Follow Etherow's travels through the superstructure of APOSIMZ!
APOSIMZ is the latest work by one of my all-time favorite mangaka, Tsutomu Nihei, so I was extremely excited to see it added to our catalog of SimulPub manga Premium members with the volumes available for purchase on the Crunchyroll Manga app. Nihei’s first work BLAME! had a cult following in Japan and Europe for its amazing environmental art and brutal violence, taking place in a setting that was a nightmarish synthesis of post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk aesthetics. His subsequent works have raised his visibility and now two of his manga have been adapted into anime by Polygon Pictures, with whom he is now embarking on a mysterious joint venture looking into merchandise and VR experiences leveraging his works and visual aesthetic. Let’s just say his manga are excellent.
APOSIMZ follows Etherow, a sharpshooter for a small community living on the surface of an artificial planet. During an expedition, his group encounters an automaton named Titania being pursued by the dominant military force on the surface, the Empire. After helping her, their city is attacked and Etherow is fatally wounded. Titania gives him the option of turning him into a Frame, an inorganic being, to exact his revenge in exchange for aiding her on her quest. Able to generate armor and equipped with an ancient artifact weapon, the two wage a guerrilla war against the Frame generals of the Empire and seek out a way to breach the surface of the superstructure.
This story is something of a return to form for Nihei, following a lonely journey through an indescribably massive structure where pockets of humanity seem to be living out their twilight years trying to avoid the notice of immensely powerful beings. Limited dialogue and minimalist storytelling told primarily through visuals. His imaginative environments and the brutality of his fights drive home the insignificance of humanity. The entire world is deadly and the frailty of human life is shown through characters ability to both enter and leave the story in the blink of an eye. No one and nowhere is safe. Although Nihei has begun to tell stories with larger casts and more recognizable narrative tropes, the sense of scale and mortality are always present.
APOSIMZ is unique among Nihei tales for including some elements not yet seen in his works. Where the antagonists of his stories are typically comparable to Lovecraftian beings in their scale of power and utterly alien nature, the Empire’s generals are essentially human despite having converted their bodies into artificial weapons. Additionally, the presence of the Frame disease has created an entire population that are subjugated and feared as contagious. There seem to be quite a bit of societal pressures at work and the presence of several warring factions which out of the ordinary for Nihei’s typical conflicts between humanity and a seemingly unbeatable existential threat.
One of the major draws of Nihei manga has always been the art and this manga shows yet another transformation of his signature style. Newcomers to his manga can expect a visual feast of intricately designed battle outfits, dizzyingly huge and complex environments, and horrific Geiger-esque silicon creatures. APOSIMZ is a new take on his typical heavily inked style, highly detailed style, showing a brighter and looser aesthetic appropriate for the arctic landscape of the superstructure’s surface where snow softens the edges of everything it falls upon and creates a pale environment. Nihei’s also taken on a few more mainstream visuals with characters faces, showing probably the greatest diversity in character designs yet.
Fans of Nihei’s other works may be happy to know that the series has already established a thread of connection to his greater universe. Although the ubiquitous TOA Heavy Industries hasn’t yet made its appearance, the name of the manga in itself is a clue to the connection. Aposimz was the name of another seed ship alongside the Sidonia from Knights of Sidonia, whose trajectory carried it away from its sister ship until communication becomes impossible. While the world has remained nameless to its characters, it’s likely this story is following the fate of that ship some untold period after the two were separated.
If the panels haven’t been any indication, APOSIMZ is an intense visual journey through a world utterly alien to the one we live in. Although only 12 chapters in, the manga has already laid the groundwork for a growing conflict and a number of mysteries ambitious for even an author who sets the majority of his stories in hand-designed superstructures. I can’t recommend his work highly enough and APOSIMZ may be one of the most approachable starting points for potential fans. Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments below!