Tsutomu Nihei (弐瓶 勉 Nihei Tsutomu, born 1971) is a Japanese manga artist. His cyberpunk-influenced artwork has gained a strong cult following. He has a relatively large community of fans overseas where his manga Blame!, Knights of Sidonia, Abara and Biomega were published by Vertical Inc. and Viz Media.
At first he studied architecture and later this influence has shown up in his manga works in his depiction of huge structures. This has become one of the general themes that make his manga unique.
Tsutomu Nihei is a master of space, both the literal kind—the empty areas between solid things—and outer space, the setting for his most recent manga, Knights of Sidonia.
His first series, Blame!, is set in The City, a structure that was constructed on earth but has become so enormous, it effectively has become a new, artificial world. The characters are small in comparison, and they wander a vast landscape of concrete and wires, dodging their enemies as well as cyborgs that are curious blends of organic and computer elements.
Biomega has a similar look, with the lead character rocketing on a motorcycle through a decaying urban landscape in search of people who are immune to a virus that is destroying the world. And in Knights of Sidonia, a group of survivors of the human race, some genetically engineered, live out their lives in an enormous spaceship, fighting giant baby-faced aliens called Gauna as they try to keep their species alive.
Nihei’s approach comes in part from his life experience: While most manga creators learn their craft in a series of apprenticeships, Nihei started out working in an office, then worked in construction for a while before moving to New York for a year to focus on making manga. During his years in construction, and later working for a design firm, he learned to think about structures and interior spaces as well as how to draw them. His technical training shows up in the worlds he creates for his manga, vast spaces filled with jumbles of wires, ducts, and structural elements such as girders.
Trailer of the anime Blame!