Everything comes to a giant battle between the two sides, but it’s all reflected in those that lead each side as well.
What They Say
The final battle is at hand! Keith Anyan has taken full control of the forces of humanity and is ready to do what ever it takes to stop the Mu from reaching Terra! With ruthless aggression and a cold heart Keith is ready to rid the world of these “genetic abnormalities!”
With the Mu ready to make their final push, Jomy rallies his people and prepares them for the task at hand. His journey into the position “Soldier” has been a trail filled with hope, despair, joy and sadness. Yet with all the trials and tribulations Jomy has become the leader that Soldier Blue had hoped he would become. Now with the fate of his people hanging in the balance Jomy readies himself to fulfill their destiny and honor the promise he made with Soldier Blue!
The stage has been set! As Jomy and Keith stand with their forces they both know what is at stake. The future of humanity!
Toward the Terra unfortunately is a series that didn’t merit a dub by Bandai Entertainment and it’s a shame since the show has such fascinating characters. The Japanese language mix is presented in its original stereo form encoded at 224kbps which has some good directionality and placement overall. The show is mostly dialogue driven throughout but the action scenes and the music in the opening and closings make out rather well with some depth and impact when required. There isn’t anything that stands out too strongly but it’s a solid mix that serves the material here well.
Originally airing throughout 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The visual presentation of this series is somewhat tricky as they’ve gone with a fairly particular style that doesn’t exactly give it a clean and pretty look. The series, especially at the start, has a good bit of noise to it that’s creating a grainy effect. That causes a lot of it to look more alive than it should at times, but it’s really only problematic when it comes to the gradients that are visible in some of the backgrounds. These areas produce a bit more blocking and movement than they should. The series is one that has a good color palette in general and the noise that is inherent in it works well enough so that it’s not too terribly distracting. Aliasing is pretty minimal throughout the show and cross coloration is virtually non-existent.
The Part Three edition of Toward the Terra is part of Bandai’s new experiment to see what might work, especially for titles that may be harder to sell. This release contains the same two discs as the single disc editions but the packaging is different. The two keepcases are wrapped in a simple thin cardboard piece which features a shot of a good chunk of the cast in various poses which is set against the background of the bright blue Earth. It’s not as cartoonish as the previous set, but it has a few elements of it to be sure. The back of the slipcover has a fair amount of text with the summary of the shows premise and a rundown of the eight episodes with titles and the discs features. Toward the Terra marks something new for Bandai Entertainment as it lists some of the technical specs in a better manner with an actual grid of sorts along the bottom. We now at least know what kind of audio tracks are on it and what kind of aspect ratio and whether it’s anamorphic or not. Hopefully these will continue with other releases and take on important bits that we see from other releasing companies.
The individual keepcases are made up of some different artwork from the slipcover for one of the volumes whie the other has the slipcover image. The fifth volume has a really great shot of Jomy and Tony together look out towards the distance with the Moby Dick in the background. It has a very good “space opera” sort of feel to it with a sense of drama and importance but not too much. The sixth volume mirrosr what we see on the slipcover but without the additional banner along the bottom denoting that it’s a two disc set. The back of the keepcases mirror what was on the slipcover but broken up to their respective volumes. No inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover to be found.
The menu layouts for the series are fairly straightforward pieces in that they’re set against a static background of stars. The right side has the navigation strip going down with basic access (but no top level episode access) while the left side has a display layout through which short clips from the show are playing back. All the menus load nice and quickly and they’re fairly easy to read even with the shadowing that’s playing around the text. Unfortunately, and strangely, the disc didn’t read our players’ language presets and defaulted to Japanese language with no subtitles on each volume.
Toward the Terra finishes out with a couple of really nice original extras to it which are very appreciated. The clean version of the opening sequence is included on the second volume. Also spread across the two discs is a new original video interview with the manga author in which they talk about the what Takemiya experienced back when she was part of the Year 24 Group as well as her feelings about the shows themes and what she wants to impart to English language fans. These extras have been wonderful and Takemiya is someone who you could listen to for quite awhile as she talks about various subjects related to the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Toward the Terra reaches its conclusion with this two disc set where the final eight episodes bring it to an epic conclusion. Like any good space opera series, it’s filled with big moments, large scale battles and so much hanging in the balance. Yet at the same time, it comes down to the human element, the choices that the characters make and what drives them to accomplish things. Good space opera revolves around the idea of something grand and important, a time in history where everything changes dramatically. Towards the Terra achieves that easily with its concluding arc.
