Published: 1998 to 2003
Authors: Nihei, Tsutomu (Story & Art)
Score: 8.481 (scored by 5325 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top manga page.
Popular Tagscyberpunk sci-fi seinen
Nov 12, 2010
Nihei Tsutomu is quite simply the Bruce Lee of the cyberpunk genre. Unlike other cyberpunk titles that often centers around the philosophies of existentialism or nihilism, Nihei carves out his own path in BLAME!. There is no thought-provoking or multi-layered story plot. There is very little dialogue and narration. What you get here is just stunning visuals which act as the principal mechanism for story progression, and Nihei accomplishes it with aplomb. To be able to transcend the boundaries of normal storytelling is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is an extremely satisfying read that made me finish it in just two marathon sessions.
The BLAME! universe is a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Whatever little that’s left of the human population is scattered into small communities across the vast and seemingly unending darkness of the mega landscape. We join our protagonist, Killy, in his quest to search the gigantic labyrinth for the Net Terminal Genes. I won’t spoil too much but the Genes are the key to save the world which has spun out of control. He wanders around aimlessly for (amazingly) long periods of time, hoping to find clues to his goal. Equipped with his trusty SFG (little brother to the Big Fucking Gun), Killy is a force of nature. Well, I jest. It is actually called the Gravitational Beam Emitter. (Cool name huh?) In any case, this incredibly powerful little gun can blow a hole that extends for miles in anything that stands in its way. On his journey, Killy’s encounters with other strange creatures (cyborgs, machines and the like) usually explode into high octane battles. Surprisingly, there is no lack of action scenes despite the passive nature of the manga. The fighting is straight to the point. The characters do not make any cool poses for the sake of it, and we are also spared the annoying in-battle blabbering found in most shonen mangas. Yes, it’s pure, unadulterated, actual fighting. Absolutely fantastic.
Another highlight is the glorious artwork. Nihei’s experience in architecture really shows in the manga. Never before have I seen colossal structures being drawn is such detail and cool angles. It may take a while to get used to his style, but be prepared for a barrage of eye orgasm. You’ll have to see it to believe it.
As I’ve described earlier, the artwork replaces the role of narration. The characters seldom talk, unless absolutely necessary. The resultant slow pace of the story might be a turn off for some people. However, it accentuates the gloomy atmosphere very well. The delivery also adds a different dimension to the reading experience. Little details are revealed as the story progresses. It may seem confusing to some due to the lack of explanations and spoon feeding by the author, but it allows the reader to interpret the events in their own way. While the plot may not be particularly remarkable, it is very engaging. It fits Nihei’s style perfectly as it lends it a mysterious touch. The reader is constantly left wondering about the history of the events, backgrounds and motives of the characters. It certainly tickled my curiosity. As we follow Killy’s exploits, we watch as the world of BLAME! slowly unfolds before our eyes. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself (spiritually) living in it!
This is not a thinking manga. To truly enjoy it, you must heed the words of the grandmaster. Activate your sensory perceptions and immerse yourself into the world of BLAME!. Don’t just think. FEEL.
Well, instead of writing a few more paragraphs, let me try to summarize the whole thing using a few descriptors and keywords:
Atmospheric; Dark Ambience; Vast Universe; Colossal Structures; Explorative; Passive; Surreal; Explosive Action; Magnificent Artwork, Grotesque Character Designs; MASTERPIECE
How I wish I could do a review using drawings instead. read more
Aug 15, 2008
The art is the story. BLAME! has extremely little dialog and no narration except for an occasional "39216 hours later" or so. Therefore the development of the story is almost solely communicated through the visuals. It is entirely up to you to perceive, ponder about and interpret the present and the past. As you get more familiar with the universe you might be able to draw conclusions about something that has happened earlier, which back then wasn't quite completely understandable and so on...
A critic might call BLAME! confusing, as a bad thing, but the thing is, if it is confusing in a bad way is up to you. Whether you actively engage in interpreting it or not and how far your imagination takes you. Personally I'm rather tired of much of the modern day's entertainment which sole purpose seems to be passivate the perceiver to do nothing but sit back and enjoy a ride. BLAME! however is very stimulating and I've spent endless hours thinking about it from different angles just because it can be interpreted in so many ways and that is a beauty in itself. A friend of mine told me, after I had forced him to read it, that he found some of the parts of the manga to be extremely confusing and he had no idea what was going on, my response to him was going on a rant about how I've interpreted it, but I ended up apologizing to him for ruining the pleasure of figuring these things out for himself. On a side note, my friend did not think badly of the manga overall, rather he said that it was one of the best manga he had read. So it could be perceived as confusing so perhaps it's not a person-who-dislikes-confusing-and-cloudy-stories' first choice but I would still recommend it because in essence it's not a mystery manga or anything like that. It is a cyberpunk / action with an intensely dark and brooding atmosphere which sticks like feathers to tar, to the back of your mind. In that aspect it is emotionally provocative, it creates an unique and perhaps disturbing emotion within you which stays with you even after leaving the manga, when you're onto doing something else.
