Having read the Blame! manga, I was incredibly excited to see the film finally launch on Netflix over the past weekend. However, after almost two hours, I had a lot of mixed feelings after my viewing experience.
Before we dive in, I have to mention that this review contains spoilers to the movie and the manga (up until volume 3). You have been warned.
Blame! has a lot going for it; a crazy setting, great action, ultra-violence to back up said action, and a solid soundtrack. The problem with the film is they didn’t add enough of all the things that make the manga as entertaining as it is. In my opinion, Blame! is intriguing enough to have deserved it’s own anime series rather than a film. Unlike other ultra-violence titles (like Gantz:0) that have been adapted well into movies, Blame! doesn’t feel like a story that should be condensed into a single film. What they did condense into the movie didn’t seem to carry the same gravity as the manga.
In this complement sandwich, we’ll start out with what I enjoyed most about it. The animation captured the atmosphere of the show perfectly. From the strange architecture that the author is known for to the detail in the outfits, everything that is interesting about the artwork in the manga was portrayed properly in the movie. A lot of people will complain about Polygon Pictures CGI and low frame rate style, but I am a firm believer in the idea that it blends beautifully well with Nihei’s twisted dystopias. Every little digital detail was captured beautifully. On top of all of that, the music was well scored and helped convey right emotions at the right time.
Much like Berserk, this is a series that is (or should be) synonymous with ultra-violence. It was apparent by the end of the movie that they didn’t leave aspects of this out. However, they only had a marginal amount of it. The manga is about 25% story and about 75% violence and action. So why make the movie any different? We could argue that it is to build story, but Killy as a character doesn’t seem as strong or mobile in the movie as he is in the manga. Instead of watching him punch, run, and gun his way around the city, he seems more like a slow and unwavering force. Which isn’t nearly as exciting as all the shit he has to go through. That being said, what action we did get to witness certainly did hold up to expectations.
Even the crème de la crème story aspects of the manga didn’t feel like they had as much gravity as they did in the source material. The discovery of Sana-Kan being disguised as human wasn’t as visceral or abrupt as it should have been. Instead the split discovery transforming into a scene of humans being eviscerated and disemboweled, we were given that irritating and mopey character pining after Tae. Which ties back to my prior point about this movie being toned down. We missed moments like Cibo taking over a builder to fight the safeguard or her eventual takeover of Sana-Kan’s body, which really could have benefited the film as a whole. Instead, we were on the receiving end of a lot of liberties taken. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on Blame! by comparing it to the source material, but it is hard to look at the two stories entirely separately.
Despite my complaints, I will say that the characters (that were from the actual source material) were great. Cibo was portrayed exactly as she should have been. Everything about her was just as critical, smart and rational, which made her as believable as readers would come to expect. When Sana-Kan finally made her appearance, she was everything I imagined her as. From the cold and calculated behavior to the insane movements in battle she was certainly a force to be reckoned with.
The safeguard were as every bit of scary as they were portrayed, with their vast numbers and creepy scurrying. Even the majority of the placeholder characters were solid. We certainly had ample character development for them and as characters that were created for the movie (again this is assuming the movie is based off the first three volumes), they were an acceptable addition. My hope would be that they turn this movie into a fully fledged show and start following the manga. A man can dream, right?
As a movie, it was entertaining and enjoyable. When the movie does stick to the source material, it did a fantastic job of capturing the characters and aesthetics of it. The characters are exactly as they should be, the animation is phenomenal, the music was catchy, and the plot progressed at a reasonable rate considering how much goes on in this universe. As it relates to the manga on the whole, it has a lot of moments and aspects that could have really helped this movie hit the next level. It’s why I think the film feels more like a teaser into a full blown series than it does a film.Tweet