Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
4K UHD
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

Columns




Toward the Terra Movie

Other // R // December 2, 2008
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted May 6, 2009 | E-mail the Author
"Toward the Terra" is a story that demands room to breathe; crammed into 113 minutes, it suffocates. The 1980 animated film - the year is downright vintage in the world of anime - is an adaptation of Keiko Takemiya's 1977 manga series, which was also recently reworked into a 24-part TV series, and that's just about what an epic story of this sort needs, with all that space to grow. In one-shot movie form, we're rushed through all these big ideas in one breathless go, as if we're just getting the highlights, never mind if the story gets crumpled along the way.

Actually, the go isn't really that breathless, "Terra" has a certain amount of drag to it. It's all ideas and no real drama. It doesn't even bother to have the zip of a space opera.

The story opens a thousand or so years in the future, long after mankind has ruined Earth. Humans abandoned the planet, beginning a long-term plan to redo all of civilization in space, figuring that by the time we all return to Earth, the orb will have rebuilt itself, and we'll be better people who deserve such a nice home.

Ah, but there's great suppression floating around all this utopia. Children are created in labs and raised by randomly chosen parents; teenagers are ripped from their families at age fourteen to train to be proper society members; government computers control our every decisions; any form of dissent is met with mind-erasing or death.

Humanity's greatest enemy is the Mu, a race of superhumans with psychic powers. They're on the brink of rebellion, eager to finally return back to Earth. Teenage Jomy is about to graduate into society when his "adulthood exam" reveals latent Mu powers; before government cronies can kill him, he's rescued by Mu leader Soldier Blue, whose body is failing and needs Jomy to take over the resistance.

The movie jumps ahead a few years, then a few years after that, then another ten years or so, with Jomy becoming the new Mu leader, fighting human foes led by Keith, who was created by the master computer to be a sort of ultimate human.

All that jumping leaves us skimming over the drama - we're offered a quickie, uninspired space battle and some moping about different races not getting along, then jump ahead some more. Perhaps tellingly, the animation offers terrific set designs but weak character work; faces are as blank and generic as the plot. (Even the costumes have that nonspecific "Star Blazers"-ish "future jumpsuits" look.) Character development is vital to this story, with Keith becoming more of a second protagonist than a villain as he learns more about his race, yet it's all too half-baked to properly connect.

Totalitarian sci-fi is a longstanding genre tradition, but in "Terra," the filmmakers are content with vague notions and sloppy metaphors. The story can't even be bothered too much with this angle, reducing most analogies to a generic "yeah, don't tell me what to do, society!"

(Spoiler alert for this paragraph!) The finale tries to toss out some bland last-minute surprises, the sort that are supposed to make the viewer quietly marvel in revelation. Nothing about these reveals make much sense, though: we're told (by a super-master-ultimate-computer the characters discover by falling down a hole) that ancient humans planned for the Mus to be created so humans would have someone to fight. Not only is the explanation a heap of nonsense (something about such adversarial doings keeping the computers from faulting on us), but the idea of pre-programming a civil war doesn't fit with the earlier exposition about humans planning to grow into peaceful beings. (End spoiler.)

The DVD

Video & Audio


The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks about as you'd expect from an anime pushing three decades. The darker colors look the best, lots of nice, deep blacks and blazing dark red explosions, while brighter colors tend look feel a pinch faded. Characters look flat and the more problematic chunks animation have their worst flaws revealed here. No digital problems interfere with the picture, however.

The original Japanese soundtrack comes through decently in this Dolby 2.0 presentation. Dialogue is rich and full, but the music - especially the cloying opening and closing theme - sounds tinny and weak. Optional English subtitles are provided.

Extras

The movie's U.S. trailer (1:36; 1.85:1 anamorphic) - apparently newly minted to hype the DVD release - is the lone extra.

A set of previews for other Nozomi titles is also included. A separate batch of previews and promos (including a trailer for the "Terra" TV series) plays as the disc loads.

Final Thoughts

Serious anime might want to give "Toward the Terra" a rental, to see how the old school animation techniques compare with the modern television series, but there's nothing here worth seeing for its own sake. More casual fans or anyone looking for sci-fi should definitely just Skip It altogether.
Buy from Amazon.com

C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Skip It

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews
1. Grease 2 (40th Anniversary Limited Edition SteelBook)


Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links