Images Source: KING RECORDS on YouTube

With new anime film BLAME! hitting Netflix today, you might be wondering what exactly BLAME! is. Don’t worry. We’re here to help.

We Saw Upcoming Cyberpunk Anime Film BLAME!

As always, I am joined by my imaginary friend whose sole purpose is to ask questions that I already know the answers to.

I feel the word “friend” is a bit strong in our case.

Aw, don’t be shy! We have so much to talk about.

::sigh:: …I guess I have no choice in the matter.

You do not.

Fine. So, what’s this BLAME! thing anyway?

Well, if it were a cocktail, it’d be one part Mad Max, one part Ghost in the Shell, and one part Judge Dredd.

…So basically, it’s a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk, spaghetti western.

Okay. I’m not gonna lie. That sounds awesome.

That’s only because it is.

Well, go on. Set it up for me.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

BLAME! takes place in a massive futuristic city—

Sorry to interrupt, but how big is “massive”?

Now that’s a question to be sure. In the film, we know that it is at least several hundred floors tall—and that each floor is able to contain its own skyscrapers. In the manga, of the many different places we see, one “room” that is nearly the size of Jupiter.

The size of what!?

Yeah, I know. According to the original author, The City stretches from at least Earth to the orbit of Jupiter. And it’s still growing.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

Holy crap. Got it. It’s big.

For the purposes of the story it might as well be infinite.

And what? It’s full of people?

Well, that question kind of strikes at the heart of BLAME! as a story. Originally, The City and its growth were controlled by humans like you or me. It got larger as needed, building out and providing the infrastructure needed for life—i.e., food creation facilities, buildings, net access, etc.

I’m sensing a dark turn in the story here.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

Well, at some point, humanity itself evolved or mutated—basically causing them to no longer be recognized as “human” on a genetic level by the computer systems. And as only humans are allowed to log onto the net, the people in charge were eventually left with no one who control the growth of the city.

Called it!

By the time BLAME! takes place, the remnants of humanity are scattered across an endlessly tall, endlessly wide wasteland of metal and wire. Some live in sophisticated cities with much of the old technology in tact. Others live in tiny settlements of a few hundred people and have reverted to a hunter-gatherer way of life.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

So how exactly does one stay alive in an infinite city? It’s not like they can grow food or anything.

By humanity’s technological highpoint, it’s apparent that turning energy into matter was no problem. So in some places in The City, factories that can do this still exist. In other places, the food problem is solved in other ways—or it isn’t and those people die off.

Well that’s a happy thought.

Honestly, there are a lot of other things to worry about outside the necessities of food and water.

Like what?

Well, one would be the Builders. These giant machines were built to autonomously expand the city. However, over the countless years since they last received orders, they have become a bit… confused.

Define “confused.”

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

Many of them seem to wander randomly through The City, rebuilding everything as they go with no foreseeable end goal. While they tend to completely ignore humans, this doesn’t mean they won’t “rebuild” an inhabited area—incidentally killing everyone in the process.

And what exactly are the other problems humans face?

Another one is the Cyborgs. While they don’t appear in the film, they are major antagonists in the manga. They kill humans on sight—especially any suspected of carrying the Net Terminal Genes which mark a person as human and allow access to the net. They are not eager to return to a world where humans are in control.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

So I’d guess that humanity doesn’t get along with them.

That’d be a safe bet. But perhaps the biggest threat to the small pockets of humanity are the “Safeguard.” While many of the command level AI want someone with Net Terminal Genes to be found so that The City’s chaotic growth can be brought under control, the Safeguard are the evolution of the system that was originally put in place to prevent non-humans (like the cyborgs) from accessing the net.

We that doesn’t sound so bad.

Well, it wouldn’t be if not for the fact that, over the years, “allowing only humans to log on to the net” has become “kill any living thing that doesn’t contain Net Terminal Genes.”

Well that’s one heck of a dark interpretation.

Sure, but you can’t fault their logic. If there are no living things other than Net Terminal Gene humans, then by definition only authorized humans will be allowed on the net.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

So is BLAME! the story of the last true human or something?

Oh, we are way past that. There is little reason to believe from what we see that even a single true human still exists. Instead, BLAME! is the story of a man, Killy, who he wanders across The City hunting for isolated pockets of humans who could potentially have a small remnant of the Net Terminal Genes.

Ahhh. I get it. This is why you called it a “post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk, spaghetti western.” Killy is basically The Man with No Name or Mad Max—a figure who wanders into other people’s stories while he pursues his own mysterious goal.

Yep. The first half of the manga is largely made up of various short stories that showcase Killy’s adventures—and eventually those of his companion, the brilliant scientist Cibo.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

So what? The film is an abridged version the manga? Or is it simply a new side story following Killy and Cibo?

Honestly? It’s both and neither.

Well, that’s a cryptic answer.

The BLAME! film basically takes characters, places, and events from across the manga and weaves them together into a new, yet familiar, story.

I see. So the world is the same. The characters are the same at their cores. But events and backstories have been tweaked and/or recombined into a stand-alone feature film.

Yep. That’s basically it. Honestly, it was absolutely the right way to go about making BAME! into a film.

Images Source: 「BLAME!」5/20 劇場全国公開 on Twitter

So, besides the manga and the new film, is there anything more BLAME!-related out there that I could check out?

The manga NOiSE is a prequel to BLAME! And is set way back when the The City was still comparatively small. BLAME! Academy and So On is a collection several short sequel stories along with a gag manga the puts BLAME! in a high school setting.

Anything else?

There is also a short-form BLAME! ONA anime series from the early 2000s. However, it is basically just short, unrelated scenes taken directly from the manga with no additional context.

So what you’re saying is that you should only watch those after you have read the manga?

Pretty much. Lastly there is a brief trailer for BLAME! presented as a show within a show during the second season of Knights of Sidonia—a work also penned by BLAME! author Tsutomu Nihei. It shows Killy’s battle with a cyborg during his travels.

So I need to pick up Knights of Sidonia to see it?

Naw, both the complete scene and the original cut are available free and clear on YouTube.

That’s nice of them.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got. I’m going to watch the film again.

Can I come?

Um… No. No you can not.

…Bye!


BLAME! can be seen on Netflix worldwide.

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