Anime Review: Blame!

By Drew Hurley 31.05.2018

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Blame! (UK Rating: 15)

The manga of Blame! gathered cult acclaim. A dark, post-apocalyptic tale that was full of stunning and stylish art. It was a series that ignored traditional storytelling methods and threw the reader into a world without explaining anything that was going on. That ended up creating something very special; a story of a wandering warrior like a cyberpunk Caine, replacing the kung-fu with an OP Gravity Gun; a story that delivered unbelievable art and a hugely expensive sci-fi dystopia. Last year, Netflix expanded its impressive anime originals by adding an animated film adaptation of this cult classic to its growing library and now Manga Entertainment is bringing the release to DVD and Blu-ray collections across the UK, out as of 28th May.

Blame! is the type of series that seemed impossible to adapt; a series that survived on the strength of its art, with a story that was confusing to new readers and old fans alike, but this adaptation has taken one of the best pieces of the overall story to bring to life. This 100-minute movie covers one of the first arcs from the series, seeing protagonist Killy working with a group of humans fighting against a world that's trying to eliminate them.

Staying true to the source material, the movie throws the audience into a story with no lengthy exposition or scene setting. There's a brief introduction from one of the characters Killy meets in this story, but little more. Set in "The City," a cyberpunk world overtaken by technology, humans hide in small pockets from various creatures set on wiping them out. The writer of the original Manga, Tsutomu Nihei, was heavily involved in this adaptation from day one, something that could have gone either way. Nihei has produced some great series, but he has real issues when it comes to traditional storytelling, often producing confusing and bloated messes when he turns his hand to a regular narrative. Thankfully - and surprisingly - his involvement here is wholly positive, with a completely coherent and solid story delivered. The story manages to interweave key events and characters from the original into this completely new tale that, at points, even feels superior to its progenitor.


 
While the story works, the art does not. Anyone who has seen the adaption of Nihei's other work on Netflix, Knights of Sidonia, or anything else from studio Polygon, will know what to expect. It's a strange, stilted CG-animation style that many fans just can't get used to. For many, it's simply unwatchable. The biggest complaint with these series is often the frame-rate. It's shot at around 12 fps, which just makes for a presentation that just feels off, pulling the audience out of its immersion regularly. It's a shame because so much of the movie has the potential to look superb. The special effects from the weapons and the visuals showing HUDs from the point of view of the characters are amazing, and looking beyond the CG at the choreography of the fight scenes shows particularly high quality. Not to mention the unique dark world - a shame this is all ruined by the art and animation styles.

Polygon has assembled some of the very best of Japanese VAs for the cast of this adaptation. Protagonist Killy gets few lines, but those he does utter are spoken by Takahiro Sakurai, one of Japan's finest voice actors, known for playing Suzaku in Code Geass, Griffith in Berserk and Cloud Strife himself. The extended cast includes Mamoru Miyano (Light Yagami), Yuki Kaji (Eren Jaeger), and Kana Hanazawa (Akane Tsunemori). The Japanese dub was all that was available on Netflix but on this release there's an English dub available, too, that has such major VAs as Kyle McCarley as Killy and Cristina Vee as Cibo. Also included with this release is a 30-minute "Making of" documentary that includes interviews with the crew and even the original creator.

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Those who can get over the horrendous presentation will find a heck of a dark, sci-fi movie here with Blame! It's reminiscent of the disaster that was the new series of Berserk movies; a beloved classic series finally gets an anime adaptation, only for it to be butchered by a controversial method of animation. Those who enjoyed this, or even found a glint of promise beneath the hideous animation, would be wise to check out the gorgeous original manga that is now available in the UK in glorious huge volumes.

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