[Movie Review] Terra E…

Title: Terra E… (Toward the Terra / 地球へ… )
Year Released: 1980
Studio: Toei Animation
Length: 115 Minutes
Genres: Sci-Fi, Classic, Space, Action, Supernatural, Psychological, Shounen
Rating: Teen

Synopsis: In the five hundred years since Earth’s environment was destroyed and the planet came to be known as Terra, humans have created a society in space that is entirely logical. Supercomputers control the government, babies are grown in artificial wombs and assigned parents randomly, and at age 14, children take an “Adulthood Exam.” Humanity’s greatest enemy is the “Mu”—humans who have developed into espers.

When Jomy Marquis Shin’s birthday arrives and the time comes for him to take his Adulthood Exam, he is shocked to learn that all of his childhood memories are going to be erased. Suddenly, he hears the voice of Soldier Blue, the leader of the Mu, calling out to him to hold onto his memories.

Jomy makes his escape on a Mu ship and is shocked to learn that he himself is an esper and that the government has sentenced him to death. Nearing the end of his life, Soldier Blue transfers his memories to Jomy and names him the next leader of the Mu. Now, Jomy has a choice: keep the Mu in hiding, or declare war on humanity to realize their dream of returning to Terra. (MAL)

 

Hello everyone! I don’t often watch classic media, whether they be classic films or classic anime, but I recently had the opportunity to watch the original Terra E… movie and wanted to share my thoughts on it.

AngryAnimeBitches covered the 2007 Terra E… anime series as a random review from (now retired writer) Charibo back in 2016.  (If you want to read their review, you can do so here.) I don’t know if I’ll actually get as far as watching the TV series now that I’ve seen the movie and I don’t know if the minor differences between the two media adaptions justify watching the series. (In the meantime I’ve just admired the gorgeous character and conceptual designs from the TV series – hello Nobuteru Yuki from Vision of Escaflowne! I recognized their art immediately.  ^_^b)

The premise of the movie is the same as the anime, as you can read in the above synopsis.

You might be asking, why are both humans and the Mu trying to get back to Earth? A very long time ago humans depleted Earth of its resources to the point where the decision was made to leave Earth (with only a few humans and a supercomputer left behind to safeguard it) and colonize space. This would give the Earth time to heal and become stable enough that humans could hopefully one day return and live there again. Hence the title Toward the Terra (Earth).

The main character of the series, Jomy, is contacted by the leader of the Mu on the day of his 14th birthday as he is taking his adulthood exam. Jomy is revealed to secretly be a Mu, and the Mu’s leader, Soldier Blue, helps him escape from the human soldiers sent to kill him. Once Jomy is safe on the Mu’s ship, Soldier Blue tells Jomy that he is dying and he wants Jomy to be his successor. Soldier Blue, along with the psychic Mu Physis, are convinced that Jomy is immensely powerful and is best suited to lead the Mu back to Terra. Jomy has no mental powers when he is initially brought onboard the Mu’s ship but they awaken a short while after his arrival.

The antagonist of the series is a strange young man about Jomy’s age named Keith. Unlike Jomy Keith is human, but he has some deep ties to Superior Domination which eventually reveal his true identity when Keith attempts to learn more about his past.

I won’t go too far into the plot of the movie because if you’re familiar with the anime series then you already know how the plot goes. (And if you haven’t seen the 2007 series, go read Charibo’s review because they did an awesome job covering it.)  Instead I’d like to talk about the differences between the two adaptions and my thoughts on the movie.

First and foremost, the two biggest differences between the 1980 movie and the 2007 TV series are obviously the time crunch and the quality of the animation. The 1980 movie is only 115 minutes long, meaning there is only so much of the manga that can be fit into a two hour movie. There is at least one character in the manga who never makes it into the movie (the kid Seki Ray Shiroe), and a couple of characters who either exist only in the anime or who had expanded roles in the anime, including Jomy’s childhood friend Swena Dalton and Keith’s friend Serge Sturgeon, respectively.

Other differences include Jomy never returning home after he is found by the Mu (he does in the TV series), the natural-born Tony’s parentage (Jomy and Karina in the movie, Karina and Yui in the TV series), how some characters die, and what happens to Jomy’s childhood friend Sam (explained more in the anime but either skipped or glossed over in the movie. Though to be fair I might’ve dozed off and missed that part). I’m also told the movie has a different end compared to the TV series, and Wikipedia even mentions that Jomy’s fate varies in each version (manga vs movie vs anime).

What I do like about the movie is that because of its limited format, it has a very cyclic feel to me due to its several timeskips. After Terra E…‘s initial plot setup and character introductions, the movie has Jomy and Keith coming together every few years to try to further each race’s ultimate goals. For Jomy he wants to lead the Mu back to Terra, but he also wants to find a way to live alongside humans in peace. Paradoxically, Keith has a hatred for the Mu which has been brainwashed into him by Superior Domination; he spends the majority of the movie trying to eliminate the Mu and keep them from reaching Earth.

As for the movie’s animation, well, there’s not much to say. It’s from 1980 so I imagine to many people it looks somewhat archaic. However while I was watching Terra E… I found myself smiling at seeing a traditionally animated title. It feels like these are much rarer in today’s modern age of anime, what with everything being animated on a computer or made partially/completely with CGI. I will always appreciate innovation and production companies which experiment with newer technology but I think old school animation will forever be my favourite.

 

Do I Recommend This Title?: If you’ve seen the Terra E… TV series, I recommend giving the movie a try if you can find it. I believe it’s available on DVD now.  If you’re a fan of “classic anime,” I feel like it’s worth watching if only to be able to say you’ve seen a great example of classic Japanese animation.

Final Score: 8/10

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