Blame! The Electrofishers’ Escape – Tsutomu Nihei (Direction)

2 out of 5

Did Tsutomu Nihei actually write this?  He’s credited as writing the Blame! movie, upon which this manga is based, but this adaptation just gives “direction” to Nihei, with a note about the flick being the source of the story.

The film is already a little underwhelming as-is – boiling down the sparse and yet complex narrative of the original manga into a one-off meeting between the human Electrofishers and their sudden savior from invading robo-species The Safeguard, Killy – and then it’s sort of further stripped of impact by giving an artist (Koutarou Sekine) the unenviable job of trying to evoke Nihei’s style without, y’know, looking like Nihei, and also following the movie script, and also establishing a style unique to the book, and then whoever did write the thing apparently forgot that animation has some cues like voices to help us identify characters, whereas here we get the Fishers in their lookalike costumes, calling each other non-memorable names in non-descript locations.

Sekine does some rather poor attempts at Tsutomu architecture and visuals, but the former is really tough to replicate and, as hinted by ‘non-descript locations’, ends up looking like just random slabs of walls with some bleep-bloop technology sticking out here and there, and in the latter case, get some massive zoom-outs a la Nihei, but then Sekine goes all pointlessly wild with the ‘camera,’ capturing things at odd angles that just further confuse what we’re looking at.  Nihei’s work has a learning curve, but you can learn it, and then it’s consistent; often in this book, I couldn’t figure out what pacing or style Sekine was going for except for “cool.”

There are some points where it is cool, mind you, when we’ve no dialogue to ignore, and the characters don’t really matter because we’re in the middle of an action sequence, and Koutarou forgets to be pointlessly flashy and just does up some good, energetic shots of Killy aiming his gun and Safeguards being creepy.  The character models match the movie, so they’re big and bulky, but Koutarou does give his faces and bodies a sense of life that would’ve been nice to map to a script more suited for the format.

But, yeah, I’m not sure this adds anything to the Blame! experience; for this story, specifically, you’re better off watching the film, and if you want a manga – check out the Master Editions.