Okay, I'm going to repeat what many others have said and state that Texhnolyze is NOT a series for everyone. The pace is slow and punishing, and if your main squeeze is the straightforward action side of anime you will probably hate this.
However rather than bore me, I personally found the pace to be a breath of fresh air. This slow and steady treatment of the story is more realistic and true-to-life for me, and while it might not be as instantly gratifying as some other series it's truly enveloping and convincing. The plot itself is highly complex, and as with Lain, Texhnolyze's spiritual predecessor,
you probably won't be able to take it all in with one viewing.
The art is beautiful and highly atmospheric. The world of Lux springs to life with many lush, yet dark and gloomy settings. The characters are soft spoken but oddly compelling, especially in the case of Ichise. They're also weirdly real. The cast of Texhnolyze is one of the more believably human ensembles I've ever seen in an anime, and it's difficult not to become attached to them.
Another point I'd like to bring up is the weird disconnect it establishes between the events that happen on screen and the viewer. Right from the getgo the perspective seems grimly neutral. Texhnolyze isn't telling you how to feel about what's happening, just presenting what happens and letting you make the call. The realistic presentation and attention to detail add to this sensation. It's almost as if the story was told from the point of view of the mysterious city itself.
Between the realistic pacing, heady plot, and gorgeous settings, Texhnolyze was one of those rare anime that, for me, made everything else seem not quite as good. I don't give out 10s easily but if that doesn't earn one I don't know what does. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a contemplative, challenging series.
Texhnolyze is a show about heavy breathing, grunting, and a pissing contest between a group of gun and sword wielding alpha males in suits who speak in bad mob movie cliches. If you force your imagination enough, you may be able to find something deep in the recesses of this art, but the same could be done if you stared long enough at the textures on a rusty frying pan.
There's a subplot about "texhnolyzation", a procedure to repair or upgrade a person using technologies such as mechanical limbs. The transhumanist ideas herein, which have potential, are unfortunately enveloped in a lot of empty atmosphere. Most
scenes are comprised of long shots of nothing, sound effects that were ran through one too many flange filters, and cryptic dialog that's just later reiterated in dull exposition.
The tone is reminiscent of the cheap drawings an angry teenager would sketch up after being sent to his room for cursing out his mother. There's hardly any diversity among the characters; they all share the same stern facial expression, and communicate by either mumbling or shouting.
Episodes 19 - 22, though still reliant on exposition, are admittedly fascinating as they focus on the aforementioned subplot. With that said, I'm not entirely sure the ending was worth sitting through the preceding 6 hours of tedium. If this show had been around 10 episodes instead of 22, it could have been good, maybe even great.
I’ve been meaning to describe my experience with Texhnolyze since I last rewatched it, but just like the ending to the show I found myself a bit lost for words and a little empty inside. I’ve since found that it’s very easy to write about things I don’t like in anime, but it’s difficult for me to give praise to fantastic shows in a way that gives them the respect they deserve.
Story - 10/10
Texhnolyze's story stands out because of the power of its narrative. The story of the Texhnolyzed Ichise is not one that progresses very rapidly, but the complexities of the world of Lux
and its counterparts, the inhabitants and their allegiances, as well as the external forces that bring change to the city are all dealt with in full length, providing the viewer by the end of the show a wide and deep understanding of the world of Texhnolyze.
That being said, Texhnolyze shows way more than it tells, and while it's minimalist dialogue and slow pacing may be a turn off to viewers who were expecting fast action based off of the opening, to me it's a great change of pace and very fitting for the dark material that it covers.
As a result, Texhnolyze doesn't spoon feed you information, but instead tries to convey its story more stylistically through the use of different colors, drawings, scene construction, character expressions, and symbolism. And I think it does very well. The show is multi-layered, with religious, artistic, and literary references that enhances the show's already powerful messages but not so overwhelming that you're lost in an incomprehensible mess.
The themes of Texhnolyze are also thought provoking. From traditional cyber punk themes of the fusion of man and machine and the negative impacts of technology or post apocalyptic messages ranging from the fall of man to the meaningless of life, Texhnolyze gives the viewer a lot to think about when the credits rolls at the end, and it leaves up a lot to interpretation to the point where as dark as it is, Texhnolyze still offers a bit of hope at the end of the tunnel.
Art - 9/10
The art of Texhnolyze really does deserve a ten, and my giving it a nine is more of a personal snicker than anything else. The show's set pieces are very fitting for its content. There are few shows where the expression of a character's face or a camera angle or the depiction of certain buildings adds value and importance to the story. Whether it's the haunting perspective of Ichise where his view is now covered with details about his new robotic limbs or the apathetic expression from the show's deadly instigator, Texhnolyze offers up a lot of fine detail to analyze.
Texhnolyze manages to do that and more. While the majority of Lux is bound in grey and other colors that have been shaded with darker hues, the use of lighting is used very effectively when it comes to important and critical scenes or used thematically as a means of splitting characters in light or dark. In short, Texhnolyze uses all forms of visual storytelling to improve upon its already powerful story.
My only gripe with the show is that its cover art is kind of misleading. Ichise, Ran, Onishi, and Motoharu, some of the main characters in the story, are nowhere near as sexy (and for Ran...well she's still kind of cute) as they are in the cover art. Which made me sad. :(
Sound - 10/10
The opening and ending of the show are really interesting and I think they kind of set the pace for the show in a very noticeable way too, getting our bloods pumping by the beginning of the show and then gradually calming us down by the end with a peaceful melody by Gackt. Juno Reactor's Guardian Angel is splendid and I can't think of any better way to have opened the anime.
Its soundtrack is also a diverse mix of slow piano pieces, guitar solos, fast more trance/techno beats, and even the occasional rap. One wonders when listening to Texhnolyze's soundtracks how such a violent and depressing anime could have uplifting tracks, and I think that's one of the qualities of Texhnolyze.
But beyond the sounds, one must realize that Texhnolyze is still a very sensory experience. Just like how the art was used in a way to highlight characters, sound is used pretty extensively as a means of conveying the narrative. The ragged breaths of Ichise as his anger rises up and down, the soft sound of footsteps at a suspenseful moment, the sound of trains, gunfire , shifting of the legs, all these sounds are amplified and brought out in a way that creates such an intense atmosphere that wouldn't have existed with such good sound editing.
Character - 10/10
The characters in Texhnolyze are deeply flawed, but that's all part of their charm. I've heard many people say that they couldn't get emotionally attached to these characters, and while I disagree, I think that's still missing the point.
I'm not a big fan of the phrase "I'm in this show for the characters" because that implies an attachment to certain characters than a show might or might not really need to succeed. There are plenty fans of Eva who find characters like Shinji or Asuka or Rei revolting and still love the show for what it is. The same can be said with a show like Ergo Proxy (and that's not the only thing asinine about that show).
I happened to love the characters but even so, Texhnolyze offers up very human characters that all have plenty of development and screen time. We understand their motives, their philosophies, and they all add something important to the narrative. Whether it's Doc and her attempts at bridging the world of man and machine or Onishi with his steadfast sanity that kept the city from falling into utter chaos or Yoshii with an apathy that I have never seen since reading The Stranger, all of these characters have great characterization.
Enjoyment - 10/10
Texhnolyze is not a show for everyone. It's violent, slow, and almost downright depressing. It's also not a show where people just sit down and expect a fun experience. It's thought provoking and tries to create a narrative that's multi-layered and deep, and it definitely succeeds. It just happens to frighten away a good proportion of the anime fanbase in the process.
I personally thought that Texhnolyze was an intensely enjoyable experience. Every episode was filled with such great world building, characterization, atmosphere, and sometimes even action to admire and think about. I left every episode thinking about something new, and Texhnolyze was enough of an interesting take on cyberpunk that I would say that I came out kind of enlightened and thought about the genre in a different light.
The fact that a lot of the show was up to interpretation was also interesting. Plenty of friends cite how bleak it is, but I happen to think Texhnolyze has some uplifting moments. It offers up that mankind, even down in its darkest moments, is constantly fighting for survival, to live, to find one's meaning in life. It offers that while technology may be a bane on existence, perhaps there's something else there, that it helps us forge bonds or become more human than we were. Texhnolyze has these kinds of themes and messages for us, lying in wait. One just has to look for them to understand and enjoy what the show has to offer.
Overall, Texhnolyze is easily one of the best, if not the best, anime I have ever seen. I think I've found the words I've been meaning to say for a long time.
Texhnolyze is not for everyone, but if one is an anime fan, I highly recommend you give it a shot.
Texhnolyze is an adult show.
You may happen to witness homosexuality, SM, pedophilia,incest, blood sheds, meaningless violence and utter despair while watching it.
This is a pitch black cyber-punk tale of High Quality -Abe Yoshitoshi- in all regards : entrancing music, beautyfull art, bright direction and mind-blowing plot.
The pacing is slow, and the naration often resorts to visual communication and minimalist dialogues as you follow the taciturn (yet so hot) Ichise in the turmoil-city of Lux. You have to think of it as a highly symbolic and esthetic tale questioning civilisation, progress, evolution, survival, violence, loneliness and their conflicts with morality and sanity.
Story: Due to the slow,
unusual story-telling and somewhat symbolic plot, the show sometimes fails to keep your mind plugged. However, the directing is really top notch: centerings, lightings, designs are some of the best i ever seen in an anime, period.
Sound: An opening with no karaoke is just pure win, plus it's trans-what else? The sound track fits the dark-industrial-cyberpunk mood very well, with some strings here and there and a heart-breaking song for the last episode.
Characters: Oonishi the King, Ishise the Fighter, Eriko the Artist, Ran the Virgin, Yoshii the Stranger... each of them are strong symbolic figures with deep and complex psychologies, motives and desires.
Enjoyment: I won't say this show is a masterpiece, but it is so refreshing, ambitious and wiked that the flaws are easyly forgiven. I did not had a really fun time watching it, it is indeed pretty violent and utterly depressing -this is no entertainment. Nonetheless, the show is apart (and far far better) from your daily anime, and it truely deserves some attention and praise.
This is not exactly a review in the conventional sense, as it mostly focuses on analyzing the series as a whole rather than exploring the technicalities of each aspect which makes up the series.
**This “review” is SPOILER-HEAVY and is recommended for those who have already seen the series.**
**This “review” is also FAR from complete and I will be continually updating it in the future as I better collect more of my thoughts.**
This analysis may be somewhat messily written or seem to lack any sort of overarching structure. It is merely my personal thoughts and things I've realized while watching the series.
taking place in the underground city of Lux, is not exactly a "fun show" that one would watch for enjoyment, understandably a show that I would not expect everyone to enjoy. It is extremely minimalist, Ichise not even speaking a word for the first three whole episodes. The series doesn't force the viewer to like it though. I found it to be pure in the sense of which it doesn't attempt to insert comedy to lighten the mood, or a likeable cast, or a huge amount of drama to draw the attention of the audience. It's not a cop-out at the very least. It is presented as what it is, the slow grinding halt of the human race, depicting violence and suffering without holding anything back. The plot is rather straightforward and the series isn't too difficult to understand. The characters, while extremely dull at points, grew on me to be very respectable by the end. They actually seem to be stand-ins for ideals and concepts rather than “actual characters” at times. The message and truth it depicted is also one of the best I've seen across all mediums. What is perceived to be among the darkest titles in the medium is actually a story of hope and may actually be one of the most uplifting anime in existence.
Texhnolyze once again focuses on the “lack of” in its presentation. In many cases it lacks sound, parts of it being either completely silent, or merely having the sound effects of characters walking and technology buzzing about. In this sense, it is a very quiet show, and this creates a “reflective” atmosphere, allowing the viewer to look closely at what it is trying to present and interpret it for themselves. The color scheme on the other hand, is mostly dark, the shades being rather close to one another, and this serves to create a dark atmosphere within the city of Lux, depicting it similarly to how a “hell” could be imagined, which in turn sets up a great contrast with the surface, which could turn out to be another hell in actuality despite being brighter and having more light. Throughout the entirety of the show, one could be convinced that Lux is “hell,” while it could actually be seen as the opposite such, a place where life is still “believed” to have value. Most of what it depicts is exclusively people killing, fucking and eating, merely going about their most primal instincts and nothing more.
The “belief” that life is still worth living is where Yoshii plays in. Yoshii descends from the surface to, in a sense, preserve humanity’s will to live. He has witnessed the inevitable decline of the species on the surface and to a degree he creates chaos to ensure that the same does not happen to Lux. In this chaos, people certainly die, but Yoshii recognizes that everyone should die either way, whether it be going out with a bang, or slowly wasting away until the inevitable end. Since he knows that the fate is sealed either way, Yoshii does not seem to “fear death,” and lives in the moment, rather hedonistic, his actions knowing no consequence because he does not care about the consequences in the first place. What could be considered the “greatest consequence” in most cases? Usually it would be death, but since he knows he is going to die anyway, there is nothing left to threaten him. He does what he does simply because he has the power to do so and this plays into how he is “living in the moment.” By having others fight for their lives, this implies that they believe that their lives are still “worth fighting for.” If one did not care about something or if something was perceived to have no value, why would one fight for it? In this sense, he serves to convince humanity that their lives are “worth something,” even if in actuality, living is pointless. Yoshii can actually be seen as a sort of anti-hero a degree, “saving” humanity by lying and falsely convincing them of the value of life. As a whole, he represents, the “embrace” of nihilism, accepting it, yet finding a way to move “beyond” it. If life has no meaning, then the only way that there can ever “be” meaning is if meaning is somehow inserted into it. By living in the moment and exerting his existence, Yoshii “creates” a “sense of meaning,” even if meaning in its entirety means nothing in itself.
