Texhnolyze Vol. #4 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, October 15, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, October 19, 2004



What They Say
The Organo, rulers of Lukuss, start collapsing from within. The seeds of treachery implanted by the mysterious visitor blossom as suspicions disintegrate the sworn brotherhood and men, who once fought together to realize the same ambitions, pull their triggers on each other as if they were manipulated by the invisible puppet master! Then, mysterious cybernetic warriors in white march the streets of Lukuss, killing everybody and everything in their way. Who is behind this massacre? Is this the end of Lukuss?

The Review!
As the city tries to recover from the first round of violence against it, forces start to coalesce and the city is set towards change once more.

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 good looking shot of Toyoma leaning over hist motorcycle against the city backdrop once again. 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 drop the production gallery this time and go for an extended session of alternate scripted outtakes that run over seven minutes. 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)
The third volume of this series contained a lot of episodes that put the entire city into a transitional mode, a time where alliances were dropping and reforming, people were being killed left and right and chaos was abound throughout. The players in the game, from those who have a good idea of what's going on to the completely clueless, found themselves wandering from point to point as there was no clear cut way to do what needed to be done to restore order. But eventually, things began to settle.

This set of episodes takes that and starts to show the next cascade level of events that are derived from the big outward actions. The why of this lower world still continues to elude me in some fundamental way, but we begin to see more and more aspects of it through the discussions people have here that while it isn't really fleshing it out, it is making it much more interesting with each step. The biggest changes come from the one that's been wandering the most throughout this series with Ichise. Now that he's formally taken under the wing of Onishi, he's cleaned up and made presentable for the most part and becomes a close guard for Onishi. Ichise finds himself being pulled in different ways throughout here as he at first tries to fit the model of a made man for Onishi but while keeping some of his "stray dog" nature that Tomoya sees in him.

The most problematic and yet the most revelatory comes when the doc and he end up together and her set of plans start to come to fruition. All of her work on him has resulted in him now being the most evolved person in the entirety of the area with how she's worked him over with the Texhnolyze and she's apparently using him and the data she's built together with him and others to allow her access to someplace that we're given only glimpses of. Supposedly called "Class", this area that's always been there is only now introduced as some sort of utopia within the underworld here where those who are better or higher up in the world chain go to. We get some glimpses at it and it's certainly creative enough in regards to the people there and there is a lot of history to it tied to the current cast of characters that shows it's all slowly being tied together.

Texhnolyze continues to be a difficult series to talk about since there are so many little nuances that are affecting things as it plays out. The scope of this underworld experiment only continues to be built upon and through visits to different areas we get to see how the various factions are working themselves into what Ran sees happening in the near future with a lot of violence. The city itself is one that we find is destined to be destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again but that it has also experienced this many times before. The way that this is told and how the religious/Seer side of the show comes up almost makes it feel like this is much larger than anything we've been given hint of before. While not the same really, much of the feeling I get from Texhnolyze is similar to the feature film Dark City. There's such an atmosphere and a carefully crafted tale of what's being told that it's not an easy show to second guess. And that's one of the biggest draws for it with me right now in addition to the style, substance and mood of the series. It's unlike just about any other show out there right now while still keeping to some of the usual yakuza/mafia plots but it's all wrapped up in something much bigger that I can't even make a real guess as to what it's all about. And having a show where each new episode is a surprise is much better than the sea of them where you can figure out the entire series just by the cover art of the first volume.

In Summary:
As the series progresses into the final arc and hopefully much will become revealed, this series continues to fascinate me and play up to the needs of a part of me that doesn't get much from anime. There's so many layers to this show that are playing at the same time and so many things that are connected yet not easily discerned that it just appeals to me in a way that the normal fluff material can't. This series continues to be violent, dark and nasty and avoids most of the anime conventions of a popular series. Filled with dark angry men who need to be strong to survive and a small cadre of equally strong women, Texhnolyze is a mystery within a mystery that has me anticipating each new moment and wondering what they're going to surprise me with next.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Alternate Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 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