Texhnloyze might be my overall favourite anime of all time. It does everything I like while avoiding most things I do not. But as with everything else it definititely isn't for everyone.
Ichise is a brawler near the bottom of the social ladder who because of the whims of a sadistic woman gets a arm and a leg cut off and so falls down even further. We then get to see him slowly but surely climb back up and go from a outcast to a respected member of society over the course of the show.
This is more or less the basic premise of Texhnolyze but its strength lies in how the story is told. The city of Lux is ridden with political intrigues and infighting and questions quickly arise about the place. What exactly is Lux and where is it? Initial hints tells you that it seems to be far below ground but then where does all the oppresive light come from?
The politics are centered around the Organo, a organisation that promotes texhnolization and upholds the peace in Lux. On the opposite side is the Union who opposes giving humans mechanised limbs because they believe it deteriorates ones mind. Outside them is the Racan, rebellious youths who wants to enjoy their freedom and rejects hierarchy of all sorts. In the middle of all this we find Ichise and his struggle to come to terms with his own new limbs, crafted from the cells of his dead mother.
The story is every bit as grim as you might imagine. There is no room for silly antics, cute android girls who can lighten the mood or really any sort of respite from the misanthropic atmospehere that permeates the show.
Personally I love it but I can see how some people get tired of it. It is also a rather slow series that takes its time to show you the various factions and characters until really getting on with the story. Yet again I like it that way, had it skipped the initial introductory episodes things would have been confusing to say the least.
In short the writers have created a world and lets us see one mans journey through it. Questions are raised, answered and gives way to more questions. It also never forces anything on you, the story and intrigue always takes center stage.
My only gripe would be that sometimes they try and make it unnecessarily weird and confusing. While this is common in cyberpunk it really never is appreciated.
While not unique it's definitely different and well made. There are no big eyes, small mouths or round cheeks anywhere in sight. Everything looks rather natural, even the cyborg parts look rather unremarkable and helps with the bleak mood. The backgrounds are often gorgeous and really show how much time they've spent on the show. Looming skyscrapers, filthy alleys and hustling market streets are all there as is the clean, spacious offices of Organo. I also like how they've managed to make even light feel oppressive, like a dying sun that hangs over their heads.
Texhnolyze has one of the very few intros that I truly like and enjoy listening to. I got hold of some more Juno Reactor and it's all good. Too be honest I always like it when a show tries to do something different with even the sounds and music like Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo. Anyway, the sound is simply highly competent. The voice actors fit, there are lots of little sounds everywhere that helps with the mood and even otherwise overly dramatic things like screams and such work well. While not perfect I don't have anything in particular to complain about.
There is something as odd as true character development going on here. Ichise is initially a selfish asshole prone to violence with little dialogue and goals beyond surviving to see the next day. But over the course of the show he gets more confident and at peace with himself. After a while he starts getting to know people and even develops leadership skills. While many shows tries to pretend character development and character exploration is the same thing Ichise really grows as a person, just that is worth a good score.
On the other hand few other characters has the kind of depth he has but the show is more about politics and intrigues than characterisation. Also few are terribly sympathetic but at least you usually know why they do the things they do so while you may not like them particulary you also never go "Why the hell would he do that?".
After I finished the last episode I sat with my arms around my knees and stared at the screen while the credits rolled. After that I closed the screen on my laptop and continued staring into nothing for five minutes. My brain was numb for hours after that, there was something about the ending that touched me in a way that few things has done before or after. Just for that the show is a 10 in my book, you really have to watch the whole thing to see what I'm getting at. For me the show is powerful and thoughtprovoking in a good way. You start wondering about this mysterious town and when the answers are given everything fits in a way that makes you feel satisfied.
Another thing is their rather unique take on the final fate of humanity. I won't say anything but it is both believable and of course very depressing.
As a final word I will as usual point out that not everyone will like this. There are no mechas, monsters or martial artists that will show awesome fights. There are no cute relationships or people who overcome barriers for the sake of love. Everything about Texhnolyze is depressing, slow and often gruesome. Personally I love it because of that but it most definitely isn't a show for everyone. But if you like Ghost in the Shell, Battle Angel Alita or maybe the Shin Megami Tensei games this should be right up your alley.