Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"N-no! There are people with Frame disease over there..."
"So what? That's not so rare, is it?"
"It's a bit weird, though. There's lot of new ones."
"You're right... There are lots of fresh Frames among them."
"Yeah. You often see the messed-up old ones, but this..."
"Because of Rebedoa's invasions, the borders are all in chaos. They could have escaped from some town's quarantine."
"They say when you become a Frame, you lose your sense of self, but I wonder if that's true... If they have even the tiniest bit of consciousness left... and they're stuck roaming this world in that state for decades, or even centuries... if it ever looks like I'm becoming a Frame, I want you to kill me."
Weird geographical spacey location involving huge mega-structures... CHECK!
Strange zombie-like creatures... CHECK!
Big guns... CHECK!
Sentient Artificial Intelligence... CHECK!
A brutal asymmetric conflict between two ideologically entrenched opponents... CHECK!
A rag-tag bunch of heavily outnumbered goodies who'll have to save the day, well everything, actually and / or die trying ... CHECK!
Big guns... like REALLY BIG GUNS... CHE... oh, we did that one already...
A talking bear... NO, NOT THIS TIME! BUT THE EMPEROR OF MODERN JAPANESE CYBERPUNK RETURNS!!! WHY AM I SHOUTING??!! BECAUSE I'M EXCITED!!!
Yes! Tsutomu BIOMEGA / KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA / BLAME! returns with another implausibly titled... errr.... title. It is also quite tricky to pronounce. On that note, I am still waiting for someone to definitively explain why BLAME! isn't BLAM! given it is meant to be the sound of gun going off, but who cares, frankly?! I have absolutely no idea what an Aposimz might be. It sounds like a cybernetically enhanced opossum, and knowing Nihei, that is possible, but it probably isn't the case.
Let's see if the publisher's blurbe! (sic) tells us more...
"This story takes place on the frigid, massive artificial planet known as Aposimz.
"Eo, Biko and Etherow, residents of the White Diamond Beam, are in the middle of combat training when suddenly a girl appears, Rebedoan Empire soldiers in hot pursuit. The girl asks for their help in keeping safe a "code" and seven mysterious "bullets." This chance encounter marks a major shift in the fate of the entire planet..."
So that clears that little bit of abstract nomenclature up, then! And probably tells you everything else you need to know as this point. I absolutely loved this frenetic, all-action opener. Fans of Nihei will lap it up, for sure. I can make only one mild criticism which I am prepared to actually classify as merely an observation at this time as I am sure I will eventually adjust to it / it will all be explained...
Firstly, it took me a week or so to actually even pick this up despite it being Nihei because I felt the cover seemed so insubstantial with its entirely white background. Then, once you get inside the art is equally light. It feels like there is a layer of inking entirely missing. There is practically zero shading. Which if you are familiar with his previous works, you'll know is not his typical style. You could almost make a case for him being a bit 'ink heavy' typically. So strange.
Unless of course the fact they live in the 'White Diamond Beam' zone has something to do with it and Nihei will rediscover his inkpot as our cast fight their way towards the subterranean centre of Aposimz? Presumably by the time they get there it'll be pitch black and the reader will require night vision goggles to follow the action...
Anyway, consequently this opening salvo felt more like the equally deranged GARDENS OF GLASS by Lando or indeed the also as surreal PICNOLEPTIC INERTIA by Tsemberlidis than Nihei, though the linework is most definitely recognisable as his. With that said, it is always nice to see creators, particularly manga creators who aren't exactly renowned for changing up their approach, continuing to try new things stylistically.