On the other hand, Ichise is the embodiment of the “will to live.” He persists seemingly without any sort of external goal or ambition, merely living for the sake of living. He is quiet and does not speak a single line of dialogue for the first three episodes of the show. His life does not appear to be a “happy” one, yet he pushes on in spite of it all. It brings up the question of whether people need a cause in order to persist in the first place. Rather, it is not the meaning itself that is required for one to move forward, but simply the internal resolve to do so. Ichise serves to choose a path that Yoshii did not choose. Instead of going out in an explosion of ideals, Ichise chooses to waste away until the inevitable end, simply living until he could live no more. He emphasizes how “little” one really needs to live and become satisfied with the fact that one has lived. In society, “success” in life seems to be derived from one’s “status,” or “wealth,” or “fame” or “accomplishments,” and in turn these things are “supposed” to assist people in being satisfied with their lives. People are “convinced” that all of these things hold merits and in turn, this assists in pushing people to live out their lives. Ichise plays to the contrary of this. He is not rich, nor famous, nor is he of the elite “Class,” yet he still finds self-satisfaction by the end of the series. What Texhnolyze does is “discard the superficial,” serving to be a reminder that EVERYTHING else in life is merely extra. The importance does not lie within whether one’s life “means” anything or not, but rather with the fact that one is satisfied that one has lived at all. His journey kind of corresponds with “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” initially searching for biological satisfaction before searching for safety and “relationships and a place of belonging,” through the Organo. By being persistent in living and retaining his will to live, he builds his “esteem” and through the acceptance of death and rejection of immortality and meaning, finding only satisfaction in his life as demonstrated by his smile, he finds his “self-actualization and self-transcendence.” One does need an emotionally charged life in order to live. The fact is simply that one has lived, nothing more and nothing less.
Ichise’s recognition comes with his arrival on the surface, the surface which is even more “hellish” than Lux is, despite being brighter and at first glance having more of what would be considered a “conventional civilization.” The fact here is that humanity on the surface has pretty much reached a means of living forever. However, in the process of doing so, they realize that there is truly no reason to prolong the species existence in the first place. If humanity as a whole died out, so what? Theoretically our extinction would not be able to harm us because we would be dead and nobody would be able to care because once again, they would be dead. We may have nothing to gain by going extinct, but at the same time we have nothing to lose. If all of life’s actions are rendered meaningless in the end, then progression for progression’s sake is also worthless. Lux as a society attempts to transcend its mortality by merging with machines, believing that one can live forever in such a way. The surface, having transcended such through breeding for perfect genes, has come to the conclusion that there is no point to it all and has lost the will to live. Ichise encounters people on the surface, and having recognizing how they have “lost their will to live,” he realizes that “at least the people of Lux are alive.” People have become "ghosts without shells, only able to look fondly on past memories" while slowly wasting away. He recognizes that at least the people of Lux still “believe” life to be worth something. Even if it is worth nothing in actuality, it is the “belief” that is the important part. This recognition serves to strengthen his own will to live towards the end, getting up despite being surrounded after Onishi is slaughtered. Of course, once again, he dies in the end, but takes pride in the fact that he still fought to survive in the first place. Life is beautiful “because” of its transience.
Along these lines comes into play how our lives revolve around convincing ourselves to live. It is easier to die than it is to live and people surround themselves with everything they can in order to push themselves forward. If everyone became like the people on the surface and recognized that life in its entirety had no meaning, society would cease to function. We would simply be moping around waiting for our extinction. Our power, our fame and material possessions and experiences serve to “keep us alive.” They help prevent us from killing ourselves. In order to live, of course, one needs the basic necessities for the most part of “food, water and shelter,” but what is usually left out of the equation entirely is the “will to live.” The will to live is crucial to living. Whatever one does, death will eventually come to wipe it away. In fear of this, people try to become immortal, but realize the same futility in forever preserving one’s existence. Either way is equally “meaningless.” At the same time however, since one is going to die either way, why would one kill themselves? Since the destination is the same, why not do whatever one can with one’s life? One can do so simply because one has the “ability” to do so. This is what it means to “live for the sake of living.” Even if there is no meaning, higher order or purpose to the struggle of life, there does not have to be. People do not need to be chained down by external goals, motivations and ambitions, and the fact of whether one’s life holds meaning in itself is “meaningless.” If nothing has meaning, then the notion of having meaning in itself is also rendered meaningless. It is meaningless to have meaning in one’s life. What is important, once again, is the fact that one has “come to terms with death,” and while fading away, one is satisfied with the fact that one has lived in itself. Just because life means nothing does not mean that one cannot live.
Texhnolyze touches upon and breaks apart of the concept of meaning in its entirety. Meaning is merely a “steppingstone” to self-satisfaction. Meaning can “help” an individual be satisfied with their life, but it is by no means a requirement to live. The fact of whether one finds meaning in their life is meaningless. If one finds meaning in their life, then cool, but it won’t change the fact that one is going to die. Having meaning in itself is meaningless, but something being meaningless also means nothing. This serves to create a paradox in which meaninglessness means nothing but the fact that it does means nothing at the same time. It is enough to drive a person insane, and in this case, it’s best to discard meaning altogether. The fact that we are thinking about these things are meaningless so why should we think about them. Why would we philosophize and search for the meaning of life if it means nothing in the first place? Once again, meaning is only a steppingstone. So what if thinking about such things means nothing? It does not change whether we can think about it or not. Just like how Ichise does not need meaning to live, humanity does not need meaning to live, or engage in any sort of action. We “can” live for the sake of living. Even if there is no light at the end of the tunnel, the importance lies in the fact that we made it, or at least “tried” to make it to the end of the tunnel. Life does not need to be more than what it is, life. Humanity does not need a grand “reason” for its existence, we merely exist. "People don't need "meaning" to persist in the first place," is probably one of the most valuable lessons I've learned because it's pretty much the anti-thesis of reason itself. The idea of meaninglessness is by no means a positive one, but it also means that meaning means nothing in the first place. So what if something means something? Just means that it means nothing. Nothing more, nothing less. The series says to live without looking for meaning because there is no meaning in looking for meaning. Struggle to the end, even if nothing good comes from it. If nothing has a point, then everything is equally important. Don't worry so much about everything and just live your life. Meaning only means as much as someone believes it does. Whether it does or doesn't won't change anything. Life is simply a journey either way.
These are just some basic things I believe Texhnolyze is trying to say, which is why I hail it as one of the best series I've seen. The series operates on some of the most basic philosophical questions including man's pursuit of a higher state of being, meaning in life and the limits of human evolution and I believe it be true study of humanity as a whole. To me, it is probably the most grounded anime I've seen, literally presenting the two choices life holds, either kill yourself or live until you die, but then the series focuses on how to deal with this fact. It is about retaining the will to live, I've went over that, but it's also so much more at the same time. Life may have no inherent meaning. Life may hold inherent meaning because you decide it does. It doesn't matter though because death awaits and you lose everything. Therefore, meaning means nothing. It nullifies literally EVERYTHING that the entire world teaches. It discards ALL the superficial, its stark presentation representing that. It does not need a complicated scenario, or comedic relief because the point is that nothing means anything, even the point itself. You may enjoy your time living, or you may not, but either way, death awaits. You may have a legacy, but it will eventually be forgotten. Humanity will eventually perish, the solar system, the galaxy, and then the universe and what's beyond. It solves every problem simply because the problems don't mean anything to begin with. Struggle is necessary or else people would become ghosts in empty shells, the struggle itself being part of what keeps people living on. The surface, where people lived peacefully represents the fact that a paradise is a prison, no progress to be made and no incentive to do anything because everyone is comfortable and nothing means anything in the first place. It proposes that nothing means nothing because it's true, but then it states that the fact that nothing means nothing also means nothing. In other words, so what if nothing has a point? The "so what" meaning nothing and the point meaning nothing. Nothing having a point means nothing in the first place. It's a paradox in which nothing means nothing, but the fact that it does also means nothing, in turn, nullifying itself. It states, that you do not need meaning or ambition in the first place in order to do something, which is what Ichise did. Living for the sake of living. But what's wrong with that? Nothing means nothing anyway. The redundancy here serves to drill these ideals into your head. Your life means nothing, or you life means something, yet whether it does or does not does not change your fate. We progress, seeking the meaning of life, even if we do know that finding such may not alter the bigger picture of what is to come, simply because it is what we do. As a whole, Texhnolyze serves to be, once again, a breakdown of how “meaning” functions and humanity’s various ways of coping with extinction in its entirety.
Humans have always been captivated by the idea of reaching a greater purpose. Whether its physical adaptation, or enlightenment through the mysteries of our own mind. Its an arduous journey for either. Within the world of Lux theres a glimpse of both. What you forfeit by the end will depend truly on how deep your willing to look. I would not recommend this as a light or easy watch. This is a show to be viewed multiple times and picked apart due to its immense detail.
The plot progress’s sequentially giving the story a realistic tone. It follows a linear path using flashbacks and precognition
at times for character development. The story flows uniquely as each event follows one after another. Theres no time skips or out of place fillers. Just day an night unfolding in different shapes. Its exhausting to watch yet because of this technique of story telling, the emotion crafted throughout the show creates undeniable believability in the characters and the way they develop within the setting as it changes.
Vivid and shocking to say the least, the beautiful vista’s shown amongst the fragmental city of Lux, juxtaposed below the haunting Surface World, together they create an allure unmatched in unforgettability. The contrast surrounding Lux and the Surface World is compelling. The way one is struggling to live while the other has lost the will to struggle is a chilling comparison. The animation is filled with symbolism, while presenting a perfect tint for the story, makes it a thrilling watch.
With a soundtrack diverse and unique its awkward at times. It pushes you away then brings you in effortlessly at just the right moments. This added to the struggle seen throughout the story making it truly engaging. As for the sound from Voice acting and Gunshots, to the dragging of Ichise texhnolyzed leg or Violent incidents. Its always crisp and clear, unless of course is the distorted technolyzed sound which fit perfectly into the tone of the story.
Your shown the lives of those who strive to find purpose while they wriggle amongst others around them. Though their goals may differ from Understanding yourself, Protecting whats important, Creating preeminent, or Fabricating chaos. They feel real. As the events unfold often out of their control you watch while they strain and attempt to survive while never losing sight of their desires. Its a tragically beautiful story with a wonderfully realistic cast of characters.
Conclusion If you are open minded, looking for a unique show, that will present you with a elaborate story and leave it up to you to decide how to interpret the events. Texhnolyze will deliver a experience that may change how you separate superlative story telling from the mediocre.
"You just said that you don't belong to anything, but that's a lie. You belong to this city. Without a doubt, so does your freedom.” Yoshii Kazuho.
From the same creators of Serial Experiments Lain, Haibane Renmei and Hellsing, this series stands out as a whole, having one of the most complex plots I’ve ever seen, a great and original art style (Abe!), dark color, good opening, ending, OST and a really alternative development. It’s the kind of series that if you don’t actually pay attention and put your brain to work, you’ll end up with a ? stamped on your face.
There are a lot of little references through the episodes, from books to folklore. One major thing we can mention is how you cannot avoid thinking on Dante’s Commedia when
you see the disposition of the status: the upper word (heaven/Hades?) and Lux (the purgatory/hell?), mainly when is mentioned that the inhabitants had the “demon inside”, when Kohagura affirmed that it was probably the ninth circle and when is said: “If this is already hell, where are we going to?” What the hell? Well, you’ll understand when you see. Later on, you’ll think you’re reading Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation.
About Japanese folklore, references are vast and still not completely know, taking Ueda’s statement into account: “I’d also find it interesting if non-Japanese fans could get a feel for the sensibilities of the show, which are admittedly very Japanese”. The main thing we see is Ran’s fox mask. In Japanese society, the fox is considered to be the guardian deity of farming (rice fields) by some, because the animal eats field mice that often damage or destroy crops. This guardian deity signifies some special power in Gabe, which is an agrarian community as well. Makes sense considering that the white fox is brownish is summer (Ran’s hair) and white in the winter, when we think about hers double personality. Also seems truthful considering last episode Myth, and how the fox is an important part of that, from Aesop to Japan’s folklore. Throughout a millennium of Japanese folklore, the fox is depicted as the epitome of deception, able to transform into any shape or form it strategically desires. Due to its ancient mystique, the fox figures prominently, not only in popular folklore, but also in formal Shinto mythology. Thus, should you walk through the rural forests of contemporary Japan, you will no doubt encounter shrines wholly dedicated to this semi-divine animal. Kitsune (foxes) have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messengers (makes sense when we think Ran is a prophet).
It’s said that the statements in this anime are somewhat vague and virtually elusive, what’s in part true, but is what makes the show unique. The main characters, Ichise and Ran, are really the quiet kind. The first basically can only express himself through rage and the second, due to her powers, is much more a just-watching type. However, both of them, once attached to someone, are really caring – in their own way. Ichise is really loyal to Onishi and Organo, and Ran leaves Rafia flowers to guide the way of the lost ones and likes to hear Gurayama. Ichise had a harsh childhood, losing his parents in violent ways and having to fight with his own fists in order to don’t starve, so his personality is really not that surprising. Ran is a diviner who has problems accepting that what she foresees is real, for is always a dramatic ending, but, since her predictions are always precise, her quiet attitude is almost like an acceptance of her destiny. She reminds me Hinoto and Rika. Therefore, watching this show, don’t expect dialogues “yes or no” and learn to read in between the lines and the little actions – they speak much more than a thousand sentences. Never mind the words: sing! – is what said the gamin to Chaplin’s ingenious performance. Silence is an important factor of the development.
People the entire time struggle with their own destiny and the meaningless of their existence. Doc, realizing how her study was insignificant, Gabe’s elder, unable to protect the prophet, Shinji, the Freedom’s believer, climbing an inexistent better world… everybody is just trying to carry through, even while realizing the aimless of it all, and is exactly that will to survive that will end up destroying them. 痛い。生きたい。痛い。
There’s blood and violence for the sadist fans but even at that aspect the series is unique. When Ichise has his arm chop off, you don’t see a lot of gore, instead, you watch his image really distorted and enlarged, a painful expression reinforced by the shadows in his face and red covering the whole image accompanied by -not a loud and annoying scream but - a low and creepy one. A surrealist portrait of pain (and in sequence there’s an allegory with a reptile’s regenerative power).
(DON’T READ THESE PARAGRAPHS IF YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETED THE SERIES)
The entire time the human factor is put in comparison with the technology. Ichise all the time asks if “that” is his real hand – the same hard time Chaplin had with the feeding machine. Although his mechanics limbs are the most visible thing, his eyes are almost as important as. Doc took interest on him because of his optics, which were like the ones the original inhabitants had, the woman is the first episode goes crazy in sex because of these “demon’s eyes” and the weird images that appear on the view of the texhnolyzed. Doc is called Ichise’s second mother, referring to the fact that she gave his new body, which even had hers cells on it and welcomes him to this Brave New World (also adding a case of metaphoric incest to the literal one already showed). A bad ass techno by Juno Reactor on the opening, setting up the series’ environment, in contrast with the ending Tsuki no Uta from Gackt: a bland, peaceful and sad song that gives the human element. The flower is traditionally a symbol of hope, what is showed when Ran guides Ichise through the sewer like an Ariadne, and also appears on the ending theme - although the one that accompanies Ran is one that in Japan symbolizes death (death is hope?). We also see the contrast, and complement, between religion and science when a so called modern society has an augur in a so high appreciation. Having Ueda statement in mind, is almost like we’re talking about Japan itself, where one of the great industrialized countries has to deal with the opposites between the new and the traditional.
