Hiroyuki Seshita’s dystopian action film fails to make much of an impact.
“We have no idea what you’re talking about.”
In the far future, where computers and robotics have reached their peak, Blame! – the title of which still confuses me – is set in the City, a multi-levelled monstrosity of technological advancement: the result of an “infection” within the system which caused it to go haywire. Humans were no longer able to control it, and the city grew out of control. Robots took over, and now only tiny pockets of people remain.
A small enclave known as the Electro-Fishers are the focus of the movie, and on a journey to find food for the village, the inexperienced Zuru and her group run afoul of the city’s Safeguard, but are rescued by a mysterious Wanderer named Kiri. Kiri is on his own quest: he says he is looking for somebody who possesses the Net Terminal Gene. Anyone who does might be able to gain control of the City, and give humanity their chance at survival…
This was a strange movie, and one I’m having trouble writing about now, and I think it comes down to the setting. The problem with the movie’s highly distant future, as exciting a concept as it is, is that it’s difficult to get invested unless the worldbuilding or the storytelling is especially good. This isn’t really the case here. The rules of the setting are not really all that defined throughout, and as is the case with a lot of films in the genre, just taking a common word like wanderer and adding a capital letter doesn’t give it much oomph. The result feels generic, but has some good ideas and you’re left feeling that Tsutomu Nihei’s manga has a lot more to offer than his script.
Ignoring that, though, Blame! has some cool moments. The opening sequences with the robots features a tonne of fun animation and even though all the deaths are largely meaningless (because everyone at that point wore identical feature-covering helmets) it’s still very fun in a lot of places. And maybe all those helmets are for a good reason, outside of story: those CG animated faces are somehow harder to connect with than the helmets. It’s probably due to the setting, which takes place entirely within the confines of the ever-growing City – a neat concept that isn’t really expanded upon.
They mention the area has hundreds of floors and regions, but don’t do much world-building with it and the whole thing feels oddly small, despite the scale of the art, and not unlike one of those episodes of Community where the whole campus suddenly imagines it’s in an action film. The moments with the machines were definitely my favourites. From right at the beginning – seeing those huge Builder machines to the fight with those crawling bots, and basically anything that had the Safeguard throw down against the humans – we’re treated to some excellent robo-designs which are so cool, you almost run the risk of rooting for them instead of, you know, the heroes. Oh well, humans are lame sometimes.
Strangely, I didn’t find much to say about Blame!. It’s a largely humourless affair with a few OK moments, and a couple of pretty good ones. It’s not terrible by any means, but it’s also not particularly memorable or interesting. It feels like something that wants to be something bigger and more epic than it ended up as, and that it was trying to tell a story that simply could not be effectively told in the timespan it had. Overall, this could have made a better anime show. As it is, I’m not angry I watched it, but there are so many other nearly identical movies that it’s just hard to recommend this one over another.
Verdict: There are definitely some good moments to be had here, but not enough to justify watching this over anything else.
Overall entertainment: 6/10
Robot Design: 10/10
Twists: Two pretty good ones, actually
Helmets: I believe they’re called Helmettals. I don’t know why.
Food: That yellow stuff looked interesting.
Format I’d see this in: TV show, video game, manga … hey wait a minute.
Director: Hiroyuki Seshita
Writer: Tsutomu Nihei
Killy – Takahiro Sakurai
Cibo – Kana Hanazawa
Zuru – Sora Amamiya
Sutezo – Mamoru Miyano
Tae – Aya Suzaki
Fusata – Nobunaga Shimazaki
Atsuji – Yuki Kaji
Shige – Koutarou Nishiyama
Fuku – Nanako Mori
Pop – Kazuhiro Yamaji
Shizu – Ayane Sakura
The Authority – Aki Toyosaki
Sana-Kan – Saori Hayami