A while back I reviewed Noise by Tsutomu Nihei and found it to be pretty awesome but with a barely comprehensible plot. This time I’m reviewing Biomega which is also made by him and being a much longer work than Noise it has time to develop a real plot while keeping the extremely well done action sequences Noise had.
In Biomega the story moves forwards mostly via action set pieces rather than by people talking about their motivations. It’s a sci-fi story set about a thousand years from now where a virus is spreading rapidly across the planet that is turning everyone into so called drones. These drones are essentially zombies and a power struggle ensues on earth where one of the biggest corporations on the planet attempts to grab the people who are resistant to the virus in order to create a new clean version of it to make a new improved human race. They want the parts of the virus which makes you live forever without the part that makes you into a mindless drone.
The bad guys in the series are huge dicks as they plan to exterminate the rest of humanity and run the show themselves as a new improved master race. Too bad for them that our protagonist Zouichi exists since he is a grade A badass hero. Being an artificially made human he is able to deal with any outrageous opposition without much trouble. With his trusty bike he deals with jet planes, tanks and probably over a hundred soldiers and drones before the series is over. Only on a few occasions to we see glimpses of what he’s like as a person when he rescues people he could’ve left behind if he wasn’t a hero and he mourns the death of characters the reader just met but that he apparently has known for a while. Just showing glimpses of his personality like that and not having him have long monologues or flashbacks was good enough for me. We get his character and the story doesn’t waste time on giving us any more info that we don’t need anyway.
Zouichi doesn’t talk much as he has an AI companion that does most of that for him. Almost every character in the series has an AI companion that hovers around in holographic form and work as next-gen smartphones. They’re very convenient to have as they provide long distance communication and information lookup while also having personalities so the characters aren’t quite as lonely. I liked that the AI companions had such a prominent role as characters, even though it could be slightly confusing at times to tell who was who since a couple of them had somewhat similar designs.
What you’ll obviously notice from the screenshots is that Biomega looks fantastic. The action sequences are numerous and are all well made. Not a chapter goes by without some sort of explosion and just like in Noise the enemies that Zouichi meets just gets more and more over the top. It is pretty violent so expect plenty of blood and body parts chopped off. It doesn’t have any fan service or anything so despite it clearly being made for older audiences it doesn’t have breasts and panties popping out at you all over the place. Instead female designs tend to be slender and they look cool instead of slutty.
The entire tone of the manga with the designs and story appeal to me a lot. I think having the main character ride around on a bike and kicking ass feels retro in the best possible way. It completely manages to live up to the visuals with the story itself, so if you like the way it looks you will most likely enjoy the story as well. It’s a very solid piece of work and while the shading wasn’t completely even throughout the series it was still way above average most of the time.
It’s too bad that this couldn’t be a completely positive review though as I was hoping about halfway through that no major problems would appear with the plot. I would say about 75% through the series it takes a big nosedive. Instead of ending the story at a place where it really could’ve ended the author took the story in a direction that didn’t really work. The new story direction felt too implausible to me as it went pretty far out with the sci-fi concepts and while it still had its moments it kind of puttered along for a while and then just sort of ended. Kind of like Noise I think Biomega at the end was more of an interesting visual work with some cool action scenes instead of a complete story experience with fantastic art that Biomega managed to be before that last section.
Even with those issues I have no qualms about recommending it. The art is top notch, the action is fantastic throughout the entire series and I did enjoy reading the last section even if it was a letdown. It just shows that even if you can’t do a story properly it’s possible to overcome that somewhat by making the series exhibit of interesting art and designs. I just hope the next thing I read by Tsutomu Nihei manages to tell a completely coherent all the way through because he did almost manage to do it this time.
NOTE: Biomega has been licensed is available in its entirety from Viz Media.