One of the most inspiring, yet oft-forgotten manga phenomenon of years past, was an inventive series by writer/artist Tsutomu Nihei, known as BLAME! (pronounced blam). The series is a one-of-a-kind exploration thriller in a dystopian world, where an intelligent city has taken control of its own fate, and for thousands of years had already expanded into the cosmos, building itself higher and higher. It’s a lonely story, following the journey of a mysterious man named Killy, on his search for the Net Terminal Gene, in order to take back control of the city.
In order to keep order and peace in the city, it built the Safeguards, in an attempt to extinguish human life within itself. Humans, as they are prone to do, adapted to survive, with small villages finding haven throughout the city, unaware of each other’s existence. It’s an intensely original premise, with fantastic art to anchor it all. With that in mind, was this feature film able to capture the spirit of the original work? Hit the jump to find out.
There are a few things to keep in mind when talking about the differences between the film, and manga, for BLAME! In a film, you are limited to the amount of time you have for exposition and character introductions, so you have to make good use of every scene to get your information across. Manga is not exactly limited in this format, and BLAME! makes full use of that fact. The manga is an incredibly confusing, intensely detailed story, that could most certainly not be covered in a feature film. The writers knew that, and thus, adapted the story into something more befitting a 2-hour time slot.
The film takes away the sprawling architectural shots we so often see, and replaces it with character development. We meet side characters, and share in their relationships, and heart-ache. We see the struggle they have to maintain their lives in the city, and keep themselves safe, and alive. It’s a welcome change in this kind of film, and did well to make the film feel almost as if an expansion of the manga. An earlier story in the journey of Killy. Though, we meet characters such as Cibo, that are vital to the primary arc of BLAME! – and seeing Cibo in motion with her impressive high-heel-esque cybernetic feet was truthfully wonderful.
Polygon Pictures had previously worked with Nihei on his mega-popular Knights of Sidonia anime, which had also released two seasons on Netflix. They’ve partnered here again for BLAME! and in doing so, elevated their animation to levels I have never seen in 3D animated films. Polygon’s cel-shaded 3D animation is unlike any on the planet, and they’ve taken it to new heights for BLAME!, understanding the importance of the film to fans of Nihei and his work.
It’s a visual spectacle that must honestly be seen to be believed, and I fully recommend anyone catching it on Netflix, if you’re looking for something new and interesting to watch. It was incredible to see a manga that’s been such an inspiration brought to life so carefully, in a way to not tarnish the main story and characters, yet also feel unique and put-together for its new format.