Terra Formars was a weak action series with shallow characters and many failed attempts at adding depth. But hey, at least it was grim and gritty and we don’t get nearly enough grim and gritty works of media, if you ignore the tens of thousands too many that we get. Okay, so the last series ended with our heroes stranded on Mars. One full squadron has been killed, one is made up of traitors, and I’m sure it’s not the one that was reported dead but we saw alive and well, and our heroes have to find their way back to Earth with some living derp roaches in order to stop a disease. Let’s look at where things go in Terra Formars: Revenge, and see if we can find any reason to care.
We pick up where the last series left off. In this one the focus shifts to the struggle of the traitorous fourth squadron against the other squadrons, primarily the first and second since the fourth wants to capture what’s her name and that one guy. So, the 4th squadron takes control of the fallen ship, making it their base and goes all out, doing whatever it takes, to capture that one guy and whatever her name was. Meanwhile, the first and second squadron have to evade the derp roaches and find a way to strike back at the 4th squadron.
I will give this series some credit over the first. There’s a lot less of an issue with both exposition, since those scenes are shortened quite a bit for this one. There’s also less of a problem with solutions for various problems being completely pulled out of the writer’s posterior. This series focuses much more on largely mindless action sequences coming one after the other with the series’ attempt to add some depth betwixt them. That being said, flashbacks are a massive pain in this one. The first series used them quite a bit, mainly in attempts to make us care about the characters, but this one takes it to the next level. A lot of the big climactic stuff at the end gets interrupted by long, drawn out flashbacks. Plus, we get the same flashback of the protagonist boy talking to a sick child from the first series so many times you’d think it would be showing us how he learned that “with great power there must come great responsibility.” Granted, I wouldn’t have remembered such a dull scene without them doing a flashback but I didn’t need them to keep bringing it up. This series is also overly fond of fake-outs. The series loves to move things to a bleak note only to reveal that there’s still a glimmer of hope or that things went okay after all and we just didn’t see it. Here’s the thing with both flashbacks and fake-outs. They’re both useful tools when used in moderation but when they’re overdone, like they are here, they quickly become tired. Fake-outs in particular since they don’t work when you expect them. This series also has some tonal issues. There are scenes that attempt to add some levity which is a good idea, in concept. The problem here is that they’ll stick the scenes in randomly during moments that are supposed to be tense. For example, they have two characters who are surrounded by derp roaches and they insert a comedic bit about skunks, which just undermines the tension completely.
Again, the concept has potential and I do still give them credit for trying to be more than just mindless action, but the execution is just poor and the effort doesn’t ultimately mean much.
I feel like I could basically copy and paste my whole rant about the characters from the first series with some minor tweaks. I won’t, but I could. The big problem with the characters in this is just that they’re boring. There’s nothing to them beyond the same trite action archetypes that we’ve seen time after time. The most attempts we get at developing them are in flashbacks that serve to show us that they had equally bland families who they’re fighting for or some generically tragic back stories. But there’s nothing in there that really adds depth to them or that fleshes them out as a character. The result is that there’s no reason to care what happens in the fight betwixt squadron four and the others or betwixt the humans and the goofy roaches.
The roaches continue to be weak villains. Yes, they have numbers and they can overwhelm the heroes we don’t have any reason to care about, but at the same time they just look absurd. The changelings in Friendship is Magic looked scarier than these things. Plus, every major hero can still slaughter a large number of them with relative ease.
The artwork continues to be the area where I can give the series some praise. The backgrounds are nicely detailed. The human characters have some nice designs, particularly when you factor in their transformations. The action sequences, though incredibly violent, do have some nice intensity.
Like with the first series, I have to give the cast some credit. They take characters who really have very little to them and they still manage to turn out passable performances. Not good by any means, but passable. This time around Wada Takafumi handles the soundtrack and, I have to say, it’s not as good as Murai Shusei’s was in the first series. It’s all right, but that’s about the best that can be said for it.
There might be a little. There’s a girl named Hong who seems to have a thing for one of her comrades, Miss Xi. But it’s hard to say since the character interactions are so… meh.
That’s Terra Formars Revenge. It shares some of the weaknesses of the original, improves in some areas and gets worse in others. Overall, it’s a dumb action series that’s trying to be more, but failing. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s worse than the first series nor do I think it’s better. My final rating is going to be the same a 4/10. I still have no reason to care what’s happening. If your only issue with the first series was the excessive exposition that interrupted the action sequences, you might like this one better. If you, like me, were not fond of the first series or you didn’t bother with it because it didn’t look like something you’d be into, I don’t recommend this one either. If you really liked the first series, the flashbacks, fake-outs and comedic attempts might make you dislike this one but I suspect you’ll be fine with it. Next week I’ll take a look at Non Non Biyori. Until then, have a fantastic week.