Not only about Japan, we can make a parallel between Texhnolyze’s world and the one we live today. For ages we’ve heard how science’s progress will lead us to a better world, a world of peace, how it will extinguish hunger, how death will be defeated and we will have some cool flying cars… what came was more destructive kind of weapons, extension of the line between poor and rich, and we still don’t have the damn flying cars… In texhnolyze’s world prosthesis have reached a point that we still can only dream about, and yet Lux’s dwellers live in extreme poverty and, therefore, that kind of prosthetic device is for few. On the other hand, Surface’s society is so developed that everything is already meaningless. Doc thought that kind of technology was the next step for evolution and, notwithstanding, she discovered it was all a lie, and fainted into emptiness like everybody there. Science development lost its meaning since nobody really gets its allegedly good fruits. Surface people only wait for death, without realizing they already are, their original purpose kept getting further and further until was not there anymore. Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che entrate.
We could make a parallel with economic issues, technologic issues, political issues and so forth. However, master pieces like this anime transcend exactly because are not attached to any particular theme. In Chaplin’s Modern Times, the first thing that appears is this: “'Modern Times'. A story of industry, of individual enterprise ~ humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness”. It doesn’t matter if is a modern metropolis, a futurist world or a rural society from the seventh century. People are people and is not the advent of a new robot that will change humanity – humans change humans. Lux, Raffia, Organo, Texhnolyze itself are just accessories. The main thing is about people searching for their path. In the end, Ichise says that was Ran that changed him, not his mechanic limbs, and wonders if he was able to change her too.
Two people that fight against their destiny trying to find their own path - the pursuit of happiness. When Ran body is gone, his mechanical part is able to reproduce the flower- hope- her image- death. And then we see the first, and only, time that this angered and lonely man is able to smile… as everything fades away.
tho' your heart is aching,
Even though it's breaking,
When there are clouds in the sky- You'll get by,
Smile through your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through- For you.
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide ev'ry trace of sadness,
Altho' a tear may be ever so near,
That's the time you must keep on trying,
Smile- What's the use of crying,
You'll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you just smile.
This analytical review spoils the entirety of Texhnolyze, and is advised only for those who have completed the show.
Texhnolyze is an anime that stares into the void, aiming to showcase humanity’s attempts to find meaning when it seems there’s nothing left to live for. Its method for doing so is straightforward yet also respectable. It simply carries out what the story requires with complete indifference to the viewer’s interest. The focus on diplomatic ties, perspectives on living in Lux, and how individuals cope with the state of the world may be uninteresting or dull at times, but it all builds upon what it
aims to accomplish. There is no compromise by forcing breathing room and needless attempts to attach the viewer to the characters. Incessantly crafting an atmosphere of dread and despair through the use of monotonous sound effects, its uncompromising dark color palette, and emphasis on highlighting pain, Texhnolyze captures the brutalistic atmosphere perfect for the story it’s trying to tell. Although it doesn’t hesitate to stretch scenes of despair and focus on seemingly inconsequential chains of event, how much Texhnolyze accomplishes in its run-time is astounding through its sheer focus. At every step of its story, Texhnolyze places great effort on showcasing the effects of the key events on all sides: the effect of the Salvation attack on Onishi visiting Doc and confronting the salvation union, the attention to every step Ichise takes while traversing the tunnel, and the reactions from all sides to Yoshii's attempts to stir up the city are examples. Each event has a consequence for the various factions, and no event from one episode is forgotten in the next. The structure of the episodes also follow a repetitive pattern of begginning with a sense of dread and then ending with a similar dread. As an example, episode 2’s beginning highlights the pain of Ichise losing his arm, and it ends with the despair of failing to move forward. While capturing the unpleasant atmosphere of the series, this repetition of dread contributes to Texhnolyze’s theme of nothing truly changing. Consequently, its structure for the majority of the show is straightforward but also meaningful. Serial Experiments Lain, by the same author, features more compelling presentation, but the methodical structure of Texhnolyze is more than fitting for its intent. It is respect-worthy for not compromising its monotonous structure for the sake of interest.
Texhnolyze’s bare bones approach, however, doesn’t imply that it is devoid of meaningful presentation. In terms of visual storytelling, it definitely delivers as an anime original should. In episode 2, Ichise's imagines a version of himself climbing a set of stairs with his limbs in tact while defiantly looking at the failure of the real Ichise to move forward. Slow and bleak, the pacing and directing of this scene adds to its poignancy. Throughout the show, the characters’ expressions reveal truths they actively hide, as seen by Yoshii's expression of regret through his eyes when killing Onishi's wife and Onishi's seemingly forced expression of remorse for his wife's death. The series uses light in many cases to present myopia or blindness rather than true illumination. During Ichise’s boxing flashback in episode one, he’s portrayed in a shroud of light as he succumbs to his base desires. Nothing is visible as he charges for his punches. Similarly, in one early scene, the details of Lukuss are shown as light fades away to darkness. While light generally depicts hope, it is used in this way to parallel the revalation of the surface world. The bright-colored “heaven” of the surface is more hopeless than the darkness of the “hell” that is Lukuss. In the surface itself, Texhnolyze bases some of its scenes and architecture on the works of the American painter, Edward Hooper, who focused on portraying the loneliness and desolation of the 1920s. This stylistic choice is near perfect for portraying the surface world as lonely and sorrowful despite its seeming architectural beauty. As examples, Doc's scene of despair in the surface world directly mirrors the paining "railroad sunset," and the image of the houses on the hill parallel the painting "corn hill." Furthermore, Texhnolyze’s uses of symbolism is also noteworthy, mostly with the portrayal of the Shapes. As reinforced by Kohakura’s line about “reviving hell,” the Shapes share a resemblance to the buddhist notion of Preta. Referred to a hungry ghosts, the Preta are portrayed as beings with an extreme level of hunger and thirst but an inability to satiate them. This strongly parallels those who became Shapes to transcend the body out of greed yet lost their ability to obtain the pleasure they seek. They are ghosts hardly living with a hunger for that which they can no longer attain, as emphasized by Hal's lack of satisfaction after becoming a shape restricted his pursuit of pleasure. The dragonfly juxtaposed with a dormant Shape near the end of the series serves to contrast its freedom with the stagnancy of the Shape who abandoned the natural order in order to move on but lost agency. Rather than find freedom past the limitations of the human body, the Shape remains forever rooted to the ground. Moreover the series utilizes several visual cues to convey meaning without explaining everything. Onishi’s wife’s insanity is showcased by her talking on a phone that wasn't even plugged in. This is only noticeable because Onishi plugs the phone back in. Additionally, visual details with Ichise's arm is also well done. In episode 2, Ichise imagines still having his severed arm in order to prevent falling when he's tripped by Hal and Shinji, to signify that he has yet to be accustomed to this change. The show also makes a point to emphasize how the difference between Ichise using his normal arm and his technolyzed one contributes to his characterization (elaborated later in this review). Through all of this, Texhnolyze maintains its monotonous style without being devoid of meaning through presentation. Its audiovisual focus cements it as not only a good story but also a good anime.
Through the use of different factions, Texhnolyze lays the foundation of the core approaches humanity takes in coping with the world, exposing individuals' true nature and their bouts of hypocrisy in the process. The factions and their approaches are revealed gradually throughout the show through their interactions. Texhnolyze is a story that moves beyond long infodumps to conveniently convey all the sides. As a handful of Salvation Union members fail to assasinate the sage of Gabe, the affiliations of the sage with the Organo, the governing faction of Lukuss is established. The Organo is shown to be intricately tied to mining and exporting raffia, the main purpose of the city. From Onishi referring to Ichise as a mere dog in the second episode, the Organo utilizes individuals such as Ichise for the sake of profit (in Ichise's case, through boxing). Through weilding a sword rather than traditional guns or axes, the Organo establishes pride and order. Compared to other factions who either establish freedom among themselves or bind together for a particular ideology, the Organo fulfills the human drive to climb the ladder of society through business, in order to live a prosperous life. As they condone technolyzation for the sake of convenience and the mining of raffia for the sake of profit, they're directly opposed to the Salvation Union, who founded themselves on the principle of spirituality against such technology. The union though tied together by their ideology, isn't bounded by order to nearly the degree that the Organo is, as a fair share of their members are shown to act for their ideology without consultation from their leader. Chanting their motto, "“Soul, body, truth, salvation, vengeance," this group represents the individuals who cope with the state of the world by binding themselves to an ideology greater than themselves and choosing to act upon it beyond all else. This is exemplified when Salvation members fight to the bitter end against the shapes, despite knowing doing would lead to their deaths. For those less interested in following the qualms of society or giving themselves up for an ideal, the Racan exists as a group emphasizing free will. All members are free to do as they please, seeking spectacle and pleasure in life. They actively rebel against the status quo to maintain their worth. Outside of the city of Lukuss, the inhabitants of Gabe instead live under the force of religion, following the words of their seer and accepting the fate they're told will ensue. Rather than make their own choices, they hinge their entire lives on the prophecies that their child seer tells them. If the words of their seer is lost, so are their lives. The Class under the hill serves as the shadow leaders of the city, importing the raffia that the Organo is instructed to mine. Its leader, Kano, represents the will to assert one’s importance to the world.
Key to note about the factions, primarily the Organo, Salvation Union, Racan and inhabitants of Gabe, is that they encompass the central values individuals may seek to embrace (order and climbing the ladder for prosperity, spirituality, freedom and rebellion, and religion respectively). However, the show also makes a point to showcase the hypocrisy and opposition that may occur in such groups. None of the groups are monolithic. Each one consists of members who at some point challenge the values of the group or a particular decision that takes place. For example, ,after Onishi's diplomatic approach failed against Yoshii's attempt to stir up the city, the minor character Mizuno used this opportunity to compromise the Raffia dig site. Mizuno's plot displays the opposition that would naturally arise in a group of individuals with different moral standings and opinions. Instead of making the Mizuno subplot plot-relevant, it is uncovered by another group of Organo members who operated under the belief that Onishi was framed. The show could have easily ignored how other members would approach the turn of events in order to incorporate the Mizuno sub-plot into the story, but it rightfully chooses to flesh out the different perspectives and oppositions that would take place in the organization. Although the focus on such an irrelevant plot point may disappoint the viewer, it adds to the realism of the inner working and motives of Organo members. Some Organo members such as Toyama show little loyalty to the group itself and are willing to cut their ties when opportunity sees fit. Kohakura himself abandons allegiance to the Organo as a result of Kano's alluring ideology to further the evolution of Lukuss' people. Similarly, the allegiance of members of the Salvation Union is also varied. In addition to those who carry through with their ideology without Kimata's orders, there are those who, when granted an alternative under Kano's Shapes, point out their leader's hypocrisy with technolyzation in order to justify leaving the group. This is in reality just hypocritical justification, since turning themselves to Shapes also opposes their ideology of remaining pure against technology. As expected, the Racan wouldn't be particularly unified due to embracing free will above all else. The leader Shinji's main ally Hal chooses to leave the Racan in order to grow stronger. The two later confront each other in order to maintain their respective freedoms. Outside of the hill, some members of Gabe question the validity of hinging everything upon a seer whose words control their fate. They cannot accept Gabe's conviction in simply accepting the deaths they were fated to undergo and thus choose to abandon their group. The class itself involves opposition in that Kano's ideals aren't supported by the mothers who birthed him. The series makes a point to showcase that no group is truly mindless, that there will always be those who question a group's values or decisions. This is commendable for creating factions that are truly sensible instead of ones merely thrown in for the messages they are meant to convey.
As a cyberpunk anime, Texhnolyze delivers on its sci-fi concepts. Firstly, the importance of raffia is asserted on a regular basis, suggesting that the city exists for the sole purpose of extracting it. The characters have undergone a century of strife within Lukuss, and raffia, which is able to prevent the bodily response to reject foreign entities, enables the transfer of body parts throughout individuals and the incorporation of technolyzed limbs so that individuals may continue to evolve and survive. Yoshii remarks when he first enters the city that its inhabitants are losing regenerative capacity, which emphasizes the importance of raffia in this state of decline. As the ability to evolve further is key, the Class and Surface World both begin emphasizing Lukuss' role for the purpose of raffia. Technolization, one of the central concepts of the series, is quite conflicting among the characters. Kimata, the leader of the Salvation Union, mentions the rotting effects of technolyzation for both the body and the mind, using his personal experiences with Technolyzation as justification for the harm it causes. Onishi fully accepts his technolyzed legs as not just the substitute of his legs but as his actual legs. It can be seen that technolyzation presents oneself with a higher level of awareness, supported by Onishi's ability to hear the voice of the city and Ichise's ability to detect assassins through his technolyzation (in episode 14 when Doc and Ichise approaches the Class). Toyama chose to be technolyzed solely to assert himself as different from his father. From Onishi's remarks that dogs such as Ichise aren't granted the privilege of technolyzation, it is reserved only for the fortunate, due to how valuable it is as a resource. Ichise's character arc demonstrates the struggles of adapting to technolyzation. Ichise undergoes a gradual process of wholeheartedly accepting his technolyzation process, which isn’t profound for a cyberpunk series but is necessary nonetheless. In terms of mechanics, technolyzation is tied to the Obelisk at the center of Lukuss. The series also establishes a factory that is necessary to provide the power for technolyzation. The shutting down of this tower highlights just how desparate several members of Lukuss are without their technolyzation. Texhnolyze in this way pays full attention to the details necessary to flesh out its concepts of raffia and technolization.
