4 out of 5
Despite my (mostly minor) criticisms of previous volumes, Aposimz may be the best, most fun, most accessible thing Tsutomu Nihei has done to date. Blame! is a masterpiece when considered from afar, but it’s very impenetrable and I think takes some runthroughs to appreciate. Biomega is fun, and has some of my favorite art, but also feels halfway between an old idea and a new one. And Knights of Sidonia is sprawling compared to these works, and maybe gets cluttered behind too many characters and moving pieces.
With Aposimz, we have the sparseness and interesting conception of the Blame! world with the cleaner linework of Sidonia and an expanding, but fully memorable cast of characters with defined personalities. There’s full-on dialogue; there’s a clear plot throughline (although we sort of shifted from a personal revenge story – Etherow versus Yiyu – to a larger “save the world from Rebedoa pursuit with a shrug); and there are Nihei’s wonderfully inventive innovations and tweaks throughout. Volume 4 continues with the tale’s generally balanced pace, as Etherow, Titania, and Keisha pursue the latter’s brother, only interrupted by a scattering of regular frame heavies along the way. I am finding Tosu’s genesis a little confusing – he’s a brain implanted into a regular frame, and I’m not sure if we’re supposed to know who’s brain it was / is or if that matters? – but his strong, silent badassery allows for plentiful displays of Nihei artistry, and he’s paired with Jate (Tsutomu loves his badguy teamups) to fill in the silence.
There’s a bit of a massive exposition drop on the last few pages that feels a bit silly, but I also appreciate that it got something that was becoming fairly obvious out of the way sooner rather than later.