Tsutomu Nihei scored gold with his master piece Blame! [for which I’ll make a review as well], but what about Biomega? I have reviewed a couple of really cool stuff, so its about time for a warning, or is it? :P All images are owned by Mr. Nihei, used to educate you.

Mr. Towelhead reviews

Biomega cover

BIOMEGA

Biomega is a manga written and illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei, its a Seinen manga (young adults) with tons of heart-pounding action, gore and… well that’s it. It was written between 2004 and 2009 and comprises only 6 volumes. Mr. Nihei is well known for his architectural and world design, which makes sense him being a former architect student. One of the hallmarks of the Nihei experience is the realization of how tiny we are in comparison to vast expansions of gigantic structures. So a bridge made of cheese that reaches to saturn is a common scene to behold in Biomega… Well not of cheese, but it’s so awfully drawn it looks like cheese.

The western genre is cyberpunk and THAT is quite clearly portrayed as the world is going to waste and yet you have ridiculously high tec.

CONCEPT

So the story of Biomega is a “prequel” to the story of Blame!, (a manga by the same author). You’ll find reoccurring names and places. But that’s about it, there is no clear explanation to how this story links into Blame!, Biomega is more like a story on its own that tries to sell itself as a prequel.

There’s a whole set of complex, story concepts, about time travel, different parallel dimensions, viruses, immortality and what not. But you’ll never get the feeling that everything comes together in the end, it seems the author threw in random plots to make the story artificially complex.

STORY

Basically its a zombie apocalypse in the making, but instead of zombies you have drones, cybernetically enhanced humans, that behave like zombies. And a motorbike aficionado as a hero. Add a fragile girl to the mix, who is supposed to be the cure or something et voilà you have the story.

What could possibly be more original than… zombies…

biomega_zombies

The story makes some really crazy jumps from plot to plot, while it kind of makes sense since speed is of the essence in this situation, and the hero is a motorbike fan… never the less the story goes WAY TOO fast and runs over plots like crazy. Some of the plots are so idiotic and have nothing to do with the story, you are at least happy they pass by quickly, but other seems promising and cool and suddenly BAM! The hero is already at the bad guys HQ… “O.K. so now we get to see the…” BAM! The hero is cruising the moon already. “WOW, when did that happen, o.k., so the moon”. BAM! The hero is already facing the main bad guy… And before you can say “what?” the manga ends.

Its a harsh thing to say a plot is idiotic, but bare with me. Out of the blue we are presented with characters (some of them cool, some of them are just social workers doing their jobs) we have no reason what so ever to care about, then we follow them for a while. We may get interested in what they are doing, most likely not. Then the story goes back to the hero who by now speed-ticketed-passed through several plots points, and suddenly we go back to these secondary characters just to see them die or triumph in scenarios we have absolutely no clue what’s going on. *

* If you go back and read like twenty times the whole manga and do some research online as to what the hell the author was trying to imply you may get what was going on. But for entertainment purpose the story is not good enough for you to spend said effort.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Mr. Nihei has a cool style, specially when it comes to weapon, world and creature design. A very robotic, architectural design. The author is also known for the OVER THE TOP destruction capabilities of his characters. However in Biomega everything seems to be “nerfed-down”. By that I mean that instead of people driving really cool vehicles (like in other mangas of Mr. Nihei) people drive regular cars and motorbikes. The hero is not a badass, not as competent in fighting, he basically can go really fast in his bike, and that’s his main trait. The story also barely touches on the hero, as you will get tons of pages about the other main characters, and tons of pages about meaningless people you don’t know.

Mr. Nihei’s design used to be cool, but Biomega is far from that.

Wow, is this the best you could come up with, a freaking mummy.

biomega_bad girl

Oh look, an evil chef is coming to get you… YAWN

biomega_bad guy

When it comes to odd plots and drawings. It seems like the author suddenly felt the urge to draw a knight in shinning armor, and semi-developed a side story to do so. Or suddenly he felt like a fuc*** bear should be a main character in the story, et voilà, we have a subplot about a dude inside a bears body.

In another context I think the freaking pseudo scientist-bear-rebel protecting a little, fragile girl could have been cool…

biomega_bear

… but in this context I can only think of: Pedobear!