The introduction of Shapes enables a greater focus on transhumanism, although the series does not focus much on exploring transhumanist ideas. Kano utilizes the Shapes in order to instill his values onto others and force the views he believes are the right course for humanity. For the members of Lukuss who have spent their lives simply living and pursuing the basest of pleasures, the Shapes provide a new step forward in their evolution, a potential means of surviving as society nears its end. It appears that reproduction has ceased, hinted by the absence of children within the story and characters such as Doc who are aware of their infertility without needing to test for it. As such, embracing the Shapes is only natural when no alternative option for survival remains. Some individuals such as Toyama embrace the Shapes as they will pursue whatever will propel them forward, while individuals such as Hal follow the Shapes to satisfy their selfish desires. Hal seeks power and greater freedom than Shinji through becoming a shape, but Shinji himself remarks that Hal has lost his ability for freedom by choosing this path. After becoming a shape, Hal isn't truly living. He's a mere phantom, as the allusion to hungry ghosts would support. Even Hal’s statement that he lost his dick is notable since base pleasures is all members of Lukuss had to live their lives. Given that the Salvation members who stuck to their ideals to the bitter end are portrayed with far more humanity than those who sought after Shapes, the series posits the loss of humanity this danger of trans-humanism results in. Kano and Kohakura remark that the Shapes will continue to live past humanity, but given the repeated twitching the Shapes undergo and Kohakura's infection from gangrene, this appears to be a false hope. The Shapes will likely deteriorate with time, failing to obtain the evolution they desire. The tragedy of the Shapes is effectively depicted by the aforementioned dragonfly juxtaposition. As such, the series suggests the consequences of hinging everything upon trans-humanism. The pursuit of this trans-humanism was understandable given the circumstances. However, although rejecting it would lead to the same fate of death, it would at the very least grant the individual the freedom to embrace his/her values.
Texhnolyze’s characters can be quite controversial, as they aren’t prone to as much emotion as many viewers would like. To focus on providing atatchment to the characters isn’t Texhnolyze’s aim, so this is no issue. The show depicts characters who behave how they would under their circumstances and doesn’t choose a specific side amidst the several character stories present. Claiming that the characters are excessively stoic is inaccurate as they show emotion whenever appropriate. Doc demonstrates her lust for power and pleasure when she has sex with Ichise and cuts off the limb of a rat, while she demonstrates despair when rejected by the Class and unneeded by the surface. Ichise is portrayed mostly through primal madness but has instances of calm understanding, when comforting Doc during her rejection by the Class, and showcases respect when coming to terms with his father in the surface world. Onishi carries out a mask of stoicism in order to fit his role as the leader, but this stoicism is questioned when his wife dies. He may try to undergo the formalities without showcasing emotion, but is unable to escape a breakdown when Toyama calls him and abruptly ends the call. Yoshii showcases varied emotion throughout the series, Kano remains bombastic, and Shinji although lifeless in certain cases, has his moments of wildness and liveliness near the end. Even a character such as Ran uses her mask in order to hide her distress in situations. Although Texhnolyze as a tonal piece doesn't have characters that are brimming with emotion, the emotions and moods they take don't come off as forced throughout the series. Some may claim that Texhnolyze characters are flawed by being ideologies and nothing more, but nearly all the important characters are established well beyond their ideologies. Rand and Kano are the closest to being merely the roles they serve, but even they have the sufficient characterization needed.. Ran possesses child-like pleasure as shown when she's excited by Ichise's revenge against Organo members, and she undergoes the distress that is sensible due to her ability to see the future. Although this doesn't make her a particularly good character, her character is understandable for the child she is without agency. Kano, defined by his god-complex, is characterized well in order to reinforce said god-complex. His view in solipcism, that reality exists in his own mind, is in tandem with his god-complex, and his desire to have metaphorical intercourse with the series parallels the incestuous conditions which lead to his birth. From these character traits, it is reasonable to see that he believes his will is absolute, and given the state of the world at the time, his ambition through the Shapes is sensible. The rest of the central characters are deserving of their own inspection.
Ichise's journey is the driving force of the series. Beginning as a character with next to no values other than preserving the cells of his dead mother, he sought survival and survival alone. His base nature and desire to live beyond all else brought forth interest from Doc and later Onishi. Of course initially rejecting the Technolyzation he was given, he undergoes a slow process of coming to terms with his technolyzed limbs. While traversing the tunnel he was thrown into by Organo members, he followed flowers that Ran left behind, which after noticing they came from Ran, he began to associate with her. As such, he grew value in Ran even though she herself didn't perceive him to the same degree. In the climax of episode 6, Ichise shows an inability to retaliate against the arm he had lost with his Technolyzed limb, thus forcing him to achieve vengeance through his ordinary arm. This emphasizes his embracing of himself rather than the arm he was given. Ichise later forms respect for Onishi, likely through the Organo leader’s assistance to him throughout the brawls with the other factions. As such, when Onishi is threatened in episode 10 by Yoshii, Ichise deals a decisive blow to Yoshii with his technolyzed limb, contrasting his inability to use it in episode 6. Through now being accustomed to his limbs, Ichise begins to pursue value and purpose, choosing to join the Organo to meet that intent. He's proven to be unable to control himself when he comes across the ones who framed his parents. Toyama later remarks that he has hardly changed, merely seeking vengeance. Ichise clings to Ran for desperation, knowing that she can tell him his future, which he wishes for due to his desire for purpose. He's haunted by the future he's told by Ran, that he'll destroy everyone around him and become alone, as he's now fond of the connections he's made with individuals such as Onishi and Doc. As he accompanies Doc to approach the Class, he questions whether he truly is destined to abandon those around him and become isolated. As a result, he shows genuine affection towards Doc and comforts her when she believes she has lost everything. As Ichise continues to carry out the orders of the Organo, he questions why exactly he's merely following orders. In an attempt to find purpose within the Organo so that he doesn't isolate himself, he ends up straying from the very self-preservation that defined him. In contrast to his original disposition of living solely for himself, he's no longer even thinking for himself, choosing to follow orders due to his perceived obligation to the Organo. His strife is partially mitigated when the hospitalized Organo Chief, Gotoh, assures him that he must not pay heed to fate and must rather choose to live his own life. When Doc reveals that his Technolyzed unit doesn't actually have his mother's cells, he enters a state of madness but is able to restrain himself from killing Doc. The Ichise of the past clearly wouldn't have restrained himself, so this demonstrates the effect of the ties he's developed with others. After reaching the surface, he quickly understands that those individuals aren't truly living, and adopts an expression of grim understanding. He's prepared to kill the elderly couple who carries out their lives without actually living, in order to ease their pain. Similarly, Ichise is willing to end Toyama's life in order to free the latter from the burden of living as a shape who isn't truly alive. The clash between the two serves as a distinction to the foil that was setup between them. Both had begun as individuals who scorned their fathers and chose to survive against all odds, but Ichise was able to forge connections outside of living for himself. Poignantly, right after the clash, Ichise is able to come to terms with his father's death and apologize for accusing his father of betraying him, thus directly opposing Toyama's inability to let his hatred of his father go. With the death of Onishi at the end, Ichise pleas for his technolyzed limbs to work, claiming that they are his true arm and leg. He has now come to full terms with his circumstances. Having defended himself with his accepted limbs, he reflects upon Ran's role in his life, and how it had a positive influence on him. Though he realizes that he hasn't actually changed, he is able to take satisfaction with the life he has lived. As such, though his fate is tragic, he was able to live his life without regret.
Toyama's introduced with a repugnance towards those who "drag down others who try to rise." To rise and continue living is the central ideal Toyama pursues, and as such nothing frustrates him more than those who live with envy rather than acting for themselves. Due to his father's incestuous feelings for Toyama, he grows a resentment towards him, choosing to follow Kohakura under the Organo as a substitute. He claims that he'll kill his father, but is never able to do so, using the excuse that he'll restrain particularly because it's his father. His relationship with Kohakura is no different, as Kohakura sexually harasses Toyama by touching his butt, yet Toyama does nothing against this. His scenario and abuse doesn't seem to truly change, and he's unable to come to terms with these burdens. For the sake of rebellion against his father alone does he seek technolization, and he's willing to abandon the Organo when he sees fit in order to continue surviving. Toyama seeing those clouds in the surface may be a representation of his "rise," which he emphasized as his main value. But upon wishing to kill Ichise, he perishes, in essence falling immediately after his rise. Toyama spiritually dies when he becomes a shape, the burdens he never comes to term with explaining why he is unable to survive his rise to the surface. By contrast, Ichise is able to come to terms with his father conflict and make the descent back to the city he seeks.
Yoshii's ideals and values are strongly integral to what the series attempts to convey. Having understood the monotonous lives of those in the surface who aren't truly living, Yoshii strives to stir up Lukuss so that they don't embrace the same complacency. He hopes to unleash their true power so that they can live to their potential. Living in the moment and choosing to embrace spectacle, he doesn't want Ran to tell him his future. He seeks the freedom to be unbounded by such tools as fate. He kills a prostitute and her pimp, realizing that they would be unable to carry out with their goals of escaping the city. Rather than allow them to suffer the burden of failing to reach their goals, he chooses to eliminate them as they are. Yoshii is the character with one of the strongest showing of emotion in the series. He shows vulnerability when his bag is stolen by Racan members, hesitation when killing Onishi's wife, and genuine curiosity in the state of Lukuss. He takes notes for his own sake rather than for the indifferent surface world. He lives with his ideology instead of simply blurting it out. His desire to create conflict among the classes of Lukuss to bait the Class is actively demonstrated rather than explained. At the end of the day, he dies with satisfaction knowing that he lived how he wished to live. He sought his desires for spectacle and pleasure while serving as an influence for Kano's unleashing of his plans and Kohakura's decision to abandon the Organo.
Doc's character arc and tragic ending is quite relevant for the nihilistic side of Texhnolyze's conclusion. She's a character who is defined initially by pursuing her pleasure, through having sex with Ichise and chopping off the limbs of a rat. She's drawn to Ichise because of his eyes which resemble the first ancestors of Lukuss and because of Ichise's drive to survive. Through helping Ichise become the most evolved individual in the city, she is able to satiate her desire for purpose and accomplishment. She uses Ichise as a means of reaching her own satisfaction, and when Ichise leaves Onishi's cell for him in episode 7, she resorts to a rat to fill her void for company and meeting of her pleasures. After completing Ichise as her masterpiece, she brings Ichise along with her to move to the Class. Her jealousy of Ichise's respect towards Onishi hints at her growing affection towards Ichise and desire to be acknowledged by him. When Ichise refuses to go with her, she replies that everything including Ichise and the way the city evolves is in her control, singifying that she prides herself on her significance. This sense of significance is shattered when the class rejects her research and achievements with Ichise. She's driven to a state of despair, but is partially consoled by Ichise insinuating that she still has him. Although she’s consulted by Ichise’s reassurance, she realizes that Ichise won't be with her for long. Once the Shapes emerge, in contrast to Ichise's insistence in being obliged to help Onishi, Doc suggests that Ichise should give up on him, uncertain whether Onishi may even be alive. Her sense of selfishness is still intact, but not entirely as she asks Ichise to hug him, to reinforce that such acts are what her technolyzation was for. When she and Ichise leave to the surface, she implants her own cells into Ichise, in order to compensate for lying to Ichise, while also serving as her only means of symbolic reproduction given her infertility. Once the surface has no need for Doc, she has nothing left to live her life, choosing to end herself on the surface rather than returning. Her conclusion serves as the fate that some may come to in such a world, where there's nothing to value and nothing to live for. Although her intentions were selfish, she genuinely cared for Ichise by the end, and one can assume that she placed the flower in Ichise's unit, which was what he ultimately needed during the end of his life.
Onishi is a character constrained by a mask of obligation. He tries at all costs to fulfill the role he's expected to play. His bravado is present in the beginning when he looks down upon Ichise as a worthless dog who lost his limb. He pursues diplomacy and finds fault in those who pursue violence recklessly. He's the voice of reason when the rest of the factions wish to fight each other due to Yoshii's methods of stirring them up. Seeks diplomatic ties with the Salvation Union after being attacked by rogue Union members, he is hesitant to use force during the conflicts beyond necessity, as shown by his response to the fire. He doesn't seem to show much actual affection to his wife, as he has sexual affairs with his secretary. However, with the death of his wife, it appears that he forces himself to care for her, undergoing the formalities for the sake of it. Clearly burdened by the scenario, he cannot contain his composure after Toyama calls to inform him about Yoshii and then immediately ends the call. He sought to keep his composure, but such a disturbance prevents this. It is likely that he feels a sense of guilt after the death of his wife, as he no longer makes sexual advances with his secretary. Onishi showcases responsbility by voluntarily offering his ordinary legs, in contrast to Ichise who lost them through recklessness. Although put into question by the Mizuno subplot, he turns his attention to saving Gotoh from Yoshii's assassination attempts of a Class member. Despite the accusations laid on him, Gotoh continues to maintain trust in Onishi due to his genuine sense of duty from visiting the former at the hospital regularly. It is clear that Onishi acts selflessly for the benefit of the city and its inhabitants by ruling responsibly and seeking to minimize tension with other factions. When necessary, he's willing to throw out wounded members in his car to enable his own survival, but he does this by necessity while apologizing for doing so. Onishi seems to realize Ichise's sense of obligation towards him, and remarks that Ichise may leave to the surface world, so that Ichise would no longer be bound to him. Amidst the chaos of the city during its last hours, Onishi maintains his sanity by symbolically cutting his tie with the city, rather than living only to embrace the insanity around him.
Shinji serves as a direct foil to Onishi, striving for freedom and rebellion compared to Onishi's values of obligation and order. But from his dialogue with Yoshii in episode 5, the latter remarks that Shinji isn't free because he's bounded by his ties to the city. Shinji is considerably lively during the beginning, nonchalantly telling Ichise in episode 2 that he should have joined the Racan to avoid losing his limbs and motivated by the spectacle of Yoshii's fire. However, after opposing Yoshii's assassination attempt of the class member, feeling betrayed to an extent, he undergoes a slump in which he loses his rebellious passion. This may have been bolstered by being unable to conclude his fight with Onishi is episode 8, as Onishi is a key hindrance to Shinji’s core desires. He’s drawn to Onishi's secretary Micheko, likely due to Micheko's remark that Shinji wishes to be like Onishi. Clearly Shinji wishes to reject this statement, but there is truth to it. Indifferent to Hal leaving, his melancholic attitude in contrast to his previous liveliness ensues. Just as Yoshii remarked Shinji wouldn't be free because he is bound to the city, his ties to the Racan prevent him from living the life of rebellion he longs for. When he ends Hal's life and leaves Yoko behind, he is finally able to embrace his true nature of spectacle and rebellion. He explicitly states in a confrontation with Onishi that he'll kill people while Onishi helps them, directly remarking that he wishes to take the opposite path of Onishi. This serves as a rebellious act directly targeted at Micheko's claim that he wants to be just like Onishi. His defiant nature has truly been satisfied, and he has finally overcome his jealousy of Onishi. He remarks how pitiful the Class that he longed to join really is, and he lives the last moments of his life killing the raffia statues in the Class' headquarters. Killed during that moment, he died while obtaining the very spectacle he longed for, after he was able to escape the restrictions of his den and by extension his city.
