Sunday, June 25, 2017

'Blame!' Is Brilliant!

This latest anime film I’ve watched, Blame!, has been an exceptional  experience for me.  I think it’s the first CGI, non-video-game-adaptation feature-length anime film I’ve ever seen.  And I surprisingly found it to be as visually pleasing as if it had hand-drawn aesthetics.  On top of that, it’s genuinely one of the greatest science fiction works I’ve ever encountered, thanks to its brilliant premise/setting and appealing main protagonist.

Blame! probably has the most excitingly innovative machines-has-taken-over-the-world cyberpunk premise there is.  Human civilization had managed to achieve an ultimate networked, technologically-advanced state – leading to the creation of a huge, futuristic mega-metropolis called “The City.”  However, an “infection” severed the human’s control on the automated systems controlling The City.  As a result, the Builders – the machines constructing the City – continued to expand the City unceasingly and randomly at all directions, turning it into a multi-tiered, internally incoherent, depreciated techno-cityscape of astronomical volume (in fact, when watching the movie, I first thought that the City simply encompasses the entire Earth and then some.  But after some research, I was blown away that its scale actually goes further than the extent of a Dyson sphere, at least reaching the planetary orbit of Jupiter!).  Moreover, there are also machines – the Safeguard and the Exterminators – that had begun exterminating humans whenever they caught site of them.  With these continuing in the next hundreds and hundreds of years after the initial “infection”, human civilization had crumbled and the last remnants of humanity is scattered across the different “floors” or levels of the City.  Due to the extremely vast size of the City, the threat of the Safeguard and Exterminators, the lack of technology in their hands, and the nigh-indestructibility of the floors and walls, it has become impossible for all humans to band together and re-establish their dominion on the City.
In this setting, the central character Kiri (or Killy) wanders.  He’s apparently tasked by an unknown authority or institution to find a human that possesses a particular special gene that is necessary for humans to gain control of the City’s Network.  He appears to have cybernetic enhancements, proven by his computer-enhanced vision, super-strength, healing factor, and the lack of need for food.  His main weapon is an extremely powerful handgun called the GBE (Gravitational Beam Emitter), which shoots out a compact, destructive laser that annihilates everything in its path and can even create holes through the normally impenetrable structures of the City.  In addition, he has a stoic, silent, gloomy personality, which gives him the same magnetism that is found in the best of badass-loner-gunslinger-type characters, like The Man with No Name and Roland Deschain.  Kiri deserves a spot in my “best fictional gunslingers” list.

The Blame! manga is quite extensive.  Something short of a multi-season series would fail in covering its entire five-year, ten-volume length.  So what the movie smartly did is to pick one arc from the overall narrative, gave it a few tweaks, and presented it in such a way that makes it a solid, engaging standalone story while simultaneously giving a comprehensive idea of what Blame!’s grander concept is all about.  And I think this anime film is a homerun in this respect.
However, though it’s coherent enough as it is, it was only after I researched about its source material that some plot elements made more sense and I got to quite appreciate its inherent profoundness and originality.  Thus, we can say that the movie is just an appetizer to how awesome Blame! really is rather than a thoroughly effective, perfectly all-encompassing manifestation.  It’s a glimpse of a far richer world and narrative.

That’s why I was compelled to start reading the manga.

No comments: