Blame! – Anime Review
Synopsis: Inside a vast, self-replicating city bent on eliminating all life, mysterious loner Killy emerges to guide a remnant of humanity desperate to survive. (Official Netflix Synopsis.)
Reviewed by Tom
(Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow)
Netflix’s Blame! is based upon the manga of the same name, a title known for incredible art with unique, intricate designs and sense of scale that gives life to a bizarre sci-fi world where robots and machines dominate while man exists as little more than an insect.
Polygon Pictures’ latest effort (the same studio behind adaptations for Knights of Sidonia and Ajin) captures the sheer sense of scale and stunning detail Blame! came to be known for. The armor and clothes characters where is highly detailed, with plenty of rough texture to sell the gritty nature of their existence. Backgrounds are also incredibly well done, bringing to life the same absurd scale and downtrodden nature from the manga. Blame! may look a lot like Sidonia, as the two series share the same Mangaka, Tsutomu Nihei, but both are also realized with the same low detail character models and periodically distracting jittery frame rate Polygon Pictures is known for. Likely more a stylistic choice than a true issue, it’s none the less the greatest flaw in this otherwise visually gripping film, periodically pulling your attention away during more intense moments as you notice the slight visual quirk more prominently than is ideal.
Stepping past the visuals Blame! has a wealth to offer in terms of story and world building. The manga was known for its minimalist use of narrative and exposition, often leaving quite a bit off the table for readers to pick up on through visual clues or sub textual hints. However, this often came off as obtuse, leaving crucial story elements for much later chapters, keeping less patient readers frustratingly left in the dark. Interested in keeping Blame! approachable, Polygon has gone to considerable effort to tighten things up, offering up brief segments of exposition, and greater visual clues/sub textual hints to keep the viewer following along. However that doesn’t mean the story is spoon fed to the viewer, and audiences interested in having the story laid out will likely still walk away disappointed. Anyone willing to watch with attention however is bound to find many of the answers they seek.
Polygon Pictures keeps the story moving at brisk enough a pace, making sure that mystery, suspense, action and answers come at regular intervals. All this is aided by a soundtrack that amps up the action, the suspense, and the twists and turns perfectly. The sound design isn’t to be forgotten either, adding plenty of ambience that helps to bring to life this unique, post apocalyptic future. It aids in truly capturing and bringing to life Blame!’s impressive sense of scale.
The one place where Blame! is lacking however is its characters. Blame! lacks any deeper characterization, most of its cast existing as little more than cardboard cut outs: for example it’s main, Killy, a silent protagonist who offers little in the way of actual character, save for a handful of defining moments that one can glean the slimmest of characterization from. The only character to feel a bit more three-dimensional is Cibo, a scientist who holds the key to potentially saving humanity from the safeguards. Her character packs a little more nuance and subtle characterization, but even then still pales compared to other anime feature film outings.
Blame! sells itself on spectacle however, and shouldn’t be watched for its characters, but rather its incredible world and visual impact. As the action ramps up explosions and weapons fire look incredible, giving the entire production a memorable visual pop.
Blame! is available for streaming via Netflix.