Back in the late ’90s, Blame! started off the way a lot of anime series original start, as a manga series produced in Japan. The series grew in popularity with the sci-fi and cyberpunk audiences, to the point where it eventually got a small series run in 2003, and eventually a film on Netflix from Polygon Pictures. That film release was a big deal because it was a simultaneous release with Japan, which we hardly ever see, and it did pretty well in terms of numbers and viewership on the platform. Now, VIZ Media has the official Blu-ray release for the film. So what’s different between the Netflix version and the Blu-ray? We explore it to find out.
The story, without giving away any spoilers, is set in a future world where machines rule and humans have been deemed invaders that need to be killed and eradicated from the planet. The few that are left are dying of starvation from not being able to grow or cultivate food, being left with some kind of sludge that serves as a protein that they must hunt for. All while being hunted down into extinction by sophisticated robots with the sole purpose of killing them off.
In the middle of a hunt, a band of teenagers comes across a human with a specific kind of DNA that goes all the way back to when the humans used to control the machines. Now they move to stay alive with his aided guidance while trying to seek out where he came from.
The film does an excellent job of storytelling, summing up parts of the original manga into what I would call “easily digestible” stories that were told over great lengths of time in the comic. While a lot of the crew feels like useless and expendable humans to progress the story along, they’ve actually done a great job here in making you care about their survival while also getting to the meat of the story: finding out the history of this particular planet and how they came to find themselves in this situation. You never really are sure if they’re just trying to survive in a hopeless war they will eventually lose, or if they’ll find a way to shut it all down and move on.
The bonuses to the Blu-ray are simple but occasionally vital. You get a behind-the-scenes featurette as well as Japanese trailers and an art gallery showing you how they turned the manga into this magnificent story. But what the Blu-ray offers that Netflix can’t are English and Spanish audio, as well as subtitles for both languages in case you wish to keep the Japanese language on. With Netflix, all you have is the original with English subtitles, so having the option is fantastic.
Overall, Blame! is a really great film, and the physical copy is worth the buy. It tells a solid sci-fi story and doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is. It stands alone as a great anime film that you need to watch at least once so you understand this franchise. And if you like it, seek out the books!
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