TITLE: Terra Formars vol. 1
YEAR: July 2014 (USA release)
COMPANY: Viz Media
Story by Yu Sasuga
Art by Ken-Ichi Tachibana
In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.
First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump” and an OVA and anime series slated later this year, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey.
With nine tankobon volumes published in Japan, “Terra Formars” vol. 1 will be released in the United States in July 2014 courtesy of Viz Media (on the Viz Signature imprint).
What is “Terra Formars”?
With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.
Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.
Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.
The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.
As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.
The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.
As the Japanese members, Shokichi Komachi and his childhood friend Nanao Akita try to make contact with one of the beings, the humanoid cockroach snaps Nanao’s neck.
And now the humans have become the hunted.
Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).
But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?
In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.
But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s manga series so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.
It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect. Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.
Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape. So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.
And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless. And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.
As the first volume features humanity discovering these aliens for the very first time and how they were created, the final pages goes to show that something unfortunate has happened and now humanity is in deep trouble.
Suffice to say, I have been wanting to read “Terra Formars” since it was released in Japan. Seeing various celebrities in Japan showing their love for “Terra Formars” (especially Takahashi Minami, captain of AKB48), the storyline has no doubt become a tremendous hit and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series!
The artwork by Ken-Ichi Tachibana is magnificent. Characters are well-detailed, artwork is just pleasing and the action is well-featured. And of course, the writing and research done by Yu Sasuga has really made “Terra Formars” a fascinating and captivating series.
Overall, the hit manga series “Terra Formars” will now be released in the USA and for any manga fans out there, this first volume is highly recommended!