Jan 14, 2009
Biomega (Manga) add (All reviews)
Beatnik (All reviews)
From the creator of dark mega structures of unknown origin, Biomega is the laidback easygoing cousin of the brooding and unintelligible Blame.

As usual, story takes a backseat to vision. This is not a criticism, but an acknowledgement of Nihei's trademark, sensibilities and priorities. You don’t check out this man's manga to get involved in a deep plot; you do it for the mood, the scope, the imagination in ambiguity. Having said that Biomega does resort to some exposition, and even 'story so far' and a chart of characters and organisations, its like Nihei feels sorry for us and is being generous, or maybe his editor had a go at him. Either way, visiting his world this time round is a bit more coherent and amazingly you just might get answers for questions that Blame might have made you swear under your breath.

It’s strange, but it’s like he usually just wants (or in this case previously just wanted) you to complete his stories for him, which any other time would be infuriating, but he teases you in just the right ways, like bedazzling you with amazing art, that you don’t care if you have to fill in the dots to make sense of his manga. The joy is in the journey, not the details.

I would say his manga are thought-provoking, but the surface definition of that would mean he challenges your perceptions of what you believe in, but instead the actuality is that in trying to fill in the dots, your imagination takes you to wild places as you desperately try to figure out how Nihei's architecture was built, where the technology came from, who those crazy looking bad guys are, why the good guys are doing what they're doing and just where the hell can we buy that motorbike?

Nihei takes a bike and does to it what he did to a gun in Blame. He makes that shit epic! It's a challenger to Kaneda's red machine from Akira, sleek like a bullet and just as effective as it traverses every terrain you can think of at incredible speeds. This manga has one of the best action set pieces I've ever read, absolutely incredible scope and imagination on display as Nihei aims for the stratosphere with the killer bike and ends up on the other side.

Biomega is packed with great crowd-pleasing action sequences that recall cinematic composition, aided by Nihei’s amazing ability to bring context to his stunning city designs, but above all else they're just great fun to read. Biomega really is Nihei let loose and having fun. Not that his other work isn’t without humour, his dialogue is so droll, so understated and played so straight its hilarious, but the humour seems more overt this time round thanks to the fast pace that allows for a bike to be taken literally anywhere the protagonist wills it. There is also a bear wielding a rifle, but you'll see for yourself. As ever though, characters mumbling totally mundane observations while insanity happens around them is the best source of mirth.

Biomega revolves around all the concepts and ideas Nihei's previous works concern themselves with: cut off civilisations, hyperhumanity and nonhumans bashing together with violence and indecipherable dialogue while contending with apocalyptic threats of nasty consequences involving body mutation. There is a distinctive sense of dread on every page. There is barely anyone to relate to, Nihei's vision of our future is bleak and populated by hyperhumans, synthetic in nature. There is no culture, no signs of art, literature, music, the world is drab and at the end of its tether.

The fact that you cant recognise anything at all in this future vision of Earth may be seen as a flaw in Nihei's manga, people need something to latch onto to emit their own reactions, but it is actually brave and very fascinating to read this nightmare of humanity's potential; extremely dangerous groups battling over the last remnants of whats left of our planet. At the end of the day what you're reading is the end of the world as we know it, not that we know it as Nihei drew it, but you get the idea. Yeah it's not happy reading, but that's what the bike is for. Nihei's chosen genre traits are sci-fi, cyberpunk, body horror and flat out action, and he's sticking to them damnit.

Biomega, lots of mega and lots of bio, connected by explosions. So expect lots of body parts flying around.