Aposimz vol. 9 – Tsutomu Nihei

2 out of 5

Not that Tsutomu Nihei hasn’t done insane time leaps and focus switch-ups in previous tales’ concluding chapters – both could be said to be tropes of his work by this point – but Aposimz’s use of this in its final tankobon feels different. …It feels rushed. Whereas before, the stories’ scopes and tones felt so wide and surreal that the leaps of narration fit, in a Nihei way, Aposimz had become very linear after establishing its premise – super-powered lessers (Etherow, his crew) versus super-powered greaters (the emperor and his crew) – and the way these chapters cut out of several climactic battles seems like an editorial hurry-it-along mandate (or perhaps Tsutomu getting bored, who knows). 

What’s frustrating about this pacing, and the way it makes Nihei approach the ending – which does explain the emperor’s goal, and Titania, and the “why” of Etherow – is that it’s rather one of the creator’s most interesting application of his interests in technology and humanity mash-ups, even expanded slightly to have some clearer social commentary mixed in. I’m actually tempted to see this as revisiting Blame!, but mixed with the storytelling skills developed during Sidonia, arriving at what’d been an interesting middleground of tone that I’d very much been enjoying. 

And I didn’t unenjoy this conclusion, but again, it feels very rushed, literally chopping out major showdowns that likely could’ve taken another book or so. …Which might be welcomed, since that can get tiring, but these were battles with main characters, meaning we’re robbed of any real pay off to their arcs – i.e. these could’ve been sequences with storytelling mixed in, but instead, it’s just exposition-dumped later. 

I also think some of the final details don’t quite make sense. Perhaps it’s a translation thing, but Nihei backs himself into a narrative corner that sort of robs aspects of the conclusion of its stakes. It’s after the fact, so the final showdown with the emperor is still cool, but once you get there, it hits with a sharp “…why did we do this?” feeling, that lingers and makes you wistful for the way Aposimz opened with such Blame-like mystery.