Jan. 7th, 2011

starlady: (clover)
Takemiya Keiko. Terra e… | To Terra… vols. 2 & 3. Trans. Dawn T. Laabs. New York: Vertical, 2007. [1977-80]

I read the first volume of this classic sf epic in Japanese about two years ago, which, combined with the manga's frequent long time-jumps, made remembering exactly what was going on a bit difficult initially.

Oddly enough, I would bet money that this story ends on a way bleaker note than Andromeda Stories, but I have the feeling that in the end I'll like this one better. As soon as I actually finish Andromeda Stories, I'll report back on that.

The plot of the manga revolves around humanity, which in the far future has given over control of itself to a system of supercomputers in an attempt to a) re-terraform Earth (Terra) so as to make it eventually habitable again and b) keep humanity free of the corrupting influence of the Mu, a sub-species (?) of humanity that develops enormous psychic powers in latency, concomitant with a greatly lengthened lifespan and decreased physical strength. As part of this, humans are conceived in laboratories at the computers' direction and live segregated by age: some planets contain only children, while others are reserved for adults, and a rigorous educational process serves to separate out those who are Mu from 'normal' humans. Jomy Marcus Shin believes he's human like everyone else until he undergoes his maturity testing and finds out he's a Mu; eventually, at the behest of the Mu leader Soldier Blue, Jomy accepts his destiny as Blue's successor and leads the Mu in rebellion to the planet Nazca, where they make a temporary settlement and fall to bickering about whether to attempt to regain Terra, their promised land.

Volumes 2 and 3 cover the decision (not without cost) to abandon Nazca and press on to Terra, at the same time as the Mu and Jomy are pursued by the ruthless Terran elite soldier Keith Anyan, who like the Mu prophetess Physis was born entirely from the computers, using synthetic DNA. Keith's rise to power is shadowed by his aide Makka, a Mu who grew up too far out to be put through the educational system and whose loyalty is thus to humanity. For his part, Jomy (who by the end of volume 2 has stopped using his eyes, voice, or ears, instead communicating and perceiving the world entirely through telepathy) is aided and bedeviled by the Nazca Nine, Mu children who were born naturally on Nazca and whose powers are equaled only by Jomy's. The ending is…spectacular.

I liked this manga, though I was sort of shocked by the ending, and it's partly because Takemiya is really good at conveying emotionality, even as she keeps the plot moving at a blazing clip. The characters, and the impossible positions in which they find themselves, stay with you after you finish reading. I really want to watch the 2007 anime, too, since Wikipedia tells me the endings are slightly different. This is yet another nice Vertical release that sold horribly; if you're ever at an anime con with a Vertical booth, they will be more than happy to have you take copies off their hands.