After humanity’s first manned mission to the Red Planet was lost, a second expedition arrives. The explorers prepare to exterminate the cockroaches that were used to transform the Martian environment, but are shocked to discover that the insects have mutated into giant, aggressive humanoids with one overriding goal—exterminate the humans! However, this crew of explorers has each undergone the “Bugs Procedure,” terrifying experimental surgery designed to make them more than human…
Terra Formars is pretty much the only manga I've ever heard of that is "known" to be blatantly racist. People told me about it but I thought they were all just exaggerating. Boy was I wrong. The racism is so obvious that it's comical. I'm not going to give a long explanation or anything but it's racial caricatures of black people as roaches are pretty in your face and unapologetic. I put the manga down and didn't pick it back up again out of disgust but apparently from what I've read online is goes even deeper. References to Hitler, characters named Adolf and Eva, and the savior of the human race being a blonde haired, blue eyed, "black foe" killer was all I needed to know that I'd never read this piece of garbage ever again.
As my esteemed colleague Vegeta20 has said there are some racial "miscues" that are sprinkled in here, but to be honest, Japan doesn't care, I don't care. I may be white as frosty the snowman but this is the first I heard of it being racist. Not only that there was only one time during an end of a chapter well into ch.150+ that it was even there. But like I mentioned until right now I didn't connect the two and who cares it's a great story with pretty brutal(good) fights. Again as I've mentioned in other reviews I'm a fan of ranking systems and this has plenty of that. I don't want to put down other reviewers but Vegeta20 is childish to think that not reading it or endorsing it will make all the wrongs right and he's punishing the publisher with his loss of sale. They don't care. Racist or not, honest or not they will continue until the story gets stale. I have not idea where Vegeta20 left off nor do I care if he can't see before his rose-tinted glasses and read things that may clash with his morals or views. Not only that he didn't even rate it(nor any other manga), other than his biased review "I put the manga down and didn't pick it back up again out of disgust but apparently from what I've read online it goes even deeper," so not even your own opinion but those of others. There was an Adolf and Eva who were German but no mention of Hitler as far as I can recall. No there is no "savior" who blonde hair is blue-eyed, read the manga and you'll find who that is and what his purpose may be. Btw, there are a few blacks in the manga who show aptitude and skill, but let's overlook that and point at all the bad. Overall: Racist-Maybe, Readable: Definitely, Better than most. I like it don't be swayed by Japan's xenophobia which permeates a lot of their stuff. Do you think this guy may be racist against blacks the creator of Bleach hates Hispanics, every Hollow has some Spanish thing going on with its name, even Chad.
In the not-to-distant future, Humanity decides to TerraForm Mars, using Cockroaches and Moss. Cockroaches live and thrive on the moss and help cover up the Mars surface in order to reduce the extreme temperatures and develop an atmosphere. 500 years later, after the Terraforming is complete astronauts are sent to the Red Planet to clean up any excess cockroaches and survey the planet. This astronaut team known as Bugs-1 is made up of people from various countries. Unbeknownst to them, the cockroaches have evolved and are now bigger, badder, and stronger than anything humanly possible. Human researchers find out about a new "Mosaic Organ" that can allow temporary insect evolutions in Humans. Using these new insect powers, humans will once again set out to Mars and discover the secret of these Terraformars (Evolved Cockroaches). Pros 1. Excellent Research into Insects. The writer has an in-depth knowledge of insects, that he has incorporated into the series. Characters use powers based on insect physiology. Later on, the series does start using other animals bases for the medical procedures. 2. Character Deaths What good is a story if our heroes are easily winning and taking no real losses? Terra Formars does an excellent job at portraying the human cost of war. Yes, the humans are up against the most resilient creature known to man, Cockroaches. Characters die left and right, starting from hundreds and whittling down to a dozen. The more you love a character the more you worry for their safety. 3. Political Conflict Politics is not fun in real life but in fiction, it is fucking fantastic. You have all these countries that want to use the Terraformars to their advantage. The general goal of U-NASA is to eradicate all Terraformars before they reach Earth. But some countries see potential in getting a live unit and keeping it as a lab rat. While our heroes fight a losing battle on Mars, selfish humans are fighting for power back on earth and gambling on the lives of our heroes in the process. 4. Mystery From the Getgo, we know that something is off. 500 years is not enough for a full-scale evolution. Some unknown entity has interfered with the natural progression of these cockroaches. This is a whole element of the story that is yet to be explained, with only minor hints dropped in the second half of the series, post 16 Volumes. Cons 1. Confusing Conclusion Sadly this requires me to spoil the manga in order to explain. Since I don't want to do that, please be patient. We finally start to understand why the Terraformars are a threat to humanity. Why the heroes can't just leave them on the planet Mars and forget about them. And honestly, it's too confusing. The answer to the mystery is just more questions and more mysterious individuals. 2. Inconsistency The beginning volumes are a gorefest. people are dying left and right. Sometimes in unnecessarily brutal ways. But towards the 2nd half of the story, fewer people start dying, it becomes more reasonable. So the starting of the manga doesn't really portray the accurate nature of the entire series. 