Tag: 1997

Blame! (Manga) Review

Blame! (Manga) Review

Blame! manga volume 1 cover art

Search for the Net Terminal Gene

Blame! (BLAME! / ブラム!) is a sci-fi action series with some drama and horror elements thrown in, as well. It follows Killy (or Kirii or Kyrii) as he traverses the Megastructure in search of the Net Terminal Gene.

The Megastructure is the entire world of the series. It’s a giant “city” that’s constantly expanding due to Builders (robots that build) working nonstop. I don’t know how big it is. But, I think it’s supposed to be roughly the size of the entire solar system. It’s big.

So, why is Killy traveling throughout something as big as the Megastructure? His goal is to locate a human with the Net Terminal Gene. This is a potentially extinct gene that allows humans to connect to the Netsphere. At one time, humans with this gene were common. However, they’ve been hunted to possible extinction by the time the series begins.

Killy pointing his Gravitational Beam Emitter from the manga series Blame!
Killy pointing his Gravitational Beam Emitter

Why does the Net Terminal Gene matter? Is connecting to the Netsphere that important? Yes. The Netsphere is the access point to the entire Megastructure. If you can connect to the Netsphere, you can control the Megastructure and all of its components.

This means you can control the Builders and stop them from continuing to expand the city. And, it means you can control the Safeguards, the Megastructure’s defense system. This second point is what’s most important. At some point, the Safeguards went out of control and started hunting down humans.

They began by killing humans with the Net Terminal Gene. But, as that gene became more and more rare, they began exterminating all humans. So, you could say that locating the Net Terminal Gene is the same as saving humanity from extinction. However, everyone in the series also recognizes this is an almost impossible task.

Life Within the Megastructure

There’s not very much that’s explicitly explained within Bame! Most of our information about the world comes from observation. And, a big part of that is that there’s simply not much dialogue. But, that’s something I like about the series. The world feels more real because we don’t know everything.

Let’s look at the different “life forms” within the Megastructure as an example. There are humans, transhumans, Silicon Life, Safeguards, Builders, and AI. And, from what I remember, there aren’t any other “animals.” So, there’s not exactly a food chain left in this world.

We all know what humans are. But, what about the transhumans? These are evolved humans. The remnants of humanity have been scattered around the Megastructure for millions of years. And, in that time, some pockets of humanity evolved further. For example, Cibo, one of the main characters, is extremely tall. She’s a human, but not a normal one.

Exterminator Safeguards from the manga series Blame!
Exterminator Safeguards

Silicon Life are the coolest life forms in the Megastructure. They’re silicon-based cyborgs and are one of the major factions in the city. Their goal is to eliminate humanity and become the dominant life forms. But, that doesn’t mean they’re on the same “team” as the next group.

The Safeguards also want to eliminate humanity (at least, most of them do). Though, “want” is a strong word. Most safeguards are mindless robots. They don’t have a real goal beyond humanity’s extinction, unlike Silicon Life. And, within the Safeguards are a subset called Special Safeguards. These are on humanity’s side.

Finally, we have beings connected to the Admin or Authority. These are things like the builders, AI, and the Special Safeguards. The Admin wants humanity to reclaim the Net Terminal Gene. But, only because it can’t stop the builders and Safeguards itself, despite being connected to them.

Did Killy Save Humanity?

The end of Blame! is left pretty open. Did Killy save humanity from extinction? Did he find the Net Terminal Gene and connect to the Netsphere? Well, the answer is both yes and no. And, it’s an implied yes and no. There’s nothing definitive.

Let’s start off with the big question. Did Killy save humanity? No. But, the implication is that he got one step closer to doing so. From what I remember, it’s implied that he acquired the Net Terminal Gene. But, I don’t believe that’s ever explicitly stated.

Okay, so toward the end of the series Cibo (a transhuman) downloads a Level 9 Safeguard into her mind. She then combines her DNA with that of Sanakan (a Special Safeguard) to produce a child. And, it’s assumed that this child contains the Net Terminal Gene. How does any of what I just wrote work? I don’t know.

Special Safeguard Dhomochevsky from the manga series Blame!
Special Safeguard Dhomochevsky

In the future, Cibo and Sanakan are both dead and Killy locates their pseudo-child. He then takes the child with him on a journey toward the edge of the Megastructure. And, that’s where the manga ends. So, again, Killy didn’t save humanity.

But, if we assume the child does have the Net Terminal Gene, Killy’s on the right track. And, I believe the reason they were going to the edge of the Megastructure is because it should be safer there. Killy needs to protect the child until they mature enough to use the Net Terminal Gene.

Look, a lot of weird stuff happened at the end of this series. And, it’s also not like I completely understood everything else before the ending. There was even time travel and alternate-dimension stuff at one point. But, even considering all that, I’m pretty sure I understand what happened in Blame!

