Our human heroes on Mars, each given the powers of a different creature through biotechnology, now face not only a struggle against the Terraformars (giant-uh-roaches?), but also an intense internecine fight when one of the human teams turns against the others to steal secrets.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! Because the ending was SO badly done.
I think I finally lost my patience with this show when that roach showed up dressed in a martial arts uniform. But then we got to the final episode, and it got infinitely worse.
Now mind, when I say roach, it should always be understood to have implicit quotation marks, but I think I'll actually use parenthetical qualifiers instead, hoping I won't run out of them before the end of the review. It was bad enough in First Season when we found that these things had toes, teeth, and (mostly) human-appearing eyes, but according to a line of dialogue in this season, we find out that they have bones too. Face it, these are NOT bugs, they're essentially cave trolls (a la Tolkien) dressed up with wings and feelers. When we first met them in First Season they had caveman technology as well (mostly clubs), but during the course of this one battle (Second Season continues the fight from Season One), the (alleged) roaches have actually progressed to using biotechnology themselves, in order to steal the animal powers from the bodies of our human heroes' fallen comrades. Given that the (pseudo-) roaches were already pretty hard to kill, AND that there are billions of them, concentrating your efforts (and your forces) on defeating your own comrades-in-arms so you can take their military technology- this season's complication- seems rather poor prioritizing. It kind of reminded me of the movie Real Men, where an ecological crisis will doom Earth, while aliens are offering us a choice between, on the one hand, a cure for the catastrophe; and on the other, a superweapon that will give a nation world domination. And there were some in that movie ready to... well, make the same sort of choice that Team #4 makes in Terraformars Revenge, which in our present case is to ignore the lethal hordes of (faux) roaches whose numbers darken the skies, and instead capture Hizamaru Akari and Michelle Davis, the show's leads, who each possess a "mosaic organ" that apparently allows those who have it to adopt any creature's characteristics with ease. Team #4 is the Chinese team; of course given the longstanding enmity between China and Japan, it's common for the Chinese to be the villains in Japanese shows (and vice versa, of course, with "vice versa" maybe reflecting at least 20th Century history a bit better.) Akari and Michelle are part of a joint US/Japanese team. In any case, it's the Chinese versus every other human on Mars even while the (imitation) roaches undergo their incredible cultural and technological evolution, which is even more amazing considering that the spoken language of these (pretend) roaches merely consists of the sounds "Cheee", "Chaaa", and "Cho", rendered in a manner that sounds like it's coming out of bathroom plumbing. Most of our screen time is consumed by nearly interminable fights between erstwhile comrades (I kept wishing that at least ONE of the parties would just go ahead and die already, but no such luck), in which the combatants boast of the fighting abilities given by their "base organisms", bragging about, say, the superior lethal capabilities of a purple-ringed octopus compared to the obviously inferior ones possessed by a mantis shrimp. (Actually, those particular two might not have fought each other, but sometimes it's hard to tell anyone apart anyway- the uniforms, combined with a strikingly similar graphic design for the characters in their transformed states, equals a depressing sameness in the characters' visual appearance. By the way, those long coats our heroes wear don't strike me as terribly practical combat dress; it would seem to me they'd suffer the same problems as the ones cited for capes in The Incredibles.) The fights here are best described as a cross between a bad X-Men imitation with similar (and equally dilatory) one-on-ones in boring shounen shows like Get Backers.
So if Team #4 is trying to grab Akari and Michelle as experimental subjects, what objective does everyone else have in response? They want to take back a communications tower to inform Earth of Team #4's naughtiness. Apparently there are actually some parties on Earth who already know what's going down, and we get fragmentary details about various machinations and subterfuges going on between the nations participating in the mission, but we never get enough information to put the pieces together; these kinds of plot details are just not the show's priority, any more than fighting the billions of (supposed) roaches swarming around, that are getting smarter by the second, is a top concern of the humans standing in the midst of them. (OK, OK, but haven't YOU ever been SO annoyed by a dead horse that you couldn't help going back and flailing it some more?) The show eats up so much time with Team #4-versus-everyone that other events besides skullduggery on Earth get short shrift as well. For example, backstories got a fair amount of attention in Season One, but THIS season we get one for a character named Wolf that is SO truncated at the end- with gut-wrenching, life-altering events in his life reduced to brief, rushed statements of fact- that it's unintentionally hilarious. (You HAVE to watch this to really appreciate just how ludicrous this is, and to get the sense of "If this is all you have time to do, why even bother?" that I felt.)
AND NOW THE SPOILERS START!
The show's unceasing struggles between the humans themselves just "run out the clock" before numerous critical questions are resolved at all. Inquiring minds want to know: Why are our heroes going where they're headed in the end? What do they hope to accomplish there? WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BAD GUYS? Who WON, for crying out loud, and exactly WHAT did they win??? WHAT, EXACTLY, HAS THE 13-EPISODE RUN OF THIS SEASON- COMBINED WITH THE FIRST SEASON-ACCOMPLISHED, IF ANYTHING AT ALL?
But all these loose ends pale in cryptic inanity with the show's true ending, scenes that are shown after the credits finish. This appalling affront to rational storytelling is the main reason I'm only giving this show one star; had it actually ended at the credits it would have gotten two. One segment we see seems to be a bizarre homage to Kafka's The Metamorphosis (I HATED that story when I had to read it in college, by the way.) Other segments don't seem to be in chronological order, nor is it exactly clear whether certain events are taking place on Earth, or on Mars. And after all that, we curiously still don't really know all that much about the (sham) roaches, except that they're dedicated to homicide, of course, and (apparently judging by another of those final short takes) have also gotten a reputation as lowlifes as well!
Some random thoughts that were left over from my primary rant:
-OK, I actually DID kind of like the skunk-lady (would Terraformars respond to skunks like humans do? Oh, how could I forget, they essentially ARE humans.) Picking one from the other camp, I also thought that Bao, the guy with all the clones, was kind of interesting; he's one of the most cheerful bad guys I've ever seen. But Michelle has lost a lot of her edge, due to being out-postured by an aspiring (unwanted) suitor.
-Women in this show typically can't handle simple tasks like learning which button to push. They also obsess a lot about their breast sizes. Yes, you've seen this before. No, I don't much care for it either.
-So a strip of cloth is enough to prevent bacterial infection? Wait, it's shown as not being effective, so what was the point? ( I seem to ask that question a lot about this show.)
-The opening theme is kind of ersatz Alice in Chains (well, maybe from one of their off-days), if that interests you.
...... — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: One female character is nude through almost the entire show. Quite a bit of graphic violence, lots of blood, but everyone (including the Terraformars) is awfully hard to actually KILL here. And it's less explicitly violent than the "censored" segments of First Season were.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Terraformars Revenge © 2016 Liden Films.
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