What They Say:
Ichise’s grief only allows him to enjoy the pain of the fighting pits in the underground city of Lukuss. However, when a gang punishes Ichise by cutting his arm and leg off, his will to live overcomes the odds and attracts the attention of the ruling Orugano syndicate that controls the cybernetic Texhnolyze technology which is usually reserved for the elite.
Meanwhile, an outsider has come down to the city and, along with a young psychic girl, the dominos are beginning to fall in the seething unrest of the city as their paths slowly intertwine with Ichise’s.
Contains episodes 1-22.
The audio presentation for this release is simple but effective for the material as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 192kbps and the same for the English stereo mix. The series is essentially all dialogue driven with a few brief bursts of action as it progresses, so it’s rather center channel oriented with how everything comes across in a full way. There’s a good flow to it and everything comes across well, but the majority of it won’t draw much attention because of the design of the mix. The music and ambient sound effects are big positives for me here, especially the music towards the end of it, as there’s a warmth and depth to it that’s compelling. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in the spring and summer of 2003, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The source materials are the same as what Geneon used previously so we have English translated credits with each episode and its twenty-two episode run is spread over four discs with six each on the first three and four on the fourth. The series is one that looks pretty much the same as what we had before which is good and bad since the show is pretty distinct. Filled with murky colors and a lot of intentional grain, it’s not a clean looking show but it’s doing what was intended in showing a world at the end of its life. There’s a lot of detail to be had here in backgrounds and some neat CG moments that come through when we see through the characters eyes, but that has a hazy and distinct look to it in order to fit into the worldview. The show looks like I expected to and isn’t one that’s going to have people raving over its visual quality.
The set comes in a standard sized clear keepcase with an O-Card cover that mirrors the artwork as the keepcase, but with the addition of the black and blue framing for the Anime Classics line. The front cover has a great piece of watercolor artwork of Ran with a lot of blues and greens that’s very appealing as she has such an innocent look about her. The back cover uses a darker image of Ichise as he shows off his technological updates and the mean demeanor that he has while also showing a bit of the city design. The split works well as the art is on the right while the left has a look at the premise, shots from the show and a rundown of the features. There’s a simple and streamlinde approach to the bottom which ties into the color design of the Anime Classics line as well that works nicely. The set does have artwork on the reverse side where the left panel gives us a rundown of episodes by number and title along with a better shot of Ran while the right side has a look close-up at Ichise in the city. No show related inserts are incldued with the release.
The menu design for the release is simple, almost painfully so, as it uses four different background images where each on shows a different part of the landscape, such as a look at the railway grounds from above or a close-up of the front of the train engine. There’s some dashes of color but mostly it just admittedly puts you in the right mood for things. The menus themselves are just large square blocks carved out of the center in which we get the basic navigation selection. It’s not flashy or really in theme when you get down to it and it just feels kind of rushed without much thought going into it. The menus are quick and easy to navigate though and everything load quickly and smoothly with ease of access.
The extras for this release looks like it ports everything over from the Geneon release, which is good since there are some fun things here. We get the alternate dialogue outtakes which certainly their own work as well as an interview with Ueda and Abe that goes into the show a bit more for those that want a touch more nuance. We also get the clean opening and closing songs and the last episode gets its ending done in the original Japanese text as well as a clean version.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original work that was animated by Madhouse in the s-ring and summer of 2003, Texhnolyze is a twenty-two episode series that hit a lot of the right notes for me when it came out. It garnered attention because of the character designs by Yoshitoshi ABe and I was at the time very keen on everything that Chiaki Konaka was writing. It was also a series that wasn’t like most of the things being licensed at the time as it was dark, murky and indistinct not only in its animation but in its storytelling as well. Having not seen it since Geneon released it in single disc form, I was definitely intrigued to see it again as it was a show I was thoroughly engaged with at the time.
The series revolves around a future where things have taken some very dark turns. All we really know for the majority of it is a city called Lux which operates underground with false bland skies above that gives a semblance of light but not sunlight in order to ensure normal human cycles. What’s on the surface is largely unknown but is dealt with in the final few episodes as events shift there briefly and we see what happened to the other side of humanity. Within Lux, we learn that people have been in this place and dwindling for the past hundred years as some sort of experiment. What it’s resulted in is nothing more than decay as the populace withers away, both through natural causes and the bloodbaths that seem to exist every now and then.
The city is made up of a few factions that vie for power and balance in the face of the oppressive way everything works. The Organo is essentially a mafia like organization as they work numerous offices and bring some sort of uneasy peace as most don’t go against them. There’s a group called the Union that is fighting back against the technology of the time, texhnolyze, that allows people to get artificial limbs that are impressive but seemingly inconsequential in the end. There’s also the Racan, a decent sized gang that is expanding its power a bit as they’re made of young men who have gained texhnolyzed parts and are intent on struggling against authority wherever they see it. There’s also a curious group in a village outside of town called Gabe in which they elevate one young girl named Ran as their Seer as she can see the future of people and the city. Which is pretty depressing as it makes her distraught over the inevitability of the city.
With a cast of characters that permeates each realm, our central focus, odd as it may be, is on a young man known only as Ichise. We see him at the start in an intriguing wordless half episode as he falls from grace as a prize fighter who loses an arm and a leg and winds up in Doc’s lab where she grants him new body parts with a few lies mixed in. Ichise is a lost soul throughout much of the show, struggling with his unknown parents, his lost place in the city and the way it’s impossible to connect with anyone as it all feels like it’s continually falling apart. And in the midst of all of this, he’s struggling with his new perceptions and body parts while encountering people from all the different factions.
With so many different groups, each has its strong personality that comes into play and blends into the larger narrative, which really to me comes down to how we as a species handles the end of our existence. Lux serves as a kind of microcosm for things as even those who want to survive feel utterly defeated by their existence and struggle with it. When we do get the much needed back story towards the end, it’s definitely interesting to see the different paths people took to try and survive and how Lux is just one of those experiments. Seeing what’s on the surface, which was hinted at by some of those who came into Lux for their own reasons, paints an ugly picture with beautiful but sad colors. I wanted more of that story, more understanding of how the surface changed. We do at least get some answers along the way though.
Texhnolyze is not an easy series though and it’s one that’s earned a lot of warranted criticisms over the years because of its approach and style. It’s dank, meandering and seemingly callous at times in way that don’t make sense. There’s a cohesiveness to it that’s missing when it comes to understanding how the city functions – and that was even harder when it was released in singles, never mind weekly! – that’s eased only a little in marathoning it. The show has two distinct halves to it and each brings something different to the table. It’s a flawed work but one that I find fascinating and beautiful since it goes the distance in the final couple of episodes and right up to the final frame in a way that very few shows have done in the last twenty years.
With a number of Geneon titles being rescued and getting full releases again, I was and am excited to see Texhnolyze among them. This is a series that many rightly feel should not have time and expense spent on it when there are many other shows out there. It’s not an easy sell, it’s niche within niche and it’s widely derided by many. But it’s also a series that spends its time on meandering character studies that have them facing the end in vastly different ways. Some fight back, some are resigned, others are confused and lashing out. And they do all of this without understanding the greater layers in it, essentially confined to being an ant by those who have forgotten them. It’s a haunting beautiful show in an oppressive and dead way that keeps me fascinating by it and finding something new in its meaning each time I think about it and explore it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Interview, Outtakes, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Series Ending, Clean Series Ending
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Running Time: 550 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.