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Anime Blame! OAV


Wondershot
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This is something I ended up getting at a video store in my area on a whim for about thirty dollars. The anime (or Experimental Animation, as the back cover calls it) of Nihei Tsutomu's manga [i]BLAME![/i].

The manga [i]BLAME![/i] is about two explorers, Killy and Cibo, attempting to conquer a massive, dark maze known as the Megastructure, which is essentially a building that is capable of constructing itself faster than anyone can explore it. As a result, the Megastructure has since enveloped most of the galaxy, and all of humanity has been trapped inside, looking for ways to either get out or survive within its walls. Worse yet is the fact that beings known as Silicon Creatures have begun to appear, humanoid abominations bent on dominating the Megastructure and eliminating humans as they see fit. However, the anime doesn't make much of this clear at all, as the nature of it is not to tell the story already presented by the manga, but highlight a few moments from the manga through animation.

The disc itself is known as [i]Ver 0.11 salvaged disc by Cibo[/i] and it is probably one of the more fascinatingly designed DVDs in my collection. When you first insert it, you see the typical ads and warnings against copyright violation, but then you see a menu appear in a strange, senseless language. No translations are offered, you just have to pick an option and see what happens. This is an interesting reinforcement of the idea that it is a "salvaged disc" from the world presented by the story, as there is no real explanation as to what exactly is on it and it has no way of making itself comprehensible to an outside viewer. Furthermore, some of the menu options cause an error message to appear, saying that the disc has been damaged (but in a fashion indicating that it is still part of the illusion), and the viewer then has no choice but to eject the disc and try again. While frustrating at times, the fact that the DVD itself references the reality presented by the story makes it that much more interesting to watch and explore.

Now, we get to the actual series, which consists of seven episodes and a grand total of...34 minutes of footage. I am serious, each episode usually doesn't exceed five minutes in length. The reason for this is that, as I said before, the anime doesn't actually present the story already depicted in the manga, but a series of vignettes based on events that take place in the manga. The episodes are known as "logs", and here they are. So you know, some of these bits of information will spoil events that take place in the manga, so I will use spoiler tags accordingly.

[B]log:01 - Megastructure[/B]

No story to speak of. This is just a series of still shots or brief animations depicting, more or less, what the Megastructure is. You only hear a few haunting sound effects and what sounds like a ghostly trumpet in the distance, and simply observe the twisted architecture that is the Megastructure. This is meant to encompass Nihei Tsutomu's method of storytelling in the manga, as he is usually content to simply linger on details of the Megastructure and emphasize the sense of empty space and loneliness within its walls.

[B]log:02 - Silicon Creatures[/B]

This depicts a brutal battle between one of the Silicon Creatures, Cibo and Killy. This log may spoil an event in the manga, as it appears as though [spoiler]Cibo dies[/spoiler] in the battle. Really, this episode is meant to showcase the twisted new aesthetic that the backgrounds and character designs take on in combat, as all the lights and walls turn red and blue blood flies everywhere.

[B]log:03 - netsphere[/B]

This is where we are first introduced to Cibo's past. [spoiler]She was once working on a project to escape the Megastructure through the "netsphere", which would allow the people to control the Megastructure's rate of construction, but the project failed miserably and many people died for her efforts, so she was exiled from the society in which she lived.[/spoiler] This, however, is not all made clear in this episode, as it consists of a conversation between her and a person known as "the President's son" regarding some obscure details about her plans for escaping the Megastructure. This, again, will likely only interest people who have already read the manga, and probably just seem strange to people who haven't. Also, this episode contains a brief nude scene in the form of a woman in a tank of translucent liquid, not covered up by any of the wires or anything normally associated with people in tanks of liquid. You've been warned.

[B]log:04 - (unreadable, it's in Kanji)[/B]

This episode is so obscure that even I will be hard pressed to explain it. Killy and Cibo meet an entity who claims to be part of the "netsphere Administrative Bureau" who updates them on their progress and informs them that the Bureau wants them to continue their mission because [spoiler]the netsphere itself is slowly becoming damaged by the Megastructure's continuous expansion, and they are required to find someone who can stymie the Megastructure's construction on their own.[/spoiler] Again, this scene will likely cause confusion for those who have not read the manga and are not aware of the context of the scene, so beware of spoilers. However, the scene itself is quite unusual to watch and the Admin Bureau rep has one of the most disturbing distorted voices I've ever heard, and he tends to pronounce words one excruciating syllable at a time. It's quite something to hear.

[B]log:05 - (again, in Kanji)[/B]

This episode is also somewhat confusing in terms of chronology, because it starts with the events at the end of log:02, but then gives us a segment from the manga in which Killy and Cibo meet for the first time. First, Killy is set upon by another Silicon creature, but is rescued by Cibo and her crazy flying mech suit. Then, they end up being chased away by more creatures, before finally ending up in a narrow valley where Killy dispatches them all with a blast from his "Graviton Radiation Projector", a weapon the size of a handgun but with the destructive power of a nuclear weapon. It also becomes evident that it can punch holes through the walls of the Megastructure, and may be the key to escaping it as a result.

