Toward the Terra Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13+
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running Time: 100 Minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (Mixed/Unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Toward the Terra

Toward the Terra Vol. #4

By Danielle Van Gorder     December 23, 2008
Release Date: October 07, 2008


Toward the Terra Vol. #4
© Keiko Takemiya /MBSSky Perfect Well

This series continues to deliver with dramatic tension and unexpected brutality - not to mention the hellish cliffhangers.

What They Say:

Keith Anyan has risen through the ranks and is now a member of the Members Elite. His latest assignment is to investigate the strange occurrences in the Sylvester system. With this new task Keith is given a relatively young crew and an assistant by the name of Jonah Makka.

Physis has a very disturbing vision and is worried about her people. It seems this calm may be coming to an end and the storm is steadily approaching. Keith Anyan and his crew have arrived in the Sylvester system. They begin to scan the surrounding planets where the mysterious accidents have occurred. The crew finds signs of life on one of the planets and Keith begins his investigation. Due to interference the ships scanners seem to be inoperable. Keith decides to take a closer look. Upon entering the planet Keith is shot down. The crew is shaken and believing that he has been killed leave him behind. Makka tries to stop the crew but is overpowered by the others.

Jomy and the MU have captured Keith and hold him for questioning. Try as they might they cannot seem to crack him. Physis appears at the preceding and some how has a connection with him. The two seemed bound by a single vision. Who is this man and why do they share the same memories of Terra?

The Review:

Audio:

This show was released with just the original Japanese language track, no English dub.  It's a disappointing decision, as this seems like a show that could have widespread appeal with the right push.  The audio mix is in stereo, and there's some really nice directionality in some of the action scenes, although that's not really the focus of the show.  The dialogue and music sound clear and have some nice depth to them.

Video:

While this is a fairly recent show, presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with anamorphic playback, the design overall has a decidedly vintage flair, and it was animated in a way that really plays that up.  There's a good deal of noise and grain added in that would be more commonly associated with older cel animation, and while it isn't necessarily a drawback, it makes what should be large, flat areas of color look extremely busy at some points.  I noticed a little bit of macroblocking, although it wasn't widespread.  While the video isn't perfect, it really isn't too bad overall.

Packaging:

This is about as bare bones as a release gets, but it does what it needs to.  The cover, just as dramatic as the last, has Jomy reaching for what looks like Physis' spirit, along with the series title in both English and Japanese.  It's fantastically executed, with a rich color contrast that's very eyecatching.  The back has the series blurb along with lists of the episodes, DVD features, and extras.  And that's really it - no insert, no reversible cover, just the basics.

Menu:

The menus here are simple and easy to navigate, but quite appealing as well.  The standard navigation options are laid out on the right, with a futuristic orb that features rotating shots of some of the major characters on the left.  The background music is a beautiful instrumental piece that I wish ran longer.  Response times are nice and fast.

Extras:

Extras include a textless opening, part 4 of an interview with Keiko Takemiya, the creator, and trailers for other Bandai titles.  The interview offers some nice insight, and should make the fans who want more Japanese extras included very happy.


Content:

The Mu's peaceful time on Naska may be coming for an end, when Keith is sent to investigate the planet that they're hiding on.  When he crash-lands on the planet he's abandoned by his inexperienced crew and captured by Jomy.  But even the powerful mental probes of the Mu are unable to pry into Keith's head to extract what the Members Elite may know about the true location of Terra.  Meanwhile, Keith's subordinate Makka, himself a secret Mu, has managed to get a ship and returned to Naska to rescue him.

Physis, however, is deeply disturbed at the revelation that Keith seems to have the same vision of Terra that she does, and approaches him to try to figure out what it all means.  But Keith gets more from her than she learns from him.  One of the Mu decides that Keith is a danger to them all and needs to die.  When Jomy refuses to kill Keith, he moves on his own and triggers a tragic chain of events that ends with Keith's escape.  In the process, though, Soldier Blue is awakened from his catatonic state and confronts Keith, who has two hostages. 

Physis, for reasons even she doesn't understand, protects Keith at the cost of her freedom and possibly her own life.  Her inexplicable defense of him ends up triggering a chain of events that will lead to terrible death and destruction when Keith calls up a large-scale attack against Naska using the superweapon Meggido, capable of destroying an entire planet in an instant.

In Summary:

The tragedy knob was definitely turned up to eleven in this volume, and it ended on one hell of a cliffhanger, although the conclusion seems to have been pretty thoroughly telegraphed.  This show impresses the hell out of me - it never seems to go along predictable paths, instead choosing random twists that just work so well.  And the characters are just fantastic - especially Keith, who was tormented and kind of awesome before, but lacks only a black cloak and a shark pit as evil accessories in this volume.  I expect further twists with his character down the line as well, especially when we find out what connection he has with Physis.  His relationship with Makka is delightfully twisted as well.  Actually, Keith was such a powerful character in this volume that he completely overshadowed Jomy.  With this volume ending on such a high, dramatic note, it's hard to predict what's going to happen next, but I can't wait to find out.

Features:

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Toward the Terra Trailer, Interview with creator Keiko Takemiya Part 4

Review Equipment:
Panasonic DVD-S25S Progressive-Scan DVD Player and Panasonic TC-26LX85 26" Viera LCD 720p HDTV (Component Connection)

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