Honestly, I felt a bit like Towelie as I watched Blame! (man I have no idea what’s goin’ on.) Seriously though, at first I got worried that the lack of story had something to do with me – maybe I just missed something; I mean, it was kind of late when I watched this series. The truth is, Blame! seems to choose some buzzwords (e.g. megastructure,) and string them together, so that we can all pretend that a plot exists. Unlike other cyberpunk anime which sometimes leave gaps early on and fill them in periodically throughout the series, Blame! leaves its gaps wide open even in the end. Blame! takes place in space, or that’s what it seems to me, and follows Cibo and Killy on their mission to save the Netspere (see, I wasn’t lying about these buzzwords.)
Despite the lack of story, which is generally the most important aspect for me, I obviously stuck this one out, and for two main reasons. First, Blame! is a whopping 37 minutes long, so once I started it, I figured it wouldn’t kill me to finish it. Second and more importantly, Blame! struck me as (for lack of a better term) avant-garde, and the music and animation alone made the series bearable.
Why the possibly generous 1.5? Blame! is based on its manga, and my guess is that anyone who reads the corresponding manga will have a much better perception of the plot, and they may actually have a better chance at piecing things together than those of us who do not read manga. Also, if explosions count as plot, I guess you could up the rating to a 2.
While the animation itself is not overly sophisticated, it (along with the sound) prevents Blame! from being a complete disaster. If a crazy kid splattering paint could make an anime, I’m pretty sure this is how it would turn out, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. Blame! is an explosion of color, vibrant and varying hues, and each episode tends to have one or two main colors throughout. The colors seem to assist in making up for lack of plot – I don’t really know what’s going on, but I seem to understand what purple feels like, and red for that matter. Mix in some grayscale scenes, and Blame! somehow draws on all sorts of moods, despite not being able to say it in words. There is nothing like a bright green explosion suddenly emerging from the contrasting purple walls, and Blame! exploits the concept of contrasting color over and over, and it never gets old.
Despite missing the mark with the plot, the background music in Blame! provides as much contrast and beauty as its animation. Rather than sticking with a single instrumentation or musical style, Blame! wanders all over the place, using different instruments and styles in each episode. Whoever thought to use a trumpet played in a struggling manner is nothing short of a genius; don’t worry, though, not all the music is as painful as that heard in the first episode. The soundtrack of Blame! is as important for setting the mood as the varying color schemes, and the two together basically encompass every meaningful aspect of the series.
Non-existent plot does not necessarily imply non-existent character development, but Blame! gives the gift of both (thank you for your generosity.) Cibo is, uh, this girl, and Killy is, um, this guy; they roam around and then a creepy-looking white guy known as a (buzzword alert) Silicon Creature attacks them. The dialogue is scarce; it does not really add or detract from the series, but as with the plot, do not expect much from characters in Blame!.
If you are looking for plot, don’t bother with Blame!, but if you want to experience something different, something that evokes emotion and confusion rather than understanding, look no further. Music fans (and I don’t mean the kind of music you hear on mainstream radio) should definitely check this series out, if for nothing more than its soundtrack. Given its short duration, perhaps the lack of plot and the choice to focus on visuals and sound work well for this series. As I mentioned earlier, Blame! is best characterized as avant-garde, and viewed as such, it should be easier to appreciate.