Story/Art: Tsutomu Nihei
What They Say:
The 200,000 KM diameter artificial celestial body of APOSIMZ. Most of its volume is its core space, which is covered by a superstructural shell. Fifty centuries ago, the people who lost a war against the core lost their right to reside legitimately in APOSIMZ, and were left behind on the extremely cold surface. They face the spreading Frame disease. And aggressive automatons which appear frequently on the ruins level. Yet even so, somehow people survive.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Those with experience with the works of Tsutomu Nihei have an idea of what to expect with APOSIMZ, especially since it seems to be connected to Knights of Sidonia but without the requirement to read it in any way. Add in the time on BLAME! and Biomega and you know you’re in for something that’s going to do things unlike most of the usual spoonfed works out there. APOSIMZ in its debut runs an 86-page chapter that it’s essentially best to not get attached to anyone with until you finish it, reread it a couple of more times, and settle in on what kind of story it’s going to tell. This chapter is the type that operates like a lot of novels (not light novels) in that it’s plunking down a whole lot that will make sense over time as you immerse yourself into this new world.
The series takes place some fifty centuries after a sprawling war across the APOSIMZ where those who lost now reside on the surface, scrounging for food and oxygen and ending up in different pockets of existence. The largest player seems to be the empire of Rebedoa that employs a large number of Regular Frames, a human/cyborg powered up combination that are the high end users and power players of the world. There those that lose the human side along the way and we see number of empty Frames that are just the mechanical parts, lost of everything and shuffling around like zombies that may potentially have a glimmer of who they were before. Set on a sprawling landscape of ice and cold, this opening work paints a very bleak world where it takes a certain hardness to survive and very clear and distinct rules to live by. There’s a lot of little bits peppered throughout that gives it more of a lived-in feeling as well, from creatures to food, and the dynamic on the larger scale.
The focus for this chapter is on a small group of people that have gone down into part of the Core of APOSIMZ in order to train some of the younger members with basic combat while doing some scrounging. The return trip is one that goes badly when they come across a woman flying fast toward them and chased by the Rebedoa forces, who promptly seem able to destroy her. It’s a great moment in a way as we see how the group instructor deals with the attackers and works to clean up the mess while knowing that they have to leave their current encampment as it won’t be safe much longer. With the remains from the woman in the form of a cube of Code and a small animal-like skeleton, there are a lot of characters thrown at us while this unfolds but you get that sense of a whittling down coming when the Rebedoa show up to relcaim what’s theirs.
And it is intriguing as we get an overpowered member of the Rebedoa arriving, supposedly only second to the Emperor and intent on transforming this world under their rule. It’s a familiar power position as he tortures and kills those around him in search of the Code that can lead to transformation into these kinds of special Frames, which ends up being used by a character named Etherow before it can be acquired back. It’s a fascinating bonding moment with the Code and creature as it happens in the seconds before Etherow’s death and it throws us into the chaos of a traditional “superhero” origin in a lot of ways as he’s unsure how to handle the new power, discovers the time limit that exists the the moment with it, and faces off against an impossibly overpowered opponent while managing to get off a good shot that shows he has real potential as it. Etherow has moments throughout the chapter but since you can’t be sure who will survive the opening installment a lot of it doesn’t feel like it flows well until the second or third read through.
APOSIMZ drops you right into the thick of the things and you have to hit the ground running. And I love it as it’s not spoonfeeding us everything as it requires multiple readings – and multiple opportunities to appreciate the artwork, design, and overall flow of it. There are a lot of ideas in this opening chapter that sets the stage for what’s to come and it gives us some big personalities to contend with by the end that has me wanting to see a whole lot more. Having only skimmed the manga for some of his other properties and being more familiar with the anime side, APOSIMZ is delivering something that I don’t see in a lot of other manga these days, which is why I’ve fallen out of so much of it. I’m intrigued and excited to see what’s next.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Kodansha Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: February 24th, 2017