The Elegantly Grotesque

Fall into the beautiful and nightmarish dystopia of Abara. 

By Leyla Aker December 18, 2018

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When Abara was first released in Japan I remember taking one look at the menacing, monumental opening page spread and thinking: Okay, sold. We have to publish this.

It took a while—various circumstances intervened as a decade ticked by—but patience, as they say, is a virtue. The reward is being able to finally offer English-language readers a collector’s edition of this artistic tour de force.

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Tsutomu Nihei’s profile as a top-tier manga creator has been firmly established in the West thanks to the release of his works BLAME!, Biomega, and Knights of Sidonia, among others. Abara is part of the same paracosm that Nihei has painstakingly built throughout these series—a fantastic, horrific, and beautiful universe governed by its own internal dream (or frequently, nightmare) logic.

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If you’re already a fan of Nihei’s work, certain elements in Abara may seem familiar, or you may recognize recurring themes or visual devices that are hallmarks of his style.

For example, his method of depicting movements faster than the human eye can see through a type of “freeze frame” shorthand.

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The sweeping architectural vistas and planar perspectives.

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The masterful use of negative space.

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And of course, the off-kilter sense of humor.

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If you want to see more of Abara’s distinctive, dystopian world, you can check out a free preview here.