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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
21st-Mar-2007 09:44 pm
You know what's great? STEAM TUNNELS.


Also, Andrew posted this week's installment of The Chronicles of William Bazillion:


Yes, it's a rare Hitler-free week here at Chez Garrity-Farago. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun! Look, another installment of the Overlooked Manga Festival!

This manga just came out, so there really hasn't been time for it to be Overlooked. Consider this an advance intervention to prevent Manga Overlooking. Because I've been waiting for this one for years, and it's just too boss not to share.

As I've said many times before, 1970's shojo manga is the greatest manga of all. To Terra isn't technically a shojo manga, because it originally ran in a shonen magazine. But it's by Keiko Takemiya, one of the absolute greatest 1970s shojo manga artists, and it's been enjoyed for decades by boys and girls, young and old, people who like awesome manga and people who like TOTALLY awesome manga. It's such a pleasure to see some of Takemiya's work published in English, and I hope To Terra will be successful enough to convince Vertical to publish lots and lots of manga just like it. The first of three fat volumes is out now.

So. In the far future, humanity has abandoned Earth for distant planets and space colonies. Children are raised together in colonies set up exclusively for that purpose. When they reach adolescence, they're sent on to the adult world, with most of their childhood memories erased in the process.

The greatest dream of every individual, indoctrinated from birth, is to become worthy of assignment to the mother planet, the homeland, a distant and quasi-mythical world none of them have ever seen. To go...TO TERRA!

Hence the title.

There are, of course, complications. The elite, the young adults being groomed for Terra, must become perfect servants of the state. They must abandon not only their memories, but any interest in love or family. Yes, this is one of those future civilizations that's all about logic and emotion-squelching and wearing unfortunate jumpsuits.

Some aspiring Terrans get into the soul-crushing isolation, others not so much.

But never fear, for any deviant thoughts or feelings can be talked out with the local all-powerful and awesomely-drawn mother computer.

Ah, but this smoothly-functioning machine of a society has a wrench in the works: the Mu, a race of telepathic mutants that's been cropping up lately. The government screens children for telepathic powers and destroys any who display a touch of ESP, but Mu keep getting born and escaping to the underground. And they want to go to Terra, too.

Volume 1 introduces us to Jomy Shin, a rebellious boy with latent telepathic powers who's kidnapped by the Mu to become their next leader, and Keith Anyan, a coldly brilliant Terra-bound student who seems too perfect even for the elite. Obviously, these two opposites are destined to attract, albeit, this being one of Takemiya's shonen manga, in the rivals-locked-in-eternal-conflict sense rather than the Song of the Wind and Trees sense. See, this is why we need to translate more of her work.

(Okay, I just went over to Wikipedia and Takemiya only has a stub. An inaccurate stub. There's a Wikipedia entry for every single individual Pokemon, and this is the best they can do for one of the most gifted and influential cartoonists in manga history? NOT COOL, WIKIPEDIA. Quit systematically deleting everything about webcomics and get to work writing some damn articles.)


Outer space, oppressive futuristic societies, mutants, ESP...is there anything science-fictional this manga doesn't have? No. There is not. And Takemiya's art is just about crazy enough to handle it. There are times when the storytelling gets a mite confusing, especially when there's telepathy flying around, but it always looks fab.

As the above examples illustrate, To Terra looks so Seventies you can hear the Fleetwood Mac playing in the background, and in my mind that makes it perfect. I hell of love 1970s sci-fi movies where everything is made of molded plastic and softly diffuse light, whether you're talking about 2001 or Soylent Green. Anything with womb chairs rocks out. Takemiya fills her world with almost whimsically curvy, patterned, organic-looking technology and architecture, and she incorporates the style into her page designs as well.

Get the scientists working on the tube technology immediately!

But To Terra was published in 1977, the same year that a certain movie changed everyone's idea of what sci-fi should look like. And at a certain point in the manga, it becomes extremely clear that Takemiya has seen this movie. I am not talking about Annie Hall.

