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)