Serial Experiments Lain, which Yoshitoshi Abe has also been involved in, shares a very similar story structure to Texhnolyze. Both start with a relatively unfulfilling storyline that explains nothing and expects the audience to infer much of what is going on. In the final half, the anime will leap off of the foundation that it has so painstakingly created and go in a totally unexpected direction, resulting in an ultimately satisfying experience. Unfortunately, this approach is inevitably what turns people off. Although I personally have no problem with delayed payoffs, other people seem to absolutely hate the idea that an anime can have little instant gratification and still be good.
From my perspective, the storyline is one of the highlights of the show. Though the anime starts out relatively simple, it soon expands into a very large and ultimately satisfying overarching story. Near the end, the anime moves beyond its previous themes (addiction to technology and violence) and flowers into a very well done allegory on the classic views of heaven and hell. The anime makes a case that every human society needs a healthy mix of humankind’s instinctive bestial tendencies and angelic high-minded philosophies and makes its case well.
Granted, this story is certainly not for the faint of heart, as it’s every bit as gloomy, depressing and grisly as the animation. For those wanting a pleasant, forgettable and life-affirming plot, I can’t urge you enough to stay away from this misanthropic and pessimistic show.
As for the rest, the last crucial question will found in the aforementioned slow beginning. While the exposition is by no means devoid of plot, the anime gives very little reason to care about what is going on. Rather than lead the audience along on an episode by episode basis, the writer makes a rather bold (and perhaps incorrect) assumption that everyone who sees the show will have the patience to slog through what is essentially groundwork. I personally found the superb animation to be more than enough incentive to continue, but many others may not even get past episode 1.
Absolutely brilliant – this is the first anime since Last Exile 9 months ago that I have been this impressed. In the first few episodes, where the storyline is kicking into gear, the animation was pretty much the only thing that kept me from getting bored. Especially in the visually brilliant first episode, the eye-candy that Texhnolyze sports is something that needs to be seen to be believed.
The backgrounds, for one, are probably the best I’ve seen. Dark, depressing cityscapes have been used before in anime, but never as well as what is seen here in Texhnolyze’s Lux. Every part of the city, with its grey sky, desolate streets and dilapidated buildings, works together to illustrate every bit of the living hell that Lux is supposed to represent. Character designs are also top notch; all of the individuals in the series emit a very detached and cold look that fits well into the dark and dreary setting.
Of equal merit is the absolutely amazing style of the entire show. Violent, gruesome, and morbid to the core, Texhnolyze is almost unsurpassed in imprinting images into your brain, whether you like them or not. Combat in particular looks like a million dollars, with beautifully fluid movement and flashy fatalities.
You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the opening theme was by one of my favorite bands in one of my favorite genres. The song is called “Guardian Angel,” by Juno Reactor, and is part of a relatively narrow but surprisingly popular subgenre of techno called psytrance. As luck would have it, this aggressive, grungy, and metallic song is a perfect fit for the anime, and does an excellent job of setting the mood for the rest of the show.
The rest of the O.S.T is a very interesting and varied mix that ranges from loud guitar solos to quiet violin and piano pieces. Overall, the songs fit pretty much seamlessly into the show (and are excellent to listen to). One exception, however, happens in the beginning of the final episode, where a loud, obnoxious and utterly distorted guitar "song" assaults the viewers for a full 5 minutes.
The nature of the anime doesn’t give voice actors a whole lot of room for emotion; if you’re the leader of an oppressive crime syndicate, for example, you’re pretty much expected to have ice in your blood. Fortunately, the seiyuu nonetheless manage to deliver unique voices to each of their respective characters despite this.
While by no means bad, the characters aren’t nearly as good as the rest of Texhnolyze. I found almost all of them to be strikingly charismatic, and some of them (Oonishi, Ichise, Shinji) were downright cool, but none of them ever really elicited sympathy. The storyline doesn’t really attempt to inject warmth or depth into the characters (it’s not that kind of a show), and as a result they feel more than a little like pawns in the overarching story - intricate and interesting pawns, perhaps, but pawns nonetheless. Every attempt at development and characterization feels unnatural and forced, and in the end this hurts the anime more than any other aspect of the show.
Texhnolyze is an anime that I almost don’t want to recommend, because I know that a very large percentage of people will probably hate the show. Just as the animenfo average for Serial Experiments Lain has crashed to a lowly (by Nfo standards, anyway) 8.4, Texhnolyze will most likely share the same fate if too many people watch it. This worries me, because I think this show is excellent, no matter what many people may say about it. Assuming that you can keep awake through the beginning episodes, you will be rewarded with a strikingly intellectual show that delivers on almost every front. The dense, brainy and memorable storyline, combined with the consistently amazing animation, are more than enough to provide a pleasurable watch time and time again.
