I was excited to pick APOSIMZ up. Is it worth the read? Yes and no. I'm a big fan of BLAME! but Nihei's more recent works have been quite disappointing, despite the settings and concepts being very intriguing time after time.
That sentence probably summarizes all of Nihei's works – unique and exciting concepts, but time after time, I find myself thinking about how the storytelling itself could have been so much better. APOSIMZ, or Ningyou no Kuni, is not an exception. It reminds me more of a grittier version of the high-school drama that is Knights of Sidonia, instead of the doomed, vast and apocryphal
world of BLAME!. While the latter sparks an enormous interest towards the world Nihei has created, the former always failed to do that for me. As far as I know, Nihei himself has apparently dissed or disowned his earlier works, which is a shame since there are quite a few good things about them that he could explore.
Nihei's drawing style for APOSIMZ is light and fragile, and that's what I've really liked about it. A wasteland covered in indecipherable materials, bio-mass akin to some kind of dust, ice, snow... A lot of things in existence in the world of APOSIMZ are things of legends and traditions passed down for generations for so long their workings or mechanics have been rendered unknown. Tribalism has emerged since the downfall of whatever existed before the wandering groups of the cold Surface.
Some of the things strike a resemblance to Berserk, Nausicaä or even Made in Abyss. In the unique world Nihei has created, they feel disappointingly unoriginal. It would have worked out quite nicely if they were clear homages to the works Nihei has found inspiring. I can't say I enjoyed reading the dialogue, as most of it is frankly quite boring. It's monotonous to the point I started to question whether the numerous characters have a personality of their own at all. It feels like all of the characters are simply copies of one another, mere cannon-fodder for gore.
In short, Ningyou no Kuni features biomechanical samurai armor-battles, battle droids in gothic lolita -esque outfits, gore and a little bit of fanservice. It's a biopunk re-telling of BLAME!, where Etherow is Killy and Titania is Cibo, filling the tropes of Marty Stu and Ms. Exposition, respectively.
It would seem that Nihei is searching for a synthesis of a gritty apocalyptic world and the contemporary Japanese society, but so far the amalgamation that is APOSIMZ feels rushed and not original enough. Disappointingly so, since I always keep an eye on Nihei's new works, waiting for a polished masterpiece he is more than capable of creating.