Blame! is a 10-volume cyberpunkSeinenManga and a short six episode Web-Anime series created by Tsutomu Nihei.The story follows Killy, a silent loner possessing an incredibly powerful gun known as a "Graviton Beam Emitter", as he wanders an immeasurably vast technological world known as "The City". The City is inhabited by scattered human and transhuman tribes, as well as hostile cyborgs known as Silicon Creatures.Killy's primary goal is to recover the Net Terminal Genes, an extremely rare genetic marker that allows humans to access the "Netsphere", and gain control of The City's network. Doing so would allow him to halt the unhindered, chaotic expansion of The City, as well as stop the murderous horde known as The Safeguard from destroying what remains of humanity... or more correctly all humans who lack Net Terminal Genes (which is essentially all humans).This story has a short spin off manga of three chapters, featuring all the characters of Blame! in...high school? That's right Blame! Academy — Adventure-student Killy in the Cyber school quest! Tsutomu Nihei is obviously even more insane than we gave him credit for.
Blame! contains the following tropes:
Abnormal Ammo: Darts that turn people into Faceless Mooks, guns that fire a murderous sentient polymer that absorbs all surrounding raw materials to make itself larger, etc...
Affectionate Parody: Blame! Academy - A non-canon spin-off series by the same author, which involves putting his characters into stereotypical Japanese school-life comedy situations. The effect is very amusing given the originalseries'tone.
Badass Normal: Seu, so very much. In a world where baseline humans are armed with BFGs or hyper-sophisticated hacking equipment, and still die by the dozens, Seu stands alone, as an almost-baseline human who fights off dozens of cyborgs, including the genuinely Bad AssIvy and Maeve while armed with nothing more than a perfectly normal BFS.
BFG: Abundant, and frequently played with. The biggest and baddest guns are the Graviton Beam Emitters, of which Killy's tiny pistol seems to be the most advanced. More of a Wave Motion pistol. However, some unnamed characters are seen using BFG style weapons.
GEB's have a range mesured in dozens of Kilometers, no mater what is in their way. Killy's GBE is stated to have a range of 70 kilometers.
Bizarrchitecture: Nihei's architecture is more improbable than bizarre most of the time. The amount of raw materials that would be needed to create most of the structures in Blame! is mind boggling.
Seeing as how the City is at least the size of the solar system...
Construction bots apparently beam stuff into existence. If availability of matter was of any relevance, the setting simply couldn't happen.
Big Damn Heroes: It seems everyone gets at least one Big Damn Heroes moment in Blame! Even Cibo...
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Blame! Academy chapter 2 has fun with this when a pair of Silicon Life Forms appear, and ask Killy if he remembers them. Cibo nonchalantly identifies them from the second half of Blame! volume 1, and concludes that they must be out for revenge, but it turns out they're just mad because of all the characters shown in chapter 1, they didn't appear.
Composite Character: In the compressed anime "demo" of Blame!, it is implied that Cibo is every female character that Killy has ever met, including the girl on the elevator with the dog at the beginning.
Cyberpunk: Has its roots here. Monolithic megacorporations, The Government inept or out to get you, anti-heroes, and transhumanism that creates as many problems as it solves, are all taken to such extremes that, like The Matrix, it becomes less like traditional cyberpunk. Post-post-cyberpunk, if you will.
The Determinator: Killy is the epitome of the Determinator trope. Sana-Kan and Dhomo fit, too.
Dull Surprise: At first justified due to Killy's stoic nature, but with the benefit hindsight it's mostly due to Nihei's character designs not being particularly emotive. Cibo does show some surprise early on, though.
Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Probably the strangest example in recent history, but every time someone meets up with the Authority, this is pretty much how it feels. And in a dystopian cyber-punk post-apocalyptic wasteland who better to count as an Eldritch Abomination than an ancient omniscient A.I-like ruler who is essentially a god?
Dystopia: Blame! is a prime example of dystopian fiction.
Earth That Was: As the ending of NOiSE shows, the Earth is completely engulfed by The City's automated construction system. By the time Blame! takes place, nobody even remembers that there was an Earth. One chapter towards the end implies that the machinery has swallowed most, if not all, of the Solar System.
Eldritch Abomination: Faceless organic-machines that morph out of ordinary people and six-story tall monsters with guns for mouths certainly qualify.
The Fog of Ages: Killy is incredibly old, and admits to having forgotten a lot. This could be averted by the reactivation of the Netsphere, which is implied to house the memories of all humans. Though it isn't certain that an ancient pre-Safeguard construct like Killy would be included in the deal.
Gainax Ending: Although it is actually a good ending, its utter vagueness has confused many readers, perhaps because, in a way, the whole point of the series is for the Gainax Ending. Some consider it to be a Downer Ending since Cibo dies in the end.
Gangsta Style: Killy has a notable fondness for firing the GBE this way. As with most things about Blame!, whether or not there's a reason for this is anyone's guess.
The Government: The Authority and The Safeguard. The former is a benevolent yet mostly impotent system that requires regular humans with a extremely rare genetic marker to tell them what to do, while the latter acts like an anti-virus system that happens to see all humans without said gene as viruses.
