In a dilapidated dystopian hell hole, gruesome mutants stalk the shadows of a hulking city, jumping from building to building, murdering and feeding on humans by the dozen. Amidst the hopeless terror of life in Abara, one man dares to avenge the weak.
Abara is one of Tsutomu Nihei’s newest stories; famed for his downcast, vast science fiction series Blame!, Nihei is a manga-ka with exceptional drawing talent. Although his gothic style won’t be for everyone, I don’t think I’ve ever read a manga series that even comes close to replicating his eye for vast, sky scrapping architecture and nightmarish science fiction. Nihei’s work isn’t particularly notable for its empathic characters or moving drama, but he clearly and enthusiastically expresses himself though the endless, gigantic artificial landscapes, in which his characters live, breathe and murder. The reader is soon immersed and gasping for breath in a claustrophobic world over flowing with terrifying monsters and endless levels of metallic, soulless rooms.
Of the three chapters I’ve read so far, Abara is shaping up nicely but perhaps retredding old ground for Nihei. Humans and technology have again collided in Abara, and again this gives rise to some gruesome, blood-thirsty villains. Between your cliche warring government factions (police versus the “special ops”) and uncensored human slaughter, the hero of Abara is a silent assassin, uttering no more than a few grunts before violently driving his ugly adversaries through high buildings and rooftops.
The artwork is, as you would expect from Nihei, the real selling point. Abara is not set in a sky less complex like Blame!, but its world is just as dirty, sprawling and artificial. The character designs are all unique and often capture a gruesome blend of twisted flesh and dark, bone-crunching technology.
The first three chapters of Abara are moody, violent and atmospheric, leaving little room for those weak of heart.