But it does it with a price, which is the other key ingredient for make it a truly great show. After settling on Naska, the Mu have built up their peaceful life and are content to live it out there without bothering anyone. The Elders are worried for good reason about having humanity coming to discover them, but even they have to admit that things aren’t as bad as they could be since the defense are working very well. But all of that changed when Keith Anyan showed up and now the planet is besieged by mankind and their massive planet killer, the Meggidos. The final battle over the planet is spectacular as Jomy and Blue do their best to minimize things and work with the surprising group that comes to their aid at the last minute. But even that isn’t enough to forestall what Keith has in store and it’s one of those very powerful moments as the Meggidos is unleashed in full fury.
A fury that ignites something new within Jomy as an unexpected consequence. With so much death and despair around them, Jomy and those on board the Moby Dick change how they perceive their journey now and it’s almost an out and out cold vengeance that’s being served. Jomy’s intent to go to Terra is now reinforced with steel and he no longer simply talks about the goals and guides the Mu, but instead is giving out directives. This is disconcerting at first, but it’s working out well for the children that have survived the incident on Naska as they have little regard for humanity, or most of the Mu for that matter. With their parents dead, their bodies accelerated in growth and full of power, more than any other Mu short of Jomy, they’re the Elite of the Mu now and have no bones in making it known to the others. So when Jomy sets his sights on going to Terra, it’s just an excuse for them to exact revenge on mankind. They have no love or desire for Terra as Naska was their home. Yet they can’t seem to gasp that Terra wasn’t the home for the Mu either…
While the Mu is one side of the coin, the other is humanity and they’re not just sitting around during all of this. The main focus continues to be on Keith as he’s intent on destroying the Mu. After what happens on Naska, he’s given fast promotions through the ranks and before he knows it, he’s become a Senior Knight and is on a fast-track to become the head of state through some very amusing situations. Before that happens though, Seki Ray comes to haunt him from the grave as what he discovered is finally imparted on Keith. This revelation shakes him to his core and almost turns him into a real person and not the cold calculating creation that Mother and Grandmother have been molding him into for so long. Yet for all that he learns, Keith is still intent on carrying out the will of Grandmother and defending the SD System as it is what is keeping mankind safe.
Keith’s journey is as equally fascinating as Jomy’s but for different reasons. With a Mu at his side – something Jomy doesn’t have in human form – Keith is far more challenged and has more to deal with in his ascent. Watching him navigate this while making both friends and enemies, or at least loyal subordinates and enemies, Keith is fascinating to follow because it’s such a meteoric rise. And one that feels like it’s right in a way because of the time in history that is going on here. His role as the defender of humanity, especially as he ascends to Head of State as Jomy and the Mu are closing in on Noah and Terra, is one that certainly does feel like he was born for. But it’s one that he’s questioning in his own way even as he uses every available resource at his disposal to achieve his goals.
As Toward the Terra plays out, there are a good number of revelations about what’s really been going on along the way. The past with the Elder’s city that was destroyed is given a really interesting turn and there’s some fun stuff that’s brought in with Jomy’s parents as well. The things that Keith learns that helps explains his relationship with Physis also provides for some moments when you think back to when the two of them confronted each other. But the best areas come when both sides finally arrive at Terra and we see what the world is like and what’s really been going on there all this time. With it culminating in an actually meeting between the two sides and one with Grandmother, the scope of it all becomes clear, as does the insanity that’s behind it. Toward the Terra plays with some basic ideas, ones that get a little clearer if you watch the interviews included with this release, but they use the ideas in a way that are engaging and exciting while keeping to that epic feel. But it’s also these numerous little pieces that add into it and makes it all the more fun.
Quite frankly, Toward the Terra is one of the best series released during 2008 and these episodes only cement that opinion. Everything has a great space opera feel as it plays out an expansive yet personal story about what humanity means and what humanity needs. While there are oddities to it at times with the passage of time, overall it’s a fascinating and engaging story that really kept me rapt in attention. Though there are familiar themes along the way and it has a few moments where you want to smack the characters so they can move forward, it is by and large a solid piece of space opera storytelling with a shoujo feel to it. Those little nuances are more than enough to give it a very different feel from what it would be otherwise and that has made it all the more compelling. The “heart” of the series doesn’t feel tacked on because of that. Very highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening (type 2), Interview with creator Keiko Takemiya (Part 5), Interview with creator Keiko Takemiya (Part 6)
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.