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May 4, 2015

Bento Bako Weekly: Terra Formars volumes 2-3

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Written by: Kristin
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terraformars2Title: Terra Formars
Author: Yu Sasuga (story), Ken-ichi Tachibana
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volumes 2 and 3, $12.99
Vintage: 2012 by Shueisha, 2014 by Viz Media
Genre: Science fiction, action

[Review of volume 1.]

With the disastrous loss of the entire team sent to Mars in volume 1, volume 2 sets up the search for team number three. A random assortment is gathered, including a pit fighter, and two illegal immigrants looking for a better life. The fighter, a young man named Akari Hizamaru, was born with special strength. He fights for his friend who is suffering from a mysterious illness. This illness is one of the reasons for the new expedition to Mars. It originated there, and no one’s been able to figure out a cure on Earth, so a crew will be sent to gather samples to study. “Samples” being a number of the massive mutated cockroaches now swarming the planet’s surface. Teens Marcos and Alex, immigrants living in California, volunteer for the Mars expedition, hoping for something better than the life they’re currently living. Annex 1, the new ship that will take the new team to Mars, is filled with 100 personnel, including five officers and a Captain. Everyone has their reasons for fighting. Akari to find a cure, and Marcos and Alex for the hope of a better life  and to protect their friend, Sheila, who’s also a member of the crew. The officers have their reasons, too – revenge, protection, or just a strong will to fight. Unfortunately, before they even land on Mars, they’re faced with an invasion of the mutated cockroaches, that have somehow found their way onto Annex 1.

terraformars3Faced with an attack on their ship. Captain Shokichi reports that they’ll take the invaders and head back to Earth immediately. Headquarters refuses, and orders Shokichi to complete the full mission. He’s suspicious, but there’s nothing he can do, so he orders to crew to enact plan Delta. The six elite officers split up the crew among themselves and head to the escape pods. Each pod will blast away from the ship, land in a different location, then all the groups will return to Annex 1’s downed location. The roaches swarm the hull of the ship, but the officers manage to orchestrate the emergency retreat. Michelle’s group lands safely in the middle of nowhere, with no roaches in sight, or on their radar. Another squad is brought down by a capture net, suggesting that the roaches have advanced their technology since the previous expedition. The other groups land safely, with no roach contacts on radar. Somehow, Asimov’s group is immediately attacked without notice, by a creature far faster than they’re prepared for. Shokichi’s group is also attacked by a hidden roach, and the creature seems focused on destroying the drugs that allow the crew to activate their abilities. Sheila captures it with an advanced net, but the massive bug has an unexpected combat ability. Somehow the roaches have incorporated the technology used to infuse the previous team’s members with insect-like abilities. Unexpected, but fortunately the crew of Annex 1 has benefited from some improvements of their own. These improvements require a catalyst, but they’re much more powerful than the previous team’s, and the officers alone each have the strength of an entire squad.

I’m going to be honest here. This series leaves me bored out of my mind. I’m completely uninterested in the concept, the action, the characters. Absolutely nothing pulls me in. So with that said, I have little to talk about here. Literally nothing about this series interests me in the slightest. Anyway, I expect everyone to die soon, just like all the characters we were introduced to in volume 1 died. So why bother finding interesting characters to follow? Well, Shokichi didn’t die (though that’s not explained), and at least one other is a descendant of the previous crew, so technically there’s a little overlap. There’s really nothing going on here. Some science mumbo jumbo about evolution and DNA splicing. Super powered humans with insect and animal-like abilities (which somehow manages to be boring). One dimensional, cliché characters. A lot of violence and dismemberment (which doesn’t really bother me that much, other than I think it goes needlessly too far). The art is decent enough, and the character designs when they’re transformed are interesting (they’re pretty generic as plain humans). But even the addition of the super virus that now needs a cure, or revelations that someone’s manipulating the program somehow, isn’t piquing my interest. I know there are people out there who enjoy it. It sells decently in Japan and has been nominated for a Manga Taishō, as well as topping reader surveys. It even has an anime. So, someone out there likes it, but that someone is definitely not me.


Review copies provided by Viz Media.



One Comment

  1. Seems like it’s extra violent to distract from the boring characters. So sad.

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