Manga: Terrafor MARS

TerraforMARS (alternatively Terra ForMars or Terra Formars) is a currently ongoing action/sci-fi manga written by Yu Sasuga and illustrated by Kenichi Tachibana.

The year is 2599. Humanity has reached an unsustainable level of overpopulation on Earth, and is beginning what would be the final stages of terraforming and colonizing Mars. The plan by late 21st century scientists was to release a form of moss on the planet along with cockroaches, who in turn would grow and eat, and their corpses would contribute to the moss growth, eventually leading to enough of a greenhouse effect for a breathable atmosphere to take hold. Recently a team named Bugs #1 went to Mars to exterminate the roaches, since the atmosphere had developed enough that the moss alone could finish the job. However, contact was lost with them almost immediately after arrival.

Now it is the time of the second expedition, Bugs #2. Upon arriving, the team found out what caused Bugs #1 to lose contact: the roaches. Having hyper-evolved in the last 500 years (hinted due to alien influence), they are now 7 ft tall cavemen-like humanoid creatures who posses their original proportional strength as bugs (50 times their body mass), and the seeming ability to keep evolving against anything that can kill them. However, the company that sent out Bugs #2 knew this was going to happen, and had prepared for it. The team members are all able to take on aspects of other creatures in the animal kingdom, and use that proportional abilities and unique insect powers to fight back against the nearly endless hordes of roaches.

Very explicit and bloody, and in many ways is a Spiritual Successor to Gantz. In 2014, the series gained an OVA covering the BUGS 2 arc and a 13 episode TV anime adaptation covering the Annex I arc.

Now has a Character Sheet in the works.

This manga provides examples of

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Pretty much any character who has an adaptation which gives them a blade.
  • Action Girl: While this generally applies to any of the female cast, Michelle stands out as an example of an Action Girl amongst a cast of them.
  • Adaptive Ability: The bugs as a whole.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Several characters are given at least half an episode which explains their backstory and why they came on the mission. Several others unfortunately, suffer from We Hardly Knew Ye.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Michelle as the stand out example, again.
  • Anyone Can Die: For instance Bugs #1 is annihilated by the first prequel chapter and there are only two survivors from Bugs 2 by the end of the first volume.
    • Before the end of the second chapter, the main male character's girlfriend is given a One-Hit Kill in the first encounter with the bugs.
  • Arc Words: "The memory left by Rahab". As of this point, we don't know who or what Rahab is, just that he/she/it is probably responsible for what the roaches have become in just 500 years.
  • Artificial Gravity
  • Artistic License Biology: This almost doesn't need to be said. While the actual attributes and abilities of the insects they are based on are true, you can't just turn humans into human-bug hybrids outside of the X-Men. Not to say anything about the roaches' hyper-evolution, which is less like evolution and closer to the adaptation ability of the Borg. To further complicate matters the moths that were left on Mars seem to be evolving even faster than the cockroaches. Showing fingers on their bodies. Despite basically being a foodsource for the cockroaches that strengthens them. Then there's the fact that all this takes place in an atmosphere related to be the equivalent of 7000 meters above sea level.
  • Author Appeal: Yu Sasuga is clearly a big fan of Kamen Rider, especially considering one of the most sympathetic characters in Bugs #2 was a locust-human.
  • Bad Ass: Many of the people fighting the Terra Formars have to be this in order to stand a chance.
  • Bad Ass Crew: The squad leaders of the Annex. Every single one of them gets a moment to shine, and unlike some of their subordinates, they aren't scared of the Terraformars.
  • Badass Israeli: God Lee of Bugs #2, the ground beetle-human. Was also the first to die in combat against the roaches.
  • Badass Normal: George Smiles of Bugs #1. First human to kill a Terra Formar without any special surgery, abilities, or tricks.
  • Bee People: Quite literally in one of our main characters. Specifically, he's a Japanese Giant Hornet.