3. Racism I saved this for the end because it requires me to spoil some major plot elements. I will try my best to explain the situation to you, but I recommend reading the manga to better inform yourself. Download it illegally and If you like it then buy it legally. You don't have to support a mangaka if you think he is straight-up racist. Racism This is my second take on the review. I still stand by my initial stance, This manga is not racist. I hope to answer a few questions, that some people have, and I will be spoiling the manga, so future readers beware. Question 1: Is the Manga actually Racist? Answer: No! But maybe. The manga itself is not racist. The primary argument around racism is all dependent on the portrayal of the Cockroaches (Terra Formars). The argument is "Cockroaches are bad guys and they look like black people so that makes the manga racist. This is what a Terraformar looks like. And If you argue that this is definitely a black guy, you need to take a step back. Why? because it has dark brown skin? Or is it because it is tall and muscular and you think that is what all black people look like. The Manga doesn't claim, hint or imply this to be a black representation. The manga does have other black characters, a South African and an American. So the manga is telling you, what black people look like in this anime and what cockroach-humanoids look like. BUT There is one more element to this situation. Homo-Erectus. That is the basis for the cockroach design in this universe. For those of you who don't know, This is what Homo Erectus looks like and this is the ancestor of humanity. And this person should not be related to a black person. Because Homo Erectus was alive 2 million years ago and is the ancestor of humanity, including white ones. Story-wise, the cockroaches were forced into human evolution by a mysterious organization. Resulting in the cockroaches transforming into Homo Erectus over 500 years. NOW If you think "The writers were trying to make cockroaches look like Black people" you could be right. Or you could be wrong because I can argue the writers were trying to be accurate from an evolution perspective. This is where the MAYBE RACIST, point comes in. I think the evidence against the manga is circumstantial at best and this is poor optics rather than actual racism. I think that other dark-skinned characters prove that this wasn't the writer's intention. You may disagree and that is fine Question 2: Terraformar Appearnce? Answer: This is unfortunate because that brownish-black color is inherent to cockroaches and the similarities to dark skin people are coincidental. The Terraformars also have some ethnic flair to them, which is a combination of, Africa, the Middle Eastern, and Asian cultures. And if you just focus on similarities to the African style you will jump to a different conclusion. Like I said IF You keep comparing terraformers to black people, it could be that you have a skewed view of black people. Just a thought. Question 3: Black Representation? Answer: No Black people are not properly represented in the story. The main Hero groups are from the US, Japan, and Russia. All light-skinned people here. There are a total of 4 Dark-skinned people involved in the main conflict and one of them dies pretty quickly. This is a major issue with Japanese society in general, Japanese people don't have many interactions with Black People so they rarely have any dark-skinned people in their stories. It's sad and unfortunate. To its credit, the show is multi-racial. It has good representation in general, it is just fucked up that black people get less representation than others. I could make this same argument for Solo Leveling, a story that has Korean, Chinese, and American characters but only one Black Woman. Question 4: What about the Character Adolf, or the Blonde Saviour Newton? Answer: Adolf is not racist. The writer probably picked a well-known German name. Adolf is a kind man, who gets cheated on and loses his last connection to love. Many people still have the name Adolf, nothing nefarious here. Newton on the other hand is a problem but only kinda. 1st things 1st, SPOILER ALERT!! Newton is a bad guy. He is a genetic masterpiece bred through generations of Eugenics. His family is some sort of Illuminate group, pulling strings behind the scenes. He is a Blue-eyed, Blonde-haired, white-skinned man. But he is also a piece of shit who gets beat up by a woman and an Asian guy. The writer is clearly trying to show that Newton's eugenics may have given him some talents, but he will still lose, cuz he is a bad guy. Calling Newton racist is like calling Goku racist because he needs to transform into an Aryan White boy to be strong. Also, the guy is a manipulative, creep, who may have assaulted some women. Trust me, this guy is not humanity's white savior, but only the manga ending will confirm this. Question 5: What about the appearance of the Terraformas (Cockroaches)? Answer: This is another example of unintentional racism. This manga is written by two guys, one is the story person and the other is the artist. I'm not sure why they decided on such a specific design that looks like it is inspired by black people. But it is there and kinda fucked up. Again the writers have shown other black people in the series and they are not even remotely similar to Terraformars, but if that is not enough you can avoid this series. TL;DR The Racism allegations are based on three factors, Cockroach color, Cockroach design, and poor representation of Black people. And those arguments are circumstantial at best. The cockroaches are based on Homo Erectus, and they have dark skin because that is the color of cockroaches. This whole criticism is not without its merits, Japan is a little racist and we see that in all anime and manga. It just so happens that this manga has villains that resemble black caricatures. If you want to argue about poor portrayal in anime. One Piece is sexist. Goblin Slayer literally has a sexualized rape scene. And Shield Hero has a woman asking to become a man's slave. DBZ has Goku turn into a blonde, blue-eyed savior. Also, Jobless Reincarnation has a 40-year-old (in the body of a 10-year-old) taking the panties off of a 12-year-old girl. I would like people to think more about the anime they consume. I find it weird that this is the hill most people are dying on. I think intent and malice are important in these conversations. And I don't feel this is maliciously racist. This is not me defending the designs, of the cockroaches, simply arguing that it doesn't have the malice or ill-intent behind it. I'm still not completely sure about my opinions on this manga. I just think that arguments against this manga are poorly thought out and maybe overblown. It is a fantastic story and I highly recommend everyone check it out. If you find my explanations lacking, by all means, do not read it. But if you are willing to be a little brave, I recommend illegally reading the manga, first. And only paying for it once you confirmed it isn't racist.
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