Before delving into how Texhnolyze utilizes all this characterization for its conclusion, there are some issues with the show worth mentioning. Firstly, plot armor is present in many instances. Ichise or Onishi dodge a barrage of bullets unscathed, and Ichise’s ability to defeat an entire crowd with his technolyzed limb requires suspension of disbelief. One may also question Ichise's relationship with Ran to some extent. The show places great emphasis on Ichise's value for Ran, but this value in series relates almost solely to Ichise noticing that Ran provided the flowers that helped him in the tunnel and thus could have benefited from a stronger relationship. Related to this, in episode 11, Ichise is led to believe Ran knows something about him, but it isn't clear what made him reach such a conclusion. He has no reason to suspect Ran's ability to tell the future, so this interaction is a reasonable criticism. Ran's connection to Kano at the end was far too abrupt and required more elaboration. How exactly Ran relates to the Obelisk is also left unexplained, and her role as the voice speaking to Onishi isn’t an integral twist. The series also includes moments of symbolism that betray realism during certain points. The blood that arises when Onishi destroys the Obelisk with his sword makes no literal sense, and the Surface World treads the line between reality and the illusory for a symbolic purpose that could be again questionable from a literal standpoint. Konaka's Serial Experiments Lain has non-literal aspects like this, but since that show is metaphorical in its entirety, there's no disparity compared to the more grounded Texhnolze. Ultimately, these aren’t major faults with the series. Although a fair share of these problems arose during the end, the ending is overall the strongest point of the series.
When Ichise, Doc, and Sakimura reach the surface world, the viewer's expectations are shattered by the true nature of this seeming heaven. In contrast to the city of Lukuss whose people were at the very least living, the inhabitants of the surface are nothing but ghosts, simply reflecting upon their past lives without actually living. Atmospherically, this world is interesting from instances such as a seemingly normal flower being revealed to have withered away in reality. When Sakimura informed his supervisor about his killing of Yoshii, he is driven to despair but his supervisor just assures him that he probably did a good job with the task. From this, we can surmise that the theonormals posses no value of morality, simply paying heed to whether a task was done as it should be. There's a strong emphasis on formality for the sake of formality, and the inhabitants are completely indifferent to Doc's message that Kano's Shapes would attack. They've given up on life. Nothing truly matters, and they import raffia by habit alone. The radios continue to repeat the same pointless lines, to emphasize the sheer meaninglessness of the surface and everything they do. Doc is driven to despair by this meaninglessness and her inability to attain the purpose and acknowledgement she wishes for. An old man assures Ichise of the merits of not having a last name, as he's bounded to one fewer thing. Ichise remarks that the old man should visit Lukuss, for the inhabitants are at the very least living there. Essentially, the twist of the surface world lays into question what it truly means to live. There are those who simply go about their lives with complacency and there are those who although they suffer, at least have something to live for. Although the approach of the theonormals to simply give up on life isn't necessarily wrong, it is clear that individuals such as Ichise would be unsatisfied with that alone. As an individual seeking meaning, he descends back to Lukuss, to meet the fate he's bound to meet. At the very least, Ichise is satisfied with his life's conclusion, for he is able to reflect upon the life he lived and the relationships he forged. The flower grants him hope despite his tragic end. He may not have actually changed, but he at the very least lived a life, found people to value and memories to cherish.
More important to Texhnolyze is how the elements of the ending fully wrap up all the perspectives present within the series. Texhnolyze provides a vast array of potential approaches to life. Ichise strives for self-preservation and to find meaning, while Kano strives to maintain his values to others and assert his own meaning by awaking everyone's egoism. Toyama desires to rise beyond all else, Shinji attempts to live with satisfaction by seeking rebellion and Doc externalizes her goal through furthering Ichise's evolution and striving to be needed by others. The Salvation Union is willing to die for their cause, maintaining their value of the natural body. Members of Gabe cling to fate rather than acting on their own, Yoshii strives to unleash the potential of the people and live to hedonism, and the surface decides to give up on life. It is questioned whether anything really changes, for the cycle of death and rebirth of cities is stated to be continuous, and Ichise's own journey ends with a punch just like how it began (punching Kano at the end compared to punching the prostitute during the begginning). The different conclusions the series presents are quite varied. It presents characters who live their lives with satisfaction: Ichise as he reflects upon the life he's lived, Shinji as he lives the way he always wished to live, Yoshii as he lived and fueled the spark for others to live, and the Salvation Union as they pursue their ideals without hesitation. It also presents the tragedy of those who have given up, either choosing to end their lives such as Doc or Ran, or choosing to meet their fates such as the members of the surface. Onishi, though he met a tragic end, at the very least kept his sanity. Characters such as Hal and Toyama died in folly, but served to enable Shinji and Ichise respectively to live their true lives. Texhnolyze weaves its various perspectives and approaches to meaning almost seamlessly, utilizing its 22 episodes to build-up the components that each character and faction would require. And although the folly of approaches such as Hal's is highlighted, the show doesn't present a particular approach as the correct one. Ultimately, Texhnolyze isn't a propaganda piece with a message it's trying to convey. It shows the sides of the conflict, what the world and one's way of living within it means for each of them, but there's no correct answer. It is as if through these perspectives, the show encapsulate the core of humanity for what it is. Texhnolyze is a study of the way people fundamentally approach life and the conclusions they are lead to. The ending may lead the viewer in a sort of void ,from the sheer overwhelming nature of a world with no overarching meaning or truth. "Walking Through the Empty Age," the music that plays during the last few minutes of the final episode, perfectly captures the melancholic yet contemplative mood that this ending entails.
When all is said and done, Texhnolyze is a show that's thematically satisfying. It presents all that it could have regarding its approaches to meanings, perspectives and conclusions. It's a series that is focused from beginning to end, one that is indifferent to whether the viewer is invested and instead simply tells its story. It's an anime that takes care in executing the characters it tries to convey, utilizes visuals to contribute to the story and presents one of the most thematically rich stories the medium has to offer. It may have a few minor issues in its execution, but it delivers exactly what it could have thematically and story-wise As such, it is possible one of the strongest works the anime medium has to offer.
To call Texhnolyze one of the most predictable stories is an understatement. The only expectation it defied was the exepctation to be worthwhile. Other than that, this is your typical artsy anime. It beats you over the head with how artsy it is, using techniques that distinguishes it from mainstream anime. None of these techniques distinguishes it from the many ‘artistic’ stories out there. It often looks like an immature, more angsty little brother of Blade Runner or Eraserhead.
Is there a more redundant way to inform your audience that your story is serious by having grey colours and serious characters? Nolan used the same technique
in Inception and made a complete fool of himself. He was so focused on being serious that hsi dreams looked like Michael Bay directed them.
The anime doesn’t follow an idea of its own. The directors behind it watched a bunch of art house films, noticed the lack of dialogue in Blade Runner and decided that this is the reason it got the acclaim.
Being serious isn’t going to make me take your story seriously. Halfway through the series and all the characters still act the same. They all present the same variation of the stoic, apathetic characters. Some are less stoic than others, but that’s like saying there’s a major difference between New York Hardcore and Beatdown Hardcore. They more similar than they are different.
After 20 episodes, the 100th shot of Ichise’s indifferent, emotionless face is hilarious. It reeks of trying too hard. Is the life of people in harsh environments like this? Did the Jews in the Holocaust or the fighters in Sudan had time to just stare off into the distant with a stoic face?
Think of any photograph of a war-torned or poverty-stricked place. Do the people have the privilege of being stoic? No. These photographs are harrowing because they’re full of pain and suffering. These are people who want life and struggle to survive, to find some kind of joy in it. Stories from Holocaust survivors are full of these moments. They’re not stoic but swinging from one extreme painful moment to a small relief of happiness.
The only place that actually is monotonous is your office job and suburban job. Texhnolyze is full of angst, the kind your suburuban dad gets after 20 years in the same job. It’s your boring monotonous pessimism you hear from a teenager when every day is exactly the same.
Actually, comparing this to teen angst is a compliment. Teen angst is an existensial storm of ups and downs, like that Nine Inch Nails album. It can be silly but it’s exciting. Texhnolyze is macho angst. It’s the same thing that fuels Game of Thrones and Cormac McCarthy novels. The old macho fantasy of men in suits not expressing emotions is a big hit now and is often confused with depth. The only surprise is that Texhnolyze doesn’t have graphic sexual abuse (Although we do get a sexy doctor).
You cannot horrify the audience by constantly showing suffering. Humans adapt. When feel something too much we get used to it and our perspective changes. Texhnolyze has the same emotional tone throughout the series.
Bleakness and grimdarkness cannot be leading tones. They’re too narrow. You can use them in certain scenes but unless you’re doing something especially unusual there’s nothing there. You need to contrast it with something. People don’t suffer because they don’t have something. People suffer because they don’t have something that they want.
There are plenty of tragic and dark works out there, but they’re effective because they’re aware suffering doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You don’t have to show a moment of joy. Just showing it can exist in your world is enough. I only have to skim over Serial Experiments Lain to find a shot of girls laughing in bright colors. This is enough to inform me that in the world of Lain, people can be happy.
Some moments have potential to offer contrast, but the mood suffocates it. A sex scene is in dark colors and full of dread. We see a party, but there breaks Hal’s heart. It is a flat line, which means it’s both shallow and dead.
If Texhnolyze found a unique way to express the grimdark cliche, I would have forgiven it. If it would have gone full retard in the Techno-Industrial depart it would be a little fun. While the soundtrack is nice, the scenery never reminded me of Front Line Assembly. The decay gets more focus than the mechanical nature. The focus is on the mood, rather on something that will create the mood. This is no City of Rapture.
The most radical switch from this mood is the action scenes. The anime joins BTOOOM! and Deadman Wonderland by bathing in blood and faces distorting in pain. The show already established a cold, stoic tone. When these scenes kick in, the violence isn’t harrowing. The scenes don’t reveal any pain because we were already beaten the head with pain before. So all they do is take the suffering one step further, showing it more explicitly. Someone should’ve told them that what makes pictures from the Holocaust or Unit 731 harrowing is because we know these are real people. The people in Texhnolyze aren’t real.
There’s a revealing interview with the creators. They said these action scenes were a response to the Shounen Jump style violence, where characters walk away bleeding. The creators wanted to express ‘pain’. If they had any understanding of action films, they would have known they are not about pain. Action anime is about aestheticized violence, about making violence look really cool.
Asking what the creators wanted to communicate, they said they don’t have any idea. They admit things changed as they series went along and that’s it. He hoped that the viewer would feel some kind of empathy or that they will think ‘this might mean this’. Does that sound like a work which involved deep thought?
I did not want the creator to analyze his own work. Still, I expected them to have some kind of direction. Lynch saying he sees absurditiy and weirdness all around him is enough to give you some idea what his films try to express.
If Texhnolyze was a mess of ideas it would still be amusing. If it jumped off from one idea to the next it would at least be there. Not knowing what it’s about, instead, makes for an anime that never builds towards anything. The tone never changes, since they never know what it was about in the beginning so they had no foundation to build upon. It ends with a big battle and an antagonist who’s a rip-off on Fallout‘s The Master only without the charisma, humor and the depth.
I engaged in a long debate with hopes of finding value. While the person raised a lot of valid points and there is something here about the nature of existence and ‘being human’, it’s not conveyed. I engaged in that debate while watching the last episodes. They’re an improvement and the above-ground is a great idea, but the stoic mood and boring violence overpowered any depth there could have been. You don’t cover depth and ideas with a boring story. Your cover needs to serve the ideas, not obscure them.
Some also told me the characters are not the point, but if this is about humanity they must be the point. You cannot have a story about human nature or existence without characters. Existence and stories don’t exist outside of characters. You can have a story without many things. You can have a story that’s just an inner monologue, but without characters the only thing you can write about is asteroids hitting planets and blowing shit up. That’s just a Michael Bay story without women.
Perhaps I’m an idiot. Perhaps there is something deeper beneath the 100 shots of apathetic and ultra macho faces. Perhaps everyone just jumps on the bandwagon of grimdark and think that if the anime has a serious tone, then we must take it seriously. I’ve experienced plenty of strange and ‘artistic’ stories. Most of them were weird enough to be interesting for a while even if they failed. Texhnolyze is a predictably artsy anime that can’t escape its trap. Even if it says something about existence or optimism, in the end it wants too much to be serious and everything is dead.
Additional content: Style and substance aren't the same, but they're linked together. Texhnolyze does have interesting ideas and ambitions, yes. It does end on a slightly more positive note, which makes in unique in the reality of grimdark stories.
However, the style of the show prevents all of these ideas to surface. There are different personalities, but they are more similar than they are different in their toughness and stoicness. The series tries too hard to set atmosphere, spending too much time on it than other 'atmospheric' works like Mushishi or SEL. Moreover, the atmosphere is incredibly generic. Mushishi has the mysterious, indifferent nature thing going on. SEL has the digital-paranoia going on (Even if it's not very original, it's at least specific). Texhnolyze sometimes points to an Industrial-Apocalyptic decay thing, but most of the time it's just really grim and dark. Lux isn't defined by a specific aesthetic but just a general tone of Really Bad Life.
Texhnolyze is actually my type of anime. I love cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic stories, the theme of technology and progress and weird narratives. I'm a pessimist, so I'm all for dealing with life's harshest realities. Texhnolyze was boring because it wasn't challenging or weird or exciting enough. If Texhnolyze was truly bizarre, I would've forgiven its flaws. Instead, I just felt like I've seen it all before.
Texhnolyze has a special place in my collection, if I really had to choose my favourite anime, in the end, I'd probably go with this. It ticks all the boxes for me. I'm in my 20's and I think this series would appeal more to those around that kind of age group. It's a dark, mature, brooding and brutal series. I can completely empathise with those who don't get along with this series because as most other fans of the show have said, it's not for everyone.