  • Berserker Tears: Marcos has a real bad case of them in episode 4 when Shelia is killed and it continues into episode 5.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Adolf's squad is mostly still alive when they're being taken away in the same nets they were supposed to use on the Terraformars. After he dies however, they all flee the crater, leaving his squad to perish in the explosion. They all have a smile on their face as they await the inevitable, though this end was arguably better than being dissected alive by the Terraformars.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zigzagged repeatedly throughout the show:
    • Subverted at some points, where it seems a character is having, or going to have, a heroic moment, only for them to then get brutally killed by one of the Terraformars.
    • In other instances it's played straight, and they do end up rescuing someone, like Alex hurling metallic balls from far away to save Marcos from imminent death, then giving him another dose of medicine to allow him to resume fighting. Or when the squad leaders all show up to deal with the bugs that got onto the Annex I ship somehow.
  • Body Horror: If a human dopes on too much of the transformation drug, they become too insectoid and cant transform back, becoming more biologically insect than human. Since an insect's biology is not meant for a human sized creature, Reality Ensues, and the person in question dies.
  • Bowdlerization: The TV cut of the anime as seen on Crunchyroll has the gory parts obviously censored to an almost unwatchable degree.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Victoria Wood attempts this on a pair of newly hatched roaches. It doesn't work out very well for her.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Eva pees in her pants out of terror when a Terraformars approaches her in episode 3.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Several of Squad 1 are hit by something that appears to be a missile that deactivates their insect powers. Several of them are then killed when some Terroformars show up after hiding in the ground.
  • Bug War: Though in a twist, the human are more bug-like when transformed than the roaches.
  • Boxing Battler: Keiji Onizuka
  • Catch Phrase: "Don't underestimate humanity!", said by several characters.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: In the first volume, and during several chapters once the Annex reaches Mars.
  • Chased by Angry Natives : What happen during the Bugs missions is clearly a variation of this trope. during the Annex I mission, it become less clear.
  • Clones Are People Too: Bao's clones invoke this when they were revealed, and each has his own personality and dreams in life.
  • Complete Immortality: Hiruma's power. Nothing can kill him while he's in his hibernation state. Balanced by the fact that he has to sleep during it, and it's the only power he has.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Zigzagged. There are instances where it's horribly averted, such as in episode 2 when the Terraformars first show up on the ship. But then there's other instances where they go down left and right, such as when Marcos was going through an Unstoppable Rage moment shortly after Sheila's death in episode 4. And usually when it's one character facing off against one specialized Terraformars, they often give the heroes a little trouble before ultimately getting defeated.
  • Chocolate Baby: Adolf Reinhardt's son may not be his own as his wife was having an affair at the time, and his son fails to gain any of his father's experiment genes. Made more explicit in the anime, where the paternity test turns out negative.
    Genetic relationship between father and son: 0%
  • Crapsack World: Human presence apparently equals this in the universe of Terraformars, as well on Earth and on Mars. Only Japan seems to be an exception. Actually, the characters who believe it are wrong.
  • Creepy Cockroach: The manga can't exist without this trope.
    • It's stated fairly early on in the manga that this trope is actually also inverted and that the newly evolved humanoid cockroaches actually find humans just as creepy as humans tend to find regular cockroaches and act almost reflexively to exterminate them.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Dished out regularly by both the Terraformars and the human characters.
  • Death by Origin Story:
    • Akari's childhood friend and love interest Yuriko is killed shortly after episode 1 starts. He is later informed she contracted a virus from Mars that has a 100% mortality rate, and is asked to join in a mission to get samples of lifeforms on Mars to develop a vaccine for it so that no one else has to die from it.
    • Keiji's mother was likewise sickly, and passed away sometime between when he retired from boxing due to a retinal detachment, and before joining U-NASA on their Annex I mission to Mars.
  • Determinator: Pretty much every character, even the bugs.
  • Dwindling Party:
    • Bugs#2 during volume 1. Similarly the third expedition started with 100 people and their numbers are rapidly dwindling.
