Blame! (also w/T-shirt) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: F
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 19.95/24.95
  • Running time: 37
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Blame!

Blame! (also w/T-shirt)

By Chris Beveridge     May 03, 2005
Release Date: May 10, 2005



What They Say
3000 years have passed since the future was buried. Countless armies of machines are all that remain of human civilization. Without orders, they build and build, swallowing up the Earth, Moon, and the entire solar system within the intricate steel and concrete levels of the Megastructure. Somehow, in this environment, the Silicon Creatures have come to exist. All that has been known about them until now is their goal: Invade the Netsphere; eradicate all organics. Our only weapon is this salvaged data disc from the engineer Cibo. It contains information that might allow humans to restore order to the world.

The Review!
A piece of experimental animation, Blame! is the kind of piece that will fascinate and inspire some but completely turn away others.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The Japanese track is all that's on this disc in fact though some original solicitation material indicated it was a bilingual release. It's not a dialogue heavy piece though but there is dialogue throughout most of the sections of the show. What is there is pretty simple with little in terms of directionality as they went more for voice alteration techniques than placement or directionality. What there is of the dialogue is clean and clear and free of dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally released in 2003, the transfer for this show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. This is a very dark and murky show with it being mostly underground and playing with lights and shadows throughout it. It's very well done though with the colors being used in interesting ways to cast the characters and their backgrounds. With such a short running time and mostly still scenes that are being panned across, the bit rate is good and the end result is a seemingly perfect transfer that has no problems I could notice from it. When you have a large red background and no blocking or shifting of any kind, it's really well done.

Packaging:
Taking the original Japanese cover which was done sideways and turning it here so that it spans from the back cover to the front cover and allows each character to dominate the section they're on, this is a stark looking cover that doesn't fit with a lot of what's on the shelves today and will probably scream out loud to some people who come across it as something they must check out. The back cover gets worked over a bit more than the front as it has the summary and shots from the show added onto it as well as the production and technical information but overall I really like how they reworked the original cover to this particular layout. The reverse side of the cover is a black and gray piece that has the shows name and a lot of scenes from the show around it but done in dark grayscale that's difficult to see. The insert uses the character artwork on each side to provide the glossary of terms that are key to understanding what's going on in the show.

In addition to the disc release, a disc + shirt option was also released. This was done with the shrinkwrap just going around the case and the wrapped up shirt and they placed a one-sheet insert behind it that replicated the back cover. It's a bit more detailed since it also shows off the design of the shirt on the insert which is a real plus, with the word Silicon on the front and a face design while the world is on the back as well.

Menu:
More frustrating than the show itself, the "computer interface" menus that are in-theme to the show and I'm presuming are identical to the Japanese releases are something that I just don't like. Navigating menus should not be difficult. Having menus whose text is all "alien" should not be done. I don't like having a row of ten selections that you don't know what they are until you access them. And even then, half of them "don't work" because they're corrupted, another in-theme piece to them. It's stylish and plays to what the show is, but this is one of those areas where it's taken too far. I don't like wasting time going into a subsection for it to tell me there's nothing really there to see. Access times are slow due to the transitional menu animations.

Extras:
The on disc extras look to be fairly minimal with it just really being the gallery. I gave up on trying to figure out anything else after the menu layout frustrated me so completely.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blame! is a six part show that's based off of a manga series. The animation for it is something that was supposedly done as some sort of experimental thing since the author's work fit meshed with the animation style they wanted to use. After watching it, I'm really unsure of just what it is they were really trying to achieve since there wasn't much really experimental about the animation and the show could have been done much better as a true stand alone OVA.

The plot is pretty simple – read the summary on the back of the keepcase and you know the entire thing practically. And you should because it doesn't get explained well in the show and you're left wondering what it was you just saw and then you wonder why you just saw it. This takes place some 3000 years in the future when silicon machines have come to rule the planet and they've done so much work in expanding their realm that the megastructure is now a massive piece the encompasses the entire solar system. It's simply massive on a grand scale and when you view it through the interior, it's incredibly diverse and designed in such a creepy and foreboding manner that it evokes a great sense of atmosphere. It is unfortunately populated by a few beings and creatures who standard around and say a few things here and there but there doesn't really feel to be any plot to it. What it comes down to is that the silicon creatures have determined that now is the time to eliminate any of the organics that still reside within their sprawling megastructure.

A lot of the time it seems like they're just intent on talking the organics to death. There's a lot of panning around to different areas and different times of the megastructure and some incidents along the way of violence as the organics are attacked and the organics fight back with some information. What Blame! really comes down to is, it's a visually interesting piece that you can easily imagine running on some late night channel or in installments on something like Liquid TV about a decade ago and gathering up a small fandom who like its minimalist nature and the way it tells its story. I'm not much of a fan of a show that I end up learning more about from reading the inserts and glossary of terms than from the actual show and that's where Blame! landed for me. It simply didn't tell its story well within the show, especially since it had to spend so much time doing the brief opening and closing bits for all six episodes within the confines of the overall running time.

In Summary:
Visually, the series is intriguing and it does present the potential for some interesting ideas, but it's told in such a haphazard way. I was already frustrated just going into the show because of the menu layout that it carried over into a show that I felt was almost the same way. At most, this is something where it's an ideal piece of animation to be used to sell something bigger and more interesting or to use as a platform on which to build something much more detailed and alive. The concepts and designs here are certainly intriguing but I think they failed badly at execution. It's sure to have its fans and I've got my own quirky shows of a similar nature that I adore, but this one just did not click for me at all.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Gallery,Glossary

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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