The main male protagonist.
This blog’s ‘Anime of the Year 2014’ audition ends today with the review of TERRAFORMARS. Actually, I have already finished watching this Starship Trooper-esque anime last month, but only today I managed to write this blog entry. Technically speaking, this anime has a better storyline than the front-runner in the audition so far, but a certain weakness means that the winner of the audition has already been decided.
Sometime in the far future, where interplanetary space travel is already achievable on Earth, our main male protagonist become the world’s strongest man after defeating a huge bear in a cage match. Right after that, he was offered a chance to become Mars’ strongest man by fighting that planet’s native inhabitants – bipedal cockroaches, and he took the new challenge immediately.
This anime has, for quite some time since watching Ga Rei -Zero-, makes me open DomDomSoft Manga Downloader and download the source manga at Batoto. Then I read the manga all the way until I reach the same point as the ending of the anime. And from what I read, this anime is going to pay for issues I have identified in it, some of them spotted even before I read the source manga.
For me, this anime’s main overarching problem is its flashback management. For clarity, this anime has more flashbacks than the four previously reviewed anime titles in the audition combined. The amount of time where I exclaimed ‘Fuck You Flashback’ when yet another flashback interrupts the ‘Man vs Cockroach’ battles is uncountable. The huge amount of poor placement of flashbacks then has cascading effects that will then cause other problems for this anime down the road.
In this anime, there are two kinds of flashbacks scenes; the first one is flashbacks in the anime that is also flashbacks in the manga, and the second one is flashbacks in the anime but are normal scenes in the manga. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess which kind of flashbacks negatively affects this anime the most. Well, for those who are dense like your typical harem protagonist, that would be the second one.
The failure rate of the flashbacks of the second type is high; my estimation would be at least 90%. The failure of the first type of flashbacks is far lower, 20% at best. The decision by the director or writer for this anime; to not only present real-time scenes as flashbacks, but to also start the anime at volume two of the manga, failed spectacularly. No prize will be given for correctly guessing where the contents of the first volume of the manga has gone. Hint: It starts with ‘f’ and ends with ‘lashbacks’.
The massive failure in flashback executions also affect the presentation aspects of this anime, as you may expect. Due to the inappropriately placed flashbacks, the flow of the storyline is never smooth. This flashbacks problems also partially affects the pacing negatively; the pacing is slow for an anime title of this genre. I say ‘partially’ because some directorial decisions also contributes to this pacing problem. A good example would be the drawn-out arc for the electrifying German officer guy, where the same arc in the manga doesn’t seem as long as the one in this anime.
The main male protagonist and one of his colleagues.
Ignoring all those presentation problems, the storyline in this all-action anime title is quite good. I’ll say that it is even better than, let’s say, Shingeki no Kyoujin that has its own presentation problems. The few comedies in this anime is actually done quite well. The ending arc has several problems that preceding arcs does not have though. The plot of the ending is fragmented all over the place, with some key scenes in the manga removed. For example, the ending arc starts with a couple of Team 1 members stuck in a huge hole. The manga explained why they are there and how the hole formed. This anime did not bother to do that, as if the director is running out of time to flesh the ending arc properly.
The ending is written to accommodate a second season though, and from the amount of manga chapters remaining that I do not read, there should be enough material for one. This anime badly need one too, more than Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance deserves. As of writing, there is no news about one though.
If there is one thing this anime benefits from those huge amount of flashbacks, that would be character developments. While the flashbacks failed when it comes to advancing the story, it instead works fairly successfully for characters’ introductions and developments in this anime that has huge cast numbers and enormous amount of churn. Those characters introductions and developments are still done fairly well too in the manga, without using too many flashbacks. Therefore the director’s success of doing the same thing using flashbacks in the anime version of this series is probably the only positive aspect this anime has.
Anyway, it is hard for me to say who is the best character in this anime, mainly because despite of its numerous problems, this anime is more story-driven than character-driven. Maybe the German officer dude? Mainly because of his drawn-out last-man-standing battle arc, where many of its flashbacks actually made sense?
Character designs in this anime that is quite similar to what you can see in Shingeki no Kyoujin are equally below average. But not as unoriginal as the latter though, with distinctive designs for at least the major characters. Or at least what I think who is the major ones anyway. Color distributions for hairs is surprisingly even, matching nicely with the futuristic set up and the diverse background of the characters.
My biggest complaint in this section is directed to the main female protagonist, whose voice actress has the most inconsistent gig in this anime. At her best, her character performed decent enough in quality, but when she doesn’t, like in one of the flashbacks at the ending arc about the boxer, I started to think whether she is voicing a lady in her 20s or a 12-year old girl. Other characters in this anime are far more consistent than her, and I do not notice any flaw in their performances. There are no outstanding voice acting gigs here though.
This anime has done very well in this section. The OP and ED themes are great, and the OST fits well with this anime’s themes of violence (and slice-of-life too).
Is this CGI or transplant of a real-life footage?
Animation quality in this anime is good, whether for general of character animations. Also there is no problem in character compositions. This anime’s failed though when it comes to integrations of CGI and 2D animations; not very many of those integrations are seamless. As for the director, I think most of my complaints has already been aired at the story section above.
6 out of 10. The weakest entry in the audition. Therefore, the surprise winner of this blog’s ‘Anime of the Year 2014’ is Cardfight!! Vanguard – Legion Mate-Hen, and frankly speaking, I didn’t see this one coming especially after the performance of its previous three seasons. This will also make it that there are no perfect score winners for 3 years straight.