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
Your and My Secret
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
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Anywhere But Here