In Takemiya's defense, she does draw pretty boss TIE-lookin' space stuff.

For all of its space opera and shonen-manga silliness, To Terra has a hauntingly somber tone. All the characters are isolated, living artificial lives, sealed off from human contact and their own emotions, unfamiliar with the basic comforts of family and home. They're all homesick. It's that touch of sadness--and hope--that lingers long after the space battles.

Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here

22nd-Mar-2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, this is one of those future civilizations that's all about logic and emotion-squelching and wearing unfortunate jumpsuits.

You think fashion styles would get better in the future, but nooooo. I guess once you squelch emotions, fashion is the first up against the wall.
22nd-Mar-2007 06:40 pm (UTC)


22nd-Mar-2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
Ooh, Mymble!
22nd-Mar-2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
MOTHER COMPUTER ELIZA! Holy crap, my childhood babysitter.

22nd-Mar-2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
That reminds me a lot of Ender's Game. I'll have to read it some day.

By the way, Please Save My Earth recently ended. Any comments on the ending? (I haven't read the English one yet, but I skimmed the Japanese.)
22nd-Mar-2007 11:15 pm (UTC)

It ends about the way you'd expect: the characters actually talk for five minutes and realize they don't actually have much of a problem. Now I'm interested in reading the sequel series.
23rd-Mar-2007 08:04 am (UTC)
It's very cute. I was planning on translating it after I finish with Rose of Versailles, but we'll see if I have time for it. Do you know if Viz has any ideas about licensing it?
3rd-Apr-2007 11:13 am (UTC)
With PSME finished and my copy of the last volume of Banana Fish apparantly on its way to me I swear I'm gonna have to find two more addictions. Of course the other manga I follow (Swan being the worst offender) is now released so slowly I'll probably be following them for the next half decade.

I can't see Viz attempting another Saki Hiwatari series soon witht he mediocre sales of PSME but I also would love if they'd look at the sequel (which, I gather, isn't all that many volumes being published only so often--or am I wrong? I know initially it was just a 70 page one shot comic) or Global Garden. At least CMX's release of her Tower of the Future seems to have reached a more interesting part in the plot, and I'm enjoying it more. I have to say I don't really dig Saki's post PSME art as much as her earlier stuff, even when it was rough--it looks a bit too computer assisted or something--something in the shapes of her faces. Oh well

And I guess the chances of doing the volume of spin off/side stories for Banana Fish is about as rare--or anymore of Akimi Yoshida's work. Ah well again *sigh*

(For the record I really liked PSME's ending though I was a bit underwhelmed by it--the last volume didn't really have any major scenes that stuck with me long after reading it, the way the best volumes in the series have had).

3rd-Apr-2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but it's still a really solid work all in all. If you'd like to see the sequel, which is being published in Betsuhana, Hana to Yume's monthly magazine, go ahead and friend me and I plan on getting to it sometime over the summer. I had no idea Mirai no Utena was being released! Thanks for the info!! Her art has changed quite a bit, but I like it in the same way I like her older art. It does look a bit more juvenile. I'd like to see Global Garden translated too... I guess I'll just have to deal with it or work on it myself...
3rd-Apr-2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
It's one of my top manga--so I won't argue it. Thanks! I'll check on translations for the sequel in the Summer--I have the first chapter scanlated.... somewhere...

Mirai no Utena has been running for a bit over a year I believe. Typical of CMX, I'm not too surprised you never heard that it was. The translation was rough in the early volumes--although nothing as rough as CMX's shoddy work on early Cipher or Eroica or the mess they did with ballet names in Swan. I know many people (I think Shaenen commented on this somewhere here) found it disappointing at first--and it takes about 3 volumes before it really becomes anything more than a fairly minor high school drama. That said I found even the early volumes absolutely charming, and I got the sense Saki Hiwatari was just going for something much lighter. But by the volume we're at from CMX (vol 6 out of 11) we seem to have been thrust pretty much full force in the grander fantasy story arch.

