How do I even blog this episode? I’m not sure that I can. But I guess I’ll give it one more shot. If next week’s episode is more of the same, however, I guess I’ll just have to drop the anime from my schedule. Anyway, why do I think this episode is so hard to blog, you ask? Well, usually, I’ll dissect a show’s characters and their motivations. That’s what I primarily do on this blog. It’s not because I think the characters are the most important component to any given anime. I simply do this because I feel like this is what I do best. Sometimes, however, a show doesn’t have interesting characters to analyze. As a result, I’ll focus instead on the show’s storytelling. I do this a lot with a show like Sword Art Online. Does it have good pacing, does the drama work, is the rising tension effective, so on and so forth. So here’s the problem with Terra Formars: I can’t talk about either of those things. I simply can’t.
In terms of storytelling, here’s the only thing that happened: a roach tried to hijack the escape vessel, but Akari manages to free the rest of the unit. He then beats the roach up with some help from Alex. As for Michelle, she struggles against a diving beetle type roach… for the entire episode. As you can see, nothing really happens in this week’s episode. The story’s pacing has absolutely ground to a halt. I can’t believe this adaptation is only going to be thirteen episodes long, because if things stay at this rate, we’ll never get anywhere! Not only that, this week’s episode is hardly any different from last week’s episode. Last week, we saw Marcos, Michelle, and Akari beat roaches up, right? Well, replace Marcos with Alex, and voila! A new episode! There’s literally nothing to comment on when Michelle spends minutes choking a diving beetle to death with her legs. That’s literally all she did.
So can we talk about the characters? Not really. Since Michelle spends 99% of the episode underwater, she barely even has anything to say all episode! She has no characterization this week. None. She chokes a roach to death and that’s it. You can’t say anything else about her. Her mentality, her motivations, her fears — whatever it is, you can’t talk about it. The other two primary characters don’t fare any better. Akari, uh… doesn’t give up, I guess? But at the same time, he’s pretty disdainful of the roaches: “I’m pretty sure that was the effect of inertia… I think. There’s a lot of things you need to learn in science….” That’s pretty big talk from a group of humans that is having so much damn trouble with these roaches. In fact, these roaches have learned how to pilot an escape vessel in just 500 years. If anything, it sounds like Akari’s the dummy. But anyway, like I’ve said, there’s nothing else to say about Akari. He also doesn’t receive much if any characterization.
Ah, but it’s a fighting anime, so we should talk about the fights! Well, that’s still hard, because Terra Formars doesn’t do fights well. Again, Michelle spends the majority of the episode underwater, so she doesn’t really have a “fight” scene. She chokes a bug to death, so there’s no choreography to that. She just “squeezes” the roach with her legs, but since we can’t even see the squeezing, it just looks like her legs are perfectly still. In fact, the episode does a poor job of conveying the sense of drowning or or the urgency due to the fact that Michelle is running out of time. Hell, it doesn’t even feel like they’re underwater. At one point, she twirls around and starts choking the roach as if there is nothing impeding her movements. The anime does nothing with the scene. That’s why the narrator has to show up and explain what you’re actually seeing. The animation isn’t good enough to tell the story, and the studio even knows it. That’s why we need a narrator to flat-out tell the story.
The fight between Akari and the grasshopper roach isn’t much better. He gets beaten up, then he says a few words, then he beats it up. Woo… There’s a lot of wasted potential here, too. After all, our two combatants are on a runaway escape vessel. It’s careening through the air without a top. But do we ever feel as though Akari and the grasshopper roach are high in the air, traveling at super high speeds? Do you ever feel as though there’s even any wind around them? Is there even any movement to the setting even though they’re literally on a flying ship? No, no, no. Hell, their “battlefield” seems relatively calm! There are so many things they could’ve done. Make the vessel tilt from side to side, maybe. Make the vessel experience some sort of turbulance, maybe. Have more debris distract our fighters, maybe. Have them go through a low-hanging cloud, maybe. For fuck’s sake, do something! Don’t just stick them on a flying ship and call it a day!
Akari and Michelle both fight their opponents in two different extremes. One happened high up in the air; the other happened underwater. And both times, it never felt as though the elements were really palpable. Anyway, like I’ve said, if next week’s episode is just more of the same, I’m dropping Terra Formars. It’s just not worth the trouble.