Grey and Gray Morality: Since everyone is technically human they do what humans do best, fight so that their faction can prosper at the expense of others. Who do you side with? The freedom loving but utterly insane Silicon Life who want to maintain the chaotic decay of the City, and are willing to exterminate humans who have the net terminal gene to prevent the Authority from regaining control? The Knight Templar Safeguard who will kill anyone to keep the City from decaying further than it already has, even though it is evidently hopeless? The inept bureaucrats of Authority who want to reverse the decay of the Megastructure and employ sometimes heroic, sometimes ruthless protagonist on a quest that has gone on for millenia without tangible results? Or the more human factions that struggle to get by in this crapsack dyson sphere?
Guilt-Free Extermination War: The Silicon Life have been hunting humans since the dawn of the city, as they pose a threat to the established state of the Net Sphere. Humans fare no better: when they get a hold of the architects, they find no guilt in destroying entire hives, as told by Pcell in the sequel one shot. Neither seem to consider coexistence to be possible, even though the City is big enough to house both their civilizations. She seems to value human life, however, so there might be hope after all.
I Am Who??: Killy is related to the Safeguard. It is also theorized (and Lampshaded by the author) that he is also a kind of Internet Ghost that appears whenever humanity is in danger... And judging by the sequel, not only humanity. Everyone is human in Blame! anyway.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: In chapter 4, Killy finds a factory were baby cyborgs are born. After eating all their food the nursebot becomes angry with him. His response? Blow things up. In the next chapter he taunts a pair of Silicon Life about killing their kids. Keep in mind that the Silicon Creatures as a whole are on a campaign to wipe out all of humanity, except for the one Silicon Life member who is apparently nothing more than a dedicated amateur astromoner. Killy shoots him just to be safe.
He appears to have mellowed out somewhat in Blame! 2 - he is now shown to protect Silicon Life from the Safeguard, presumably because they are no longer the destabilising threat they used to be.
Law of Inverse Recoil: Averted spectacularly. At it's lowest setting, firing the Graviton Beam Emitter causes Killy's arm to violently jerk backwards; at higher levels, it sends him flying; and even tears off his arm at maximum output.
The Man Behind the Man: Killy seems to be on some kind of a mission, and towards the end it is shown that his actions are being monitored by some unknown authority. He is actually shown to be in contact, or at least on friendly terms, with said Authority several times prior to that.
Mega Corp.: Toha Heavy Industries. A subversion, as despite being a monolithic and once mighty organisation, they lack any real power outside of their jurisdiction.
The Bio-electric Corporation are a smaller but more conventional example. Although small fry compared to Toha, they'd be an N.G.O. Superpower in any other 'verse. They also seem to have done a surprisingly good job rebuilding civilization from scratch without the help of the Safeguard or Authority.
The Silicon Life start out attempting to destroy all traces of the Net Terminal Genes and forever seal humanity from the Netsphere - but by the time Blame 2 takes place, the new generation of Synthetic Life are being hunted down and simply want to be left in peace.
The Safeguard was originally set up to keep unauthorized users like Silicon Creatures from logging onto the netsphere and screwing things up by killing them. Now due to a combination of programming decay and desperation they usually just kill everyone everywhere and hope that things will work out.
Ms Exposition: Cibo fills this role at times, if only to give the story a semblance of coherency. This is justified though as she was a scientist, and so most of the time she is trying to sort things out.
He has been seen grinning several times while causing total mayhem. The guy seems to get off on violence that has been cranked Up to Eleven.
No Transhumanism Allowed: Completely and thoroughly inverted. Humans who haven't been altered in some way or another are completely extinct, and it is unlikely a normal person would be able to survive in The City. The MacGuffin itself is a result of averting this trope: only humans with a very ancient gene are allowed to access the "series of tubes" in this future. Attempting to log onto the Internet without said genes will result in an immediate permaban by the Safeguard.
Only Six Faces: While non-human characters have a great variety facial features, the human ones have a much more limited one.
Order Versus Chaos: In Noise, the main character is a cop investigating a cult who worship the power of chaos who are kidnapping children to use for human sacrifices in their bizarre Magitek rituals. When they kill her, she is resurrected by the Safeguard, protectors of order, but they turn out to be a pack of fascists who plan on disenfranchising or killing everybody who can't afford network implants and brainwashing the ones who do. Then in Blame!, we see the aftermath of this; the cult succeeded in throwing the world into chaos, but since they're so poorly organized their descendants, the Silicon Creatures, don't amount to much more than a bunch of roving cyber-barbarians. The Safeguard doesn't fare much better, as their directives become so corrupted that they essentially believe that everything that's not them must be exterminated withextreme prejudice.
Pet the Dog: Killy indiscriminately destroys any Silicon Life he encounters, regardless of whether they're hostile to him or not. Until Blame 2, where he rescues a heavily injured SL from the Safeguard and takes her to safety.
Power Gives You Wings: Slight subversion. Most wings seen in Blame! are black, but they do coincide with the character having a notable upgrade. Considering that most power upgrades coincide with being able to change your body shape, it's fairly reasonable that you would want to have wings in a superstructure with huge chaisms of hundreds (or thousands) of kilometers.