I'm a fan of a good dark series and that sums it up. I don't find it
despressing (though some might), I find it interesting. The series is slow throughout which works perfectly, it just fits with what Texhnolyze is. The story itself starts fairly simple and stays that way for some time, to the point where some may think there's nothing to it but you have to stick with it. As the story progresses in the second half of the series, things get a little more complex and as you reach the end of the series, that's when you need to start thinking about it a bit more. The entire series has good replay value becuase the more you watch, the more you start to take in. This really is one of those series that can be discussed over and over, for those who really care.
Texhnolyze is a violent, sometimes controversial series. There are parts of it which might make some people cringe but that's only one aspect of it. That side of the series certainly doesn't make it. The brutality of it all just adds to the general feel of 'no hope' that you get from the story.
The characters don't necessarily feel like your average anime characters. They're very real, urban characters. There's not that silliness about them that you sometimes get from other series. There's nothing funny and often nothing likable about them. They always come off as very serious. They can sometimes feel monotonous but that's what makes this series so different. Yoshii is an incredible character, among my top anime characters.
Again, everything works well with this series, including the artwork. There's a feel of the Boogiepop Phantom series in there. That gloominess. If you liked the artwork for Shigurui, then you're like this.
As far as music is concerned, the final song at the very end of the series is memorable and poignant. I just loved that song and it goes so well with the great ending.
Onto the negatives, well, some people will find the whole series entirely negative, go into it with an open mind. The only one negative I can think of that really bummed me out was the death of one of the key characters halfway through the series. In many ways, he felt like the main protagonist of the entire series. The next few episodes after this death gave me a sense that the series was going to lose steam, everything just felt a little underwhelming. However the story does pick up again, when the 'new' protagonist is introduced.
Overall then, a series well worth watching at least once. I can ask that you give it a chance, try to watch it to the very ending. It is a sad tale but I found it very rewarding in the end. Like Lain, you have to make your own conclusions, it's very philosophical. It's as close to 10 as I can get.
What it offers is certainly not something everyone is going to desire. It is an extremely dystopian narrative that ultimately takes an even extremer standpoint when it comes to its nihilistic undertones. In a truly soul-crushing way Texhnolyze offers very little hope, cementing itself as the bleakest dystopian rendering I have been exposed to, or rather, endured to date. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have its tender moments because it does in a sense, yet they are few and far between; largely being overshadowed by the 'negatives'. But is that really such a bad thing? For some that answer will be yes. For those
that are a little more open minded or enjoy the dystopian and cyberpunk genres all I can say is you’re in for a one of a kind series. Texhnolyze may very well be the pinnacle of the cyberpunk and dystopian genres.
Like many of its cyberpunk counterparts, it's a rather brazen series, yet it is able to steer clear of becoming pretentious for the most part. It strikes a beautiful balance between the existential questions it asks and progression of its story, characters and world. Texhnolyze doesn’t pander to its viewer, nor does it stop to let you catch up or explain every single one of its actions in detail. In fact, a lot of questions aren’t answered until the final episodes. It is by no means flawless and it certainly gets muddled up in trying to do too much. Because of this there is an air of ambiguity throughout a large portion of the series which often impacts on what it’s trying to say. In spite of this Texhnolyze still says something and as it comes full circle it undoubtedly answers its questions.
It's an exceedingly costive series that initially focuses more on the world, its atmosphere and tone rather than progressing the story itself. The inception highlights this largely through its tedious pacing, character interactions and sound rather than its sparse words. Texhnolyze gradually picks up momentum as Lux - the crucible of humanity, their home - is thrown into disarray. Rising tensions between differing philosophies spiral into violence and civil war.
It’s worth noting that a common theme of cyberpunk is the dehumanization of humanity through the futuristic technology they generally play off. That is not necessarily the case here which is why as I referenced earlier, the series is not without its warmer moments. While there are certainly doctrines within that support the dehumanization of humanity, there are also those that see texhnolyzation as a means to further humanity. A mechanism of hope rather than destruction.
Boasting some of the most impressive art and animation of its time, Texhnolyze puts large emphasis on its visuals to establish and develop its characters and brutal world. Though few and far between, the fight scenes are animated flawlessly and smoothly, similarly the palette of colors is both aesthetically pleasing whilst also highlighting the dystopian nature of Lux and the surface world. The art truly stands out as one of its focal points, and it’s for good reason. The series uses a plethora of techniques and pays significant attention to even the smallest details. The use of grainy scenes often compliments what the story is trying to project, depicting a savage and unforgiving world. The art style simply reflects what it's trying to say. The juxtaposition of warm colors on the surface further proves this. Furthermore the surface world references a number of Edward Hopper’s paintings - a man who is known for his depiction of stark and barren landscapes - through color and content alike. Texhnolyze and Hopper mirror each other both visually and thematically. The art and its detail adds a level not many series can compare to, just as well given how much of a visual experience it truly is.
The sound compliments its art and world masterfully. The interplay between the two is refreshing and ultimately what makes it such a sensory and memorable experience. The voice acting speaks volumes whilst ironically, little is said. The heavy breathing of Ichise emphasizes this more than anything, highlighting how much of an arduous struggle it is to simply live. The sound effects are clear and relevant; footsteps, trains, the mechanical eyes of its Texhnolyzed patients and gunshots come alive heightening the series as a whole. As with the grainy animation technique, static sound is used to project the point further. But most importantly, Texhnolyze’s soundtrack is the greatest score of any anime I have watched to date from both an external and internal perspective. Over forty tracks allow for a diverse yet distinct soundtrack that always compliments its visuals and world. The music dredges all sorts of emotion and the sheer pathos provided by the combination of its moving and excellently placed music provides an experience few anime can compare to.
Texhnolyze offers a heterogeneous ensemble of characters each with their own philosophies and it’s these beliefs that separate the citizens of Lux and conflict with one another. Ultimately, Texhnolyze leaves a number of characters underdeveloped and fails to fulfill the potential for some. Understandably so, the characters may be one of the biggest factors of deterrence. Some characters don’t get the screen time they deserve, some don’t get the development they deserve. In spite of this, there is still plenty of character development for the more focal characters. Ichise’s development - largely standing out - over the course of his plight is remarkable if not poetic. Characters develop in both a positive and negative light, realistically so, and while in some cases the series leaves development to be desired, it’s forgivable given the respectable amount of characters it explores and its emphasis on the world rather than its characters.
Texhnolyze is not without its flaws, yet in the end they are easily accepted. As a whole, it is something truly great. The amalgamation of even the finest details creates a series that’s merit is comparable only to few. Whether it’s sheer patience and willpower, or its philosophical questions of existentialism, Texhnolyze not only asks a lot of its viewer, but respects them. If you’re able to answer its call, Texhnolyze is something truly rewarding and memorable. Texhnolyze is truly a masterpiece.
Prepare to indulge yourself for a depressing ride with a painfully slow pacing in a dystopian setting. I am of course talking about Texhnolyze, which is a psychological, sci-fi anime enriched with mystery and drama, that treats one topic humanity always pondered about: Existentialism. I believe this to be one of the best anime I have watched to date, leaving me with a great impression. Be warned though, this anime is downright depressing and is very hard to get into, and is not suited for mainstream watchers.
The narrative of Texhnolyze is definitely one of the most outstanding parts of it. This is done subtlety in
a slow, but necessary pacing for world building, resulting in careful explanations on inhabitants and society of the underground city Lux. Current society has access to a technology called "Texhnolyzation", in which humans are able to have fully operable mechanical bodies. However, there is a gist to it: the population is divided between the people who support Texhnolyzation, those who oppose it and the mysterious group called "Organ". Starting off with the main character Ichise, who lost his family, being his father murdered by what he believes is some of his father's friends. Having nothing to aim for, he becomes a full-fledged boxer in an arena. Nothing is pleasant in such an oppresive ambience, leading Ichise to get into a fight with the arena boss. From here on everything derails into a conflict between the different factions, being the main protagonist the trigger.
Another great characteristic of the story is that it's narrated through the art, soundtrack and minimalistic dialogue, instead of having an external narrator, which is a very positive aspect in my opinion. In fact, in the first quarter of the anime near to no dialogue is provided and everything is a complete mystery, leaving the spectator clueless; afterwards, it becomes apparent with more dialogue and more data is released. At the same time, new characters are introduced and carefully explained throughout the whole duration of the anime, fleshing out the motives and personalities of the cast. Throughout the storyline and characters, more information of the city is revealed or hinted at, as well as its current situation and the inaccessible surface of the Earth.
As stated earlier, Texhnolyze focuses on Existentialism. This topic really begins to show itself towards the end, which was well performed throughout the pacing of the story.The struggle for survival within Lux proved for the inhabitants a reason to live, while at the same time portraying life as something totally meaningless and bleak. Another aspect to the narrative is the fact that it tries to depict to the audience to what Texhnolyzation leads to: dehumanization and how it slowly eats all of the emotions away. It is downright depressing.
The characters of Texhnolyze are not the strongest point of the show. A handful of characters are introduced in the beginning, and as the story progresses, even more are shown to the spectator. The problem with this is that most of the characters lack depth and development, as for example in the case of Kano. It is true that the most outstanding ones have defined personalities, yet it doesn't fully try to convey the development and motives to the audience. The gloomy aspect and the depressing story of Texhnolyze was however greatly favoured by the characters. Nevertheless, Ichise's character development was the best among the cast, being a very quiet person who rarely speaks (almost never in fact), characterized by being very aggressive, though opening up a little throughout the anime.
Back to the motives of the characters, some remained a bit unclear in the beginning, making it confusing for the viewer how to think and feel about that particular character. This is for example in the case of Yoshii, whose motives became clear later on in the story, and it served well to explain/enhance the Existentialism part of the story. There is a thing to note though, Texhnolyze focuses much more on the story and world itself, rather than the characters, which is leads the spectator to not care about the characters, which is a shame, as the more "boring" moments of the anime could have been dedicated to character interactions and development.
~Animation and Sound~
The art that was executed in Texhnolyze was well done, though nothing out of the norm for an anime produced in 2003. However, this proved to be a really good medium to relay information to the viewer by changing the different colors and camera angles,giving the viewer a good idea of "mood" of the characters and the environment. Other part that was presented well was how the emotional state of the characters were expressed. By zooming in to the characters, as well as zooming out to places, Texhnolyze succeeds in relying meaningful information to enhance the story.
The voice actors performed their role masterfully, making it possible to really understand the characters personalities as well as the suffering they were enduring (take for example Ichise in the beginning). The mechanical sounds, footsteps, heartbeats and all other effects were done well too. Texhnolyze's soundtrack fitted well with the theme of the anime by using all different kind of sounds (techno mixes, guitar and piano), making it possible to highlight the characters as well as the different environments/places. For me this really made it possible to immerse myself in the story.
It is great that the anime managed to narrate the story through actions, art style and the soundtrack, and not by simple dialogues. Regarding the original soundtrack of Texhnolyze, it is a shame that some soundtracks were left out, especially the remixed version of "A Far Away Lightning", which I really enjoyed.
Overall Texhnolyze was a fantastic show, but it was downright depressing. Was it enjoyable, as in, was it fun? No, in no way. The very slow pacing, the unknowing beginning and the disheartening themes it presented, left me with a bad feeling after watching it. The characters weren't that great either, yet the different approach and on how subjects were relaid to the viewer, was what really makes this a fantastic anime. I must admit, it was the first anime in a long time that I was able to watch in a very short amount of time.
It is definitely a worth a try, especially for those who are searching for a sci-fi psychological anime with an interesting story telling, though be warned, it has a very slow pacing, and is not appealing to the mainstream audience.
Thank you for reading, feedback is always appreciated.
Texhnolyze joins Neon Genesis Evangelion, Serial Experiments Lain, Ghost in the Shell, and Ergo Proxy as another supposedly thematically heavy sci-fi show that has a massive split between those who think it’s a masterpiece and those who think it’s pretentious garbage, and the reasons behind the split are similar to these shows as well. When determining a show’s quality, people take different things into consideration and order their priorities differently, such as a show’s viewing experience and a show’s substance. Texhnolyze falls into the category of having a fairly difficult viewing experience as a result of being packed to the brim with psychological aspects and
themes, yet it is also these faults in the viewing experience that lead to faults in getting these would be amazing themes across. Texhnolyze boasts some of the least amount of consistency when it comes to the viewing experience, with some episodes being the some of the most tightly written and genuinely enthralling episodes in the medium, while some other episodes you can barely remember upon finishing them. Texhnolyze simultaneously disappoints and satisfies the viewer with its inconsistent yet powerful story.
Is Texhnolyze boring? One thing that I’ve heard many people complain about is how the first 3/4th of the show is a snorefest, full of random shots of nothing. I personally didn’t find Texhnolyze to be as boring as others say it is, but for all the wrong reasons. The things that grabbed my attention first during my watch of Texhnolyze was how Ichise would always punch girls he was having sex with, and I found it highly humorous. Also, I would always snicker whenever Ichise would fall down the stairs, which happens a lot. However, I ended up genuinely enjoying the show, but there were many moments in the show that left me scratching my head in confusion. Not because the show is 2deep4me to understand, but because… why did that person ride a motorcycle straight into a car? Did he really expect the car to stop? Why are these obviously important people walking down a dark street with no protection, especially if conflicts between the groups are commonplace and isn’t uncommon to get shot with no warning? Whenever a show adds fuel to a fire, I always prefer it to add real organic wood, yet Texhnolyze sometimes adds in the cheap man made shit you find in Costco. (My analogies are weird, I know.)
For Texhnolyze, the world is the story. The city of Lux (or Lukuss, whatever you wanna call it) is a dystopia so depressing, you wonder why humanity hasn’t gone extinct yet. Despite the extremely weird mindsets and actions some of the characters take, the world still feels like it could exist somehow. Many people believe that a show with such a high sci-fi setting would mean such a story wouldn’t be able to exist. After all, wouldn’t a sci-fi world result in less opportunities for human deaths? Well, it’s the complete opposite for Texhnolyze. Unlike other sci-fi dystopian settings, the technology in Texhnolyze is so underdeveloped, it actually feels like it takes place way back in the past. Texhnolyzation is such an experimental and crude technology, it’s questionable as to why it even exists. Texhnolyze is known for being more of a psychological show, yet it doesn’t need this sci-fi aspect to achieve that. The main purpose for texhnolyzation is to create the main rift between the subgroups of Lux. Other than that, the subplot of texhnolyzation is underexplored and is mainly used as a reason for some expositional scenes, symbolism that doesn’t become apparent until the final few episodes, and contributing to the angst of the main character Ichise. Despite the fact that texhnolyzation wasn’t exactly necessary for the show to get the job done, it wasn’t used in an overly flashy manner and didn’t make the world feel any less believable. In fact, the unnecessity of texhnolyzation could be interpreted as humanity’s desperate yet meaningless desire to go even further, as shown by how the texhnology (is that a term?) stopped working by the end of the series. This symbolized how once you achieve “perfection”, there is no point in moving forward.
