Based on the Japanese manga series written by Sasuga Yū and illustrated by Tachibana Kenichi, Terraformars is a sci-fi horror anime series that on paper sounds remarkably similar to Starship Troopers minus the camp.
In the early 21st century with Earth’s resources tapped out humanity turned to Mars to terraform and colonize. Needing to spread a special algae that would transform the atmosphere and make it breathable, they sent cockroaches whose dead bodies would easily spread the algae into the atmosphere when they broke down. 500 years later an expedition was sent to Mars and its six crew members end up being attacked by giant mutated humanoid cockroaches with vast physical strength. The giant cockroaches, now called “Terraformars” completely wipe out the six-person crew, but not before they can get a warning back to Earth. Two years later, the Earth sends the Bugs II expedition of humans genetically modified with DNA of other creatures and a special organ to go to Mars and capture male and female samples of the terraformars, but only two of them survive. Now the Earth gears up to send a third expedition to eradicate the mutated cockroaches each of the crew members undergoing the dangerous procedure that only has 36% success rate. The crew not only has to face the powerful cockroaches, but back on Earth corruption and other machinations plague the mission putting everyone’s lives in jeopardy. They also find that they have to deal with more than just mutated cockroaches, but a percentage of other mutated bugs that somehow slipped through to Mars as well.
While the animation in this series looks absolutely gorgeous – or even grotesque, as the case may be when it comes to the terraformars – the story can become a bit tedious and repetitive. When the season begins, it introduces us to the band of warriors who will eventually fight together on Mars. This is the strongest part of the series, but sadly the shortest. We meet a guy, Shōkichi Komachi, for example, who turns out to be one of only two people born with the special, bug-like ability and he’s been using his talents in a sort of underground fight club. The back stories for the characters is often powerful, but skipped over in favor of the gore and gross-out battles against the bugs.
The action is bang-up, balls-to-the-wall, nonstop, edge of the seat thrilling. But it gets a little tiring after a few episodes watching the big brown stupid bugs go splat. There could’ve been a lot more done with this series, but much of the potential was ill-used.
Terraformars comes to Blu-ray in an AVC 1080p encodement from Viz Media. Having never seen the series I really can’t say if it matches any televised or streaming version as far as the quality, but it didn’t impress me on this Blu-ray release. I saw a lot of color banding and some video noise. At times it looked far worse than some streaming content I have seen. Could it be a case of a low quality master provided to Viz? Possibly. It doesn’t look absolutely horrendous, but it is certainly not even close to reference quality material on Blu-ray compared to other release.
I was not too enamored with the sound quality for Terraformars, especially not the original Japanese stereo mix, which is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo. Compared to the English dub, the Japanese mix is pushed to the max – meaning it is loud and doesn’t have much headroom, so the dynamics aren’t there and it sounds bit distorted during all the loud sound effects. The English dub sound more relaxed with better mastering and more headroom for better dynamic range and the voice cast does a great job as well, so take your pick.
We get a pretty good set of behind-the-scenes ‘making of’ interviews with the English cast and crew from Viz Media for Terraformars covering much of the production. Additionally there is an on-disc art gallery and the usual clean openings and closings.
- Art Gallery
- Clean Opening/Endings
- English Interviews:
- Interview with Erica Lindbeck (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:05)
- An Interview with Chris Niosi (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:29)
- An Interview with Patrick Seitz (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:10:05)
- An Interview with Viz Media’s Terraformars Team:
- Part 1 – Mission Start (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:13:43)
- Part 2 – Spec Op: Localization (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:14:23)
- Part 3 – Mission Complete (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:09:15)
- Japanese Trailers
The Final Assessment
Awesome action, eye-popping artwork, and some lost opportunities make for a frustrating series that is not terrible, but not as good as it should have been.
Terraformars: The Complete Season 1 is out now on Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack from Viz Media
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