Anime Meta-Review


Towards the Terra


By Date




Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: flawed
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

Movie and then some, this slow moving 2 hour long sci-fi epic is only for the patient. The story is set in the far future, when earth has been polluted beyond any chance of habitability. The best mankind can do is abandon planet and wait for the eco-system to recover. In order to prevent the recurrance of such a tragedy mankind (assumably willingly) adapts to existance in a hyper-regulated computer controlled society. Amongst this society the elite, who have mastered themselves, are chosen to re-inhabit earth. Mind you, the computer is doing the selection, and the elite happen to be cyborgs incapable of resisting the computers will. This perfect world has only one flaw, the development of powerful human psychics called the Mu. The earth computer, "great mother", solves this by finding and killing all potential Mu. But some escape, including the character we follow who rises to a position of great power in the Mu. Thus we get to watch, from both sides, as the conflict between mu and human, and some less obvious sides, continues over the possession of the earth and control of humanities future.

It certainly sounds promising. And those with a `media student' bent who like to fill in the gaps by themselves might well enjoy it. But most normal anime fans are likely to find a disjointed and largely illogical story. You can sort of see how it is meant to fit together, but most of the actions and dialog (and there is a lot of talking) simply don't seem to make that much sense. Strong actions, obviously meant to be dramatic, occur but without a sense of why, or what, the character hopes to achieve it simply doesn't mean too much. Story ideas, such as the mu being psychic to cope with their weakened bodies, are introduced and then largely forgotten. Elements of social control, the `loss' of surrendering human destiny to machines and other aspects are raised and then dropped, extending the length but not strengthening the story. There are many other examples, which I won't spoil, but many of them simply seem evidence of a rambling plot with sizable gaps in the logic of what is going on. The final conclusion, despite an attempt at being meaningful, being one of the largest holes. Meanwhile there is a strange lack of energy to the characters, and precious few you come to care about. If you are a great fan of sci-fi, tolerant of slow pacing and willing to follow a story that has some arguable points, then give this a try. But most people will probably not find this worth the time to watch. It is quite possible that many of these faults come from compressing a manga `epic', but while that may explain it does not excuse this movie.

Then comes the production. This is older animation, but it was probably pretty good in its time. It is quite detailed and there is evidence of money being spent. The characters look a bit strange, but nothing that can't be coped with. The technical design is probably the most dated element, with a lot of the concepts and appearances matching a recognizably archaic model of what the future might look like. And this is not the consciously retro style, this is simply an image of the future that looks strange to modern eyes. However the most serious blow is in the motion. There's something very strange about the way characters move. This might be because they are quite detailed, and the movements attempted are quite complex, but it simply doesn't work. Your eye is drawn to weird hand movements, strange perspective and `gliding' characters again and again. This doesn't show up in action so much, mostly because the action is very limited. In fact I should emphasis that those hoping for psychic or space combat can largely abandon that hope, as there is fairly minimal action and it is not that good. Finish this off with some average voices, some nice symphonic opening stuff but some desperately dated 70's sounding japanese pop songs and there you are. Something that shows evidence of money, time and faith, but that has a couple too many flaws to recommend. After all, things can be old without being classics.

I'm delighted to find that the Anime Review has a very different opinion. In this review it admits that the style has dated, but champions the characters and stories as being strong enough to keep it a worthy watch. This is the only review from my regular sources, which leaves the matter somewhat undecided.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:26 WST 2009