Texhnolyze Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2004



What They Say
The "Spectacle" has started and the city of Lukuss has become a battleground between the city's major gangs, the Organo, the Racan and the Salvation Union. All the while Yoshii, the anarchist from the surface world, continues to bring even more chaos and destruction to the city.

Onishi, Ichise and Ran all must now fight to stay alive in a world that's starting to crumble around them. Treachery and betrayal lie in store for all of them, but will any of them be able to realize the greater danger that is rapidly approaching?

The Review!
Yoshii's plans to create a spectacle in Lukuss continue apace as things continue to crumble as his killing spree spreads.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series is filled with a lot of very low voices talking and little background noise for the most part. The feel of the city is given to that of a morgue at times so the lack of sound in a lot of scenes is very distinct. When we do get sound though, it's very clear and problem free. We didn't notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer here is anamorphic enhanced for playback on widescreen sets. With this series being so richly animated, so many scenes and backgrounds look like captures of real life or just pieces of stunning art. The widescreen transfer here looks fantastic. There are so many details put into each and every shot that they're brought so vividly to life here, you can spend an inordinate amount of time simply looking at everything before taking in any of the story. The color palette is pretty dark and earthy, though there are some truly vibrant moments slipped in as well. The darks hold up beautifully and solid and the varying levels of darkness are displayed perfectly. Visually, this is a show that you can lose yourself in quickly and easily.

Packaging:
Utilizing the Japanese artwork, this cover does a close-up shot of Onishi drawing his sword in the same style as the previous two covers. The look and feel of this with the green tint is almost lifelike for the backgrounds, giving it a very dark and creepy feel. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and gives a summary of the basic premise and the characters. The discs features and extras are clearly listed and space given over to bilingual production credits. Geneon has adopted part of the info box style that we like, though I hope it's something that becomes more common. The insert has a cleaner version of the front cover on one side while the other lists the chapter marks for the four episodes.

Menu:
Using the visual style of the Texhnolyze control system that people see through their eyes to manipulate their bodies, Nightjar has nicely adapted that to the menu layout here, sliding the selections into various areas while setting it all to a smooth enjoyable piece of instrumental music. The layout is nicely done, though it may take a second to find the actual selection pieces among all the text and images, but it's very nicely in-theme for the series. Access times are nice and fast even with a very brief transitional animation.

Extras:
The extras are pretty minimal for this volume with just some production artwork and a couple of minutes of dub outtakes. The alternate takes continue in the same style as the previous set which has some really good laughs in there and a few not so good ones, but that's usually the way it goes. At most, I think some of them go a bit long but this is my main exposure to the show dubbed so I'm enjoying listening to their take on the characters while hamming it up.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Texhnolyze continues on in its dark and creepy world. With each new volume the twists and turns don't necessarily get more confusing but rather things start taking more shape into what kind of plot is really going on here as things become clearer due to them. Amusingly, a lot of this happens because so many characters are getting assassinated so there are few main players to deal with as it progresses.

In watching this volume, it became very clear exactly what we're dealing with. While I originally thought the mafia-esque trappings were just for show, the series is moving so far along the traditional lines of a mafia movie that it's basically impossible to ignore that side of it now or chalk it up to just a bit of atmosphere. While the show does take place in the strange underground world of Lukuss and instead of drugs they're dealing with a mining operation that brings a limited supply of highly sought after material called Raffia, the core of the show has the traditional groups leading a family of Don's so to speak. The last volume really saw some turf wars going on between the main mafia forces and the Salvation Union while throwing in a few other elements as well. This volume has them dealing with the repercussions of such actions and the high level mafia family style meetings become even more prevalent.

Once you start shifting things into that gear, the series becomes much smoother and easier to figure out. There is still the strangeness of things like the Texhnolyze itself but that's just one element to give it a science fiction feel, something to help move mafia shows into the 21st century if you will. The fallout from the previous battles really hits home in this set of episodes as a power play is made among the top tier members of the Organo and most of the blame is being shifted to Onishi, mostly so that someone else can try to challenge for the top spot. Their attempts to do so are interesting as they head out to various camps and try to push for their own position. The most interesting moment as well as the most revelatory is when the character trying to gain control walks away from one meeting and asks his aide if he looked the part. All while the people they were talking with just wonder who he was.

While there's definitely a look that's involved in such things, it's the results and the confidence that really counts. Those who make it to serious levels of power in this kind of world can tell right off whether they're dealing with the real thing or the small fry. So it's very interesting watching the power plays going on here, particularly as we get to know some of those above the table such as the "great father" who has to deal with those up on the Hill and the religious side of things to ensure that the raffia flow will not stop, among other things. There are levels within levels within levels here.

The quasi-religious material also takes an interesting turn with Ran in this set of episodes as she continues her wanderings away from Ichise, having feared for his future and not wanting to see it again less it cause her problems. She spends a lot of time with Sakinami who ends up being pulled into the circle with Yoshii during his plans to create a spectacle down in this world. Ran finds herself being sought after by some of the scum of the planet during he travels, especially since she's a fairly clean looking young girl, but we get to see just what kind of protective forces are watching out for her and just what kind of concerns they have about her simply wandering the streets. The added layers to her presence do a lot to change the perceptions of earlier episodes with her, particularly in regards to Ichise.

In Summary:
With the show reaching its halfway point here, things are nowhere near the same as they were at the series start and there's been a fair amount of death and destruction in just the first three volumes. At the same time, the show is definitely evolving as it's becoming clearer just what some of the objectives are and what lengths these people will go to achieve them. Right now there are precious few shows even remotely like this visually or similar in its story. While there's a youngling in the form of Ran, she's often just as mature as anyone else in this dark dreary world and it's something that really helps to make it enjoyable. As the pendulum swings over the course of the years as to my own tastes and I start to tire of some of the heavy sugary sweet shows that don't show any character development, things like Texhnolyze is like an oasis in the desert. At it's core, it's shaping up into a simple story but it's setting and characters are all quiet engaging with some mysteries tossed in for good measure. Texhnolyze isn't for everyone but I continue to find myself very hooked on it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Texhnolyze