Blame vol. 7 (Tokyopop English edition) – Tsutomu Nihei

4 out of 5

Goddamn Nihei.  The sludgy art from volume 6 continues, more new characters – good and bad – are introduced, more new concepts, and more ridiculously huge explosions.  And yet, Blame! volume 7 scrambles its way back to being a page turner.

In this new reality in which Cibo and Killy find themselves inserted, Cibo takes ill when some biological creature attaches itself to her, and Killy is somehow – either I can’t read or it’s yet to be explained – shunted back into the elevator that brought them to this level and told to get the Hell out of dodge, which prompts some elevator-explodey action.  Meanwhile, Cibo has been picked up and fixed by some locals, who warn Cibo that the silicate creatures (yes, new ones) are after her organic sample to use it to access the net.  And then…?  Yes, more explosions.

Which could all be summarized as ‘more of the same,’ but Nihei somehow imbues it with forward momentum and a touch of self-aware humor that edges Blame! into a swirling, surreal sensory overload as opposed to something chasing its own tail.  The art evolution is interesting as well.  It is, as noted, too dark for my tastes – applying the heavy blacks of volume 6 with a sketchier style akin to the earlier volumes – but we start to see him carve out his foreground focus better, which moves this closer to Abara / Biomega territory.

The narrative is continually invested in the concept of interface between man and machine; this has overridden the general onward and upward m.o. with which we began and implies some sense of conclusion as we round the bend into the final books.  Still, a reread will be pending to bring this all together in my head; thankfully the material is continually rewarding enough to make that intriguing and not a chore.