BLAME! A new and original take on an old sci-fi trope

BLAME! is a Netflix Original science fiction anime film based on a ten volume manga series of the same name written by Tsutomu Nihei and published by Kodansha in 1998. The story follows a colony of scavengers, called electrofishers, living in a technological world called “The City.” The City was once controlled by humans, but after “the contagion” spread, the humans lost the Net Terminal Gene, a gene that allowed them to control The City. They were seen as illegal residents by the safeguard and exterminated. After that, The City continued to expand, since the humans were no longer able to make the builders–giant robots that are responsible for building and repairing The City–stop.

Courtesy Netflix
The second official poster for BLAME! from Netflix. Used with permission.

The movie begins by introducing Zuru, a young but skilled electrofisher, and her friends Tae and Fusata. They left the village to look for food, because they were running low. During the outing, they are spotted by the safeguard and saved by Killy, a calm and quiet stranger. To repay him for saving them, the three decide to help him in his search for humans possessing the Net Terminal Gene.

In the Japanese version, the voice acting is spectacular. They have the perfect amount of emotion in their voices and it’s very evident. When a character is crying, it sounds like real crying. Even the way they speak can tell you a lot about their personality. I could really hear Tae’s timidness in her voice–it’s almost as if the voice actors become the characters. The voice acting in the English version, on the other hand, isn’t as amazing, but it’s not terrible. At times when a lot of emotion is necessary, I don’t really hear or feel the emotion from the characters. It doesn’t really seem like the voice actors are trying to connect with their roles, nor does it sound like they are trying to be convincing. Their yells sound too soft as if they are afraid to be loud.

For an anime made with CGI, the animation was very well done. None of the characters looked very stiff, except for maybe Cibo, a scientist found by Killy, since she has a robotic body. In fact, after watching the movie, I can’t imagine it being animated any other way. It was one of the few examples of CGI actually looking good in a Japanese animation or film.

I would most definitely recommend BLAME!. After watching it for the first time, it easily became one of my favourite movies. Along with having stunning animation and phenomenal voice acting (in the Japanese version), the story is also extremely captivating. Despite having the somewhat common trope of machines taking over the world, it still feels original. If you’re a fan of anime and/or science fiction, BLAME! is the perfect movie for you. Even you don’t particularly like those genres, I still recommend giving it a chance. There’s a lot to be learned from this film and its unique cast of characters. It’s also a pretty great choice for movie night with your family and friends, as long as they’re allowed to view mild animated violence.