Terra Formars Volume 1 Review: Good Idea in Theory

While an idea for a manga may sound great on paper, there are some occasions where it doesn’t translate well into an actual story. This is certainly the case for Terra Formars, a sci-fi action packed manga. It is a disappointing to admit, but Terra formars was not as good as I had hoped it would be. In a story about killing monstrous space cockroaches, what could possibly go wrong? In short, everything.

Terra Formars takes place in the 26th century. After countless years, Mars has been terraformed so that the human race has another planet to live. Earth is getting far too crowded and resources are growing scarce. So how did they terraform Mars? By throwing cockroaches up in space. But of course, following a tired old sci-fi cliché, the cockroaches have mutated and evolved into new creatures and absolutely hate humans for no real reason in particular. So now a group of elite genetically modified humans that can partially transform into humanoid bugs are sent to Mars to exterminate the cockroaches. Unfortunately, the artist picked the worst possible design for the cockroaches. Unfortunately, the cockroaches are basically the lovechild of a Titan from Attack on Titan and a real cockroach as opposed to the ‘next stage of evolution for cockroaches’.

There are fifteen people on this extermination team, however not one of them is remotely interesting or likeable. In fact, they are so forgettable that it is impossible to feel anything when one of them is killed. There are only brief exposition spewing moments of backstory for some of the characters, which doesn’t really seem needed, given most of them die off really fast without much closure. If the writer was trying to get readers to care about the characters, it did not work. But they did manage to assemble a cast of bland characters to get butchered in what is essentially the manga equivalent of a film like Alien Vs Predator. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but the story tries to take itself far too seriously.

While there are intensely gruesome, yet well drawn fight scenes, Terra Formars breaks up the action by shoveling in loads of exposition down the throat of the reader about each particular character and the insect that their powers are based on. This seems pointless given that in most cases the character in question is dead a panel or two later. Honestly, it would have been better to leave all that excess out and put it in a glossary or something.

The final nail in the coffin for Terra Formars was a “surprise” twist involving a discovery that implies that Earth and Mars were inhabited by some alien race that is only briefly mentioned at one point in the volume with no real explanation as to who or what they are. On top of this, Terra Formars also attempts to get philosophical about the never ending battle between man and cockroach, but fails to have the desired effect. Overall, it feels like Terra Formars wants to tell a story but tries to cram too much into 205 pages without any regard or consideration for the pacing.

At the very least, the art style of this manga is one of the few things that goes well for Terra Formars. The drawings are clear, consistently good, and it’s easy to tell what’s going on in each scene. This also includes the depiction of gore since this is a particularly violent manga. Expect to see blood and guts galore, so this isn’t exactly for those without strong stomachs or the faint of heart.

Terra Formars had a great concept, unfortunately that concept fell apart somewhere along the way. From the art style alone for the most part, Terra Formars had a great deal of potential. Unfortunately Terra Formars was burdened with a flawed story that lacks any decent pacing in addition to sacrificing good opportunities for character development in favor of mindless fight scenes. While there is nothing wrong with a manga that is mostly about the action instead of the story, Terra Formars tries to be both and it fails horribly. Honestly, my only recommendation is to avoid Terra Formars at all cost.