    • Many of the Annex crew are killed by a surprise attack aboard their ship right before it reaches Mars. They also start to slowly lose people due to combat casualties once they land on the planet.
  • Eaten Alive: Akari suffers from this initially after being overpowered by a grizzly bear with it eating him. However, he catches a Heroic Second Wind, somehow recovers, and brutally dishes out some payback.
  • Elite Mooks: The roaches with the bug powers copied from the crew of Bugs #2.
  • Eye Scream: Akari jabs a grizzly bear in the eye during his match in episode 1.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Some of Adolf's squadmates are still alive while being taken away by the Terraformars. It's ultimately averted when they realize he has a bomb that's about to go off in his body. His squad all have a smile on their face right before it goes off, giving them a merciful death compared to whatever the Terraformars was going to do to them.
  • Finishing Stomp:
    • Akari defeats the grizzly bear in the first episode by smashing down on its head.
    • Many Terraformars are also subjected to this.
  • For Science!: Used by both sides:
    • The humans experimented with gene-splicing in order to enhance a person's powers. Unfortunately it has a low success rate, so they have to go through quite a few volunteers.
    • The Terraformars seem to be capable of this as well, though on a much more primitive level than the humans. Nevertheless, they manage to acquire some of the abilities from previous human expeditions to their planet.
  • Fragile Speedster: Marcos is definitely this after transforming, being blessed with quick movements and fierce strength but unfortunately doesn't have much endurance and as a result must catch his breath on the battle field.
  • Gorn: Lots of blood and body parts go flying in this series.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Akari killing the bear in Episode 1 of the anime is awkwardly censored.
    • Zigzagged during the fighting on Mars. The uncensored version shows every gory detail, but some of the them are done this way, such as when a bomb secretly planted in Adolf goes off, and we're only shown an explosion.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Sylvester Asimov can easily regenerate lost limbs after transforming.
  • Gender Is No Object: It is 500 years later after all.
  • Heroic RROD: The transformation drug regenerates damaged organs by forcing cell division and the production of new cells, cutting the user's lifespan. Overdosing on the drug confers massive increases in strength and powers, at the cost of turning more into the base organism, and carries a risk of the changes becoming irreversible.
  • Hope Spot:
    • One occurs in episode 9, when Adolf manages to cause a bolt of lightning to come down by the Terraformars leader. Unfortunately it survived as it wasn't directly struck by the lightning.
    • Another occurs in episode 12, when Squad 1 seems to have mostly dealt with the bugs around them. Then some rockets fall out of the sky, which ends up disabling their powers, and turning them back to normal, squishy humans. To make things worse, a lot of Terraformars that were hiding in the ground suddenly appear.
  • Horny Vikings: Played with, with Maria Viren of Bugs #2 and Alexander Asimov of Annex I. When they turn to their mutant form, horn like organs appear on their heads, and their are both Russian.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Terraformars have a similar physical structure to humans.
  • Human Resources: Bao's "budding" process requires a lot of energy and organic matter. Given that a lot of corpses were left behind when Annex 1 was abandoned...
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Used by both the Terraformars and the crew of the Annex repeatedly.
  • Ill Girl: Yuriko, a childhood friend of Akari, who also ends up dying due to a virus originating from Mars.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Terraformars being shot up in episode 2 doesn't seem to be fazed at all. Instead it just calmly walks over to the guy shooting it, and decapitates him by pulling his skull and spine out from his body.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Alex manages to hit things from rather far away, whether it's Terraformars, or a rocket high in the sky in episode 12.
  • Improvised Weapon: A Terraformars uses a human spinal cord as a whip, and decapitates several people with it in episode 2.
  • Instant Expert: The bugs somehow manage to learn how to use human equipment despite the fact that the most advanced weapon they had previously was a club.