A critical aspect of the art is it's portrayal of this vast and seemingly endless setting filled with colossal structures which seem to have been abandoned since who knows when. Great drawings of cold machinery, some seem to have broken down from having been put out of use, while some still function for the sake of functioning after all this time. Our protagonist's fate is to wander these hallowscapes and when reaches new areas we are given no clues to where we've stumbled into other than our surroundings and the people we meet. The detail is not only fantastic but Nihei Tsutomu's ability to draw perspective truly creates a world in 3d. Even the character design immediately captivated me. This pale, grim expression on the character's face, led me to believe that this was a hardened man who's been through a lot. I felt as if I was getting to know this character by looking at him, even though I've just begun reading the first chapter and he has barely uttered a word.
As for the action scenes, we're allowed to witness the devastation and intense power depicted very clearly. They are for the most part, in contrast to the story, easy to follow. This straight-forward approach spares us the self-righteous rants and interrupting one-liners and just delivers plain awesome action.
Character - 8
It's a cold and harsh world which has no room for harboring the soft or the weak. This is a fact which we are constantly reminded of as we meet the characters of BLAME!. The characters show no particular depth, yet serve their purpose very well. Some have their logical reasons while some remain a mystery. There is not much character development but there is some, it is enough, but there is left room for more. Most of the characters portrayed somewhat cold and indifferent, it is after all understandable and I wouldn't have it any other way, weep scenes would feel kind of out of place, besides there's nothing quite as beautiful as when you catch a small glimpse of emotion through that hard shell which they've grown over time.
Enjoyment - 10
I barely took a single break while I was reading the manga for the first time, I was glued to it. That said, it's not the absolute most enjoyable read. However, like I've said before, I've spent endless hours just thinking back on it, going over it in my mind and attempting to interpret it from as many angles as possible. I get a slight tingly feeling in my stomach just thinking about it. BLAME! has continuously kept me stimulated even when I'm not reading it, practically infinite enjoyment.
Sep 12, 2007
As expected of most cyberpunk titles, Blame! is a dark futuristic story laced with enough action to keep you at the edge of your seat. Unlike other works in the same genre, however, Blame! avoids most of the philosophical/existential questions usually associated with cyberpunk. Also not present are the verbose in-battle rants/soliloquies that some would find unnecessary. Instead, the author demonstrates that actions do speak louder than words sometimes.
One of Blame!'s unique features is its lack of narration: only a few details are tossed in and it's up to the reader how to connect the dots (the "no spoonfeeding" policy). Because the author doesn't specify how everything comes together, there are multiple interpretations of how and why events actually happened. The story parallels The City itself in having endless possibilities and the imaginations of the readers are given plenty of room and materials to roam freely and do as they wish. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing would depend on the reader’s attitude towards open endings. Although some would be left unsatisfied due to the lack of details, others may also take it as a form of interaction with the story.
It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and in Blame!, pictures do almost all of the talking. Rather than describing how powerful Killy’s gun is, Nihei spends a few pages showing the havoc caused whenever the trigger is pulled. Instead of saying “The Megastructure is vast and gloomy”, the artist shows the characters wandering through the labyrinth for months, through endless hallways or under pitch-black skies. More often than not, the deafening silence is only broken by the humming of machines or the roar of explosions. To say that the art simply complements the story would be incorrect since the art is pretty much integral to its delivery.
As for the quality of the art itself, it’s nothing short of impressive. The character designs may take some getting used to at first but Nihei’s style gradually improves throughout the series and his illustrations in the latter volumes are flawless. Also, the settings and action scenes are smoothly drawn and insanely detailed. Given his background in architecture, it’s no surprise that Nihei is exceptionally good at drawing colossal structures and perspective shots.
Not many manga out there could offer straightforward action, extraordinary art, and a little grey matter exercise at the same time. While most of the characters aren’t exactly emotionally charged, it’s a refreshing break from the clichéd personalities of anime and manga. read more
Apr 27, 2009
BLAME! doesn't do this, the manga is infamous for the fact that the character hardly ever speak, in reality, they speak as little as most people would speak without a hidden narrator, and as a consequence most people are struck dumb by what exactly BLAME! is about, and most diehard fans don't know it either in detail. The plot seems gigantic but at the same time it could all be power of suggestion. The author has published some details afterwards which indeed reveal the intense and consistent with what's showed machinations in the world of BLAME! of which only shards have reached the readers eyes. A lot of planning probably went into this to make it all fit.
