Blame! – A gothic cyberpunk dystopia

Blame! is pure science-fiction goodness. It doesn’t contain a coherent story nor does it have the most thorough characterization, but when it comes to creating a unique setting, it does a perfect job. This manga is very much like the sentiment, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. There is very little dialogue and not much exposition. Instead, these elements are replaced by worldbuilding and pure action.

Blame! is a perfect example of how creative and imaginative a science-fiction world can be. Instead of focusing on its societies and individuals, it looks more at the building blocks of the world itself, comprising of massive monoliths and structures that stretch out far beyond the human eye can see. The angles, scaling, and shading are all done brilliantly in order to capture the dystopian beauty of the world. The amount of detail is just insane. But while Blame! works to highlight its environment, it also contains various amounts of interesting characters that all contribute to the story. The characters do take more of a backseat, but they are still given proper amounts of characterization.

Blame!’s protagonist is the perfect vessel for a story like this. We can immerse ourselves through his silent journey through endless amounts of steel and beams. It is through his eyes that we are able to get a feel of the bleakness and darkness of the world, and his lack of dialogue allows you to take everything in without needing to really think. Just taking in the sights as if you were there yourself, standing atop those massive platings and pathways. The gothic atmosphere the manga creates is an encaptivating one, and it only highlights how great it is at immersing you in the manga’s environment. The structures and buildings are filled with detail from both afar and near, showing bits and pieces of the world’s history as the protagonist navigates through the robust landscape.

The protagonist also stumbles upon an assortment of machine lifeforms that lead to many action-packed exchanges. The action in Blame! is short and sweet but also come by frequently. The action is consistently amazing, and it ends up being right up my alley. Action within a gothic backdrop is just pure bliss for me. The lack of dialogue within these scenes also makes them more engaging as you can take in the weight of the action without really working your brain all that much. The action is completely unfiltered and comes in short bursts, but its consistency is what makes it loveable.

Blame! is the type of manga that seeks to show rather than tell. It contains a perfect dystopian, science-fiction world with an equally enticing atmosphere. The story is absolute bonkers, but it was also perfect for something like this. The presentation of the story itself was well done, keeping the engagement levels to a high despite its disorientating nature. While Blame! is nowhere near being the pinnacle of storytelling or creating complex characters, it manages to instead be one of the coolest and most fascinating depictions of a science-fiction setting. Blame! oozes style with its cyberpunk dystopia, creating an experience that speaks louder than words.

My Girl – Exploring parenthood

Masamune reminisces over his late girlfriend. He feels a lot of emotions. Regret. Resent. Hopelessness. These feelings flood his mind, causing him to reconsider everything he’s wanted in his life. He lives on, but he can’t move forward. That is until he meets his daughter, Koharu. Masamune decides to roll the dice with this encounter and together, he and Koharu form a precious bond as they navigate through the world of families. My Girl tells the heartwarming tale of a man trying to become a father and a daughter trying to understand the world of parenthood.

The biggest strength of this manga lies in its benevolent view of parenting. Masamune struggles to give the best for his daughter as a single parent while simultaneously wrestling with his own inner conflicts. He’s not a perfect parent. He’s also not a perfect person. He makes mistakes, and he learns from them. That’s what makes him human and very relatable. Even if you have no experience being a parent, it’s still easy to relate to a lot of Masamune’s struggles. We’ve had our own fair share of regrets in life, and it’s something that will stay with us for a long time. We’ve all juggled with loneliness, aimlessness, and the fear of uncertainty. These things are what make Masamune such an endearing character and it also makes his development all the more fulfilling.

Little by little, with the help of the people around him, Masamune learns to become a true father for Koharu. Koharu, on the other hand, attempts to understand her own complicated emotions. She holds a surprising amount of maturity for a girl her age, and she strives to help Masamune in any way she can. Both Masamune and Koharu have lost someone precious to them. In a way, they’re not just family but also kindred spirits. It’s through this similarity that they’re able to support each other on an equal level.

Masamune, while being the grown-up of the two, still has a lot to learn about the complexity of a child’s mind, and he finds himself relying a lot on Koharu in order to find meaning in his own life. Koharu, while striving to move forward, realizes throughout the course of the manga her own desires and ambitions and what she wants for both herself and her father. These conflicts play out naturally, and the way they maneuver through other sides of the parenting spectrum highlights the grounded nature of the manga. The father-and-daughter duo go through loss, regret, and finding the courage to move on. They do so in the most tender way possible, which makes their journey incredibly endearing to read through.

My Girl explores different forms of parenting, through various perspectives and circumstances. The manga addresses divorce, the anxiety of pregnancy, the fear of not being a good enough parent, and it explores these ideas in a responsible way. The manga never strays away from the cold hard truths, creating a sense of melancholy and desolation. But while the manga does have its depressing moments, it also adopts a positive and optimistic outlook on the themes of parenthood. While the bleak reality is there, there is also a sense of hope and happiness that sprout alongside it. The author perfectly conveys the fact that, while challenging, parenting can also be deeply rewarding and satisfying for all parties involved. Having an overtly depressing manga may appeal to the realism, but having a complimentary amount of joy and wonder is also just as realistic.

The manga’s art style greatly compliments the themes and tones of the story. The illustrations give a sense of comfort that emphasizes the story’s fleeting sense of time, creating a unique sense of atmosphere that elicits the feeling of solace. Characters are drawn beautifully, and their facial expressions perfectly convey their own emotions in a delicate manner. The shading and linework are meticulously outlined and illustrated. Things such as a gentle smile or a straight face may seem like simple things, but they elicit deep emotions; pictures are worth a thousand words after all. The author knows exactly how to evoke certain feelings at just the right time with their understanding of these subtle gestures. There are also specific panels and scenes that are just stunning to look at, the scenery evoking a warmth that matches the manga’s tonal direction. The author’s illustrations breathe life into the manga, strengthening its emotional weight and depth.

My Girl presents a profound portrayal of parenting and what it truly means to develop a relationship with your children. It doesn’t shy away from the bleak and fleeting moments of life, but it also accompanies it with positive and optimistic messages that are sincere and genuine. With its endearing cast of characters, its heartfelt style of art, and its mature story, My Girl provides an experience that will leave a touching and long-lasting impression on your soul.