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.
In an experimental city of despair and carnage, ORGAN will do anything necessary to gain power and wealth. Unfortunately for one underground boxer who was mutilated, a rogue doctor has given him what ORGAN specializes in and he despises: Texhnolyze body parts. Will these cybernetic appendages help exact his revenge upon the one who made him this way?