To Terra… Reviews

With so much good modern manga out there (someday I will read Death Note!), I have to be a little convinced to go backwards in time. I mean, something can be historically important and great for its day but still a little clunky to modern eyes… which is what I thought flipping through a preview copy of To Terra… Volume 1.

To Terra cover
To Terra… Volume 1
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Then it started getting really good reviews, like this one from Shaenon Garrity. I still don’t know, though. It sounds like a plot I’ve seen many times before, and I can’t see that 70s art style (big eyes, flowing hair) without thinking of Star Blazers. I don’t know that the “kid secretly has mental powers with which he will eventually SAVE CIVILIZATION” plot really resonates with me.

I think I’m more in tune with Dirk Deppey‘s review, which says “it does give the story a whiff of the museum artifact — one must overcome a few preconceptions in order to be able to enjoy it” and “Whether you wish to continue onward to Volume Two, then, depends upon your willingness to excuse the elements that work less well — the cliche’s, expository dialogue, and endless information dumps — in order to enjoy the more baroque elements in drawing and design”.

Should I try it? Why do you think I’d like it? What other good reviews of the title have you seen?

(I just realized, I didn’t mean to set this up as Death Note vs. To Terra, but sometimes life does require those kinds of tradeoffs.)


  1. I really LIKE To Terra – even with the old style look and the cliches. Maybe it’s because I enjoy the movie and want to see the bits that were changed. In some ways it’s like the early X-men done with an epic twist. I’m enjoying seeing the conflict between Keith and Jomy and the society they come from.

    It’s not really like any of the manga you’ve reviewed, so maybe it really isn’t your cup of tea; but it’d be great for a change of pace. :)

  2. Variety is good, it’s true. There’s a movie?

  3. Yep, there’s a movie. Right Stuf offered it back in the 90s I think – though it was animated before then obviously. It came out under the title Towards the Terra. It doesn’t seem to be available anymore. Probably didn’t sell enough. :(

    The movie’s very much like the manga (or at least they match so far, though there have been a couple of significant changes). It’s a sweeping generational story and I’m a sucker for those. :) That’s part of the reason why I’m so excited about the manga. I want to see if the generational conflict gets covered in the book or if it was a movie add-in.

  4. There’s also a new TV anime version that’ll be broadcasted in japan soonish. I think RS only had the VHS rights to the older anime….. it’d be nice if they were able to get it and some of their other vhs-only releases out on dvd.

  5. I know this all boils down to personal tastes, but for me the “older” style of the art is much better to look at than a lot of modern manga. I enjoy the soft, round faces in To Terra and books like Cyborg 009 a lot more than the thin angular cartooning that pervades most of the stuff that’s currently really hot at Borders. Then again, I’ve only been reading manga for a few years, so maybe I just haven’t had the chance to get sick of older styles yet.

  6. I actually liked the art far more than the story, which reminded me of nothing so much as a mediocre plot outline for an early ’70s Gene Roddenberry TV series. It’s a borderline work… which, sadly, seems to be the curse of the Forty-Niners in English-language print.

    (If all I knew of Moto Hagio was her published output from Viz, I wouldn’t be nearly so enamored of her, either. A, A’ was decent enough, and They Were Eleven was okay, but you can tell that such later works as Mesh, Marginal and especially A Savage God Reigns are superior comics works even if you can’t read Japanese. “Hanshin” hints at the power of such works, and even it was drawn only at the cusp of what appears to be Hagio’s great artistic leap forward in the 1980s.)

    I’m interested enough in what I’ve read of To Terra so far to pick up the second volume, but only just so. If my funds were limited and it came to a choice between, say, To Terra and Nana (or even Strawberry Marshmallow), I’d put the former back on the bookstore shelf in a heartbeat.

  7. […] Comics Worth Reading Johanna rounds up reviews of To […]

  8. I’m incredibly soured on this title after seeing the movie a few years back, which I absolutely loathed. On the other hand, I’m very much in support of varied releases (beyond Shonen Jump / Shoujo Beat titles) and older manga, so I feel bad disparaging it up and down town. I would suggest trying it at least, though the lack of translation for the sound fx (I haven’t picked up Buddha, it may be done simiilarly) is disappointing.

  9. Also, only because it was brought up, I would be in favor of any reading of They Were Eleven (which is difficult since it’s out of print) or even a viewing of the anime (which is also out of print but surely the DVD is on Netflix).

  10. Dirk, thanks for elaborating. I’m a story-first reader, so that might account for some of my uncertainty.

    Carp, I have a copy of Four Shojo Stories, so I’ve read They Were 11. It struck me as interesting, but a bit … shrill? I had higher expectations than I probably should have had about it, but the treatment of gender roles definitely dated the work for me.

  11. You and I are sort of in similiar boats here Johanna. I saw this book in stores and thought it had a very striking cover, but the concept just didn’t interest me very much.

    With so much modern stuff out there, the Death Notes, Monster and the like. I doubt I’ll ever get around to trying this book. If there were less options it’d be something I would be open to. Yet thats what is so great these days, I don’t have to settle if I’m not 100% intersted in a title.

  12. […] Not only does Vertical put out classic manga, they also publish puzzle books. And the lovely and wonderful Anne sent me a copy of […]

  13. Hi, and thanks for your discussion of To Terra (which I haven’t read yet). I just discovered your blog today and I’ll definitely be spending some time here. Also, speaking of Hagio Moto, my Japanese husband and I just started a blog where we translate and discuss another classic shojo manga of hers, “Poe no Ichizoku”. It’s a complex, poignant story about a family of vampires who travel through time. Please stop by and leave comments–we’d love for this groundbreaking manga-ka to gain a much wider audience outside of Japan, and eventually want to translate as many of her works as we can (as you already know, currently very little is officially published in English) Thanks again, and I’ll be back!

  14. […] a sample at the publisher’s website. The obvious example for comparison is To Terra, another project with a similar back story, but this review argues it’s unfair to do so. […]

  15. “To Terra…” is a refreshing Story that is as important today as it was in 1977. The Art is unique, creative and genuinely epic. It’s narrative is well developed, mature and really does an excellent job of developing multiple characters in grand design.
    A worthy piece of Sci-Fi Manga that speaks in a prophetacal manner.

  16. It is very good

  17. […] tried to read To Terra… once before, three years ago, just after it came out. I didn’t make it through. It was so old-fashioned in both look and […]

  18. […] sell for her back in 2007, when it was first released: I tried to read To Terra… once before, three years ago, just after it came out. I didn’t make it through. It was so old-fashioned in both look and story […]

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