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Terra Formars Volume Three – Review

Terra-Formars-Volume-03-Cover-Image-01Let me lay it down for you: Eventually, so I’ve been lead to believe, this planet will be no more. With the inevitable death of the Earth will come the eradication of every single native species…that includes us humans. This is why we have to start thinking about alternative existence plans.

Lucky for us, there are a whole bunch of other planets hanging around in the same solar system as ours that would gladly allow for us to change it’s overall makeup to resemble Earth. This is what we call ‘Terraforming’, though it’s a little more complicated than what I just described. – Excerpt from “Terra Formars” Volume One Review

By this point in “Terra Formars”, Earth has tried their hand at colonising Mars a couple of times but, for some mysterious reason, the crews sent to the red planet all come back dead…or, in fact, not at all. Volume three follows the story of Annex I, the fourth group to head to Mars, on their trip across the stars.

Unfortunately they’re attacked by those filthy “Roaches” before they’ve even gotten into atmosphere of the future “Earth II”, as I’m calling it. Thanks to Madman Entertainment I’ve been given the chance to, once again, follow the characters of “Terra Formars” as they face certain doom.

A new mission to Mars, Annex 1, is under way. Their mission: crucial research into the A.E. Virus currently plaguing mankind. The mutant Terraformars, giant humanoid cockroaches, may hold the key to a cure. Unfortunately for the crew of the Annex 1, the Terraformars have somehow gotten on board the ship and have only one goal – total extermination! Led by Akari Hizamaru, the crew will need to rely on their superhuman powers to survive – if those powers don’t kill them first! – Madman Entertainment

Volume three of “Terra Formars” is packed full of action, not that volumes one and two weren’t exactly the same. This time around the combat is upscaled by a huge amount and all story development is brought to a halt for the sake of character explanation. Despite the sarcastic tone I assume you’re reading this review in, I have to say; it wasn’t detrimental to the Manga whatsoever. The last volume introduced us to a whole new crew of main characters, most of which we weren’t necessarily given the chance to become familiar with because, well, there’s just way too many of them to get to know personally in such a short time.

Volume three is no different! While we’re not introduced to anyone new, we are given some pretty hefty insight into their character types through their actions which, in my humble opinion, defines a character so much better than simple words can. Seamlessly blended in with all the combat of volume three is a whole bunch of exposition and even more explanation that came not from the characters locked in combat but from two others on Earth who just so happen to be talking about the crew of Annex I.

Though not all characters got a chance at explanation, the main few did. My assumption is that, come volume four, we’ll be a seeing a great deal more of that but for the other characters. At least, that’s what I hope. What volume three really drummed into my head is that literally any character can be killed at any given time. It was made pretty obvious in the last two volumes but I’m not sure it hit me hard until the very end of volume three. This is why I find myself constantly going back to the “Terra Formars” manga: It’s unpredictable. Unlike “Attack On Titan” that introduces characters for the sake of being killed, “Terra Formars” puts most characters on an even keel, obviously not including the main character Akari who, I believe, will probably never perish.

The only real problem with this volume of “Terra Formars” is that some of the dialogue simply didn’t match the conversation the characters were presently in. I’m not sure whether it was a problem with translating but there were times where characters simply didn’t make any sense and it was enough to really take you out of the moment. Apart from that, the volume had enough action to keep you engaged and enough explanation to keep you out of the dark, all the while fending of the monotony that comes with a constant stream of exposition.

 

Much like volumes one and two, the art in volume three is simply masterful. As I’ve said time and time again Kenichi Tachibana is a master of sequential art and knows how to draw something as intensely stylish as he does horrifying. Since volume three is almost entirely filled with dynamic action panels, you really get a feel of just how fantastic an artist Tachibana is. If there’s any manga series that’ll make you want to get into illustration it has to be “Terra Formars”.

Every panel is as interesting as it could possibly be, and that includes simple dialogue scenes that have no need to be as  engaging as they are in “Terra Formars”. Tachibana seems to enjoy a more rugged and gritty style of illustration seeing as “Terra Formars” doesn’t necessarily have a “clean” art style. Everything looks like it’s fast moving which suits the series to a tee seeing as characters are always on the move. It’s not wise to stand still when your life is always on the damn line.

 

Within three volumes, “Terra Formars” has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary Manga series’. After the appalling way the Anime adaptation was presented I never would have imagined I’d be this into the Manga but that just goes to show that even great source material can be ruined by a lacklustre attempt at an adaptation. Volume three doesn’t do anything drastically different to the other two volumes which, once again, reminds me that something that isn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed.

What volume three DID do is tackle certain Manga standards like exposition in a new and interesting way that doesn’t take you out of the action you’re supposed to be focussing on but also gives you all the information you need to entirely understand what it is that you’re experiencing.

“Terra Formars” just continues to get better and better volume by volume. It exceeded my expectations in volume one and has just continued to blow me away. Hopefully it’d do the same for those of you out there reading this who havn’t gotten the chance to make a start on the series. Have you got a spare half an hour to read a volume of Manga? Well “Terra Formars” will make you wish you had an hour.

Take a trip and purchase ‘Terra Formars’ volume one at the Madman Entertainment Online Store.

Grade: A

-30-

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