Final Thoughts

Overall, I give Blame! a 7/10. It’s a good manga. I would have liked it more if I understood what was going on in the action panels more. But, maybe I wasn’t supposed to be able to comprehend some of these futuristic fights. Anyway, if you’re interested in this series, read the manga. Don’t watch the CGI anime.

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Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke anime movie cover art
Princess Mononoke

Movie Overview

Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime / もののけ姫) is the best Studio Ghibli movie I’ve seen so far. To be fair, the only others I’ve seen are Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. But I think Princess Mononoke is much better than both of those.

Before I watched this movie, I would always have to clarify to people that Mononoke is one of my favorite anime, not Princess Mononoke. But now I can just say that I like them both. I might even like Princess Mononoke more. I’m not sure about that yet, though, so I won’t commit to saying it.

So, what do I like about Princess Mononoke? Basically everything. The characters are all good, the art’s good, the animation is great, the music is nice, and the story is mostly interesting. I don’t rewatch anime very frequently, but I’d rewatch this.

As for complaints, I only have one that’s worth mentioning. At 2 hours and 13 minutes, Princess Mononoke is a long movie. Sure, movies today seem to regularly exceed 3 hours. But I tend not to watch movies, and I think this is still long for an animated movie.

20-30 minutes probably could have been cut and the movie wouldn’t be any worse for wear. Specifically, I’d remove that from the climax of the movie. I know that might sound odd. But the climax was actually the part of the movie I was the least interested and invested in.

Now, to be fair, I started the movie at 9:40 pm and so didn’t finish until nearly midnight. So, I was tired by the time the climax came around. But even if I wasn’t tired, I don’t think the whole Nightwalker portion of the movie would have been any more entertaining.

Main Characters

(Former) Prince Ashitaka is the protagonist of the movie. At the start of the movie, his village is attacked by a demon boar (Ganon, anyone?), which Ashitaka slays with his bow. However, Ashitaka is inflicted with a deadly curse during the battle and so sets off on a journey to find a cure.

San is the other main character of the movie. She’s a human girl who was raised in the wilderness by wolf spirits who protect the domain of The Forest Spirit. As such, the title Mononoke Hime (literally Spirit Princess) refers to San.

Eboshi Gozen is arguably the main antagonist of the movie. You could also say Bou Jiko is the main antagonist, I suppose. But, anyway, Eboshi is the militant leader of an ironworks outpost in the mountains. By her order, the forests have been cut down and the local spirits driven away or killed.

San and Moro from the anime movie Princess Mononoke
San and Moro

The first of the three spirits I want to mention is Moro, the wolf spirit who took San in. San was abandoned by her parents when Moro scared them away as they were destroying the forest. While she’s protective of San and views San as her own child, she doesn’t care what happens to any other humans.

Okkoto is a white boar spirit who fights back against the humans of the ironworks for their part in the destruction of the forests and corruption of Nago. Nago was the boar spirit-turned-demon who was killed by Ashitaka at the start of the movie.

Lastly, we have The Forest Spirit. By day, The Forest Spirit resembles a many-antlered deer with bird-like feet and a primate-like face. By night, it turns into the Nightwalker, a giant, gelatinous monster. The Forest Spirit is a god of both life and death, able to give life and to take it away.

Main Theme

The main theme of Princess Mononoke seems to be balance. This main theme is also split up into smaller offshoots, with the most important and obvious being the balance between the natural and industrial worlds. Everything bad that happens in the movie is the result of industrial society encroaching on nature.

Now, for most of the movie, I didn’t think that balance was the main theme. I thought it was a story about industrial society being a negative. After all, as I just mentioned, industrialization is what caused everything to go wrong, starting with the corruption of Nago.

However, at the end of the movie, I finally realized that I was wrong in my assumption. After Ashitaka and San return The Forest Spirit’s head, San opts to continue living in the wild and Ashitaka opts to live apart from her at the ironworks.

The Forest Spirit from the anime movie Princess Mononoke
The Forest Spirit

I thought it was strange that after everything that happened, Ashitaka would want to live at the ironworks. But, it makes more sense once you look at it from a “balance” perspective. With Ashitaka and San living in those two opposing worlds, they can prevent those worlds from clashing again in the future.

The other balance sub-theme I noticed was of life and death. This is physically manifested in the form of The Forest Spirit. But, it shows up throughout the movie, as well. At the start, Ashitaka kills a spirit. And by the end, Ashitaka is protecting spirits.

There’s also Ashitaka’s curse. While The Forest Spirit initially revives him, it doesn’t remove his curse. That only happens after Ashitaka and San save the life of The Forest Spirit itself. And this question of why The Forst Spirit chooses to save creatures from or condemn them to death is also raised by Okkoto in reference to Nago’s fate.


Princess Mononoke is a 9/10. It’s a bit long and I think the climax with the Nightwalker wasn’t as interesting as the rest of the movie. But it still excels in pretty much everything else it does. I think it’s going to be hard for another Studio Ghibli movie to top this one.

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