The Netflix Sci-Fi Anime About Evil AI You Should Watch Instead Of Atlas

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

Critics are calling Netflix’s latest sci-fi original, Atlas, one of the worst films to enter the genre in a very long time, despite Jennifer Lopez’s best efforts to hold it up. And while the streaming platform will try to entice you to waste an hour and 58 minutes watching the disappointing spectacle, there’s another movie in their catalog that’s better worth your time.

Blame! is a 2017 anime that also explores themes related to AI’s interaction with humanity, its potential for rebellion, and the ethical implications of advanced technology, but it does a way better job at storytelling.

Blame! Was Recognized For Its Amazing Setting

Blame! first captured the audience’s attention with its intricate world-building and unique visual style. Directed by Hiroyuki Seshita and produced by Polygon Pictures, the movie is based on Tsutomu Nihei’s manga series of the same name. With a screenplay by Sadayuki Murai, Blame! was globally released as a Netflix original on May 20, 2017, introducing its post-apocalyptic narrative to a worldwide audience.

An AI Run Amok Threatens Humanity

Just like Atlas, Blame! takes place in the distant future, at a time when civilization has evolved into a vast, automated cityscape controlled by a Net-based system. However, a past infection has caused these systems to malfunction, leading to an uncontrollably expanding city that spans in all directions. Humanity, now unable to access the city’s controls, is hunted by the Safeguard, a relentless defense system that identifies humans as illegal entities to be eradicated.

The Real Enemy Is Automation

Blame! follows the Electro-Fishers, a tribe facing extinction due to food scarcity and attacks by the Safeguard. The story begins as Zuru, a young tribe member, is saved by Killy, a wanderer searching for the Net Terminal Gene, which could restore human control over the city’s systems. With the help of Cibo, a former scientist, Killy, and the tribe embark on a perilous journey to an automated factory to secure more food, encountering numerous dangers and a significant threat from a Safeguard agent.

A Long Production Cycle

The Blame! movie adaptation was initially announced in 2007, but the project faced delays and setbacks, including the bankruptcy of the original production studio, Micott and Basara. In November 2015, Polygon Pictures revived the project, bringing on Hiroyuki Seshita to direct and Tsutomu Nihei to co-write the screenplay.

Following the film’s release, a manga adaptation titled Blame! Denki Ryōshi Kiki Kaisō Dasshutsu Sakusen, illustrated by Kotaro Sekine, was serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Shōnen Sirius from April to October 2017. The manga was collected into a single volume, released on February 9, 2018.

Blame! Was A Hit With Critics And Fans

Unlike Netflix’s latest sci-fi blunder, Blame! received generally positive reviews. It was praised for its visual style, world-building, and faithful adaptation of the original manga. The film also garnered recognition at the 2018 VFX-Japan Awards, winning both the Excellence and Best awards in the Animated Theatrical Film category, and was included in the Jury Selections of the 21st Japan Media Arts Festival.

While Atlas has scored an abysmal 19 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Blame! stands out as a compelling addition to the sci-fi anime genre, offering a richly detailed dystopian world and a story that explores themes of survival, technology, and human resilience.