Texhnolyze goes against everything that would appeal to the masses, with the most obvious example being fighting shonen and sports. There is no positivity, no willpower overcomes everything, no light at the end of the tunnel (hello Naruto).
It is bleak and pessimistic, and it never tries to make you believe it’s going to change any time soon. Unlike many other series, it stays true to what you see in the first episode instead of switching to something completely different that is nowhere near as good (hello Sword Art Online).
That’s how it stands out for most; as something anti-mainstream, a term that ends up being the same as “not cheap entertainment”. It’s not easily digestible and it’s certainly not something you air on television and expect high rates. Many still consider anime to be a niche medium. Texnolyze is a niche within a niche, aimed at those who seek something not saturated by shonentards and deviant otaku fetishes (hello Oreimo).
It is also not different for the sake of being different, as is the case with pretty much everything nowadays that thinks it can stand out by subverting a couple of things and expecting the tasteless masses to hail it as a masterpiece (hello Akame ga Kill). It takes itself seriously and sticks to it.
It is also animated and directed masterfully, instead of implying all it takes is to be dark and depressing with everything else not being important (hello Berserk 2016).
With all that said, it is a difficult to watch series. I was personally bored while watching it, which is not the same as disliking it, but it definitely gives you plenty of excuses for giving up on it. The first fourth of the story is made to be as incomprehensible as possible. The characters talk little to no-at-all, exposition of what is going on is minimal, the artwork is like the animators were stoned, and the pacing is … well I don’t know what it is; time was irrelevant while watching it.
I know, it is show; don’t tell, and it’s made this way so it will either absorb you, or alienate you immediately. It was neither for me, since I watch pretty much everything, but it’s definitely causing a very polarizing reaction. And assuming you manage to be on the absorbing side, all you are getting is a confusing start that amounts to making you depressed because life sucks. That is the message of the show.
I am not against negative emotions; I just hate it when there is no catharsis as the end. That is why I didn’t like Oyasumi Punpun, it never felt like it resolved anything in a way that wasn’t edge for the sake of edge. And I know many of you think that I am using that word as a buzzword with no real meaning when it’s so simple to tell the difference.
Everything in this series is bleak, nothing stands out as super positive for no real reason, no victimizing or polarizing behaviors, it treats everybody the same way. I appreciate that as much as I liked the catharsis at the end which didn’t feel like a copout. No magic resets, no convenient change of hearts, no mcguffins to fix all problems. It’s the natural resolution of how things should play out.
Which is basically me, telling you, that the show is predictable. There are no twists or surprises, it is what you see. I know many who don’t want to watch something if they know how it ends, or dislike it for not having a perfect ending where everybody is happy, but that was never the intention of the series. It’s one of those things where you enjoy the journey and not the destination, and by that I don’t mean the ending is bad. It is solid and makes sense, it’s just not unexpected or mind blowing. Take that as you like.
If there is one legit criticism, that would be the duration of the series. The pacing is painfully slow, the plot is not that complex to deserve 22 episodes (Shinsekai Yori comes to mind), and the characters are very concept-based or apathetic to keep you preoccupied with their charm. If it was half as long or twice as fast, it would only improve the overall. The way it is, I was bored of it midway. It helps a lot if you are an emo who paints his nails black, but I am not such a person.
Themes and storyboard are fine, as a pessimistic sci-fi about the dehumanizing side of technology it has a great atmosphere, but lacks empathy towards the characters, and you see it only as a fascinating world, instead of fascinating people living in a world they formed through their actions. You don’t care about them, you care about the world they are in. This is what makes it not very enjoyable or something that you will remember past its themes and atmosphere.
Art & Sound: 9/10 (Great direction and atmosphere)
Story: 5/10 (Great themes and solid ending with a very slow pace to make them feel boring)
Characters: 5/10 (Nihilistic and very concept based, you don’t care about them as you do for the world they live in)
Enjoyment: 3/10 (There is very little to care for and the pacing is very slow to keep you engaged)
Time to sit down and enjoy a nice relaxing…..wait, what the heck is going on?
Story - 5/10
So before I even review I have to say there's something rather strange about the series. I enjoyed the whole thing, from start to finish, but no matter how interested I was I always started to fall asleep or feel tired. Maybe it was the music or maybe an odd frame rate (24fps on a projector does induce sleep but these aren't flickering images like a projector) but for some reason I'd always be pumped to watch and see what happens next and then start to nod off.
Secondly, though many have recommended it, don't skip past the first half of the series. If all you want is action and violence, this anime isn't for you. To just jump right to the second half is to admit you have no use for thinking when it comes to entertainment, you just want images fed to your brain without having to do any work, which is ok, but it says more about you than it does this very well made series.