Also the drawings try to be more “biological”, which is kind of implied in the freaking title BIOMEGA. But the author should have realized that his skills to draw biological material are far deficient compared to his skills to draw squarish stuff.

VERDICT

Cruising at the speed of sound, to mediocrity and beyond!

biomega_bike

Fast review, because we analyzed a fast manga. YAWN. At the very, very end of the manga you get a few cool twists and a few cool characters introduced, of course until you realize the manga will end in like 10 pages. And guess what, it ends in a happy cliché, with a happy cliff-hanger post credit ending that would allow for a sequel, of this awful “prequel”. Hollywood would be proud of BIOMEGA.

Mr. Towelhead is not happy

3 / 10

If you like mangas, or if you are a fan of Nihei you will be heavily disappointed. The story is extremely unfocused, it runs over plots, and yet manages to open side plots like crazy, its decently drawn provided you have never ever before read a manga and you’re blind. And well, you’d be better of doing any other useless addictive hobby. So just go on youtube and watch cat videos, don’t read Biomega, not even for free.

P.D. I think that the author should learn to focus his narrative. Or perhaps even get to work together with a proper writer. His opera prime Blame! is riddled with narrative errors like Biomega, but at least they were few, far in between and the drawings are IMPRESSIVE. Biomega is a huge step in the wrong direction. Mr. Tsutomu Nihei can think of cool concepts but he can’t write, he can’t develop stories and he should get help if he wishes to continue.

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3 Comments »

  1. I agree with you on the author being unable to tell a story. It was already the case in Blame. However, i see this one as an attempt to make some kind of “Blame 2.0”. As for me he tried to correct the downsides of Blame, by making the characters talk some times, and triying to explain the story a little bit. To be honest, i see the exact same story, with minor variations. However i can not be sure as i still don’ completly get the story of blame.

    However, i see this one as a refined blame, a bit less cryptic, and with an huge improvement on characters drawing, as the hero is drawn correctly. In Blame, human characters felt weird, compared to the quality of the places they went to. I mean buildings were awesome, and characters a bit poor.

    I have read only the 4 first tomes, i’m looking forward to get tomes 5 and 6 to have a complete opinion on this.

    Well, i have so far a better opinion of this manga, but maybe i will be upset too when it reaches the ending… But to be honest, i didn’t like the ending of Blame that much, as i wasn’t even sure it was an ending…

    My opinion of this author is that he sould keep creating those awesome concepts (like the safeguards generating somewhere using surrounding objects atoms, the graviton beam emitter, the silicates, or the enormous structures), drawing them as well, but using the help of someone to write an actual story. What lacks in his manga is characters. Killy in blame was extremely dull, with no personality. In biomega, i can hardly see the difference between the two guys with the bikes.

    However, the atmosphere is really well done, and the feeling of very small persons in a gigantic and chaotic structure is fantastic.

    He has another manga, Knight of Cydonia, that seems interesting, but more “normal”. It seems to have a story, and characters that can be differentiated from each other (i only have the 2 or 3 first tomes). On the one hand you can understand what happens, understand the characters, and the global setting of the world. On the other end, it is less original, even if the “bad guys” look like the chaotic entities in blame of biomega.

    He made a real prequel to blame, named noise. It was really in the tone of Blame, i didn’t understand a lot either…

    And there is another manga from this guy, but i can’t find it anywhere…

    Perhaps that in the end he’ll make the perfect cyberpunk manga :)

    • The ending of Blame! is kind of a thing on its own, and its rather ANTI-self-explanatory. Did he win?, did he lose?, did he die?
      As to the characters and story I agree with you that Nihei should help himself in the literature department, the bike guys really seem all the same, and their companion AIs are also kind of the same, so when they get separated and mixed up, it becomes a hassle to follow who is who.

      Long story short Nihei, has an awesome potential for design and has a decent bunch of good ideas, with time, like you said he could publish a really neat cyberpunk experience.

    • But I must admit that I really liked the stoic, dull Killy. Perhaps I was sick of “cool”, “Gear of War-ish one-liner” characters when I read it. But in that regard Killy is kind of a modern anti-hero.

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