Director: Hiroyuki Seshita
Writers: Sadayuki Murai (screenplay), Tsutomu Nihei (created by)
Starring: Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Sora Amamiya
Blame! is a Japanese, CG, animated sci-fi/action film based on the visually stunning work of Manga artist, Tsutomu Nihei. It depicts a post-apocalyptic future where an out of control A.I. has taken over an entire city. The last remnants of humanity are forced to hide within a safe-zone or risk being hunted and exterminated by the city's Safeguard - a seemingly endless army of murderous robots. Amidst it all, we meet Killy; a mysterious human searching for a way to regain control of the A.I. and retake the city.
While it doesn't quite capture the crushing loneliness and emptiness of the Manga, Blame! is still an enjoyable film with plenty of great action scenes and a visually stunning world. It poses a lot of questions but answers very few. This world is a mystery, and we may never know the truth behind it all, but perhaps that's how it should be. Not every question has an immediate answer in life, and the ambiguity surrounding Killy only serves to make the character more intriguing.
While the 3D style of animation is sure to be a major turn-off for some; I found it only added to the creepiness of the various robots throughout the film. The visuals are perhaps this film's best feature (which is to be expected, considering the involvement of the incredibly talented creator, Tsutomu Nihei). The world of Blame! is grim, desolate and full of industrial sci-fi aesthetics. An endless, empty and souless city with only a small handful of humans inhabiting it.
The characters of Killy (our mysterious and stoic hero), and Cibo (an equally enigmatic, and hauntingly graceful robotic scientist) are both fantastic. Killy's calm and apathetic approach to every situation throughout the film is so effortlessly cool that you find yourself instantly rooting for the character. The main focal point of the film, however, is the small group of villagers who inhabit one of the few (maybe even the only) safe zones within the city. Unfortunately, they never receive a substantial amount of character development aside from the (arguably) main character, Zuru. The other villagers were an attempt to bring some humanity and heart to an otherwise bleak universe, but they only ever appear in the background of a scene. We learn very little about them or their lives, other than their struggle for food. It makes it very difficult to care about what happens to them or their village.
With fantastic visuals to compliment them; the action sequences are awe-inspiring at times. The vibrant burst of laser beams and explosions puncture the grey atmosphere as the film draws to its finale. A fantastic, last-stand defence against an endless robotic army and a powerful cyborg will have you grinning from ear-to-ear.
While the film could've been more rounded and some of the smaller characters given more development, I still enjoyed it. It's not a film that I'll keep going back to, and die-hard fans of the manga may be disappointed, but I still think it does a great job of portraying the barren and grim world of Nihei's iconic work. The open-ended plot will leave you desperate for more, and it feels as though the film has more to say but, perhaps that is the point. Killy's quest, much like the city he inhabits, is unending.
In one line: Mad Max meets The Terminator in a beautiful, and unsettling world.