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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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08/19/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Blame, vol 1"

BLAME! Vol. 1
by Tsutomu Nihei
Published by TOKYOPOP

Review by Tom Good

I used to have nightmares about wandering around lost inside a giant office building. Reading BLAME! made me thankful that at least those nightmares were not quite as creepy as this story. BLAME!'s hero Killy explores a huge techno-industrial complex full of cyborgs, insectoid monsters, deformed creatures, robots, and vicious, unpredictable humans. It is not clear what this building is or even whether it is on Earth, but he searches it for genetic samples of the "Net Terminal Genes," whose purpose remains a mystery.

Nihei gradually reveals Killy's world through dark, moody scenes that have infrequent dialog and very little in the way of explanation. With this style of storytelling, the reader will either lose interest quickly, or become interested enough in the art to start forming theories about what is going on. For me, it was the latter. The visuals reminded me of the Alien movies or Doom video games: often gruesome and disturbing, but also arresting and memorable.

Killy fires his gun more often than he has conversations. In fact, this is an extremely violent book in which bloodstains feature as a recurring artistic element. The various creatures of this world may be mysterious, but clearly they do not like each other much. Cleary, readers in the mood for a cute or funny manga should look elsewhere, but BLAME! works as a horror story. In the end, this manga was so weird that I wanted to know more about it, and when I asked myself if I would read Volume 2, my answer was yes.

This review originally appeared at

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