    • A large part of this is hinted to be the result of the fact that the bug's brains have evolved as much as their bodies (and have some sort of extraterrestrial tech available to help educate them). They have, by Bugs #3, become as smart as humans, if not more so, and simply lacked the necessary infrastructure needed to be able to build an industrial base like the humans have. Given that each Bugs missions has several years between them, this has given the roaches plenty of time to learn the basics of whatever tech they capture from previous missions, and from what they learn from that, allows them to quickly master any new tech they receive.
    • Later is it shown that the Chinese sent simple pictures as instructions in a probe to educate the roaches so they could attack the Annex I and they could initiate their coup during Plan Delta. This included plans of the Annex I, how the M.O Operation and the drug granted humans powers, the location of the drug on the ship, the evacuation plans and how to drive human vehicles.
  • It Can Think: Some of the Annex crew wonder if the Terraformars can do this, such as when they deliberately seek out the drugs that enables their powers, then promptly smash as much as they can. One in episode 7 also seems to know how to fly the escape pod, and takes off with it.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The roaches, even in their most base form.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Due to the fact that they have a hundred people for this expedition, there are many Red Shirt characters hiding out amongst the other main characters. And even then, some of them don't have enough Plot Armor on to survive the trip such as Sheila, who gets killed in episode 4.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • Michelle has an ability that causes several Terraformars to explode from the inside.
    • Several other Terraformars are also killed this way when they're hit by other characters.
  • Manly Tears: Akari does this almost immediately after learning his childhood friend has passed away. Shokichi also does this, but because Akari's predicament reminds him his own.
  • Meaningful Name: The series title can be read as both "Terra for Mars", referencing the project that drives the basic plot, and as a slightly slurred pronunciation of "Terraformers", which the titular roaches were created to be.
  • Me's a Crowd: Bao from the Chinese team has the sea squirt as his base, allowing self-replication by "budding".
  • Mind Rape: A Terraformars is subjected to this by Sylvester, who seems to enjoy introducing the concept of fear to the creatures.
  • Mood Whiplash: During the third expedition, some of the male characters are debating whether to peep on a woman in the shower room. And then it turns out a flying roach had infiltrated the ship and brutally killed her. And then all hell breaks loose.
  • Mook Horror Show: Pretty much any scene where the heroes are slaughtering large groups of the Terraformars, such as Marcos during his Unstoppable Rage in episode 4 or Adolf in episode 9..
  • Monster of the Week: There are regular Mook versions of the Terraformars. But there are also specialized ones that have new abilities, such as the one with grasshopper legs that Akari takes on in episode 6.
  • Mr. Exposition: There is an omniscient narrator who will often describe various events or creatures, but the two men talking in a bar on Earth will also make some commentary as well that describes what's going on in the story.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Adolf Reinhardt may have killed the roaches leader, the single genius of their species who was responsible for giving other members Bugs Surgery but in doing so, he forced the species as a whole to increase the quality of the individual's intelligence, making it so they would no longer need a genius to lead them.
  • Oh Crap!: Usual reaction when someone runs into a Terraformars.
  • Off with His Head!: Many people are killed via decapitation by the Terraformars. And vice versa.
  • One-Hit Kill: One of the things which keeps happening to the crews, which is to be expected from enemies which are Lightning Bruiser level fast and strong at the mook level.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Those who have undergone the Bacteria-type M.O operation, effectively turning them into biological weapons capable of killing an entire swarm of Terra Formars in less than a minute
  • Poor Communication Kills: This appears to be at first the reason behind why the roaches wanted to kill us as soon as we first saw them, but later it turns out that they just have an instinctual need to "squish" us much like how we do towards regular roaches.
  • Power Copying: Some of the roaches facing the third expedition have somehow evolved to be able to use the bug powers that the crew of Bugs #2 used.
    • They have also stole powers from the Annex I crew, like Marcia's Archerfish M.O Operation. The Demon Dragonfly Terraformar also stole body parts from the Chinese, Russian, American and Japanesse teams on his first appearance, possibly to steal those powers too.
  • Precision F-Strike: The Chinese clone trooper, Bao's Famous Last Words, 我操 or "fuck" in Chinese and subbed in English.
  • Premortem One Liner: Akari gives one to the Terraformars approaching him in episode 12, when he says they're going to finish off who the real vermin are.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Red Shirt Army: Many of the Annex crewmembers turn out to be this. Expect a high body count before the show finishes.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The Bible (specifically, passages depicting plagues and afflictions) is quoted and referenced down to the chapter and verse every time someone intentionally overdoses on the transformation drug, metaphorically turning into a plague upon the roaches. The first time is when Thien, a Desert Locust hybrid, rips apart a room full of roaches. Cue quote from the Plague of Locusts.Then Adolf (who has an electric eel base) performs a Last Stand in an attempt to save the German team; cue a quote from the Plague of Hail and Lightning. Later Shoukichi overdoses performing a You Shall Not Pass to allow his team and Sylvester's to escape a horde of roaches; cue Deuteronomy 7:20.
  • Scenery Porn: For a desolate red wasteland, Kenichi Tachibana can make the mountainous terrain of Mars look beautiful.
  • Slasher Smile: While the roaches usually have expressionless faces, some of them pull off this.
  • Starfish Language: The roaches clearly have some form of language, but to us it just sounds like "Juh" over and over with different inflections.
  • Shock and Awe: Adolf Reinhardt's M.O. Operation is the Electric Eel, allowing him to generate incredibly powerful electric shocks, but also shocking himself, which is why he has multiple implants to help him with that..
  • Simple Staff: Marcos's weapon of choice, the Archnebuster Mk.II.
  • The Stinger: Episode 4 has one with Marcos and Alex commenting on Sheila, who just returned from a party. This after she was Killed Off for Real in the same episode.
  • Taking You with Me: Michelle attempts to do this to the Terraformars that pulls her underwater. Had she not of been saved by Akari who planted a string on her earlier, both of them would have eventually drowned.
  • Talking Is a Free Action:
    • Played straight for the most part. Any time there is an extended talking scene, the combat either dies down, or there's not much of it until the dialogue scene is finished.
    • Averted in episode 7, when Sylvester is telling the terraformars about some theories he had. One of them smashes its club at him, which only seems to piss him off as he wasn't done talking. He then proceeds with a Curb-Stomp Battle on them, as well as having one of his squadmates release some mind altering chemicals to cause some hallucinations in several of the bugs.
    • A Terraformars attempts to interrupt Marcos and Alex in episode 13, but is killed by the latter who's pissed at the bug trying to ruin their talk. The rest of the scene is played straight as the other Terraformars around them slowly encircle them.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Averted with the Mars teams who work together perfectly (and they need to just to stand a chance at surviving) despite all being from different countries. However there are hints that there is friction between the higher ups of each country.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: It's the 2600s and all that's shown to have changed is that society's gotten worse due to overpopulation and some improvements in space travel.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The roaches started out as this. By the end of volume 1, there were new roaches born that instinctively knew how to counter martial arts styles and took combat stances when fighting.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Due to Loads and Loads of Characters, many of them are killed off without much fanfare, such as Elena.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: Most of the Terraformars are killed without much thought by the humans. Some get captured for study, but most of them are simply killed because they pose a very real threat to the humans.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Though it's nominally a worldwide effort from many nations to retrieve virus samples, there seems to be some friction between some of the nations, and they work together because the Terraformars are a much bigger and more imminent threat. And since What Measure Is A Nonhuman is at play, it makes it much easier for the humans to destroy them. Then Squad 3 discovers shocking details inside a Martian pyramid that shows the Terraformars information regarding the Annex 1 mission, and details of human anatomy. They then start to wonder which country leaked the info to the bugs.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Michelle breaks out several wrestling moves, most notably a Figure-Four Leg Lock and a Frankensteiner on the roaches.
  • Zerg Rush: The roaches generally outnumber the humans in any engagement though not to an absurd extent. However, they're still extremely strong.