To Terra #1 by Keiko Takemiya Manga Review

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Title:  To Terra #1

Author: Keiko Takemiya

Publisher:  Vertical

ISBN:  1932234675

May Contain Spoilers

Precocious Jomy Marcus Shin, is nearing his Awakening, his 14th birthday.  Around that landmark day, the young teens of Ataraxia are put through maturity checks, where they are sorted for their future lives according to their aptitudes.  They are also secretly tested for any lurking telepathic ability, and cruelly purged from the system if it’s detected. 

After the near destruction of Terra, the Superior Domination regime took control to save humanity from corruption and decay. Children are no longer the product of marriage; they are carefully engineered by computer, and raised by foster parents chosen specifically for each child.  Adults and children live separate lives, and only after Awakening do the children learn about the system they’ve been groomed to be a part of.  They all share a dream of returning to Terra one day.

Jomy has always been a bit of a rebel, and it turns out that he’s a Mu, a human with telepathy.  Hated for their abilities, they are quickly disposed of once detected during the maturity checks.  However, with the assistance of other Mu, who live in secrecy on a stolen spaceship beneath the surface of Ataraxia, they help Jomy escape and lead him to their hiding place.  They hope that Jomy, with his ESP and human strength, will lead the Mu back to Terra. 

The second half of the book focuses on Keith, who lives on Station E-1077 and is on the fast track to becoming an Elite.  Keith is a top student, but after meeting newcomer, Shiroe, he suddenly finds himself full of questions and doubts regarding himself and the society he lives in.  After Jomy and the Mu contact the station telepathically, everyone on the ship is effected by memories of the past, save for Keith.  Now desperate to learn the truth about  himself, he’s willing to venture onto Floor 001, which is prohibited for all the students on the space station.  What secrets will Keith discover?

Ah, To Terra.  The book that caused such an uproar just a short time ago, because the publisher, Vertical, marketed it as a “shoujo sci-fi.”  If you’re really all that concerned with the history of this story, it was originally published in a boys’ magazine. I’m still not sure what the fuss is about, as it was thirty years ago, before many of the English version’s readers were even born.  Which magazine it was first published in doesn’t change the content of the story, or effect the impact of Keiko Takemiya’s vision.

This was a good book, regardless of its originally intended audience.  Jomy, at first a bit of a brat, quickly becomes confused and resentful when he’s finds himself on the Mu ship.  Everything that he’s been programmed to believe has been carefully crafted to best serve the Superior Domination.  The system works hard to protect itself, subjecting children to ESP checks and constantly keeping tabs on their every move. When Jomy expresses concern that he won’t ever be able to see his foster mother again, she reacts by contacting Universal Control to report his emotional instabilities.  A mother’s love is such a special thing…

The Mu are physically weak, but Jomy possesses a strength that their leader, Soldier Blue, believes will lead them to Terra.  Despite the objections of his crew, he wants Jomy to lead the Mu after his death.  As for Jomy, he’s forced to an early maturity when Soldier Blue shares his three centuries of memories with him.  Rejecting them at first, he soon awakens to his Mu powers and begins to accept his role amongst the Mu. 

The art is definitely old school, with big, sparkly eyes dominating Jomy’s features.  His world is well envisioned, from the sterile surroundings of Ataraxia, to the vast reaches of stars that Space Station E-1077 slowly churns across as its inhabitants are carefully brainwashed into perfect citizens.  The drama is easy to follow, and the page layouts kept my interest through all 300+ pages. 

To Terra is an engrossing ride through the stars, where young Jomy struggles with his awakening powers and his new responsibilities.  Not entirely accepted by the other Mu, he’s considered a brute and a barbarian, with  tenuous control over his abilities.  His counter-part, Keith, was the perfect by-product of the S.D. training program.  Suddenly questioning himself and the system he’s been raised in, he’s struggling to understand his conflicted emotions.  I’m looking forward to the next installment of the series, so I can get caught up in the drama all over again. 

Grade: B+

Thanks to Vertical for providing a review copy of To Terra #1.