Ok, so in the future there is apparently a rash of errant helicopter blades, Ben Hur style scythes and people who don't know how to use blenders, because everybody seems to be missing an arm or leg (which joking aside does get answered) This who choose to replace their lost limb, and are lucky enough to afford it, can have be texhnolyzed, a process that replaces your lost limb with a bionic (or is it synthetic when made of human cells?) prosthesis and an eye implant that allows you to monitor the status of your limb as well as see a computer overlay of the world with information to help the user.
The world of Lux is city below the real world, long ago humans were cast off to live there due to their violent nature. Forced to create a new society many broke off into small factions, essentially the mob, young street punks and Anti-Science (Texhnolization) Everyman. While there is tension between the groups, they all seem to work together when they have to and understand they all have a role to play in the city.
While the main focus is on a character named Ichise, he doesn't move much of the story along. For a majority of the series he seems to just be there, since the attack that took his arm and leg Ichise pretty much walks the world in a drugged out haze as he tries to assimilate to his new body. In the second half of the series he becomes a loyal enforcer to one particular Organo member, but still he's more or less a vessel for us to walk us through the more important parts of the story while having sometime little to no bearing on them.
The first part of the series is shaped by Yoshii, a visitor from the surface world who thinks he can fix the problems of Lux, problems few down there really care about. He tries to cause trouble for his own entertainment and eventually inadvertently helps Ichise figure himself out.
The second part of the series focuses on Ichise's work for the Organo and the unveiling of truth behind Texhnolyzation. It's all a bit confusing and things work themselves out in sloppy, haphazard, ways that don't answer even a tenth of the questions they end up asking, but it's still pretty interesting.
Animation - 6/10
There was strangeness about the animation in the show. While it wasn't spectacular or ground breaking, it was nice in it's simplicity. When it came to the characters themselves, it was something we'd see before, but that's what the shows supposed to be, everyone basically looking the same, down trodden and worn out. I'll also take that answer for the difference in the way Ichise looks from episode 1 to episode 2, I actually had to go back a recheck the first episode because he looks similar to the character we see, but still very different.
Where the series' animation peaks is in the backgrounds and special effects. They again keep the city's minimal, but still did a great job conveying what's gone on in the lives of the people there. Very often they did their best to not just reuse the plates again and again, even within a building we're treated to multiple camera angles that show an entire room and not just the titling of a often used window or door.
So where most series fail miserably, the computer effects and other effectish drawing techniques, Texhnolyze excelled in. First, and most commonly used, was the eye implant that all texhnolized patients get, some of it's aspects are CGI or flash animation and it actually looks pretty good, not your typical one dimensional car every other series seems to throw in for the hell of it. The same can be said for the lighting effects, with such a dark series they were only used sparingly, so it never became gimmicky. They also did a great job of using light to create a dim atmosphere, by washing out color. The final effect used, and actually quiet often, was the fuzz thrown over times of battle, used to convey the change in mindset of Ichise, it's a great contrast from the boldly colored and contrasted style used during the rest of the series.
Sound - 7/10
The sound in the series is really based completely on the lack of it. For the most part the background music is sparse, and when it is there it's used as purely background, never blasting over the sound effects or talking. This works great is a series where so much is based around the quietness of a city thats not there, an underground forgotten. The music they use as background is very catchy, a mix of light techno, bluegrass and jazz, reminiscent of what was done with the Cowboy Bebop and Trigun soundtracks. The series also makes great use of natural sounds to fill in the space, from just the air blowing past or dust rustling in the street, it give such a perfect tone to the series.
The only music used at normal volumes are the opening and closing credits, and they work well. The opening song is a techno track that matches the animation, it reminds me of what BoogiePop did with their opening, very early nineties public access TV. The closing track, is a nice acoustic song, that while not fitting with the series, isn't a bad song in itself.
I enjoyed the English voices too, even if it did take three episodes to hear more than a dozen words. Like the music, the voices never really blast out over the speakers, everyone is calm, resigned to the fate in store for them.
Characters - 4/10
Outside of our protagonist, Ichise, there isn't much originality in the characters. Psychopath, Yakuza like leader, tender love interest, we've seen them all over and over again. They tried to switch a few things up, like making sure no matter how bad those main character's from Lux seemed, they all still had an inner conscience, which is what those who were banished to Lux originally lacked.
The real characters for a majority of the show are the concept of Texhnolization and the mystery of the seer, Ran. It's not until very late in the series do we learn a bit of the backstory of Ichise, Kaneda or even Lux itself, and even then we're left with so many questions and gaping plot holes. The characters are intriguing in their mystery, but at some point it's nice to know a bit about them, especially when you start to drop some hints, and then abruptly give up on that path.
