I saw Netflix’s new “Original” anime film from Polygon Pictures: BLAME!
And hey, it was pretty alright.
Netflix and Polygon Pictures have been going strong (that is Polygon making stuff and Netflix licencing them exclusively) for a while now, after Knights of Sidonia and Ajin: Demi-Human, the latest in their little partnership is BLAME!
Adapted from the manga of the same name by Tsutomu Nihei (who also made the original manga for Sidonia), this hour and 40 minute film presents a simplified take on the manga which was usually very silent and slow moving in its already abstract and confusing plot. But enough about that.
Killy (or Kirii, whichever you want to call him by) is a wandering traveller, quiet with his stoic expression. His few lines of dialogue have him explaining his main goal, finding a human being that possesses the Net Terminal Genes. Cause in this crazy future, machines have taken control and continue to build and build the megastructures that make up this world.
In the past human beings with these genes used to control the machines until a mutation occurred that made nearly all of humanity lack the genes, resulting in the machines going on and on without any control and the humans being hunted down by the robots that are the Safeguard, believing humans that don’t possess the genes aren’t actually humans at all.
Got all that? Let’s keep moving. Our protag Killy rescues a group of kids who are hunting for any food or goods from the Safeguard, the surviving 3 (Zuru, Tae and Fusata) take him back to their village run by the Electro-Fishers hoping to repay him. As the village elder Pops remembers how he’s heard of the Net Terminal Genes before, the group ends up travelling to beneath the village where Killy finds the female scientist Cibo, currently inhabiting a broken robot body to survive.
Explaining that she’s been working on a method to create an artificial kind of Net Terminal Genes and that the barrier that’s been protecting the village from the Safeguard was implemented by her and her now deceased team, Killy and the villagers decide to accompany Cibo to a factory where she can create a terminal needed for her quest and to create special food rations that can keep the village fed. But no mission is ever easy.
So this is basically a Mad Max story, a loner is along for the ride at the rest of the cast go through their own personal plot and problems as he occasionally helps out. It’s simple and works pretty well. Not as flashy or over the top as say Fury Road, but that’s not what’s needed anyway. The plot moves at a fine pace without wasting too much time on one thing and it has a gloriously epic climax as Killy goes all out against a humanoid Safeguard bot.
The main cast are well defined and not given a whole lot of depth but for what the story is, it works out fine. Easily the most interesting character is Cibo, who just has charm all over even when switching between robot bodies or trying to talk to Killy. Even her occasional exposition dumps don’t feel overly tired or trite.
Technically speaking, the animation is just fine. Polygon Pictures’ CG has always been pretty great and consistent as evidenced in Sidonia and Ajin and it looks even better here with the money and production time of a film compared to a 12 ep series. The sound design was also fantastic as you feel the constant movement of the machines in the world, the sound of Killy’s powerful gun or the metal clangs (resisting Berserk 2016 joke) when the Electro-Fishers are using their spear guns against the Safeguard.
The English dub is solid work as usual of Netflix’s commissioned dub work. ADR Director Bob Buchholz (and presumably his studio Spliced Bread Productions) delivers a fine effort with Kyle McCarley and Cristina Vee standing out pretty well as Killy and Cibo with Christine Marie Cabanos equally delivering as Zuru. Though the big gripe here is that whoever handled the English cast list shown after the film’s credits mixed up a bunch of credits, which is just a messy mistake.
All in all, if you’re in the mood for an interesting little cyberpunk/post-apocalyptic type story where everything isn’t lined out for you, then this is the film for you. So sit back, enjoy the ride and prepare to see Killy kick some robot ass.
BLAME! can be watched on Netflix here: https://www.netflix.com/title/80115466