BLAME! somebody else – part II

Shut up. You’ve lost this time.

(Warning, this part includes spoilers for the Manga and Movie, you can skip it if you want)

This was going to be about Knights of Sidonia, but I’ve decided it was better to go over the things I didn’t like about the Polygon’s BLAME adaptation. Specifically I think it did a disservice to Cibo, one of the great female characters in Cyberpunk.

In Tsutomu Nihei’s original Manga, Cibo is contrasted with Killy. Not only does she talk more than him responsible for most of the dialogue in the series, but also in that she is constantly changing forms. While Killy is stuck in his (in)human body Cibo changes bodies as easily as humans change clothes. She is introduced in Volume 2 as a rotting corpse left for dead by her enemies. With Killy’s help she is able to obtain a new body and get revenge as a beautiful young woman, saving his life in the process. Latter in a battle with the Safeguards, this body is destroyed, and she must steal a new one from the enemy. Continuing in this manner she continues to swap bodies several times until she is captured by Silicon life and used as a host or human sacrifice to download a pirated Level Nine Safeguard. Cibo’s transformed body is rescued, but her mind is destroyed. Having existed as a corpse, an adult, and a teenager, she ages in reverse and ends the series as a child before dying for good. Paradoxically this child is also the mother (From a cyber lesbian relationship with her former rival, the Safeguard Sanakan) to an unnamed child carrying the Net Terminal Genes Killy needs to save the City.

Needless to say, this is a lot to fit into a 70 minute movie. Cibo’s backstory and ultimate fate are both cut for time. Cibo is introduced as a corpse, and creates a new body for herself halfway through the movie. Near the end, she appears to be “Killed” by the safeguard Sanakan, only to reveal that she had transferred her mind into her robotic arm, and evaded destruction. The movie is great at showing off the essence of this character, but unlike Killy, it’s harder to squeeze her down into a simple archetype. Like her bodies she inhabits many cliches such as the damsel in distress or the vengeful sorceress, but ultimately none of them are sufficient to embody her. While the technological hellscape locks Killy into the role of a Stoic gunslinger. It also empowers Cibo to change forms and grants her a different kind of Immortality. Not the immortality of one who never breaks, but rather the immortality one who who can reform after breaking.

The movie does sufficiently express this important theme of evading death by living in flux, but it’s still disappointing to see the Arc of such a mercurial character squandered. The movie adapts the Electro Fisher arc spread out over the middle volumes of the Manga. In a perfect world this would be the second Movie in a series of 3-5 films covering the entire plot, but this is what we get. The Electro fisher arc is one of my favorites in the series, but sacrificing everything else for it. It’s as if the plot was destroyed, but the story managed to survive by moving it’s consciousness into smaller part.

The Cibo we get is intelligent, resourceful, confident, beautiful, and very tall. But in the film adaptation, She’s only all those things simply because that’s how she was in the Manga. She’s simply thrust into the movie halfway through as a fully fleshed (or in this case actually fleshless) character, and experiences no significant character development beyond having her body replaced and then latter destroyed again. She serves entirely as a walking plot device and vehicle for exposition. While Killy, as a mysterious wandering hero, can be forgiven for having no character development, it does not Suit Cibo at all. The Strong Female character from the Manga is reduced to the Strong(X), Female(X), Character(?) of most disappointing Hollywood movies.

Cibo isn’t the only part that got cut down to make this movie. But it’s the most disappointing. Silicon creatures (who don’t appear in this movie at all) could be added in a Sequel, but now that Cibo has been introduced without her original origin story. She will have to continue into the plot without it. We’ve already got flashbacks where she explains the new version of her origin, and anything more interesting would contradict it. The old Cibo learned from her mistakes, but this one has lost her Memories. She might still end up becoming the new mother of a revitalized human race, but without her past, this Cibo isn’t the same person anymore.  Neglecting such an important character in a specifically character driven adaptation is definitely worth criticism.

part I focuses on defending this adaptation from more common criticism.

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