Texhnolyze builds its world by being enigmatic in everything. The dreary atmosphere, Ichise, Ran, Yoshii, and the setting itself, they all feel very distant from the viewer and aren’t fully fleshed out for the sake of keeping the viewer enticed, or turning away the viewer entirely. Texhnolyze doesn’t lay down the lines between good and evil and doesn’t tell you to feel a certain way. It simply shows you its world and whatever you think about it is up to you. Well, that’s what it does for the most part, since like every psychological show that I have a problem with, Texhnolyze may not distinguish exactly which side of a conflict is right or wrong, but it does distinguish which certain individuals are multi-dimensional or straight up assholes. What Texhnolyze does do that’s a big plus in my book is that it still treats characters equally, regardless of whether or not they are assholes or not. The only thing determining a character’s chances of survival are their importance in Lux, and unlike in other anime, the importance of a character isn’t just given to them, but it feels like they either naturally deserve it or earned it. A multi-dimensional character has the same chance of being killed as an asshole character, and that’s a tribute to how realistic Texhnolyze’s world is. In fact, the world of Texhnolyze makes it so that I was questioning whether or not these asshole characters were really assholes, and maybe they were just killed off before they had the chance to show their other sides. Of course, that’s overthinking, but overthinking is something that Texhnolyze’s setting naturally creates.
Texhnolyze is known for being a fairly dialogue free show, and while this is true to some extent, it is only half true. While this leads to some amazing show don’t tell moments that are genuinely unforgettable and mind numbingly powerful, the inconsistent amount of dialogue works as a negative on both fronts. During some of the scenes with no dialogue, the shots are long and hold very little actual meaning other than… being long. There are episodes where it’s just one long meaningless shot after another, and these episodes are some of the most forgettable episodes in the world. In some other scenes, it’s nonstop expository dialogue with, again, very little actual meaning other than a speck of world building or some insight into some random character. These episodes are also forgettable and lack the impact that the great episodes have. Unfortunately, these episodes can be extremely jarring to get through and while I wasn’t as bored as others, I can understand how these immersion breaking snore inducing episodes can completely ruin the series for others. Texhnolyze employs a lot of the cheesy techniques used to extend the length of an episode, such as people falling in slow motion when shot, people talking unnecessarily when at gunpoint, etc. While I implore those who watch the show to be patient and that the amazing episodes are worth the wait, I will not be surprised nor disagree with those who drop the show due to these unnecessary and painful to watch moments.
As for the main characters, Ichise is a character who’s angst isn’t hard to understand, yet it’s almost impossible to call his angst “relatable,” since I don’t think any of us see random numbers and bars in our field of vision due to texhnolyzation. However, while we don’t know and probably will never know to what extent these technological enhancements fuel Ichise’s rage, considering his position and his backstory, it isn’t hard to believe that Ichise would at least have some angst built up in him. While not being particularly relatable at first glance, he is easy to empathize with, and he gains more conflicts throughout the story that eventually give a sense of relatability to his character as well. He is also a fairly unpredictable character since he bottles himself up constantly and never really talks, nor do we hear his internal monologue. Instead, we can only assume what he’s thinking through his body movements and facial expressions, which were done very well. Unfortunately, the show uses Ichise as somewhat of a plot device, as he constantly either starts or fuels conflicts with his presence alone. However, what the show also manages to do through stellar directing and the enigmatic nature of the show is to make all of these conflicts through Ichise feel… planned somehow. Even so, Ichise’s convenient habit of jumpstarting plot points and conflicts can break immersion to some degree and can leave you with a bald spot from scratching your head so much.
Ran is a complete enigma, and while the power to foreshadow the future is… weird for an apparently supernatural free sci-fi world (then again, the whole “hearing the voices of the city” thing was weird too), she’s the personification of the meaningless struggles that the characters go through. She also subtly shapes the events of the show, and the show doesn’t make it clear whether or not the outcomes she’s involved with are what she desires. Her revelation at the end of the series does bring to light the reasons behind her initial enigmatic nature.
Yoshii is the one who initially sparks the wheels of change within Lux, and his charismatic nature is what initially makes him the easiest character to like. He gives off the first impression of someone who is simply curious in the city of Lux. His motives, although unclear at first, were eventually highlighted during the story, and made his character deceptively complex. He doesn’t simply want to change the city of Lux, he wants to change humanity and stir the passions and beliefs of the residents of Lux as compensation for the lack of humanity that he is exposed to. Unfortunately, Yoshii suffers from being too charismatic, as he is constantly shown to just announce his plans to those he is supposedly about to kill like some kind of cheesy villain. His motives for spurring change within Lux label him as downright insane, yet even so, his terrifyingly calm demeanor of carrying out his plans makes him extremely compelling, and he is one of the few genuinely likeable characters in the show. Also, his fairly anticlimactic death also gives his efforts a sense of meaningless, which is perfect for the overall message of the show. Yoshii is then replaced by a, in my opinion, much less compelling villain, Kano. He is complete destruction, and doesn’t have the enticingly charismatic nature that made Yoshii so interesting. Even so, his insanity and some of his actions are actually disturbingly justified so a certain degree, which just shows how fucked up Texhnolyze is. He also hits home the “meaningless” theme, highlighted by his backstory with Onishi, and his eventual death felt meaningless because all the damage he created was done. Something that I did appreciate about the villains is how they matched Lux’s setting so well, as they masked their sanity with their ideals and charisma. As expertly said in the 21st episode, Lux was always a crazy city, pretending to be sane.
A lot of people find that developing characters in a show where everyone dies is meaningless, but that’s the point. Everything is meaningless. Hell, even this review is meaningless, I'm probably just regurgitating points that have already been said a million times over. Texhnolyze is infamous for being pessimistic and nihilistic, with the overall message being that life has no meaning. In fact, the inclusion of all these unnecessary developments, expository dialogue, and long shots of nothing could just be a fancy way of saying “these scenes are meaningless, just like life itself.” These scenes don’t harm the overall message of the show, they are simply negative aspects of the viewing experience, which unfortunately plays a major role in how one perceives these themes. However, despite this extremely depressing message, someone once told me that Texhnolyze’s message is actually ultimately positive, and I have to agree. Texhnolyze is actually optimism disguised as hardcore nihilism and pessimism. While Texhnolyze preaches that human development and life itself is meaningless and that there is always room for death and destruction, it also tells us that death and destruction are meaningless and that there is always room for life, hope, and existence. As for whether or not this is pretentious overthinking is up to the viewer, but as I said before, overthinking is something Texhnolyze naturally creates, and that is why despite its disappointments and flaws, Texhnolyze is ultimately satisfying.
This is a bleak story about bleak people doing bleak things in a bleak city with a bleak outlook. Oh, and there is a lot of bleakness going on, just in case that did not get through to you the fourth time I said it. Seriously, this show puts the ‘mo in emo like few others.
Right off the bat you can tell this story is going to require a healthy dose of anti-depressants to sit through. Pick any ugly part of human nature and society and you’ll be sure to see it here. Abuse, power-struggles, self-destruction and then some. There is some serious
nihilism going on, I tell you, and the pacing would run backwards if it got any slower. In the end the various strands of the story—the hero’s journey, the gang wars and the changing city--do come together to form a brutally ugly picture of human devolution. It’s like the writers were holding a contest to see how fast their viewers would fall into despair. Jolly bunch, I can tell.
Ichise: is the sad sod we follow around for the most part as he plods through one desolate panel to another, from one depressingly violent situation to another. I suppose we’re expected to relate to him but for the life of me I couldn’t. He always seems to be drifting and basically doing nothing but follow someone else around. I’m sure that was intentional in order to “make a point” which is why it bugs me. If he had been someone who looked a little more alive and less distant then the story’s ultimate end would have been much more powerful instead of just predictably unimpressive. Go ahead and apply that last sentence to every other character, too.
Onishi: is one of the various mafias’ top dogs. He seems to be one of the few who are not ready to just keel over and get it over with so he is more sympathetic to the viewer. Still, you know what happens to honourable generals in times of civil war.
Ran: the prophet girl is very adept at walking around town in her fox mask, looking mysterious and saying as little as possible. Er…that’s it. I really didn’t care what happened to her or why.
Basically, these characters are not here for the viewer to like, they are just pawns in a game and the story is all about the game. Sorry, but that’s not my cup of tea. For me, it all starts and ends with the characters.
Every goth’s dream palette: nothing but black and grey all the way. It does set a great atmosphere and a suitably despairing tone and the backgrounds are beautiful to look at, especially if you are feeling quasi-suicidal. It has the post-apocalyptic scenery porn nailed and believe me, the way the plot moved you have ample time to do your sightseeing.
I actually liked the character design, mostly because I hate the alien moe-turd look and love the realistic style. The story might be a bit too much on the emo side but the animation is really spot-on. It has any number of inventive sequences, works a great feeling and never shies from showing the buckets of blood and gore that are raining here.
As an aside, here’s a fun exercise for you: jot down the number of people who die violently in this anime and get back to me, because I lost count after the first 50 or so.
Suitably ambient and dark.
OP: I actually really liked the opening sequence. Plus, you can just take the OP, play it 322 times and you will get the same result as watching the anime.
ED: skipped it, even if it was Gackt (love you Gackt but after 20 minutes of this anime I need AKB48 to stop thinking about suicide…)
It took superhuman determination to sit through this over a period of 6 months. To say that it didn’t draw me in would be a colossal understatement. I generally love post-apocalyptic scifi stuff but this felt as appealing as the stuff I found in my fridge when I cleaned it after 3 years. it was just too gritty, too depressing and too bleak.
I'm going to be honest starting this review, Texhnolyze is a hard show to watch and, as a result, is just as hard to recommend. The reason why I say this is because the series tasks itself with presenting a complex world and cast as simply as it possibly can script-wise. No long bouts of exposition to clue the viewer in on how the world works and a near complete lack of dialogue in the earlier episodes make getting into Texhnolyze somewhat of a sink or swim experience. Those who are curious to properly know the context behind the strange, unexplained imagery of the 1st
couple of episodes will make it through. Those looking for instantly appealing and an addicting storyline will be left high-and-dry if they don't want to compromise for this title. Texhnolyze isn’t completely like Angel's Egg, however, it does eventually open its dark heart for all to see and it is disturbingly beautiful to look at.
The world of Texhnolyze is bizarre in that manages to reflect on the characters living within it. The underground city of Lux is broken, dirty place to be, one where much of the infrastructure seems to be on the verge of collapse. Within the confines of Lux remains only a culture of utter chaos and violence as factions of differing ideals clash over their perceived supremacy. Watching it all unfold is a lesson in the many different things people will use as a crutch in order to desperately climb to an ideal future. From the idea that people should pin their hopes in technological advancements (in this case, the ability to merge man with advanced prosthetic in a process known as Texhnolyzation) to give them the cultural rebirth so desperately needed, to the separate ideals of the individual factions fighting for control over the city. Everyone has a role to play in this decaying setting, except for our main character Ichise.
Having known only his former life as a prize fighter, Ichise is left without a set path or any sense of identity as he slowly wanders about the crumbling city, unable to face any adversity without violently lashing out like an animal as he's done all throughout his life. Even when enlisted by the Organo (one of the major factions of Lux) his lack of purpose stands in stark contrast with the rest of the cast, people who have nothing but their ambitions to keep them going in these desperate times. The world Ichise is a part of however is one where the hopes and dreams of everyone always come to naught, so striving for anything better is essentially the same as flailing pointlessly against the walls of a cruel fate. Some individuals flaunt their existence more than others, but who will be left to take notice? What will be left behind other then a pile of rubble? Through this Texhnolyze posits that there will be a time in which the efforts of the high-minded and the listless will be both equally crushed to dust and forgotten and thus mankind will die. The inhabitants of Lux inch towards their inevitable collapse, each day a messy combination of sex, violence, and finding sustenance to keep moving onwards for yet another day of sex violence and sustenance. If futility is the one constant amongst the cast, how they cope upon realizing the pointlessness of all they've done is what defines them in the end. Will they take Yoshii's approach and spend their remaining days looking for that which is most amusing? Will they shift gears completely and look to something/someone else for their salvation? Or will they simply give up hope and rot away?
Not a show to pick up your mood! Though that's something that works in the shows favor for me. It's honest and confident enough with its core material to not add any distractions to the reality of the events by shoehorning in levity or fan-service of any capacity (there are some sex scenes/nudity but given the context of them they aren't exactly titillating). One also should never expect Texhnolyze to really go out of its way to make anyone like or sympathize with these characters. That's not to say doing so is impossible, it's just that it got me to care about its cast of increasingly desperate individuals through characterization that is far more subtle than dropping a character's sad backdrop on our heads all at once in the form of flashbacks. It manages to present the characters motives, philosophies and development without relying on shortcuts to get the viewer emotionally involved. It's the type of characterization that makes the cast feel less like "characters" and more like humans by presenting their day-to-day activities with little bias, leaving it up to the viewer to find someone to root for. For much of the show there isn't much of a semblance between heroes and villains save for perhaps Onishi (who strives to keep Lux from falling into utter madness without relying on underhanded tactics like some other members of his faction, the Organo), Yoshii who is essentially an agent of chaos, and the Class whose attitude towards the residents of Lux don't become clear until the later episodes. It's a tale of survival -often survival at the expense of others without really much room ethics. Overall I'd say the cast makes up for their lack of warmth with a surplus of depth, which is fine by me.
