Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Blame! by Nihei Tsutomu

Nihei Tsutomu

Killy is a man of few words. He wanders, seemingly endlessly, through a lonely, gargantuan labyrinth of concrete and steel, fighting off cyborgs and other futuristic nightmares, searching only for something called Net Terminal Genes. And he has a very powerful gun, which he uses without hesitation whenever anything resembling danger rears its ugly head.
Who is this quiet, violent, determined man and what are these Genes he seeks? The small communities he finds tucked into the crevices of this towering, dystopic ruin hardly give him leads on his treasure, driving him to find larger enclaves of civilization where people can reveal more about the world he lives in and the quarry he seeks.

Alternative Names


Reading Instructions
Chapters 1-19: Read from left to right
Chapters 20-66: Read from right to left

Sites for reading online (free)

Rosy's scrawlings on Blame!
Brilliant. Love it, love it, love it.
Okay, that says about all you need to know but I'll write some more.
Within Blame! you'll find a dystopian nightmare that seems to stretch on endlessly and without reason. The world is its own and seems completely disconnected from ours except by a few similarities and IT based or science based ideas. You will likely need to dust off your physics knowledge as you go but if you don't have much of that to start with then just enjoy the play of hard science-fiction. There's little that will get in your way if you don't understand as most of the time you'll feel a little like you're scrabbling for answers just with the plot. This is actually one of the best aspects about Blame! and, in fact, most stories I've truly loved. That the reader is kept guessing and intrigued by the unexpected is a sign that the story is new and quite unique, as far as unique goes in this world.
What life there is isn't really life as we know it. The beings of the world are constantly being built or constructed, blown to pieces and patched up again, backed up and remade or just rebooted endlessly without explanation. There are even some who heal wounds generally fatal even to their own kind and go on to fight another battle. Characters change forms and even bodies with ease although they don't always like it. Rarely are there those who stay dead without being beheaded and or exploded by a gravitational gun.
The violence is extreme and long lasting although the gore and horror impact is limited so you get the same sort of viewing pleasure with this as you do with zombie stories. The violence has a different meaning due to the different set of rules you need to comprehend it by. All in all, I'd say that there's something hypnotic about the artistically stilled violence that only sometimes flows and blooms.
As to the characters, their base motivations aren't always explained but you do become familiar with them as you read on. Reading Blame! is almost like watching a silent movie in this respect. You have to watch the action and interpret the meaning just as much as pay attention to the odd explanation that comes your way.
The art is very dark and scratched in, mirroring the jagged and stark landscape, characters and events. Light is used sparingly throughout and because of this it is as harsh as the darkness. Add to that, Killy is more often than not dwarfed by the landscape and the creatures he encounters, making the entire text a tad disturbing spatially. The art is truly beautiful but not in the way you'd expect beautiful art to be. It is entrancing and pulls you along, making up for the lack of speech and hidden plot lines until all becomes clear. Why it pulls you along is a need to find out what the next space is, what is to be discovered by the characters and what sort of cyborg, human or silicon life Killy will encounter next.

I'd recommend this manga to: anyone who likes dystopian literature, cyborgs, IT or tech, The Matrix and all things dark and violent. It is very male in style but females will love the story too, as long as they match the above description.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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