I've only read early Global Garden from scanlations but loved what I read--I was surprised to read it's a relatively short series at 8 volumes (5 years ago I woulda considered 8 volumes a fairly long series--I guess that goes to show how my manga reading has changed, and what titles do get translated now).

I wish there was more English info on Saki-- I'm curious about her earlier work since in the PSME notes she makes lotsa references to it--stuff like how PSME is originally subtitled TOkyo Memory Arch (or something?) part 2? It was meant to be a loosely connected 3 part story about past and future lives but when PSME became so big she seems to have dropped interest in doing a part 3 for a while--I know the character of the Kyoto ESPer is apparantly from another of her works too... I guess I'll have to trodge thru the scanlations--I know one of her earlier works was partially scanlated.

3rd-Apr-2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
Actually, Mikuro appears in a later work, which I have. (It's sometimes published in an anthology with some of her older work, though, which may cause the confusion.) When I went to Japan I got all obsessed and bought all the stuff of hers I could find, though I am still missing some volumes of Global Garden. I haven't read all of it yet! The Mikuro story is short but it's all in dialect so I'm having trouble. Ah well.

The sequel was started but never finished, it was dropped. I tried to talk to the people who were working on it but they didn't answer my post. I'm just going to start translating it again, from the beginning, after I'm finished with Rose of Versailles, and I was thinking about doing Cosmo na Bokura, AKA Children of the Stars (or something) which is light high school drama, but cute. With witches.
4th-Apr-2007 12:05 am (UTC)
I swear in the PSME notes she mentions Mikuro was taken from an earlier work--but MAYBE it was an earlier work that either she hadn't published or fully worked out in her head... Still he's one of my fave characters so I'd like to hear what it's about...

Hahah if I were ever to go to Japan I'd be in trouble--I recently almost spent WAY too much on 34 odd volumes of the 40+ vol set to The Complete Keiko Takemiya which i believe was published in the early 90s (i lost the auction in the end which considering the price was prob for the best...)--I can't imagine what else I'd spend my money on, even without being able to read it, if I actually saw it for sale in front of my eyes...

After your frist reply I looked up Hiwatari scanlations and noticed that Cosmo na Bokura (which sounds atypical for Saki) was scanlated but the link led me to a sight it wasn't at any longer (if it ever was) so oh well... They also had a link to a scanlation which seems to have disappeared of Vivid Memories which I believe was the first of the three parter series of loosely connected stories that PSME is the second of. man I'd like to know more about it but, ah well, like most manga I'd love to find out more about it's all but impossible to find English (or French for that matter) info...

4th-Apr-2007 12:06 am (UTC)
Ack sorry for the reply to a reply--Ryuko, http://inanemanga.free.fr/himawari/ seems to be still scanlating the PSME sequel and they also have Vivid Memories scanlations there...

4th-Apr-2007 12:31 am (UTC)
I think I have Vivid memories too... I'll take a look in a bit. But it's super tiny so I wouldn't be able to scan it at all...
4th-Apr-2007 01:57 am (UTC)
Ah my main curiousity is why Saki refered to Vivid as the "first story arch" with PSME the second. I had assumed Mikuro had a small role in it too
16th-Jul-2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
I had no idea it was like that. I think I saw that video before, but I had no idea it was so political.
22nd-Mar-2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
There needs to be more sci-fi comics in which the futuristic societies squelch logic and efficiency and force unbridled creativity, emotion and LOVE, SWEET GLORIOUS LOVE!

