Manga Review: Terra Formars Volume One

Terra Formars Volume One is a manga written by Yu Sasuga and illustrated by Ken-ichi Tachibana. The volume was released by Viz Media’s Viz Signature imprint in 2014. This series is rated “M” for mature; after reading this volume, I could see that the series received this rating for the amount and type of violence depicted in it.

Terra Formars Volume 1
Written by: Yu Sasuga
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 15, 2014

In the 21st century, scientists were given the task of warming up Mars in order to attempt to colonize the planet. To do this, an efficient and cost effective plan was developed: send cockroaches and mold to Mars so the mold can absorb the sunlight and purify the atmosphere. The moss would feed the cockroaches and would help mold spread across the planet.

500 years later, the first manned ship with six crew members lands on Mars, and they are attacked by giant mutated cockroaches that are incredibly strong. They are able to send a transmission to Earth before they’re wiped out.

The first volume of Terra Formars is set in 2599, a multinational expedition is sent to Earth to exterminate the humanoid cockroaches and take control of Mars. The 15 crew members have undergone procedures to be given the powers of various bugs; but in order to activate the bug powers, they have to inject themselves with something. However, these new crew members have not been told just how much the cockroaches have evolved.

When the crew makes it to Mars, they discover the evolved cockroaches, and one of their team members is killed rather quickly by them. This volume sees the crew trying to use their bug powers to attack the giant humanoid cockroaches. In addition, it turns out that two of the crew members are secretly doing work for someone other than their mission commander that’s back on Earth, and they betray their teammates. Many of the crew perish, because the cockroaches are able to evolve at such a rapid pace that they are already immune to attacks carried out on them before. At the end of the volume, only two of the 15 crew members survive, and they head back to Earth.

As the action unfolded on Mars with the giant humanoid cockroaches, I quickly came to the realization that Terra Formars was trying too hard to cash in on Attack on Titan. After doing some research, I discovered that Attack on Titan began publication in 2009, while Terra Formars began publication in 2011. The main differences are the fact that the giant adversaries are on a different planet because they had been sent there by Earth and were able to evolve, the protagonists in this series have to rely on an enhancement in order to fight the enemy while the characters in Attack on Titan rely primarily on their own power, and having two different commanders with very different goals being involved.

When it comes to the characters, the vast majority of them are hardly developed. Considering that most of them die, anyway, it kind of makes sense. Unfortunately, due to not really knowing these characters, it was really hard for me to care whether they lived or not. For most of the characters, their “development” tended to rely heavily on racial stereotypes.

And when it comes to their special bug powers, I really thought that setting it up so the characters have to inject themselves with something in order to activate it became an Achilles heel. If the cockroaches get smart enough and figure out that these people become stronger after injecting themselves with something, they could then grab the syringe and destroy it before the humans can use them for an injection. Whoever developed the bug powers that these characters were given probably should have worked a little harder to find a way to make it so the person could activate the powers on their own at will.

After finishing this volume, I found the characters to be rather underdeveloped, the story was made unnecessarily confusing, and there was really nothing there to make me want to read future volumes of this series. At this point, I think I’ll be sticking with Attack on Titan for a story about humanity trying to save itself from extinction that could be brought on by large and powerful creatures.

I wrote this review after reading a review copy of Terra Formars Volume One that was provided to me by Viz Media.

Additional posts about Terra Formars:

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