“Nobody really knows when the world became this way… the contagion suddenly started… and humans were seen as illegal residents and exterminated.”
Sometimes anime can be lushly beautiful and tell a deeply resonating story, and sometimes it can look fantastic but just pile on the same tired old tropes we’ve seen too many times before. Unfortunately, Blame! does the latter and, unless you’re already a hardcore fan of the manga it’s based on or you really need to sit through a severely reworked and distilled adaptation of the original seven-part animation, I’d recommend giving this one a miss.
Blame! takes place in a decaying future universe where, thanks to a virus, humans have lost control of their technology and their formerly robotic slaves have now become their hunters. Into this mix comes a young scavenger called Zuru who braves the city’s numerous threats - the watchtowers and the builders - to find food for her village. But when Zuru meets Killy the Wanderer and learns there may be a chance for her people to fight back, the city’s ruthless defensive system goes into overdrive to eliminate the human threat.
Blame! is kinetic, dark and dirty with a cast of likeable protagonists who obviously have their work cut out for them on a daily basis. As you’d expect, certain death is constantly looming on the dystopian horizon and jeopardies come so thick and fast they’re practically leapfrogging over one another to find out which of our plucky heroines and heroes they can menace first. This is a story that’s all about the city it’s located in, and the immense gorgeous vastness of the backdrops convincingly makes our characters look like tiny armoured mice in a death-trap maze, ready to be crushed at a moment’s notice. From that point of view, director Hiroyuki Seshita and his team of animators and CG keyboard jockeys have done their jobs very well. And the portentous chanty musical score acquits itself nicely too. From the opening moments, we’ve got no doubt that high stakes are in play.
But from the opening moments we’ve got no doubt of something else too - we’re in no doubt that we’re in territory where all the imagination has gone into the visuals and the script has been left to fend for itself on a diet of clichés, mechanical diatribes, and characters with backstories that are supposed to pull on our heartstrings but just leave us wanting to thumb the off button. It’s a shame because as moving wallpaper to put on during a party Blame! would be great, but as a story that’s going to keep you engaged and awake, it fails on every narrative level.
BLAME! / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: HIROYUKI SESHITA / SCREENPLAY: SADAYUKI MURAI / STARRING: TAKAHIRO SAKURAI, KANA HANAZAWA, SORA AMAMIYA, MAMORU MIYANO / RELEASE DATE: MAY 28TH