After a bad manga we now wash away the bad taste with Blame! All images are copyright of master Tsutomu Nihei! To show you how architecture and manga can mix for chaos, fun and extremely cool concepts that will scar your innocent psyche.
Mr. Towelhead reviews another not so well known manga:
Blame! was written and illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei in between 1998 and 2003. It comprises only 10 volumes of seinen manga (young adults). It’s gory, violent and has a somewhat “complex” story behind. If you must know, there is no nudity. The dude (author) was/is an architecture student and the influence of that can be seen in the world, weapon and creature designs. Gigantic megastructures that reach up to the moon are only a few examples and the vastness of space is parodied in the emptiness that the main characters have to travel through thousands of kilometers of life-devoid halls, tunnels and stairs.
Ready to get lost?
Gigantic world exploration is a big part of the Blame! experience
The western genre is cyberpunk and mecha. The focus of the world around them is the pitiful state humans live in trying to survive among mortal perils, sometimes victims of inescapable fates they have no control of. Almost like a greek tragedy with giant robots instead of titans and uberdimensionals AIs instead of gods.
There is a taint of the Matrix written all over the manga. Our hero is searching for a clean strand of DNA to repair the connection between the “under sphere”, that is Earth, among mortals and what not and the “sphere above” that is some sort of computer program world, that somehow seems to be the “real” world. The line between real and programmed is blurred and at times you won’t really know what is what. Fortunately the story is more action based than anything else and pages and pages of smooth action and/or tense situations will pass with little to no text at all, and you won’t even mind as simply from the things happening you will get a decent clue of what the story is. And that is f*** impressive.
So the protagonist is trying to find a clean person after a virus apocalypse basically destroyed the world and severed the connection between “under” and “upper” spheres. Yet his search is “obstacled” on all sides by mutants, mindless robots and Matrix like agents (who instead of suits wear high-tec armor). The overall story is not the most original EVER, however the focus is on the action and inevitability of death. More than Sanakan (one of the “Matrix agents”), the mutants and corrupted government agents, the futility of finding a cure in a dead world is the main “antagonist” of the story. And our protagonist must fight against all in the hopes of, perhaps, having done enough.
Blame! “agents” don’t look like Matrix “agents” but they basically work the same.
However Blame! is not perfect, it suffers from a slightly lack of focus. At times the story will go over plots that have absolutely nothing to do with the overall story. Sometimes it’s cool and what not, to see how bizarre of a world Earth has become but most of times you’ll end up asking yourself “why on Earth did the author wasted pages on that?”. It’s also a pity since the last volume was a bit rushed, and it didn’t need to be… where the author to’ve focus on the main story instead.
What stands out the most is the crazy designs, for EVERYTHING in the world of Blame! Weapons, architecture, vehicles, characters, monsters… you name it, its AWESOME. The combat is smooth unlike anything you have seen before. As mentioned before you can go for dozens of pages with absolutely no text, only action and self-explanatory behavior. AND YOU GET IT!
The floor, the walls, the buildings and objects. Everything can turn into a bizarre monster.
What dialogues? … :p
As you can see I really liked Blame! and it’s definitely worth your while. The main character will grow through the story from a random guy on a mission, to an ultimate badass on a mission. And yet our hero is far from invincible, he will loose and he will learn to rely on help to survive. The best of the story is how action and exploration can go for hours without a single line of text all the while the story and designs are so involving you’ll thrive on each illustration.
If there is something to complaint about, is the overall story. Smooth and what not, the manga is quite confusing and even if you go back and read the whole again you won’t get any smarter. The ending is also vague as hell, free to any interpretation from total failure to success.
And so we come down to this, the note. All in all I personally would give Blame! a 10 / 10, but being objective and forgetting how much I loved it. It deserves a:
7 / 10
For an action fan you will love it.
If you like a coherent and good story, you’ll marginally enjoy it.
P.D. Blame! has not amassed a big following, I’d dare to think because the main characters are only three, and while there are a bunch of other really cool characters, for good or for bad they never last long in the story. Blame! is a story that could have developed well in a few volumes more, with some more characters and a more coherent story.
Yet Blame! stands for what it is: A poorly written story and an incredible design.