Texhnolyze Review


AKA: N/A
Genre: Cyber-Noir/Experimental/Crime Drama
Year Released: 2003
Distributor: Funimation

Origin: Japan
Running Time: TV Series, 22 episodes, 23 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 16+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Now and Then Here and There, Sin City, Key the Metal Idol, In Time, Ichi the Killer, Angel’s Egg, A Scanner Darkly
, Ghost in the Shell, Gungrave
Notes:
-I reviewed this anime by watching the original Geneon USA DVDs.
Fun Facts:


-Gackt, the singer who did the ending theme “Tsuki no Uta” just recently did a Japanese dub of Tom Hiddleston’s character in Kong: Skull Island. Cue screaming fangirls.

-Ran’s name can mean orchid or chaos in Japanese. It makes sense because she sells flowers, but she also sees the chaos in her prophetic visions.


Yoshitoshi ABe needs more work as an anime auteur. He’s been involved in four anime series counting this one, and not to mention that Edge of Tomorrow is an American remake of the manga All You Need Is Kill (yes, that’s the actual title) which he co-created. Yeah, Tom Cruise was involved with something from the mind of Serial Experiments Lain and Haibane Renmei. Let THAT sink in.

For this review, I’ll be tackling Texhnolyze which was the last TV series that ABe-sensei worked on (when’s Despera going to be brought out of developmental hell?) dating back to 2003. Despite being over fourteen years old at the time of this review, I was shocked how well it still held up.

Texhnolyze is about a drifting prizefighter named Ichise who gets caught up in a bad deal where he crosses some mafia types and he ends up losing an arm and a leg for his troubles. I’m sure some alchemists would sympathize with him. He wakes up in a lab and gets mechanical replacements for his lost appendages by this seductive scientist by the name of Doc. Then, there’s a whole slew of gang warfare going on between the Organo who “run” the city like some cybernetic mafia, the Salvation Union who is a religious cult gang that refuses Texhnolyzed limbs like some Luddite group, and the Racan who are a bunch of young hooligans that cause trouble for fun while also getting territory in this dystopian underground city called Lukuss (or Lux depending on your translation).

This was Yoshitoshi ABe’s first stint working with Madhouse, and I will say that this is the best thing he’s done from an animation perspective. The graphics and aesthetics mesh really well. There are creative on-screen shots, nice usages of filters like the Texhnolyzed vision or the surface world, and the character models are quite crisp. The city looks like it’s slowly eroding without having the scenery dictate the entire anime. Despite utilizing some lowbrow genre tools like yakuza or sci-fi elements, it is very artistic. Some of the scenes have so many metaphors to them and they incorporate long periods of silence. For example, the first episode has eleven minutes of no dialog throughout the first half of the episode. The first words uttered are “I’m listening” by Onishi. Ichise himself doesn’t say a word until the third episode, and he’s supposed to be the main character.

With that being said, this anime gets very violent. Gunfights abound, people even chop off limbs with katanas, and the shapes (robots) that show up in the last few episodes are able to fire blasts that can literally put holes through people. It’s certainly not for the squeamish, but even the gore is used in an artistic way instead of some low-budget Splatterhouse flick or a Go Nagai production.

The music itself is splendid. The opening theme “Guardian Angel (Xavier’s Edit)” by British trance band Juno Reactor really pumps you up in this dystopian tale with its intense synth work and stressful instrumentation. Some Hollywood junkies might recognize the name of that band because they also helped with The Matrix’s soundtrack. The background score by Keishi Urata and Hajime Mizoguchi (the latter scored Jin-Roh) deserves attention. There’s a mix of bluesy slide guitar pieces, to some IDM, avant-garde, and ambient tracks. Some of the tracks reminded me of Past Lives’ mellower songs which is a good thing. I wonder if those guys ever watched Texhnolyze before starting that band.

The characterization is top-notch with Ichise’s development from being a “stray dog” to being a civilized member of the underworld was one to see as he opens up and talks more. Ran, the flower girl prophetess is very stoic in her demeanor, but she has a lingering sadness in not wanting to see any bad futures despite the one that obviously befalls the city. Onishi starts out as a suave Yakuza boss figure that looks like he could be the main villain, but he eventually develops into a strong leader who cares for his Organo “family”. I did like Shinji. His devil-may-care attitude was cool and his pure defiance of authority was surprisingly defensible despite him doing bad things.

I did enjoy watching Texhnolyze, but I will admit that this series got way too dark. Yes, I know it’s borderline nihilistic, but some parts like major character death scenes will make people depressed. Don’t watch this if you’re feeling down or scared. This will take an emotional toll on you. Not to mention the ending will induce tears and the final ending theme by Yoko Ishida doesn’t help. While it’s not Evangelion-level contrivance, it will make someone feel lachrymose since it’s a very tragic series. Just watch it in a neutral mood, please.

With all that being said, I really liked this anime. The animation was spectacular, the characters all feel real despite being in this sci-fi world, and the black vs. gray morality worked really well with no one being perfect as they are living in this hellish environment. There are some classism metaphors that are really subtle, especially with how people get Texhnolyzed limbs or can’t afford them by showing and not telling. I’d say that this series is second only to Haibane Renmei as far as ABe-sensei’s work is concerned.




Adjustable Point System:
Subtract 1-3 points if you don’t like dark series or like seeing things that can be ultraviolent.



Pros:
-High-quality animation
-Fantastic score and theme songs
-Impeccable characterization

Cons:

-Doc’s protagonist-centered morality despite being called out on it
-The nihilism in various elements of Texhnolyze
-Violence may be too graphic for some

Final Score: 10/10 Points

Content Warning: NOT FOR KIDS! The violence gets very brutal with people getting shot, stabbed, dismembered, beheaded, and other nasty ways to die. There are a couple of examples of nudity with Doc and one of Ran’s female cohorts. There’s some sexuality with Doc seducing an already amputated Ichise who’s under anesthesia and there are even some incestuous ramifications with a different character where you see the after-effects of that act if looked upon closely. There’s some language, but that’s the least of the objectionable things. This is definitely a mature series that pulls no punches.

-Curtis Monroe

All other photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.

7 comments

    • Thanks, Jon! Texhnolyze is such a criminally underrated anime series. More people should definitely check it out. It’s one reason why I made this blog to make some viewers become more aware of movies, docs, and anime that they may not have heard of otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Totally understandable. No better reason to start a blog if you ask me then to share your passion!

        I’ll defiantly be watching it when I get a chance. Right now I’m working through Gunslinger Girl’s two seasons and OVA’s for my community based Anime ABC’s review series.

        Like

      • No problem. I thought it would be cool to talk about various films and anime series across the gamut. Whether it’s old-school stuff or lesser-known things, I wanted to review it. This blog has also been cathartic as I give my honest opinions on various movies or series even if it’s not popular or the content involves tougher subjects.

        I’ve seen the first season of that anime years ago. I hope you do well on that review series. Interestingly enough, Madhouse did both Texhnolyze and the first season of Gunslinger Girl.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Glad it’s been fun blogging for you! Thanks for wishing me well in addition to that 🙂

        Madhouse has quite the track record. It’s all rather impressive.

        Like

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