Excellent release. Vertical has matched and exceeded my expectations. In particular I have taken a liking to the more compact dimensions used with the tankoubon, which are closer to the Japanese format also used in French and Italian releases. They show dedication to their craft, evident from their relentless eye to detail. Sole (rather major) letdown is the rate of releases, where the English releases are barely at volume 3, while other European languages are already at 7 and the original Japanese already at 10. This is not being helped by releasing only once per two months. At this rate, we'll only be at where the French are today in Februari 2014 and the Japanese half a year later. This makes it impossible to discuss it with people who read it in those other languages.
As for the manga itself, it's absolutely stellar. Nihei draws a minimalist but realistic science fiction world, taking into account many things other authors conveniently ignore. He shows us humanity which has departed from its God-given form with new genders and photosynthesis; a massive seedship, once one of many but now an orphan in an endless black sea where location has lost meaning; an alien race which is truly alien, but appears to share a relationship with more than meets the eye. He does this without losing control over the story, managing to consistently focus on the narrative without needing to halt to explain things. In-universe mechanics, history, order and other elements come naturally while he takes us through a surprisingly rich world. He manages to convey complex situations using a deceptively simple-looking drawing style, seemingly effortlessly transitioning to show more detail when the situation calls for it, doing so without ever breaking convention and culminating in the rare but exquisite coloured pages. So, too, is the dialogue, which is relatively sparse but functional, letting the art and writing engage in beautiful symbiosis to tell a tale that gracefully walks the tightrope between serious events and Nihei's clever, trademark comedy.
Literally the only element that leans toward being a downside is that the art style tends to cause a bit of sameface, and with the equally minimalistic dialogue this can cause a bit of confusion who's who, especially in the earlier volumes. From those same reasons stems also the fact that the plot heavily relies on the reader actually being concentrated, which may be an issue if you're used to manga which make a point of explaining everything multiple times. This leads to situations where a poorly understood story element is expected to be explained in the near future, which doesn't happen because it actually was already explained in an earlier chapter. Due to the fact that you should probably get used to Nihei's style first, I advise re-reading the first three volumes as soon as you're done with the third, this should shed some light upon a few questions you've probably asked by now. It's also be easier since you're better able to distinguish between the faces by now.
I should probably note that this manga is due for anime adoption in 2014 and is expected to become one of the major hits that year.
Hi, I very rarely write a review but this is just so good.
I've read and still have all of Blame! and more recently I read BIOMEGA. Both of those are enjoyable for their wild ideas and visuals but they were always a bit lacking in story, especially BIOMEGA.
That's why I really like this. It has all the craziness of those other books but it has much more focus on story. The characters have more depth and although there are some familiar elements in the story for anyone with a long standing interest in sci-fi, the whole thing feels fresh.
I read this twice the first day I had it. I hardly ever do that.
Really brilliant. Hope it lasts and develops beyond the puny 6 issues that BIOMEGA managed.
Liked his style since I first came across "Blame". This is great so far. Almost identical to the anime. In some part, the anime has more detail, it some the book is better especially the design of the Guana. Will collect every single one.