Blame! (ブラム! Buramu!?), pronounced "blam", is a ten-volume cyberpunk manga by Tsutomu Nihei. The tagline for this manga is "Adventure-seeker Killy in the Cyber Dungeon quest!" or "Maybe on Earth, Maybe in the Future".
Killy, a silent loner possessing an incredibly powerful weapon known as a Gravitational Beam Emitter, wanders a vast technological world known as "The City". He is searching for Net Terminal Genes, a (possibly) extinct genetic marker that allows humans to access the "Netsphere", a sort of computerized control network for The City. The City is an endless vertical space of artificially-constructed walls, stairways and caverns, separated into massive "floors" by nearly-impenetrable barriers known as "Megastructure". The City is inhabited by scattered human and transhuman tribes as well as hostile cyborgs known as Silicon Creatures. The Net Terminal Genes appear to be the key to halting the unhindered, chaotic expansion of the Megastructure, as well as a way of stopping the murderous horde known as the Safeguard from destroying all humanity.
Along the way, Killy meets and joins forces with a resourceful engineer named Cibo and several groups such as a tribe of human warriors called the Electro-Fishers. Cibo and Killy are often pursued by the Safeguard, who view any human without Net Terminal Genes as a threat to be extinguished on sight. Because of the size and nature of The City and the violent lives lead by its inhabitants, there are virtually no recurring characters and any alliances made are shortlived and end badly.
Killy (霧亥 Kirii?) is the main character. He is on a journey to find a human with Net Terminal Genes to access the Netsphere. He is equipped with the Gravitational Beam Emitter, a small but incredibly powerful weapon that resembles a gun and is capable of destruction on a massive scale.
Killy's origin and motives are unknown. He speaks very little and rarely hesitates to fight. He also has shown superhuman levels of endurance and strength, and appears to be able to heal extremely rapidly. However he usually relies on his GBE to dispatch the opposition. Killy is in fact a prototype of the Safeguard, whom over 3,000 years before the current timeline was sent on his mission to find the net terminal genes. Due to the fact that he has been around so long he can no longer remember who had sent him on his journey in the first place nor any other memories that took place thousands of years ago. The older Killy grows, it appears that he will only lose more information to be replaced by the new.
Early on in the story, Killy asks the people he comes across not only about net terminal genes, but if they know anyone who sees letters and numbers in their eyes. After meeting the Electro-fishers and falling unconscious, he awakens and realizes that these letters and numbers are part of a scanning ability, which allows him to recognize Sanakan as a safeguard. Later in the story he becomes stronger to the point of being able to kill silicon creatures without the GBE and survives the direct attack of a level 9 (the highest known level) Safeguard.
Cibo (シボ Shibo?), or Chief Scientist Cibo (シボ主任科学者 Shibo Shuninkagakusha?) is the head scientist of the Capitol corporation. She tries to access the Net Sphere with an artificially created version of Net Terminal Genes; the experiment fails with disastrous results and summons the Safeguard, leading to the destruction of the entire facility.
During their journey, Cibo undergoes many changes of bodily form, emphasizing the transhuman nature of life in the Megastructure. Cibo cracks security systems and gathers information to help her and Killy's journey. She speaks rather more than the taciturn Killy, often serving to advance the plot.
Later in the series, Cibo is hybridized with a Safeguard entity, and creates an artifact called "the Core". The Core's purpose is like that of a human womb and is used to bear a child with net terminal genes.
Sanakan (サナカン?) is a high level agent of the Safeguard who first appears as a short, young girl with black hair. She appears to have a particular interest in wiping out the human tribe of Electro-Fishers, and seems to know Killy from the past. Sanakan uses a GBE similar to Killy's (sometimes hand-held, sometimes an integral part of her body).