Said author's an architect, and this clearly shows, the backgrounds are more detailed than the characters, way more detailed. The characters in this black-and-white manga are mostly pale faced and lack detail in a way, it helps to the setting that they are quite featureless. The the contrast with the extremely detailed dark background of enormous structures works here, which are drawn with disproportionally high detail and certainly for a manga series. It's not the case like with a lot of manga that there is no background and just a face if that's enough to infer the idea. There are a lot of scene with only background in fact. It couldn't be any other way, the setting is the inside of a seemingly endless and extremely chaotic structure called 'The City'. A welcome change as I'm often to lament on the fact that humans are overused in art and fiction and getting fed up with this egocentricism of man. But The City seems to have more prominence in the story than the characters, and the characters are still pretty well made. No heroes larger than life here, sorry if you like that. The characters and the entire setting is quite surreal and grotesque, be ready for a lot of mutilation and amputation. But surely in a different way than most media, it adds to the surreal feel and the grotesque, the characters hardly even seem to notice their arms torn of and remain staring stoically from it. Imagine Alice's Wonderland assimilated by The Borg.
Naturally, as the feel is a big part of value, the re-read value is practically infinite, the second time is probably better for most people. It's like Donnie Darko, the more you read, the more you seem to understand it. And it's equally cryptic and vague. The Tagline is 'Maybe on Earth, Maybe in the Future', and that sums up the idea of BLAME!, it could take place in Earth's future, but maybe not, maybe it was a distant galaxy a long time ago? It's really not a world connected in any way to our own, and that's another escape from the arrogance of man. There's not a lot to relate for here. One of the best things I ever read. read more
Apr 16, 2013
I've read the entire thing at least 4 times from beginning to end, and it wasn't until the last time I read it that I finally feel like I actually know what happened in it.
Story- So I promise you there is actually a story going on in BLAME. However, the writer is not going to make it easy for you to figure out what it is. There is no narration, almost no internal dialogue, and honestly not even much normal dialog. Entire chapters can pass by without there being a single word bubble of any kind. This helps to accentuate the bleak, endless nature of the environment the characters are living in, but at the same time it can be kind of daunting to figure out what's going on sometimes.
Art - Tsutomu Nihei has a very distinctive style of art. It's clear that he improves from the beginning of the series to the end, but it's still his distinctive style, and I suspect that some people will love it and some won't.
Character - This one is difficult. Since there is so little internal dialogue it can be difficult to figure out what a character is thinking or why they are doing what they are doing. I don't think that you could say this is a series that focuses on character interactions or development, so if you're looking for something psychological this is probably not the manga for you.
Enjoyment - I certainly enjoyed reading it. The strange cyberpunk setting, the fights between screaming robots, the graviton beam emitter gun that shoots 300-kilometer long beams. Not to mention the antagonists who are seriously freaky looking biomechanical monsters. And sometimes he will just throw in these incredibly random little interludes that will hurt your brain and then he'll just move on and you'll never really know what was up with them.
Overall- Like I said it's one of my favorite manga of all time, but I really couldn't tell you why. It's just very different. read more
Nov 9, 2010
Wow. That was what I said when I finished the manga.
Before reading the review, if you are new to BLAME!, read it right now. My review will not help anyone at all.
Alright. I spent an hour trying to think of how to write this review. It ended up as twisted and confusing as the story in BLAME!. Just like the manga, I don't know where to start I decided there is really nothing to accurately describe the story. I believe it was the author's intention for the reader to come up with their own explanations.
What I will tell you is that this is a very bleak, lonely, journey for the protagonist Killy. He searches for a human who can access the Net and save the "City". The City is a huge infrastructure of innumerable levels that Killy must climb to find what he's looking for. On the way he meets many bizarre villains and characters. He and his trusty gravity beam emitter will destroy anything that gets in his way. While on the journey, he befriends Cibo who he saves at a plant and she becomes an invaluable character to Killy's aid (in more ways than one you will read).
You cannot really dump BLAME! into one genre or category. It has many elements of cyber/steampunk, but you will also get surrealism (think de Chirico/Dali later on), and many VERY SUBTLE philosophies (i.e. read the chapter with clones, deep meaning) on random chapters.
The art is the storyteller for words cannot express what the hell is going on. Dialogue can mean everything or nothing at all or both at the same time.
You don't ever know much about Killy, some characters know him, some don't. He hardly talks but as you read, you will find that he has many hidden human aspects on the decisions and actions he makes.
What can I say of enjoyment? You get addicted. One reviewer said he/she already started to miss it right after reading it. I feel the same way. The manga gave me better satisfaction than some mangas that take 300-500 chapters.
The closest thing to this that I can relate to is the anime Texhnolyze. The only thing in common between those two are bleakness and loneliness. At least for BLAME!, there is little hope at the end of the labyrinth.
This is a must read. You will not be let down. I will now read the other books and reread this one and I may update again.
Aug 2, 2008
Jun 9, 2009
Feb 5, 2012
Art - The art is very rough and dirty, making it difficult to make out exactly what is happening. Character designs are quite ugly, it's hard to tell the difference between male and female characters. In addition the author seems to have some problems with drawing from different perspectives.
Character - The characters are extremely weird and behave erratically to the point where they are incomprehensible. The dialogue is very strange and makes very little sense, no matter which way I look at it.
Enjoyment - I gained no enjoyment from reading this manga.
Overall - I can describe this manga only as a collection of inane incomprehensible action sequences. If you're looking only for explosions and badly drawn humanoids then consider reading this. Otherwise don't bother. read more