Texhnolyze Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, December 05, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, December 21, 2004
What They Say
The Shapes, the cybernetic warriors in white, wipe out what's left of Lukuss with overwhelming numbers and the superior firepower of their futuristic weapons. Ran foresees a future of Lukuss that she cannot bear and boards a train to escape. Onishi entrusts the future of Lukuss to Ichise and tells him to travel up to the unknown world of the Class. Does the surface world offer salvation for the survivors of Lukuss? Is there any hope?
As Texhnolyze races towards its conclusion, exposition gets a bit heavier and the revelations come hard and fast.
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.
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.
Utilizing the Japanese artwork, Kitama and one of the Shapes take provide one of the few almost-action oriented covers of the series. 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 three episodes.
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.
The extras drop the production gallery again 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)
Texhnolyze has been one of those series that we have a serious love and hate relationship with. The series has provided such a starkly different view of things than most anime series out there with the formulaic cute cookie cutter mentality and its heavy male themes that it's appealing from that alone. But it also brings in a great deal of style and intriguing settings and ideas initially. While I don't think it's been squandered along the way, I think some of the revelations made here needed to be made much earlier and some of the storyline shifted around. While it's not disappointing, it falls into the trap of having to provide exposition episodes at a time when we should be more focused on the tension and energy of the coming endgame.
There's a fair amount of plot moving forward in these three episodes but the way it comes across at times is just a bit heavy-handed and sometimes just too strange for it to really make sense of or to not laugh at when you should be focused on the serious nature of it. Much of the city of Lukuss comes under attack by Kanon's troops, the horribly disturbing looking Shapes of his that retain only the head of the body and replace everything else. These bodies are just disgusting looking even though they're so sleek for a lot of it. The limbs are the usual thin white pieces we've become accustomed to but their torsos are almost bug-like in nature. With only the head and some of the spine left from their source, the people in them aren't well balanced either, even if they choose to go this route.
While both Kitama and Onishi end up trying to run a major offensive against the location where Kanon is organizing everything in the city, we get an interesting side story to the more personal battles that are going on around them, including one with Hal where he goes back to their old bar to try and take his former gang boss down. This is the kind of brutality that the series is able to carry off so well where even if you've seen it and worse, you still cringe from how they do it here. Mixing this against the larger battles going on with the two sides uniting against Kanon works out well since it provides the quieter lulls between the bodies being torn apart in the street. Texhnolyze has always been violent but these episodes really start upping the body counts.
A lot of the people in power in the city though have decided to give up on things and essentially write-off the entire underground world to Kanon. With his plans to make this his first step and to ascend to the upper world, a gamble is pushed forward that allows for a small group to take the train up there and to try and convince someone of the impending dangers and to hopefully do something. This journey is one of the more fascinating parts of the series, particularly as these sullen looking characters finally emerge from their world into the "real" world and they see full colors for the first time, with blue skies, yellow fields and more. The thrust of color all around them makes them stand out even more starkly than before and their reactions to it are interesting to watch. I particularly liked the small story that went alongside their guide, someone we've seen for awhile, who has his own set of revelations.
The journey to the upper world was definitely needed in this series to try and show what's going on up there, but as expected, it asks more questions than it answers and it ends up falling into the start of a lot of exposition in different ways to try and explain what the entire below ground situation was all about when it started. It reaches back into our own history fairly well and creatively uses various atrocities from there to give a stronger connection here and it works, but it still leaves you with lots of questions to be answered. But with only three more episodes to go, I have doubts much will truly be clarified.
Even at its most frustrating, Texhnolyze is a series that goes by far too fast and is still very enjoyable on a number of levels. The maleness of the show continues to be strong here, particularly as even the villain will refrain from hurting women and children, which leaves us with man against man in a classic battle for survival. It's mixed with a very interesting journey that's intent to answer many questions but only opens up an even bigger can of worms. Regardless of the flaws, this is still a very enjoyable series for me and each episode is just completely engrossing and I want to know as much as possible about it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Alternate Outtakes
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.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2