Texhnolyze Volume 1: Inhumane and Beautiful
By: Kimberly Godwin – Saturday, June 5th, 2004 (07:10:28 PM)
This article was originally posted on PlanetExile.com
Texhnolyze takes the viewer into the dark world of Lukuss, where human beings have lost the will to survive, and any who do live under the authoritative rule of the Organo organization. If that weren’t bad enough, there’s a constant fear of gangs that victimize people and take away their limbs. The images are quite dark and the amount of information that you are shown is incredible. If you blink or look away you miss several vital clues that you might need to piece together the plot and identity of the characters. There is just so much going on that there is no way to catch everything you need to understand in one sitting.
The images convey a heavy sense of isolation and loss as we follow several different storylines at once that seem flow toward a unified end that only future volumes will reveal. The main storylines focus on the situations of Ichise, Ran, Onishi and Yoshii who seemingly have nothing in common and lead different lives.
Ichise is the first character that you’ll meet when the first episode begins and you won’t actually learn his name until a later episode. The sense of loss you feel as you watch Ichise wash away the blood from his hands after an arranged fight is portrayed without words as you watch him stand alone in the dark of the locker room and look into the mirror. His loneliness appears to be focused on the contents of a yellow vial, which contains some sort of liquid, but his actual situation is not realized until a woman that appears to be the promoter’s lover approaches him and makes a proposition that we can only guess. The proposition ends in the woman’s rejection, which ultimately results in Ichise’s later plight.
Onishi is the leader of the Organo group and his world is a brilliant contrast to the darkness of Ichise’s life. But the presentation of the isolation is still felt despite the bright setting of what could possibly be his office or home with a single couch sitting alone in a large white room as he talks to someone over the phone. The phone conversations seem to tie parts of the story together, such as, when Onishi is talking to the Sage of Gabe over the phone to see if he wanted something to happen to the organization that attacked him. You never are told to whom he is speaking but you usually can get a sense of the other person’s identity depending on what has just happened.
Ran is the young clairvoyant granddaughter of the Sage of Gabe but not much more is revealed about her in this first volume. It is mentioned a few times that although she is clairvoyant, the future contains many vast outcomes and is ever changing, so Ran can only see one possible future that may or may not occur. She is asked to guide Yoshii to the city of Lukuss from the desolate waste that is Gabe as a sign of her grandfather’s appreciation to Yoshii for saving their lives.
Yoshii is a visitor from the surface world that seems to be collecting information about the people and the history of Lukuss. If it wasn’t for the fact that it is said that he is from the surface, there would be no way for us to know that Lukuss was underground. In the fourth episode, he provides us with several pieces of information about the world that Texhnolyze is set in. We also learn from his internal dialogue in this episode that humans have a high self-repair rate in this future but it is stunted somehow in Lukuss, so in order to gain an advantage over the weak, gangs cut off people’s limbs. Only the wealthy or powerful are able to afford to replace a lost limb with a Texhnolyzed or cybernetic limb.
The character designs are very reminiscent to Yoshitoshi Abe (original character designs) and Yasuyuki Ueda’s (producer) other series “Serial Experiments Lain” and “Haibane Renmei,” but beyond that, there are no other similarities. This world is very dark; any semblance of symbolism has been stripped away, leaving the viewer with raw emotions and images. The backgrounds are very dense and detailed with a very gritty feel to it all. The lighting is literally either very dark or very bright; the extremes in lighting provide for a very dramatic effect that fits the story very well. The story telling for this, especially in the first episode, relies very heavily on the presentation of the scene and the camera angles to move the story along, which is a strong contrast to many anime that rely on both images and sound to tell the story. The violence presented is quite real; when Ichise gets his arm cut off, there is a fairly reasonable amount of blood and he really looks and sounds like he’s in pain. The respect towards the characters’ emotions adds another dimension of reality to this story and works quite well. Characters and information are quickly, and sometimes silently, presented without any confirmation of their importance to the story and the viewer is expected to make his or her own connections and conclusions.
So far, Texhnolyze is quite a contrast from any other anime out there. You have to view this series objectively and try to catch all the clues given throughout the first volume in order to understand character identities, relationships and what the story is about. It contains violence, blood, and some nudity, so I really do not recommend this to anyone who might be bothered by such content. However, if you are looking for a new series that pulls you in and leaves you guessing, Texhnolyze will leave you begging for more.