Overall - 6/10
For such a slow series, with large portions being encompassed by pure visuals, it was pretty captivating. They took a unique look at a sci-fi, post apocalyptic world, and how it may not be caused by violence and destruction, but instead by the best intentions. Just don't do as I did, watch it in the middle of the day, with the lights on and a cup of coffee, or you might miss little tidbits of info that will make trying to decipher everything a whole lot easier.
Texhnolyze,depresive,dark,dirty... these are the feelings you can expect to get after an episode of Texhnolyze.Being a cyberpunk anime it delivers us all that depression.Don't expect to see any fun moments in this one it starts telling you a story about a broken society and untill the very end where that society totaly crumbles into pieces owing to the power struggles, everything stays broken and dark.
Story is in my opinion very good,it is about an underground city which is important and run by mafia connected people,there are also other mafia groups who want controll of the city so there are many fights between them untill another group with way stronger power comes and tries to claim the control of the city(simply put).Also there are prosthetic body parts and all but I will not go into that stuff since I don't want to spoil more story parts.Characters are also well detailed since there are only a handfull important characters it isn't very hard to remember who is who or who is evil and who is not.The story starts at a very slow pace and it stays slow untill the end so if you are looking for something action packed unfortunately Texhnolyze won't satisfy you.
The sounds and songs throughout the anime are fitting the atmosphere of the show.Animations are different than other anime's not bad but may be a little dark for some viewers.Landscapes and places are very detailed and there is always a movement almost in every scene.My only problem with this one is the amount of gore presented is in my opinion very low.I mean you put so many tits and asses on the screen and make the statement that this anime is for adult people but when time comes for an important character to die all we see is a swing of sword and flowers flying around a dead body,disappointing but this gets kind of repaired after episode 10.
In conclusion,this is a good story to watch but is also progressing very slow,and it is presented in an artistic way so if you don't have a problem with these facts,I urge you to give it a try.
PS. It has a great final episode.
Oh hey, it's review number 22. That just so happens to be my age, too. I guess I should celebrate by reviewing another favorite of mine. Let's see what we have here. Ah, how about Texhnolyze, Madhouse's 22 episode anime series. There is that number again. Jeez, what a coincidence! I really do love the show and its been in my permanent favorites list since early 2010. That said, the usual rules are in effect. No spoilers or cursing. Please read, review my review and comment on this and other reviews I have done. It helps me greatly. Thanks for reading and enjoy the review of the show.
Story; Ever consider abandoning principles and morals? Well, Texhnolyze's Ichise did just that. He abhors his new arm and leg that he obtains from a pretty crazy female doctor. Well, stuff happens and my memory is pretty hazy after most of the WTF moments in the second half of the series. Some of the stuff that they come up with, oh boy! Anyway, it should go without saying, but I may as well ay it because some are dense. The story is pretty complicated and the meaning behind things is pretty difficult to understand. Texhnolyze is a thinking or mental anime. Mature and dark in every corner.
Animation; It is a very dark series. That is really what it boils down to the animation front. Even on the surface, it has the dark tones to it. It is a significantly dark series no matter how you want to look at it. Settings are beautiful and articulate. Character designs look fantastic. ABe does great work and surpasses Haibane Renmei, Lain and Niea Under seven no problem with this work. Dark series can be beautiful too.
Sound; The soundtrack is a rock or techno mix, I would lean more towards rave music in fact. It is a great soundtrack and I am pleased to own both soundtracks. The opening is a great piece of music, it gets you pumped up for the depressing episode ahead easily and without fail. The ending, sung by Gackt, is a fantastic and depressing but somewhat hopeful piece. The English track was listened to for the entire series and I briefly listened to the Japanese track. You would be safe to listen to it either way, both are excellent work by the actors and actresses involved. It is fantastic.
Characters; By far the weakest thing the anime has going for it. How does it still get a ten in this area? Simple. Its weakness is actually its strength. Texhnolyze showed me that character development or back story is needed in an anime. The show and its characters can still be impacting and unique in their own ways. It's realistic in that I do not care to hear back stories. Texhnolyze doesn't live in the past. It lives in the present or here and now. It lives in this dystopian, depressing and insane world. You can get hurt for dwelling on the past. Texhnolyze has proven this.
Overall; I truly love Texhnolyze. Words cannot begin to express that love nor do I think words can begin to express it. I will say this that if you do not like dark series with truly terrifying moments, avoid this anime series. It is pure insanity and despair. By the end of it, you will have fallen into despair and depression over what you have witnessed over the course of this series. You will be numb and confused of what to do. Very few anime can be truly life-altering, Texhnolyze is one of those few. It's like nothing you have ever seen before. This is one of the many high points in animation. Period.