Blame! Review — CG Slaughter

Both literally and metaphorically.

  • For those of you who acknowledge the second season of Sidonia, do you remember how one of the author’s previous works, Blame!, made a cameo appearance in it and people started crying out for Polygon Pictures to adapt it in response? Well two years later, that wish has been granted, and a lot of people haven’t noticed because the advertisement for Blame! has been massively mishandled.
  • Anime films themselves don’t get much publicity unless it’s a big name – which Polygon Pictures certainly aren’t, Netflix itself is still struggling to get taken seriously as an anime streaming service, and releasing this film so close to Koe no Katachi’s physical release was a very poor choice indeed. I didn’t even know Blame! was getting an adaptation until the day it was released, and this is coming from someone who discovered the existence of an upcoming Shaft movie that’s not more cocking Monogatari.
  • Naturally, this intrigued me. I’m always up for giving attention to cult films, seeing how they stack up against the popular choices to like nowadays. So I gave it a shot, and quite honestly, I don’t blame the popular choices for whatever attention it steals from Blame!. Why? Because it wasn’t very good, that’s why.

Girls with guns are back in season, bitch!

  • Blame! is actually the third anime adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei’s cult classic, although the other two anime were shorter than an episode of Looney Tunes and about as comprehensible as a thesis on black hole theory written in Swahili, so you might as well say this film is the first one for all that it matters. The story is centered on a stoic badass named Killy and his adventures with a dying civilization living in an artificial structure called the “City” as he helps them find food and shelter away from the hostile machines that hunt them down because for some reason, humanity didn’t see fit to program them to with safeguards in case an innocent civilian wandered by in the past, and the characters in this film are paying the price for it.
  • The movie begins with a Ga-Rei Zero-like prologue where they throw a bunch of nameless characters into a prolonged action scene without telling you who they are or why you’re supposed to care. A few of them die in a spectacular fashion, but thankfully the Kill-yer happened to be wondering by and saves the rest of the crop just so they can die in the next act or three. Oh, and did I mention that similar to Sidonia and Attack on Titan, the majority of these front-line fighters are children? Hope you like seeing cute girls get their heads crushed, because otherwise if the CG doesn’t make you feel ill, the indiscriminate slaughter of “characters you wished you knew better than you are actually allowed to” will make you vomit.
  • There’s not really much of a plot in this movie unless you think “humanity is fucked” can sustain you for a few hours. Once the surviving humans discover that Killy knows of a safe place to relocate, the all follow him on a perilous journey, with the only other aid being a female human whose consciousness is contained in multiple robotic bodies over the course of the series. Lots of action, explosions, death, and crying over death occurs. Very little characterization or attempts to make the narrative unique follow in their wake.

This is the main female protagonist/POV character. Try telling me what her name is after you finish this movie.

  • I couldn’t sympathize with Killy because we don’t know anything about him beyond being a stoic badass who’ll do the right thing in the end. I couldn’t get attached to the other human characters because while their situation does indeed suck, it’s also not very inspired, and there’s very little to make any of them stand out apart from one person being the leader, one person being the nice girl, one person being the nice girl who gets killed…actually, I can’t even recall any of their names. All I know is the dub actor who voices them, and that’s not a situation any anime should ever be in, especially considering the number of emotional deaths this film tries to do.
  • Which is a shame, because aside from the obvious problem with Polygon Pictures animation, the technicals are all top-notch. Atmosphere is absorbing. Action is well-shot. I watched the English dub for this film and it was pretty damn good. But that’s all flavor at the end of the day, and what was being flavored wasn’t drawing me in at all due to its predictability regarding how technology has screwed us and the like. There were only around two plot twists in Blame!, and I called them long before they ever occurred.
  • At times, Blame! felt like a video game that wasn’t letting me play it, because the thinly written characters and story definitely felt like they were made more for an interactive medium, where it’d be much easier to sympathize with them. Also, the action going to ridiculous levels of overkill at times combined with the cleaned-up PS1-era CG wasn’t helping. But I could definitely see this story working as a manga too, because literature in general has a degree of interactivity to it as well. As we all know though, anime is completely non-interactive, and while the age of the manga is probably a factor as well, Blame! as a whole was never suited for traditionally animated storytelling.

Believe it or not, this scary-looking robot lady is actually one of the good guys.

  • I guess if you just want a well-directed post-apocalyptic sci-fi and don’t care about meat on the bones of its genre trappings, you’ll like Blame!. But between this and Sidonia, I’m starting to think that the original writer for this manga is trapped in a time capsule, ignorant of how storytelling has evolved throughout the years. First, you create characters with relatable flaws. Second, you…no I don’t think making the protagonist a space ninja will be more appealing!

Minor Quips

  • I wonder which of the anime coming out next season have been taken hostage by Netflix?
  • Actually, I’ve been informed Blame! is trending decently in Japan, but definitely not on the level of more recent anime films.

4 responses to “Blame! Review — CG Slaughter

  1. I guess you never read anything by Nihei, no? The guy is more of an architect and world builder than a writer. His skill as an artist is among the best of the best, but there’s a reason why his manga only got a cult following instead of massive popularity like Ghost in the Shell. I’m sure I’ve read an interview where he straight up said that he never cares about characterization. His fans seem to react reasonably positive to the movie, aside from the typical misgivings about CG. I like it too. The movie capture the spirit of the manga well.

    And yeah, I haven’t heard about that Shaft movie. Kind of a shame. The fame of Monogatari and Madoka buried Shaft the way Evangelion and Gurren Laggan buried Gainax.

    • I guess you never read anything by Nihei, no? The guy is more of an architect and world builder than a writer.

      I haven’t read his stuff, but I kinda got the gist from the similarities Blame had with Sidonia. And yeah, Nihei is talented, but in the same vein that a Dark Souls writer is talented. I don’t think something as non-interactive as anime is suitable for his style. However, Blame was a passion project for Polygon Pictures after their Blame cameo invited a lot of attention and they did a good job on the technical side of things for the most part, so I gotta respect that.

  2. Had no clue they did all this based on some cameo, i didn’t finish season 2 of sidonia. What a train wreck that turned out to be. Anyway what glued me to this movie was the lore of the world, i think this guy is really amazing at world building and the ideas i just find to be brilliant. Him not caring about characterization is quite…odd. Wish he did, most people can’t get immersed if there is no character convincing them to.

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