Enter a dark and dismal future where humanity struggles to barely survive. This is’t the typical dystopia though. Imagine a colossal city that spans layers so deep you can travel for days and never see the real sun. In this endless maze of metal and stone, a sparse number of humans somehow get by as they avoid the machines hunting them. It is a world as mysterious as it is endless. Any semblance of an answer to one thing brings with it dozens of new questions. This is the world of Blame! Is it a movie worth watching? How original and entertaining is it? Read on to find out.
The exact date isn’t known. The only thing that is however is that at some point far in the past humans once had the ability to control the sprawling city. Then one day a strange contagion robbed them of the ‘Net Terminal Gene’. Without it, humans could no longer connect to the vast network and by extension, the machines that endlessly built the city. Since then, they were seen as ‘illegal’ residents and mechanical watchtowers as well as ‘safeguards’ would hunt and exterminate them. Most remaining humans have since taken to living inside primitive villages utilizing what little technology they had available. Without the means or know-how to replicate their tech, every tool they had was precious.
Blame! presents a story and world that’s dark, gritty, depressing and imposing. The few humans remaining are like microscopic specks against the awe inspiring towers and mega-structures of the city. With no human to control things, the robotic builders have taken to constantly expanding it without any order or purpose, effectively creating a huge maze. Thus, the world itself has become a mechanical terror and just beholding it can be unnerving even for the viewer. It is monumental and sprawling yet still a prison. It could be the size of continents or even the entire planet, no one knows.
Its story presents us with a dying settlement of only about 150 or so humans on the brink of starvation. Despite having a few mechanical suits that increases their strength, speed and senses, these ‘electro-fishers’ must brave the world outside their safe perimeter to get food. Overtime it became scarcer and scarcer and now, having to go further, they find themselves blocked in by safeguards and watchtowers on all ends. Amidst this desperation a solemn and stoic man known as ‘Killy’ appears as if from nowhere.
All he says about himself is that he’s searching for a human with the net terminal gene. Though he’s human, the watchtowers ignore him and he has a powerful gun that can burn holes through the vast city structure almost a mile long. Oddly enough he may be the only person able to save the dying village. Blame! manages to give very little information about its world but remains interesting and engrossing regardless. It skillfully manages to give us enough to keep us questioning while almost encouraging viewers to let their imagination run wild and fill gaps on their own.
Almost nothing is known of Killy. Only that he has spent untold years searching for a human untouched by the contagion in order to bring things back under human control. Though biologically human, he has inhuman strength, speed and resistances. He can heal extremely quickly and his organic eyes seem genetically modified to allow him to scan and assess everything he sees like a machine would.
Along the way he encounters Cibo, a scientist from the era when humans now began to suffer from the contagion. By uploading her brain and consciousness to mechanical bodies, she has been able to survive. She is also in search of a means of replicating the gene. Things are mostly given from the perspective of the village youths Zuru, Sutezo and Kae, led by an elder electro-fisher known as ‘Pops’. Character development isn’t the primary focus in Blame!’s story however as the brutal existence and vast world means any interaction is shortlived. Instead, its world and the desire to know more about it steals the show and manages to tell a story by itself with each new area and scene.
Blame! comes from the very same creator of Knights Of Sidonia, Tsutomu Nihei. As a result we see a similar deep, dark colour palette coupled with an almost CGI like smoothness to the animation. It all helps to contribute to the unique atmosphere and feel of the movie and it is quite well done. The music and sound as well can quickly go from minimalist to moving and emotive. Additionally, both the Japanese and English voicework is of high standard and quality. Of note is the fact that Blame! is quite a mature production. Its characters are drawn realistically and proportional. Over the top gags and stereotypes common to anime including the ‘obligatory fan service’ is largely absent. It is somber and serious from start to finish.
Blame! is, without a doubt a must see animated movie. It defies conventional norms and stereotypes while weaving a moving tale through both its characters but more so its captivating and awe inspiring environments. You won’t regret giving this one a shot.