Sanakan has 3 forms. The first is a child form, which is used to infiltrate human settlements and later destroy them. The second one is her Safeguard form. Her third form is a humanoid woman. According to the manga, the Safeguard form of Sanakan does not hold her consciousness, but is only a remote body controlled by the main Safeguard system; Cibo uses this fact to temporarily disable Sanakan and a number of Safeguard units by hacking into their control system.
At first Sanakan is an antagonist; later in the story, she is given a new mission is to protect Cibo and the Core. During one battle she is killed by the Silicon Creatures; her leader warns her that if she goes back to base reality with a Safeguard form (with her consciousness permanently installed) and she is killed again, they can't revive her again. Sanakan agrees to this condition and rescues Cibo from the Silicon Creatures, but is later killed when she tries to protect Killy from a First Class Exterminator Safeguard.
The City is actually a structure that began on Earth. The mechanical beings known as Builders, which move around reforming and creating new landscapes, appear to have begun building without end, creating an enormous structure with little internal logic or coherence. There exists some kind of major isolation system between the gargantuan floors of The City. Between them, there are entire layers of an unknown, nearly-indestructible material called "the megastructure". Attempts to approach the megastructure result in a massive safeguard response so as to prevent trespassing. Bypassing the safeguard is pointless, as it is nearly impossible to even scratch the megastructure. Only a direct Gravitational Beam Emitter blast is known to have been capable of digging a hole into a megastructure.
The City, and the Builders, were controlled by the Netsphere and the Authority but they have since lost the power to control the expansion of The City due to the chaotic and insecure manner of its growth. Without intervention by a user with Net Terminal Genes they cannot reestablish control over The City nor the Safeguards, whose original job was to eliminate any humans who try to access the Netsphere without Net Terminal Genes. The Safeguard now attempts to destroy all humans without the Net Terminal Gene as the degradation of The City has corrupted their true goals.
In regards to the scale of the structure, NOiSE, the prequel to Blame!, states in its final chapter that "At one point even the Moon, which used to be up in the sky above, was integrated into The City's structure". It has been suggested by Tsutomu Nihei himself in his artbook Blame! and So On that the scale of The City is beyond that of a Dyson sphere, reaching Jupiter's planetary orbit (32.675 AU, or roughly 4,901,250,000 km); this is also suggested in scenarios such as Blame! vol. 9, where Killy finds himself having to travel through a room roughly the size of Jupiter (roughly 143,000 km.) .
- Blame! #01 (1998/06) ISBN 4-06-314182-9
- Blame! #02 (1998/12) ISBN 4-06-314194-2
- Blame! #03 (1999/08) ISBN 4-06-314218-3
- Blame! #04 (2000/03) ISBN 4-06-314235-3
- Blame! #05 (2000/09) ISBN 4-06-314251-5
- Blame! #06 (2001/03) ISBN 4-06-314263-9
- Blame! #07 (2001/10) ISBN 4-06-314277-9
- Blame! #08 (2002/04) ISBN 4-06-314289-2
- Blame! #09 (2002/12) ISBN 4-06-314310-4
- Blame! #10 (2003/09) ISBN 4-06-314328-7
In February 2005, Tokyopop announced that it has licensed Blame! for U.S. distribution, with publication beginning in August 2005. After releasing the final volume in 2007, the series has gone out of print with several volumes becoming increasingly hard to find.
- Blame! #01 (2005/08) ISBN 1-59532-834-3
- Blame! #02 (2005/11) ISBN 1-59532-835-1
- Blame! #03 (2006/02) ISBN 1-59532-836-X
- Blame! #04 (2006/05) ISBN 1-59532-837-8
- Blame! #05 (2006/07) ISBN 1-59532-838-6
- Blame! #06 (2006/11) ISBN 1-59532-839-4
- Blame! #07 (2007/02) ISBN 1-59532-840-8
- Blame! #08 (2007/05) ISBN 1-59532-841-6
- Blame! #09 (2007/08) ISBN 1-59532-842-4
- Blame! #10 (2007/11) ISBN 1-59532-843-2