All of this madness and despair is compounded by the top-tier direction which enhances immersion considerably. Sound design and shot composition are work together harmoniously particularly in the opening episodes to give viewers a better idea of what Ichise's confused new lifestyle is like. The series directors will make damn sure you know what it looks to struggle endlessly trying to climb up a staircase after losing a couple of limbs, or how it’s like to wander aimlessly throughout a city while having to adapt to complex prosthetic you never asked for whilst racked with bodily pains. Basic human functions are perfectly handled with bodily functions such as breathing, having sex or just listening to that fucking heart of yours still pulsating in your chest, all being presented their most raw way possible. The brilliant animation/art quality don't hurt much either. The strong visuals and instantly remarkable character designs speak for themselves (this is Madhouse remember? what did you expect?), but the score is quite understated, only perking up noticeably during less slow scenes for the most part. When it is prominent you'll hear an amusing variety of themes that ranges from guitar and violin solos to piano pieces that all fit the series perfectly and are great standalone works too. The standout piece for me is the ending theme by Gackt, which nearly brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it.
Texhnolyze is undoubtedly dense and as far as presentation goes, is as unforgiving as the setting it portrays. This is a title that expects a lot from the audience and will leave them behind at a moment’s notice. Everything about Texhnolyze is depressing, slow and often gruesome, but most of all believable in terms of its characters and its arguments. Stick it out through the mentally taxing start and you might never find a more harrowing, visceral think-piece regarding human civilization on its last legs.
First, let's talk about the animation for Texhnolyze: it's Madhouse, so if nothing else you can expect it to deliver visually. This show was animated in 2003 (the same year another, much more famous anime character first lost his arm and leg) and it still holds up surprisingly well even by today's standards. The movements are clean and fluid, colors are surprisingly vibrant and expressive, and the use of off-kilter camera angles and clever cinematography always serves the story well. The characters' faces are refreshingly earthy compared to the exaggerated and cartoonish styles you're probably used to, and when they do become disconcertingly stiff or
grotesquely distorted it's always intentional and used to great effect. There are some minor slip-ups here and there, but overall this is a thoroughly solid visual production.
The music is probably more diverse than it needs to be, and I very much mean that as a compliment. Most of the time, the show does indeed rely either on silence or at most a few light echoic grinds, rings and hums, I think I'll call it an "angel of death" sort of sound, but that certainly isn't the limit of its breadth. There are some quaint string pieces, a little sad violin, the occasional angry use of electric guitar to accompany its most violent moments, a smattering of techno, and several other pieces that would be difficult to list. Not all of it sounds particularly memorable on its own, but it's uniformly spot-on in placement and execution.
Vocally, Texhnolyze is appropriately low-key in both languages, but I don't think it translated particularly well into English, mostly due to the direction. Specifically, the script and direction stick very closely to the original Japanese track, resulting in some awkwardly written lines delivered with unnatural intonations in places, characteristic of some of the less refined dubs of its time. That said, the English track is still serviceable, and despite having some wooden acting at times there are still a few really strong performances mixed in. William Knight, Liam O'Brien and Wendee Lee can be heard taking on at least two roles each, but they handle their roles well enough that it's not really a flaw. Michael McConnohie, Sam Riegel and Patrick Seitz all perform memorably, while some of the less seasoned voices struggle to keep up sometimes. Then there's Victoria Harwood, whose only other role of note is Integra Hellsing. She plays the cool, seductive scientist Doc spectacularly, leaving me wondering why she hasn't had more roles. It's a rough and unpolished dub, and that ironically fits the show just fine. Go with your usual language preference.
So, there's one thing I need to get out right away, and that is that this show is definitely not for everyone. To put it concisely, this anime is very cold and very unfriendly. I could count on one hand the number of times this show actually tries to make the audience smile or laugh, and on the rare occasion that humor is present it only serves to make the series feel even more disquieting. The entire first episode goes by with almost no dialog, and the episodes that follow are nearly as quiet. None of the characters are "good people" in the usual sense. The show focuses heavily on themes of human carnality, specifically sex and violence. It is brutal, cynical, and at times very difficult to watch--not because it's bad, mind, but simply because of what it is.
I don't doubt that some of you have already decided that you will never watch Texhnolyze, and I respect that decision, but for those still reading there's actually a lot to praise here if you're willing to give the show a chance. It's one of the best anime that will leave you feeling miserable, because throughout its run the story always has a sense of purpose, of saying something about humanity and the world. As I've said, these characters are far from good people, and taken at face value their problems might not seem relatable, but they all stem from very common, very human flaws. Because of these flaws, each character finds him or herself partially responsible for the terrible conflict that ultimately arises--one that ultimately becomes bigger than all of them--they are forced to face themselves and these consequences in their own way.
There's also an underlying theme of identity, both as a human and as an individual, which ties nicely into texhnolyzation and the role it has in the world presented. This is especially apparent when we learn the origin of Raffia, the substance that makes the process possible. In effect, texhnolyzation represents the lengths humans will go to in order to survive, but then the show takes that concept a step further and asks: "Do they even deserve to survive?" As these questions come to the fore, all of the characters have to take a step back and reassess the paths they've been following. Shinji, who's always envied the class, discovers how empty the life he had been striving for really was. Doc, who wanted to use technology to further human evolution, is shunned by her own people for it. Ran's ability to see the future brings nothing but pain to herself and her followers. Ichise's arc is the most subtle yet dynamic of them all, as he slowly comes to terms with his new limbs and his meeting Doc and Onishi prompts him to strive to be less of a stray dog and more of a man. We learn more about his backstory, about how he became who he is and where he'll go from there. He often stumbles and occasionally backtracks, but everything he experiences leaves an impression on him. That's just great character writing.
That's not to say that this show is without its problems. As mentioned previously, it is exceedingly cold and humorless, and its storyline can get quite obtuse and confusing, which makes it completely inaccessible to wider audiences. It practically demands multiple viewings to understand, but it's such an unapologetic dirge that it's very hard to actually want to. The story can get heavy-handed at times--notably, the show's use of silence in the beginning does have a purpose, but it goes on too long for comfort and as it gets phased out it starts to feel forced and unnatural, though this thankfully goes away after awhile. What ultimately saves Texhnolyze, though, is that despite its extremely dark and cynical overtones, it's never truly biting or hateful. It may be alienating, but it handles its subject matter with passion, reverence and sincerity, for which I can't but applaud it. It's not exactly "lovable", but at the very least it's hard not to feel something for these characters and their struggles against an uncaring and unrelenting world.
At the end of the day, do I recommend Texhnolyze? Yes, but only if it truly interests you. I know that should be obvious, but this show in particular is one I don't think you should force yourself to try out if the concept doesn't appeal to you. If you're at all intrigued by this exercise in exploring the darkest depths of the human condition, though, I highly encourage you to check this one out; it's a thoroughly well-crafted, insightful, surprisingly rewarding experience.
[No spoilers. This review is for people who are considering whether to view this title.]
- Do not watch if you dislike slower, cerebral anime (e.g., Ergo Proxy, Serial Experiments Lain, Casshern Sins). Texhnolyze moves slowly, but by the time you finish the series, you'll realize that a lot has happened. The writing is plot-driven, rather than character-driven.
- Do not watch if you have a strong preference for sappy, feel-good stories.
- Do not watch if you do not want to think. The dialogue can be sparse, and nothing is spelled out for the viewer.
- If you like sci-fi, this anime does a marvelous job depicting a
foreign, futuristic, but dilapidated world (in the same vein as cyberpunk or tech noir) and, more importantly, making you feel immersed in it.
- This is not a character-driven story, so do not expect the round, dynamic characters who helped make Cowboy Bebop, Steins;Gate, and Fullmetal Alchemist the masterpieces they are. This is not a negative. Rather, the lack of focus on any specific character is a good thing here.
- Notwithstanding the above, the main characters in Texhnolyze are extremely well-done and are deceptively deep once you analyze their actions and motivations. They are sufficiently fleshed-out to be believable and move the story along without receiving too much focus. The characters are pieces, and they fit perfectly.
Art & Sound:
- I'm generally not too particular about these aspects of anime titles. So long as the writing and direction are good, and the art and sound aren't distractingly bad, I'll enjoy the series.
- That said, the depictions of the various settings were excellent. Technically, the art and sound were sufficiently good.
- Firstly, it is noteworthy that this anime has a lot of "10" reviews despite having a relatively low average rating. This should indicate to you that (1) for the right audience, this series is a 10/10 masterpiece, and (2) this series is specifically tailored to a narrow audience.
- If you made it past the first paragraph of this review, you are most likely within the target audience and should therefore watch this series. It really is a masterpiece.
There is no finer embodiment to the shattering melancholy and bracing affirmation of hopelessness than the 22 episodes that make up Texhnolyze.
I want to admit that this anime has overwhelmed me immensely for years. My efforts at writing a review before didn't ensue because if written, it would have been nothing but babble. I wonder if this will even be close to a lucid appraisal..
How do I classify Texhnolyze? This is the sort of anime that people will either think is brilliant or terrible.
It is brutal, confusing and minimal. It has a lot of violent imagery and cruel messages, a complex storyline and
slow but methodical pacing, a minimalistic dialogue and visual and thematic symbolism.
The events take place in a metropolis buried deep inside the earth. A place that reigns with severed limbs and lost souls, Lux is hard to escape, and to stay there is to stay at the very mouth of hell, this underground city of utter damnation felt to me like a character in itself, its landscapes forge a portrait that speaks only of loneliness and alienation. In random impressions It indifferently narrates its lifeless autobiography.
I find myself bewildered with how I should speak of the characters. Sometimes they seemed to me like abstract concepts, not much is explained about them and its hard to get emotionally attached to them.
Ichise, Shinji, Onishi, Yoshii, Ran and the doctor, each of the characters had their own ways, their own ideologies. It was interesting to see how each one of them reacted to the conflicts and how they had to take a step back to reassess the path they've been following, how they faced themselves afterwards.
Personally I found Ichise to be a fascinating character, A truly lost human being whose mind struggles in unsuccessful attempts to discover himself. Bit by bit he wrenches himself out of the swamp in which he had long languished.
Yoshitoshi Abe never disappoints.
The art here is dark and murky. There is some kind of poeticism and sadness to the visuals that emphasize a sense of hopelessness throughout the series.
*There are some scenes in a specific episode that seems to be inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings, something which I found absolutely enchanting.
Here is a link that shows both the paintings and the anime scenes:
Most of the time, the anime relies on silence, which suits it's minimalistic nature.
The OST varies between loud guitar solos and tender violin and piano pieces. *There is a specific piece that is hauntingly beautiful and sad "A far away lightning".
The OP is a techno industrial track which fits the show perfectly. The ending song is very emotional and sad, it has nothing to do with the anime yet somehow has everything to do with it.
This is a bold and experimental anime that strongly explores nihilistic and ontological themes such as - but not limited to - the search for and annihilation of meaning , texhnolyzation as the last hope for humanity, ditching the body entirely and replacing it with something else for the sake of pursuing a higher state of being.
Texhnolyze is unique in its story, in its characters, in the way it combines silence and mystery with striking atmospheric sensory images to build a montage of profundity and intensity.
A daring and maybe a little scary conception of humanity's future and fate. Brilliantly incorporating political events to help illustrate an abominable image of a world, where a man is only a stranger desperately trying to perceive a reason to continue with the numbing meaninglessness of existence.
This show is not easy or comfortable to watch, it is very cold and humorless, has no fan service and no kawaii android girls, it has possibly the most miserable ending ever made in anime. So check your expectations at the door. Recommended only for those who don't mind their perception of existence to be challenged and possibly torn down.
If all someone expects from anime's art is fan service, no, this isn't your anime. No giant sweat drops. No exaggerated faces. No women written by guys who evidently have never talked to them in their life. No big jock heroes to live through vicariously in the glow of your TV screen.
The point of art is not to escape, it's to experience. And when it comes to experience, this is maybe one of the few anime not called "Patlabor 2," "Ghost in the Shell" or "Jin Roh" that do indeed immerse you in a world that is altogether mysterious, but very familiar to anyone who
interacts in adult society. In other words, the characters act like actual people; Anyone more than a casual fan of anime should know this is a rarity.
The art and direction is modeled after no less than Tarkovsky, and it takes quite a few motifs from "Stalker," but whereas that story evoked remote desolation, this one is about societal decay and the fate of our collective species. The plot develops a rich ensemble of characters that resemble actual humans (I can't stress enough how rare this is with anime) whose fates you actually feel for.
I don't want to say anything else about the story. It's a beautifully depicted surrealist masterpiece on the surface, but the writing of these all too real characters is what makes this a truly unparalleled work of art.
In sum, this is for anyone who is seeking a sci-fi work that doesn't insult their intelligence or sense of humanity; a diamond in the rough.
A cyberpunk series from the creator of Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze is a very dark and gritty anime, filled with lots of violence, sexual scenes and a general feeling of gloom and despair. Set in the underground city of Lux, the series follows several characters who are all caught up in a seemingly inevitable war between the three rival gangs that rule the streets.
Lain's influence is readily apparent on Texhnolyze. Both are slow, contemplative cyberpunk series which make heavy use of ambient music and visuals. Texhnolyze takes this a little further than Lain did though. If you like your anime fast-paced and uncomplicated, this probably
isn't the series for you.
Texhnolyze is an anime that doesn't really care too much for words, and often prefers to let its images do the talking. This idea is taken to its extreme in the first episode, where there is almost no dialogue throughout, rendering it rather indecipherable and unfriendly to anyone who might want to watch the series. Fortunately, later episodes are not quite so avant-garde, but the series remains a somewhat "quiet" anime, limiting the amount of dialogue spoken and instead making use of implication and symbolism.
Given this lack of dialogue, it helps that the ambient music is absolutely astounding, contributing enormously to the dark and moody atmosphere. The OP (Guardian Angel by Juno Reactor) is well chosen, fitting the cyberpunk theme perfectly. In fact the music in Texhnolyze is some of the best ever seen in an anime.
As well as the music, the tone of the series is also made apparent in its art. Lux looks suitably dirty and downtrodden, with a colour palette consisting mostly of browns and greys, and the occasional use of overexposed scenes gives it a menacing look.
There's loads of violence and despair, and at times it's not the easiest story to follow. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to work out what's going on, though in fairness it's not the most complicated storyline ever, just difficult to decipher. Unfortunately, although the series has a strong set of characters, we never really get to know them as well as we could have. Also, the pacing is a little too slow at times, particularly at the start of the series. For the first few episodes it almost feels like the series is going absolutely nowhere, but fortunately it picks up the pace after about five episodes or so. Basically, this is not a series for everyone, but if you're willing to accept its flaws then Texhnolyze is a great anime series, recommended to fans of the science fiction and psychological genres in particular.