopsis: After years of war, exploitation and pollution, Earth is now nothing but a wasteland that is unfit for life. In order to prevent this tragedy from ever occurring again, humanity has voluntarily submitted itself to a computer program on various terra-formed planets. This program runs society like a well oiled machine by using technology that can erase specific memories of its inhabitants. However, an anomaly that threatens the entire system has emerged: the “Mu.” These are human beings who have psychic powers and can resist the brainwashing of the system. In order to escape the society that fears them and the computer program that wants to destroy them, they wander through space in an intergalactic vessel in hopes of finding Terra, their promised land.

The Highlights
Story: Massive, comprehensive and ambitious.
Characters: Sometimes genuinely human; sometimes puppets of the plot.
Music: Quite pleasing to the ears.

I believe that a true epic is something that can be enjoyed decades after its initial creation. I can enjoy shiny spectacles for what they are, but if they can’t move the hearts of viewers years down the line, then it is nothing more than a fad. Toward the Terra is an anime based on a science fiction manga of the same name that was created in 1977. Though, I cannot say for sure whether this television adaptation will stand the test of time, I’m willing to say this is one of the strongest candidates I’ve seen so far.

This series is a multi-layered tour de force about the people living in society that has sacrificed individuality and freedom for safety and prosperity. After the initial introductions in the first few episodes, the show splits the story into two perspectives. The first focuses on Keith Anyan who is personification of this controlled society; the second focuses on Jomy Marcus Shin who is the young leader of mankind’s enemy the Mu. As the anime progresses both narratives intertwine into an intricate web of love, hatred and sorrow.

What drives the show is the interplay between the story and the characters. At times, the focus shifts on the characters and allows them to fight, make mistakes and mature. Since the characterization is excellent, it’s hard not to feel some attachment to the main cast. At all other times, the show shuffles through the half-dozen or so events that shape the main story. Everything is interrelated, and almost everything comes full circle in what I see one of the most ambitious stories of the medium.

The animation is solid, and the music works well with the overall grandiose feeling of the anime. Probably the only real criticisms I can throw at the show is how it started and how things become a bit too convenient at times. The first few episodes essentially fail to establish the overall tone of the series since I was led to believe that this would be about the fish-out-the-water angst of the protagonist a la Evangelion or RahXephon… which it is not. My second complaint is about how some character behaviors feel conveniently manipulated by the story, but this complaint is easily quashed when I remember that this show covers a course of 16 years in a mere 24 episodes. It’s obvious that the writers were pressed for time, and they did their best to compress a great deal of material.

I find it a shame that this anime has fallen so far out of people’s radars. Toward the Terra is a true gem of 2007. If you are willing to overlook some of the finer nicks, this is one of the best drama driven science fiction epics you will find.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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