Blame! Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 240
  • ISBN: 1-59532-836-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Blame! Vol. #03

By Jarred Pine     March 13, 2006
Release Date: February 07, 2006

Blame! Vol.#03

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Tsutomu Nihei
Translated by:Stephen Paul
Adapted by:

What They Say
Having been delivered an imperative by the Authority to find the Net Terminal Genes--the key to halting the rapid and random growth of Cluster Town--Killy and Cibo come closer to unlocking the secrets of the Netsphere. However, the ability to actually understand the language of the Net Terminal Gene carriers may have been forever lost. Will Killy find a way to translate these seemingly undecipherable signals before the Authority itself is destroyed by its own creation?

The Review
Do not try and understand the Netsphere. That's impossible. Instead, only try to absorb the mood and vast atmosphere that is Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame!.

TOKYOPOP continues to use the cover art from the original tankoubon, moving the logo and volume number around a bit. The colors look great on the matte finish, as well as the small illustration on the back cover. No color pages were available this time around. There are no chapter headers, as each chapter just continues into the next, and no extras are in this volume as well.

The print reproduction is not so good this time around, or maybe I’m just finally noticing some issues. The tones are really dark and muddy, which is a shame because a lot of Nihei’s depth and small details in his artwork is lost. There are also some cropping issues, where bits of the original art, where the art bled off the page, have been cut off at the edges when the pages were upsized for the slightly larger trim size. The major selling point for a lot of readers with this title is the unique art style, so I’m a little disappointed that the quality of the original printing could not be maintained.

Tsutomu Nihei’s artwork is just so vast and infinite, that I find myself just staring into panels for long periods of time in order to just take it all in. This world of the Netsphere is grim, dirty, and dark, but Nihei’s skills with architecture really help him with putting together strong backgrounds with breathtaking angles and compositions. A lot of the designs for the creatures of the world remind me of H.R. Giger, especially the carrier ship for the Safeguard.

There is also a lot more action this time around, and the way Nihei directs the action with his panels and explosive illustrations really allow the scenes to explode right off the page. The art here is about as anti-manga as it can get, which is a nice refreshing kick in the can for the market. Character designs are not his strongpoint, but that’s not the selling point of this title either. Some of the panels were also a little too chaotic and I could not tell what was happening. Overall though this is solid, distinct material.

The SFX are translated and subbed both in the margins and in the panels. I really like seeing TOKYOPOP finally making some movement with translating SFX again, and in this case, doing it in a way that minimizes touching Nihei’s art.

The translation continues to read very clearly and keeps that terse mood between characters and their world. I am not familiar with the original text, but everything seems to read quite well from my experience. The one thing I’m starting to wish for was some sort of terminology or world guide to try and put everything into better focus.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Reading Blame! is akin to having one hell of a bizarre dream, only once you wake up and try to share it with someone, you just can’t get the words out appropriately. It all makes sense in bits and pieces inside of your head, but trying to formulate it all for someone else proves to be quite the chore. In that sense, it is best to just kick back and let Nihei’s story and visuals pour over you, taking in the atmosphere and small bits of info in piecemeal without worrying about the whole course.

After receiving their directives from The Authority, Killy and Cibo move on to the next level of the city, continuing their search for a human with Net Terminal Genes that will hopefully slow down the sprawl and randomness of the city. Standing in their way are the Safeguard, a controlled virus of the Netsphere whose function is to eliminate all who come into contact with the Netsphere without Net Terminal Genes. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the Safeguard may have gone a bit haywire, as they are destroying every single human who does not possess the Net Terminal Genes.

After coming under attack from Safeguard, Killy and Cibo are rescued by a group of Electrofishers, humans whose descendents were the Planters and once able to connect to the Netsphere a long time ago; an ability that is now long since lost. As Cibo helps the group unlock the mysteries of a possible lost techonology, Killy recovers from his injuries which somehow begins to reactivate some of his functioning AI for his eyes. He can now analyze everyone and everything in front of him, but more importantly he can now tell who is a Safeguard and who is not. This leads to a stunning revelation that turns the Electrofishers’ hideout into a battleground with the Safeguard.

Much more heavier on the action this time around, Blame! continues to be quite the interesting experience for me. The immediate story contained in this volume is pretty easy to follow with a nice couple twists and lots of action. But once I try to place it in context with all the other outside elements, I begin to get a little dizzy. Given the perspective of how the story is presented, I think the lack of information works quite well with seeing the world from Killy’s (and Cibo’s) eyes. The ambiguous over-arching story and broad landscape illustrations by Nihei gives this manga quite the feeling of vastness. The world of the Netsphere and Cluster Town are so infinite that most cannot quite understand what all it holds.

At the same time, the unknowingness could become frustrating for some. As I stated earlier, there are a couple small revelations here that change things a bit, but how they fit into the over-arching story is very unclear. In a way, reading Blame! reminds me of my experience with the anime Texhnolyze. Not everything was quite apparent or clear cut for a good chunk of the story, but by just sitting back and taking in all the visuals, letting the mood wash over me, proved to be an enjoyable experience. I just hope that all the absorption will hopefully lead to some answers along the way.


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