[B]log:06 - Cibo[/B]

This log seems to start with the events at the end of log:01 (if you can call those mostly still pictures events), and shows Killy and Cibo stopping briefly to discuss their plans for the future. It again highlights the sense of isolation that these two characters feel, as most of it takes place from an unusually far-away angle from which both protagonists are only little stick-figures. The episode concludes when Cibo mentions [spoiler]having potentially met Killy sometime in the past.[/spoiler] Also, Killy never speaks a word in the entire series, (except at the very end, when he mouths "Cibo"), so the relationship between the two is definitely something very enigmatic.

[B]extra log: Collapsed Data[/B]

This final "extra" is actually a brief story told from the point of view of a Silicon Creature, wherein it explains that [spoiler]Silicon Creatures are not responsible for the Megastructure's expansion, but they are only capable of existing within the Megastructure and that they only kill humans to preserve their own lives, since they know humans seek to destroy or halt the Megastructure's expansion.[/spoiler] This allows us to sympathize somewhat with the enemy, strangely enough, but the Silicon Creature then establishes that it is not interested in making empty justifications for its actions, stating "Besides, we've always hated you."



In all, this is an anime directed almost exclusively at existing fans of the [i]BLAME![/i] manga, and it will spoil events that take place in the manga without offering any real context or insight into the story. However, if you're like me and have a yen for both anime and experimental art or art film, then you might enjoy it even if you haven't read the manga before. I, for one, am now interested in picking up the manga series and understanding more of the story (even if I am already familiar with a couple of plot twists), but I think that the animation did a very good job of capturing the essence of twisted architecture and loneliness within the Megastructure that the manga is supposed to capture by itself.
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  • 2 weeks later...
[COLOR="Indigo"][quote name='Wondershot;785734]However, the anime doesn't make much of this clear at all, as the nature of it is not to tell the story already presented by the manga, but highlight a few moments from the manga through animation. [/QUOTE]That's something I wish I had known before I watched a fan sub of this. It was interesting, but the whole time I kept waiting for it to make sense and it never did. Other than I got that the first part was really the ending and the rest was bits that lead up to that moment presented in the beginning of the show.[quote name='Wondershot']In all, this is an anime directed almost exclusively at existing fans of the [i]BLAME![/i'] manga, and it will spoil events that take place in the manga without offering any real context or insight into the story. However, if you're like me and have a yen for both anime and experimental art or art film, then you might enjoy it even if you haven't read the manga before. I, for one, am now interested in picking up the manga series and understanding more of the story (even if I am already familiar with a couple of plot twists), but I think that the animation did a very good job of capturing the essence of twisted architecture and loneliness within the Megastructure that the manga is supposed to capture by itself.[/quote]I did find it interesting, if only for the concept of the Megastructure, but having watched those snippets I would have been more interested in seeing the whole thing animated instead of the short fans only type of treat that they did. That and I really have no interest in the manga. For that type of story, I prefer to see it animated over the manga format. Still overall it was interesting, and the art style and portrayal of the Megastructure was nicely done. I'd never watch it again though. [/COLOR]
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Well, I would have to say that your initial reaction was similar to my own in watching the episodes for the first time. Really, all they did was breathe some life into the Megastructure in the first log by sparsely animating it and adding sound, but there really is too little story to speak of to hold the attention of anyone looking for a plot. I can imagine your frustration at realizing that the show wasn't about adapting the entire manga so much as presenting moments from it in a different medium, but I would have to say that while I can accept that it wasn't really meant for someone who hadn't seen the manga already, it does have a bit of a hook as it makes me wonder a bit more about the context under which the events in the seven logs takes place. Also, I must reiterate that if you were to get the DVD, you would see that its design is really based on the setting of the story itself, and is quite fascinating from the moment you so much as enter the first menu.

So, yeah, I think I'm in agreement and some disagreement with what you said, indifference. The anime offers no story context if you haven't read the manga, but it does make me want to pick up the manga and learn more about it, and see how some of the elements of the anime differ from the source material.

However, for those of you still out there who are uncertain as to whether or not this is as likeable as I make it out to be, maybe you can still find the fansubs of at least a couple of the logs (especially 01: Megastructure) and then decide if you like the minimalist aesthetics enough to appreciate the moments that occur devoid of story, or maybe you would want to read the manga first and then explore the option of getting this series if you really like the plot and want to see how some of the story's finer moments are presented through animation.

Or, maybe you disliked the manga or watched the anime first and didn't like it, and are cursing the production studios, fansub groups and myself for wasting your time with it.

It's all good.
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[COLOR="goldenrod"][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Well I caught this as well, before realizing that it was just snippets from the manga. And though I thought the concept was pretty cool, it still kind of frustrated me that there wasn't more. But then I don't have a lot of money for picking up manga and the local library doesn't carry it.

Still, if they ever did animate more I'd probably watch it. Since I'd love to see more behind what happened in the first place. ^_^ That and I thought the surreal feel to the imagery was pretty cool. And if by chance I do come across the manga and have a chance to read it, I probably will. [/FONT][/COLOR]
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