It would probably be just as oppressive. And annoying.
23rd-Mar-2007 04:42 am (UTC)
There's a few books about that, by Iain M. Banks. They're called the Culture. And it is pretty oppressive, because the entire thing is run by a oligarchy/democracy of gigantic AIs. What's important about that series, though, is that it does not focus on the Culture itself, as the Culture is supremely boring story-wise (although you can get some interesting soap operas out of it, what with boys becoming girls to have another girl's baby and vice-versa. Then the girl attempting to murder the boy after the boy had pregnant lesbien sex with a mermaid. The girl then prevented her child from being born for thirty years until the AI/ship that allowed the boy and the girl to go to the planet of mermaids managed to guilt the boy into coming on-board so that the boy and the girl could talk.)

Largely the books focus on The Culture dealing with other races, like klingon-squid on PCP, people who name their ships Fist of God 121, and entire civilizations that have based their government on who can win a board game.
23rd-Mar-2007 04:02 am (UTC)
Sarge, why don't you write the Wikipedia article? At least once. I know the pain of having to give the smackdown on people who insist on switching back to inaccurate information, but if it's currently a stub, you shouldn't have a problem.
28th-Mar-2007 01:33 pm (UTC) - To Terra
I'm looking forward to the next volume. I've been waiting to read this every since I fell in love with the movie about 10 years are so ago. (Wow! Can't believe it's that long!) I really hope this will sell well enough to encourage Vertical to translate Moto Hagi's works and Rose of Versailles and Emperor of the land of the Rising Sun. You know - those epic works that sound so great when I read about them, but have never seen. :)

There's a sequel to PSME? What's it called? I so enjoyed the series. I wanted it to end so I'd find out what happened, but I hated it to end since it would be over. :)
4th-Apr-2007 12:34 am (UTC) - Re: To Terra
It's called Boku wa tsutsumu tsuki no Hikari which basically translates to "I am embraced by the light of the moon." It's about the offspring of some of the main characters!
31st-Mar-2007 11:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah for me it's unquestionably the manga release of the year so far. I actually didn't find out about it until *after* it came out and at first I really thought I had read a misprint--I had just given up hope near completely of ever seeing Takemiya published here.

I've already had to argue its cause to a few annoying "friends"--who claim to deeply love 70s shoujo but "don't like sci fi" or a host of other excuses. I'm not a big sci fi fan personally--but the appeal of the sci fi work of Takemiya (and Hagio) is far beyond that-- I think it's pretty important that anyone who wants any kind of future here for classic shoujo titles (since Vertical--to much IMHO pointless and silly internet brouhaha--for all intents and purposes seem to see Terra as shoujo) pick this up. I know Andromeda Stories (Takemiya's 1975 sci fi series) has already been promised for September and Vertical (much to my shock) has made rumblings about being interested in Kaze to Kino Uta...

Interesting too is just last week I found used copies of Takemiya's 1989 series Spanish Harem, a sort of bisexual love quadrangle story set in modern bohemian London. It looks pretty great but ti seems ot be the point where Takemiya's style became nearly unrecognizable from her classic look--more masculine and in many ways seems almsot as if she were inspired by the then "big name" in shoujo, Akimi Yoshida.

22nd-Feb-2008 11:44 pm (UTC) - !Hello!
30th-Aug-2008 02:17 am (UTC) - To Terra
I have no idea when this article was written, but I think shaenon does a great job reviewing these unsung heroes of manga.

In any case, I have not read this manga yet (i'm ordering it though) but I've seen the newly released anime series. Let's just say that after all 24 episodes (although I think only eight are out now) "To Terra" just doesn't strike me as a typical sci fi series anymore. The anime was presented so well that it made me sob straight through the series starting from the ninth episode.

I'm really looking forward to reading the manga.

Thanks shaenon for giving such a good review.
8th-May-2010 04:12 am (UTC)
Review about To Terra...:
The saga begins on educational planet Ataraxia, where Jomy Marcus Shin, a brash and unpredictable teenager, is nervously preparing to enter adult society. When his Maturity Check goes wrong, the Mu intervene in the great hope that Jomy, who possesses Mu telepathy and human physical strength, can lead them back home, to Terra...

You can buy To Terra manga at manga astore

Andy Landers


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