I want to start this post by saying, directly, that I have watched the Toward the Terra television series before and it’s exceptional. I want to write about it so badly, but I think it’s still stuck in the Bandai death zone like Planetes when it comes to being physically released. Anger Noises A few shows have been picked by up by licensors since bandai stopped producing anime discs and I am glad that I was able to purchase them, but please rescue all of them please. Someone listen to me, please. I would love to have Blu-ray copies for Toward the Terra and Planetes, please. Maybe discotek? Fortunately, we do have this movie that I have also seen before and also like. Maybe as not as much, but I will take what I can get here.
Toward the Terra takes place far in the future, the 31st century to be specific, after human kind left Earth due to war and pollution. Human kind left for the stars to colonize other worlds under the control of super computers. These super computers known as Superior Dominance who decide the destiny of humans as they approach adulthood. I mean, I wouldn’t trust us to run anykind of world government compared to what is going on now. I’m sure nothing bad would happen. On the surface, there is peace. Human kind not controlling their destiny has allowed them to survive in a world that seems perfect. Is it really though? That’s the question at hand here and where our story begins.
We open up the movie with a focus on Jomy Shin, a 14-year-old boy living on the planet Atraxia and is about to go through his adult machine process. A memory wipe to become what is called the ideal adult. Too bad he is quite unusual for his age. He’s a mu, a person that has psychic powers and he has the strongest psychic powers possible. Jomy can open a future that could be created for the Mu people. Before breaking the exams even happen, he’s under surveillance by Super Dominance through his weird actions. The day his test comes, he is rescued by the sickly, but powerful Soldier Blue and his gang of not as powerful older Mu before leaving for Earth.
It’s the circumstances of Jomy’s transition that change everything. Being freshly taken out of a brain washed society, it takes a while for him to accept being on his own without a computer telling him what to do. That’s where the journey for what humanity is like actually is, which the film does show the nuances of age and their effect on how people live. When the Mu take residence on a planet and start living a normal human life, the older adults are confused by it. Jomy being out there and asking basically “who wants to have sex with me” shocked that age of people because they didn’t want to try anything new. This is also an awkward thing to say in real life, but much more meaningful here because this movie has no subtly at all.
It’s very interesting how the mu who lived without any control or were born from other mu were more powerful than the older kind. Those children born on planet Neska has power that matches Jomy. This is the power of humanity when it is allowed to grow by itself in a natural way through self-determination. It’s very powerful yet also super dangerous. A person with this free will and power can cause all sorts of trouble by themselves without putting too much thought into their actions. A thing that happens when the human forces controlled by Superior Dominance attack Neska killings lots of Mu. The Mu have never felt loss before, leading to horrible space war on the trip to Earth and a blinded Jomy closed down to the idea of peace until the right moment comes.
I am not giving any credit to the other side of the conflict by Super Dominance. The other focus character is Keith Anyan, the chosen elite who is tasked with leading the human military. Surprisingly, given a lot more freedom than everyone else so he’s very human too. That makes their tactics much more humane, which is interesting considering the circumstances. Plus, his assistant is a Mu. It’s this interesting set of contradictions and him getting closer to an enemy that adds so much interest to him. Same with his relationship with Jomy which is much smaller here. It also is what provides the chance for Jomy to get through to Keith in order to unite the two sides in the end.
This film has a lot of strengths. It’s themes, it’s characters that you can get an idea from by their short snips and arcs in the story for its core cast, the meaning of the film, how beautiful it is, and how it covers Jomy’s journey from Atraxia to Earth and all the chaos and space wars in between. I do feel like the director had their stop watch out to limit how much time was put into each short arc to at least give the story enough context to continue to the next point. There is strengths and weaknesses to it. Strengths? It moves at a brisk pace and you can never get bored of the film. Weaknesses are that all of these things can be expanded on for a greater amount of context but there is a time limit. That is what the tv series is for I suppose.
Toward the Terra’s worst weakness is how completely unsubtle it is. This is partially the fault of the two-hour time limit of the film and how much it covers, but it’s also because every line of dialogue is either exposition or a character outright saying things. One could talk it Tomino talk because it was all the rage back then. I mentioned an interpretation of a line there in an attempt at humor earlier, but it’s still true. It’s very interesting for a series focusing on super human abilities and mind powers that there isn’t any external thoughts and mental exposition at all. Is that ironic to any else besides me? It’s ok if it’s just me, but it’s something so noteworthy about it. Still, the film helps itself to feel human regardless from these issues. Having a well-paced film can do a lot to make its content feel better and much more natural.
The Toward the Terra movie is a good space opera of a film. It examines what makes us human from the perspective of humans living by themselves with and without repercussions and humans that are controlled by the perspective of the not so controlled. A very thought provoking and beautiful looking film with a lot of great ideas and concepts. There are the flaws that I mentioned, the minimum amount of context for the space spanning movie and everyone deeply saying their thoughts, but that is at the cost of everything else. While waiting for the TV series, this movie is widely accessible for watching and I greatly recommend it.
That was a good review. I did like the original movie, but I still haven’t seen the remake. It did have very intriguing social commentary, but I do agree that it got preachy at times.
Also, am I the only person who thinks Soldier Blue looks like Cyborg 009 with a dye job?
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Yeah, I have a feeling that’s how writing was at the time because this is so Tomino’s writing style!
Oh I totally see it. I don’t know why i didn’t see it before hand.
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That makes a ton of sense and this came out during the peak of his relevancy. There were some things that I thought were brilliant in hindsight like when the Mu get their own city and do everything by themselves until the humans come in to raze everything. That indirectly reminded me of Black Wall Street which I mentioned in my review.
Hahaha! Now you can’t un-see that.
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Atraxia in Stargate is a planet whose inhabitants were slaves of the of Goa’uld until they were freed.
What it reminded me of first was ‘ataxia,” a medical condition where you have limited control of voluntary body movement.
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