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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Toward the Terra: Part 1
Toward the Terra: Part 1
Bandai // PG-13 // July 15, 2008
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 7, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

Anime distributors are going through a rough time with sales being down across the board.  To combat this trend some companies are getting creative with the way they release their product.  Several companies are putting out catalog titles in complete sets at a lower price point, but Bandai has decided not to wait to lower the price of a new series.  They are putting out Toward the Terra in regular four episode DVDs, but with a retail price of only $29.98, about a third less than the typical release.  Not only that but they have packaged together the first two volumes and released them as "Part One" for only $34.98 a good $5 savings over buying the individual volumes.  Otaku have been complaining for years about the high price of anime, and it's good to see at least one release that has started moving the price in the right direction.  That wouldn't be so important if the series was wretched, but it's actually a solid show that's worth watching.

The Earth was nearly dead when humanity as a whole realized that they were the problem.  There was only solution that would save the planet and it was harsh:  humans had to leave.  So a great project was undertaken and mankind moved out to the stars so that the home planet could heal itself.

Several hundred years later, life is quite different from what we know now.  People have been genetically engineered, and while they look no different from people of today the way they are raised is quite unusual.  Once a fetus emerges from a growing chamber it is given to a couple to raise.  The child goes to special schools depending on the city he's living in, with each city specializing on a different area of education.  Once they come of age they take the Adult Examination, where all of their memories of their family are erased and then given a job based on their talents and abilities.

Jomy is about to take his Adult Exam and is feeling a little apprehensive.  While he doesn't know that his memories will be wiped, he does know that he'll be assigned a job and that he won't see his school friends, Sam and Swena, at least for a while.  During the test however he's visited by Soldier Blue, a Mu.  Blue triggers something in Jomy which releases fantastic powers that he didn't realize he possessed, the least of which is the ability to read minds.

The Mu have been kept a secret from the general population and hunted down over the years.  The humans can't have mind-readers running around, and the Mu have taken to living on a gigantic space-worthy ship hidden in the clouds and by their combined mental powers.  Soldier Blue is the most powerful Mu and their leader, but he's getting very old, though he doesn't look it.  He needs someone to take his place, and he thinks he's found that person in the young and inexperienced Jomy.

In the second volume of this release, the narrative changes rather abruptly.  Suddenly we're no longer following Jomy's trials and tribulations, but those of his friends Sam and Swena.  Right after they take the Adult Examination and pass, Sam meets Keith, a brilliant student who gets the highest scores ever achieved on his tests.  Over the years Sam, Keith, and Swena become friends and work hard toward the common goal of returning to Terra.  But four years after they reach age a new student, Shiroe, arrives who is infatuated with besting Keith.  Keith, an emotionless working machine, has no interest in competing with the newcomer but as time goes on Shiroe becomes obsessed with Keith and doing better than the prodigy.

This was a surprisingly good show.  The synopsis makes it sound fairly dull, but the characters and way the program is constructed really draw viewers in.  Jomy's story sets up the world and how it works, then throws in a lot of action with battles between the Humans and the Mu.  These fight sequences are very good and fun to watch, but shifting the focus onto Sam and Keith in the second half of this set fleshes out the world to a great extent.

It's also fairly obvious that Jomy, Keith, and Shiroe will all end up crossing paths sooner rather than later, but whether they'll be on the same sides or different ones isn't totally clear.  A program that mixes action with solid story telling, this show is worth checking out.

The DVD:


Audio:

The show comes with the original stereo Japanese soundtrack.  Unfortunately there is no English dub, which is a shame because I can see a lot of younger otaku enjoying this series.  The audio sounded fine, though it was never outstanding.  Even during the battle scenes the soundtrack never really had a lot of punch.  Aside from that the show sounded fine with no distortion or other common flaws.

Video:

The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looked pretty good overall.  There was a little bit of digital noise in some places, and banding was apparent in a few others, but neither were major problems.  Aliasing wasn't a problem at all.

Extras:

There aren't too many extras on these two discs.  Each one has part of an interview with the author of the manga that the show is based on.  They talk more about the manga than they do the anime, which is fine.  She discusses how she broke into the field, the genesis of the story, and other typical interview questions.  Nothing too exciting or groundbreaking.

Final Thoughts:

A solid show that has a different feel from the run of the mill anime program, Toward the Terra has an interesting story that promises to get more intriguing as the show goes on.  Well worth checking out.  Recommended.

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