Thursday, June 7, 2007

To Terra...: That's where I wanna go someday

Man, I'm not sure what exactly to say about this one, so I think I'll go with the old "give a plot description and scan some pictures" method and see what I come up with...

To Terra..., volume 1 (of 3)
By Keiko Takemiya



So, this was one that was getting some attention for a while, probably because it's a bit different from the usual types of manga that get imported to the States. It's from the 70's, and it's by Keiko Takemiya, one of the "Magnificent Forty-Niners", a group of women who revolutionized shojo manga. I thought it was pretty good, but it's that Japanese style of science fiction that's all about psychic powers and stuff, which I sometimes find hard to follow. But any confusion kind of disappears (or gets put on hold) whenever Takemiya busts out some sort of awesome illustration like this one:



Anyway, the plot has to do with a sterile future in which emotion is frowned upon. Humanity has left Earth/Terra after depleting its resources, and now humans are birthed by a system of computers, raised by adoptive parents, and then given a "maturity check" which wipes their memories and sends them to be trained and eventually get to go where the title of the book indicates. We're told that robots have been terraforming Terra to make it livable again, but we don't get to actually see the planet, at least not in this volume, so I suppose it's possible that it's all a dream used to control the people. I guess we'll find out the answer in future volumes.

There's a bit of a monkey wrench thrown in the works of the computer-led society by the Mu, a race of psychically-powered mutants (in the X-Men sense; they still look just like humans) that have formed their own splinter society. The computer leaders want to destroy the Mu, who just want to live alongside humanity on Terra. The first half of this volume concerns a young man named Jomy Marcus Shin (gotta love those Japanese character names), who is nearing his maturity check unaware that he is a Mu. He is appropriated and taken in by the Mu, and they have chosen him as their new leader due to his immense latent psychic powers. There's a lot of angst, since he doesn't want to believe he is one of the horrible mutants, and many of the other Mu don't want to accept him, but eventually he takes over and begins to lead them as they try to go To Terra...

Then he disappears (for the most part) for much of the second half of the book, as we shift focus to a human space station and a somewhat emotionless young "Elite" named Keith Anyan. The Elite are the top rank of humans and the leaders of society, and they get to go To Terra... first. We see some conflict as he clashes with a rebellious young guy named Seki Ray Shiroe who looks a lot like Jomy. And then we learn his dark secret, which I won't spoil.

Anyway, it's an interesting setup, with our two main characters destined to meet in later volumes as the future of humanity is decided. I'll probably pick them up at some point, but I don't feel like I'll be checking shipping lists eagerly awaiting the next volume.

Anyway, how about some art samples? That's probably my favorite thing about the book: Takemiya's big spreads of science-fictiony stuff:





Since it was the 70's, the computers all consist of magnetic tape reels, dials, gauges, oscilloscopes, and blinking lights. I love it.



So I think it's pretty good, especially as a view of older manga that we don't see too much of in the U.S. It's $14.95, but it's almost 350 pages long, a bit bigger than a usual manga digest. Not a bad deal. I'm sure I'll be getting volumes 2 and 3.
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I've got at least one other book to review, plus comics from this week. Maybe I'll get to some of them tomorrow, maybe not. I'll keep you in suspense.