Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To Terra by Keiko Takemiya

To Terra is a three-volume sci-fi manga that apparently was written several decades ago (70s?) and was just released in English. (To accompany an anime, I think.) The idea is that in a fully computer-dependent society, and by that I mean on ONE particular computer, a group of psi-powered mutants (the Mu) have been exiled from society and for some reason think that going back to Terra will solve all their problems. It kind of reminded be of Battlestar Galactica. (The old one... can't stand the new one.)

I liked this, but it's totally incomprehensible. I wrote in my book journal that it was "like a Monty Python sketch done at half speed by lobotomy patients," and while that might be a little excessive, that was pretty much the impression I got. All the characters are exactly the same except for the goals we're told they have, and those same informed goals are the only reason for the plot. The art, which is absolutely gorgeous on big sweeping starscapes and spaceships, is indecipherable in small panels.

It takes forever for anything significant to happen, and when it does there seems to be no reason for it. Since none of the characters have any reasons for their beliefs, their actions just come across as juvenile and ill-informed. Every so often there's a time-out to try and explain some of the science involved, but that just makes it worse. I understand what the story is doing emotionally, but I have no idea what's ACTUALLY going on or with what characters.

But, despite all that, I did like it. The atmosphere is absolutely mesmerizing, and if you just sort of relax and zone out while you read it becomes dreamscape-y rather than just confusing. It's an interesting look at some older sci-fi, where some common ideas are used as new and thrown together in unorthodox ways. It's sci-fi, but Takemiya tends to use fantasy in the workings of it. I certainly didn't get bored with it, as hard as I was working to follow the story.

There's this sudden flurry of action and energy and awesomeness at the end that makes the whole saga worth the trouble... And then an epilogue that plunged me back into misty confusion. So, if you don't really get what happened, neither do I. I also don't understand why a central male character was persistently drawn as a girl, but that's beside the point.

This is another one of those books that I'm not sure whether to recommend or not. If it sounds interesting then go ahead, knock yourself out, it's only three volumes. I don't have any recommendations at this point, but I'll be reviewing some similar things in the future.

Buy To Terra... (v. 1)

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