This may seem somewhat outlandish but I beg that, before you jump to aggressive conclusions, you think about just what it is that I’m about to say: We live in a strange age that glorifies and celebrates mediocrity, especially in the world of pop culture. I’ve seen countless Anime and Manga rise to stardom undeservedly, I’ve seen many characters who’ve risen to an unjustified level of popularity, I’ve seen what I consider to be the downfall of story/character writing and now I’m seeing one hell of an overall shift.
In recent months I’ve been able to experience some of the most exciting Anime and Manga of all time thanks to my role here at SnapThirty. Before we started this website, I thought the industry was at an all-time low…and I truly think, even now, that it was. Since then things have been looking up. I was introduced to Manga like World Trigger, Assassination Classroom, Gangsta, and yes, Terra Formars.
I then came to realise that an overall storyline is not just what makes a series so popular…well, it shouldn’t, is what I’m saying. It is, instead, the characters within said storylines that make the series what it is. For all intents and purposes…Terra Formars has a very basic story, but it has always kept my interest through it’s characters. Volume Five of the Manga mostly followed one individual from the main cast and it really drove home the point that it is the characters that bring the story to life…not just the story itself.
As the various teams try to make their way to Annex 1, Team 5, made up of Germans and South Americans, comes under ferocious attack by the Terraformars. The team leader, Adolf, struggles to survive against all odds. The American and Japanese members of Team 1 have their own battles to fight against an enemy that keeps coming, keeps adapting and won’t stop until all the humans are dead!
– Madman Entertainment
The front cover of a new Manga will always indicate just what is going to happen within the confines of the first and final page. Volume Five of Terra Formars features the fearsome fighter Adolf Reinhard who, in the last volume, was revealed to be sharing DNA with that of an electric eel. Volume Four introduced us to his struggle but Volume Five lead us to the end of it. Along the way we were given a look into his past life as a semi-normal young man living with his beautiful wife and struggling with the mental battle that has plagued him since the death of his parents who were members of a former crew that once made their way to the red planet.
Through battle we’re delivered the details of this man’s life and how it was that he got to this point. Somehow, within six or seven chapters we were given every piece of information necessary to be able to fully appreciate Adolf as a character and his sacrifice for the sake of the mission and his crew. Some Manga can’t do that in seven volumes let alone seven chapters. Even his small team get a chance to share their stories but most were delivered in one or two lines. Funnily enough, those couple of dialogue pieces were more than enough to give the audience a full understanding of just who these people are.
The back half of the volume set up what I believe is to come in Volume Six, much like Volume Four did with Adolf. We head now to another team lead by Annex I Captain Shokichi Komachi who you should know is one of the only humans in the entire series strong enough to come back from Mars only to then return many years later. If you’re up to date with the series, than you’d know that’s a pretty amazing feat. We’re introduced to a couple other characters who will surely take the spotlight in the next volume and we’re left with enough of a cliffhanger to keep me interested for the next month until another volume is released. There’s literally no better way to end a Manga volume than that. Simple.
At the risk of repeating myself for the fifth time now, seeing as I’ve written four of these reviews in the past; Kenichi Tachibana knows exactly what it is that he’s doing with the art direction of Terra Formars. Not only is he a first-class illustrator, but he knows how to shock with high levels of gore. He also knows how to illustrate movement well enough for me not to have to use my imagination at all, which is a nice change from some of the other Manga series’ I read in my own time. Tachibana knows how to design a fearsome enemy and he knows how to make them even more fearsome through movement.
Seeing as the enemies are giant cockroach-men, it’s great that he knows exactly what he’s doing because, let’s be honest here, someone not as good as him could absolutely never pull it off. Tachibana’s art constantly inspires me to do more illustrating of my own in the hopes that I can one day be as good as him. Now, he’s no Takehiko Inoue…but only Takehiko Inoue is Takehiko Inoue. I’d still say that Tachibana’s illustrations are nearly as detailed and exciting as Inoue’s which, once again, if you’re familiar with his work you’d know what I just said is a huge compliment.
Fact is; Terra Formars just continues to get better and better. In Five Volumes the series has been able to allow me to attach myself to certain characters. It has almost forced me into mourning the death of some and lamenting the survival of others, and there aren’t a great deal of contemporary Manga that can make me do that. Pretty much only the ones I mentioned at the beginning of this review. There has never been a dip in quality. Not in five damn volumes have I ever sat back in my seat and thought that maybe I’d stop reading.
Terra Formars Volume Five possessed me and I read it through in just one sitting. Not that it’s too hard of a task, I’m just not the type to do that, but this Manga makes me want to do that. People that say they don’t like Terra Formars need to absolutely read it again, because I can’t see why they wouldn’t. It’s realistic enough to have you somewhat believe in what the characters are saying, but it also has such a high volume of crazy fiction that it takes you away from the monotony that is everyday life and into a world of giant cockroach-men. Like I’ve said before; simply fantastic.
Take a trip to Mars and purchase Terra Formars volume one at the Madman Entertainment Online Store.