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Terra Formars Volume Six – Review

Terra-Formars-Volume-6-Cover-Image-01An Earth day lasts twenty four hours. Do you know how long a full day on Mars lasts? Not too much longer than that, maybe only about forty minutes. This means that Earth and Mars have similar rotations. Now if you were to ask me how long a day on Mars lasts after only reading through Madman Entertainment’s hit Manga Terra Formars, I’d probably tell you it lasts a great deal longer. Actually, if we’re determining the length of a Mars day going strictly off of the Manga’s release schedule…a complete Mars day lasts for almost five months, but I don’t know why you’d determine the length of another planet’s day by using the release schedule of a popular science-fiction series. I most likely would, this is why I’m a writer for an online publication and noy an astronaut.

We’re now into the sixth volume of Terra Formars, five of which have focused on the soldiers of Annex I and one of which works as somewhat of a prequel to the events of the series’ bulk focussing on the men and women of Bugs II. After this many volumes, all of which have shown countless deaths and gruesome battles, has it finally been stated that all this has happened in a single Mars day. It really puts into perspective just how quickly a war can be sparked and just how ferocious it’s flames can burn. In volume six we come to the end of the very first Annex I mission day, a twenty four hour period that saw the death of many crew members and the slaughter of Earth’s enemies; the Cockroaches.

Volume six sees the end of the one-day battle but not the end of the hellish war, leaving readers hanging for what is to come next. Thanks to Madman Entertainment I’ve, once again, been given the chance to review another volume of the Manga many people around the world have come to love.

Keiji Onizuka and Team 1 are fighting as hard as they can, but the Terraformars use a clever stratagem to put them in a tight spot. Running low on their serum, the members of Team 1 may be finished unless Akari and Michelle can bail them out. But will engaging the new Terraformar cause Akari to lose himself completely? Meanwhile, Asimov’s team goes into the pyramids, where they find the first transmitter whose signal was lost. How did it get there, and what does it say about what the Terraformars may be planning? – Madman Entertainment

I have to say, straight off the bat, the contents of volume six did kind of bore me. I found the story progression to be somewhat monotonous yet also very much rushed most of the way through. The volume as a whole features two main focus points with smaller, seemingly insignificant points in between that I feel as though we’re given an incorrect amount of the spotlight. The volume started off with a one-on-one match between crew member Keiji Onizuka and the Pachyrhynchus Infernalis Terraformar that focused more on the character’s backstory than that of the actual engagement, lasting longer than I believed it deserved. While his story was one that should have pulled at the heart strings, I found it to be a little over-played which gave it so much less impact.

The second large focus point was on the rest of Division One who, instead of battling a single Terraformar each, were faced with an oncoming hoard of basic soldiers lead by a select few of the mutated leaders. THIS was the more enjoyable half of the Manga yet even in saying that, I did find it hard to digest because of how rushed both the story telling and panel layout felt. At times it even seemed as though certain pivotal panels and dialogue pieces for left out or misplaced. On many occasions I had to read the same lines over and over again to try and figure out exactly what it was trying to detail but, in the end, I still couldn’t quite understand it. This was most likely a translation issue; something I’ve only experienced once or twice in my years of reading Manga and something that can seriously be detrimental to not only the Manga’s story but the series as a whole.

One thing I have to mention is the swift but fantastic character outline of crew member Jared Anderson; an American who’s operation has allowed him to share DNA with that of a Killer Whale. In a close-to-death state, he explains to Captain Davis his reason for being part of the Annex I crew and the one thing that keeps him fighting despite the hopeless nature of his situation. After doing so he makes an actual contribution to the ongoing efforts to getting themselves out of this altercation alive. It was, for me, the most exciting and succinct story development featured in the whole of the volume.

Kenichi Tachibana is an absolutely astounding Manga artist with a gritty and mostly ruthless style that adapts to the story of Terra Formars seemlessly. From the very first chapter of the very first volume I was impressed by his illustrations. Much like Hajime Isayama of Attack On Titan fame, Tachibana knows exactly how to illustrate death and destruction in the most detailed and brutal of ways but is sometimes lacking when it comes standard visuals like two characters having a conversation. Those will often get boring but they barely come about so it’s easy to disregard and easy to forget about.

Volume six showed a side of Tachibana’s illustrations never seen before in the Terra Formars Manga. It was a side that I didn’t like and a side that I hope never to see again. The story, as mentioned above, felt very much rushed and while the illustrations were still incredibly enjoyable, it was the panel layout and panel pacing that made this volume much less enjoyable than it should have been. Reading through, I got the impression that panels were missing or not illustrated making it very hard to understand what was going on. Not only that but it just felt lazy, something I’ve never seen from Tachibana.
It’s such a shame, but volume six of Terra Formars simply didn’t grab me like the previous ones did. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much in love with the series, but it seems as though this will remain a speed bump in a, so far, flawless road. Not only was the story lacking but, in turn, so was that of the visuals which left me with the overwhelming bitter taste in my mouth. Thankfully there’s still plenty of action to get you through, and my hopes are that the upcoming volume very much makes up for what this one lacked. Still, it saddens me to think this volume took such a severe quality dip. I’m hoping for the best with what’s to come.

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

Grade: C

 

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