Red Baron: In the epilogue, the silicon beings referred to Killy as "The Calamity"
Resurrection Sickness: Seu suffers from this, seems being the Badass Normal isn't always enough to survive in Blame!, since this happens to him a lot. The constant amnesia of being healed also interferes with his love life...
Ridiculously Human Robot: Killy, apparently. He needs to eat and sleep (at least at first), feels pain and doesn't show up as anything but human to doctors like Cibo who heal him, but he's revealed to be much more than that eventually.
The Rival: Killy and Sana-Kan, Seu and Ivy, Dhomochevsky and Davinel.
Robot War: Both Safeguards and Silicon Life are mechanical constructs trying to hunt down what remains of humanity. In fact they come from the same template: the former made to secure access to the Netsphere and the latter reprogrammed to serve the machinations of a chaotic sect.
Russian Guy Suffers Most: Considering how crap every other character's life is, "most" might be an overstatement, but Dhomochevsky's certainly wasn't pleasant. It should be noted that Dhomochevsky isn't Russian, he just has a Polish sounding name. It's all the same place anyway.
Scars Are Forever: Killy gains several noticeable facial scars throughout the course of the series.
Scavenger World: almost everything that's still working is running on automatic. Killy gets by by finding equipment caches set up centuries in advance; the Electrofishers and tech-nomads have put their suits and guns together out of stuff they found. Partially averted by Cibo's people and Silicon Life, who are both developing new technology and rediscovering the secrets of the City, but tend to overestimate their own abilities.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Having found herself on the outside of the City itself at the end of Blame! 2, Pcell decides to leave and find a new home where she can peacefully restart the Silicon Creature civilization using the recorded archive of her home she's carried with her.
Sequel Hook: ...And it got two. One was planned to be a full length manga, but the author dropped it after just one chapter. The second was in full colour and also a single chapter long, but it served to show that Killy is alive and kicking.
Super Senses: Killy, Dhomochevsky, Cibo... In fact, most beings in Blame! seem to possess superhuman senses. Though it isn't surprising, seeing as how they all live in futuristic dystopian hell-hole where it pays to come prepared for anything.
Synchronized Swarming: Issue 7 has the main character briefly interacting with a swarm of microorganisms, which assumes various simple forms — :) for "hello", O for "yes", X for "no", etc — to answer his queries.
Take a Third Option: This may be Cibo's motivation when she double registers using Seu's Net-Terminal Genes, and Sana-kan's motivation for advising Cibo against trusting the The Authority after Cibo fuses with the Level 9 and transcribes the Genes into herself, and then going on to be her bodyguard. This makes sense once you realize that, in the prequel (noise), The Authority and the Safeguard were planning to disefranchise all humans without Net-Terminal Genes and install a fascist government of some sort. This would also explain The Authority's "new plan" that involved a 1st Level Exterminator trying to eat the Sphere.
Time Abyss: One caption reads off how many seconds later it's been...in the quadrillions. A quadrillion seconds is about ten billion years.
Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Played with. Cibo comes from an area where humans are much taller than Killy is and she's at least as tall (if not a little taller) than him. When both of them get through to an area where humans are short, she looks like a beanstalk. When Cibo moves into her next body, she's half Killy's size.
Transhuman: In It's entirety, we do not see a single purely biological human. Everyone is heavily modified, be they cyborgs, human-descended androids, or gene-modded superhumans. The closest to "pure" human we get is Seu, and he's an eight-foot giant with enough enhancements to fight in hand-to-hand combat with advanced Silicon Life warriors, who has been reconstructed and had his personality restored from backup countless times. Most "normal" humans were exterminated by either the Silicon Creatures or the Safeguard, given the events of NOiSE,Blame!!'s prequel.
Unnecessarily Large Interior: At least one a chapter. Blame! is set in an endless series of Unnecessarily Large Interiors. One of the rooms Killy walks through is roughly the size of Jupiter, and judging from the ending of the prequel comic NOiSEwhere the Earth and Moon are enveloped by the machines, it's implied that this room is where Jupiter used to be.
The artbook explains that The City itself extends out from the Sun to roughly Jupiter's orbit (~5 AU; roughly 750 million km), while "the world" extends to the edges of the system. In this verse, the planets, along with the Sun, have been absorbed for energy, Dyson Sphere-style. This is what happens when you let mindless nanomachines go rampant.
Visible Silence: Take a shot every time someone shows the reader their best impression of Mt. Rushmore accompanied by ellipses. Enjoy your liver transplant.
Wave Motion Gun: This is Killy's handgun the Graviton Beam Emitter. A pistol so powerful it can carve a four meter diameter shaft through 55km of steel. It is so overpowered that there are actually a couple of situations where it's a bad idea for Killy to use it, but most of the time he just blasts away, heedless of how much damage to the artificial environment he's causing. Thankfully, most of the MegaStructure is uninhabited.
Weapon of Choice: The GBE for Killy and Sana-Kan, the 'Electro Rod' for Cibo, The multi-purpose multi-firing-mode gun for Dhomochevsky, etc.