Terra Formars Volume 5 is set in 2599, 500 years after 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. When the first manned ship with six crew members lands on Mars, they are attacked by giant mutated cockroaches that are incredibly strong.
Volume 5 focuses on the members of a new expedition to Mars, who have undergone genetic modification to inherit the characteristics of other organisms from a transplanted special organ. They are actively fighting against the giant mutated cockroaches while trying to make their way to Annex I.
Adolf Reinhard, the leader of Division 5, is determined to save his crew members who are captured by the cockroaches. The situation becomes serious enough that it appears that Adolf may have sacrificed himself. However, by the end of the volume, the reader has not been given any definitive answer as to whether or not Adolf died because of the action that he took.
Some of Terra Formars Volume 5 takes place at Annex I. But for the most part, all that happens here is Michelle and Alex wondering whether or not Adolf died when he made his sacrifice. And then the last third of Volume 5 focuses on another squad that’s fighting more of the giant mutated cockroaches. Just as it looks like this squad might be able to get the upper hand, the cockroaches figure out a way to minimize the squad’s advantage.
Volume 5 focused so much on action and not enough on making it clear which characters were fighting which battles that it made it hard for me to follow what was going on. It also didn’t help that some of the narrative was bogged down by explanations of some of the characters’ animal abilities.
To be honest, I forgot what happened in most of this volume by the time I finished reading it. The best part of Terra Formars Volume 5 was right at the beginning, when the reader is given some backstory on Adolf. Outside of that, the rest of the story was rather forgettable.
From what I’ve read of Terra Formars, I can’t help but feel that Sasuga was trying too hard to try to cash in on the success of Attack on Titan. The main differences are in this series, the giant adversaries are on a different planet because they had been sent there by Earth and were able to evolve, and the protagonists in Terra Formars 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.
When it comes to the art, it seems that artist Ken-ichi Tachibana spent more time and used more detail on the cockroaches and on the human characters when they are in their enhanced forms. It should also be noted that Terra Formars has an “M” rating for mature audiences. This rating is due to some of the artwork, which includes one scene of nudity and some scenes with violence that includes limbs being cut off.
Personally, I have a hard time recommending Terra Formars to manga readers, because I just don’t see that there’s much to this series at this point in the story. But for fans of this series, I expect that they will appreciate Terra Formars Volume 5 much more than I do.
The reviewer received a review copy from VIZ Media