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August 20, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Biomega vol. 3

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Biomega
Author: Tsutomu Nihei
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 3 (of six), $12.99
Vintage: 2007 by Shueisha in Japan, August 10, 2010 by Viz Media
Genre: Science fiction, horror, action, cyber punk

I apologize in advance for the awkwardness of this review.  I was completely lost reading this book; nothing made any sense, I had no idea what was supposed to be going on, or who these people were, etc.  It doesn’t speak well for the title, because it’s not as if I’m jumping in at the middle of a long series; it’s only the third volume.  It’s a jumbled mess of initially impressive art and very little text.  That’s pretty much the sum of my review, but that’s hardly a “review,” therefore….

A virus (known as N5SV) is ripping through the human population, turning them into something akin to zombies.  That’s the extent of what I understand is going on in this book.  It doesn’t affect synthetics, which means the main characters of Biomega remain virus free.  The volume opens with an unnamed soldier (probably named in another volume, but his name never comes up here), seemingly sent by Niarudi to investigate a secret laboratory under the control of General Narein.  Narein’s guard quickly dispatches him.  Meanwhile, TOA security officer Nishu Mizunoe and the talking bear Kozlov track down an old doctor looking for a lead on Leif, whom they are trying to find before the DRF.  They’re attacked by the DRF and several drones (created by the virus), and a strange liquid that was released attaches to the drones and the buildings, engulfing them in…I’m not really sure.  It’s later explained to be a reverse morphic polymer that absorbs nonliving material and reconfigures the base matter.  Niarudi, the DRF’s Matriarch, wants to use it to improve the Earth’s environment and create a new world.  Yeah, your guess is as good as mine.  Everything is pointing to the Continental Geostationary Satellite, a safe haven from the virus and the polymer, where TOA agent Zoichi Kanoe is already headed.  It’s a race against time (and massive explosions) as Niarudi’s DRF forces launch an attack on Narein’s forces at the MSCF.  Zoichi zooms through the battle to find Eon Green (a girl who is the key to salvation), as Niarudi moves to shut down Narein’s attempts at immortality.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Kozlov.

Viz does absolutely nothing to make this easier to read.  There are no liner notes, no glossary, no character round up, and the cover summary leaves much to be desired.  The story is a mess of techno-babble, strange terms, and acronyms, and you’re just expected to “get it.”  The main characters are drawn remarkably well (specifically Zoichi and Nishu), but the rest is just as complicated at the text, and it’s hard to tell what’s going on, or who (or what) some of the other people (if they’re people) are.  It seems like this would be a really interesting title, but it suffers from an overly complex plot and artwork.  Or maybe it’s not the plot itself that’s the problem, but rather the lack of any sensible dialog.  The book is mostly visual, with lots of explosions, strange creatures, large blobs, and plenty of action.  A quick flip through the pages makes it look intriguing, but a page by page read leaves not much other than confusion behind.

If you’re a big fan of apocalyptic zombie viruses (maybe you’re a Resident Evil fan, for example), perhaps if you started from the first volume, you might find something here.  For the casual reader, or someone looking for a deep story, well, you can pass on this without remorse.  Volume 4 comes out in November (it was listed in August’s Previews).

Next week: Natsume Ono, ninja goodies from Yen Press, and an early look at the upcoming volume of Bleach.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



  1. I hate it when a pretty good premise is ruined by sloppy execution. Glossaries and mini character profiles should be standard in these types of books as well. This seems like it actually hurt for you to read Kris lol

  2. It did. 🙁 I was like, “Oh hey, this looks kind of cool!” Then I read it, and was pretty disappointed. And confused. Then annoyed.

  3. Billy

    I hate to get that feeling after I’ve spent money that it was a waste.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New #manga review @comicattack: Viz Media's Biomega vol 3 https://comicattack.net/2010/08/bbbbiomega3/ […]

  5. Kristin

    Well, I didn’t spend money on it, so bonus.

  6. […] Sizemore on vol. 1 of Bakuman (Comics Worth Reading) Kristin on vol. 3 of Biomega (Comic Attack) Sean Gaffney on Color Bleach (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Connie on vol. 2 of […]

  7. Jade

    Hi Kris! I’ve actually really been enjoying this series, but I barely had any idea what was going on in this volume either. Even the storytelling is much less legible than the other two volumes: what was some really solid action before was drifting into over-worked mess territory in this one.

    I had to actually go back to the other two volumes and confirm that I wasn’t just tricked somehow and it was always this bad. No, they’re fine, this third volume just starts flying off the rails for no reason that I can understand.

  8. Kristin

    Well it’s good to know the whole series isn’t like that. This volume was a real mess. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the previous two volumes, so I could only comment on this one.

  9. I’d really enjoyed volume one, but found volumes two and three well-nigh impossible to follow; the circuitous way Nihei tells the story gives it an illusion of complexity, but I’m not convinced the plot is all that clever or sophisticated. Your point about continuity is well-taken; there are a lot of holes in the artwork that make it difficult to see how one event leads to the next one.

  10. Kristin

    The illusion of complexity! I think that is the point I was attempting to make. It looks very sophisticated and complex at first glance, but once you get in there, it’s a mess.
    Thanks for stopping by, Kate!

  11. Kuro neko

    I’ve not read the whole series yet but I still think this manga is amazing. I’m a huge fan of Tsutomu nihei too. This is actually a very vague prologue to Blame! And imo not meant to be read before reading Blame!. It tells how Toha Heavy Industries was destroyed, in Blame! you Kiri finds the Toha Heavy Industries main building locked up but there is not explanation why. I think people really need to think of stories in a different way. The gaps help your imagination to come up with its own story. Both Biomega and blame! are a kind of dream like mystery with no clear plot and the fun for me anyway is to see little parts of the world and wonder what they actually are. If everything was handed to you on a plate I dont think it would be as interesting to read.

  12. Kristin

    Ah, I did not know it was connected to Blame! Unfortunately I am not familiar with Nihei’s work.

    I kind of like when things are handed to me rather than figuring everything out on my own. I’m paying to read someone else tell me a story, not to have to make that story up myself. A little mystery is fine, but there’s a line where it crosses from giving the reader some mystery to just plain confusion, and I think Biomega definitely crosses that in the wrong direction.

    But I’m glad you like it. If you buy Biomega, then I get more Kaori Yuki books. 🙂

  13. ERT

    This is my second favourite manga. The first is from the same author.

    This review is ridiculous, and why the hell did you start from the third volume? Biomega is not aimed for Marvel/Shounen loving teenagers.

    • Kristin

      First of all, because that’s what was sent to me. I don’t always receive every sequential volume. I’m also not a “Marvel/Shounen loving teenager.” Nor did I say that was the target audience in my review. The review isn’t “ridiculous.” It’s my opinion. And in my opinion, the book is a disaster. I also read volume 5, and came away with the same opinion. I’ve enjoyed other science fiction stories, I’ve enjoyed other action stories, and I’ve enjoyed complex stories. I didn’t enjoy this.

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