Texhnolyze Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Texhnolyze

Texhnolyze Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     April 16, 2004
Release Date: April 06, 2004


Texhnolyze Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Ichise's grief only allows him to enjoy the pain of the fighting pits in the underground city of Lukuss. However, when a gang punishes Ichise by cutting his arm and leg off, his will to live overcomes the odds and attracts the attention of the ruling Orugano syndicate that controls the cybernetic Texhnolyze technology which is usually reserved for the elite.

Meanwhile, an outsider has come down to the city and, along with a young psychic girl, the dominos are beginning to fall in the seething unrest of the city as their paths slowly intertwine with Ichise's.

The Review!
Texhnolyze looks to be the latest series that has a masterful eye for film and art that's attempting to do something more than other series do, though still within the confines of a traditional story.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Not that you hear much of it really at first, the first half of the first episode has no dialogue at all. But what you do hear with the music and the incidental sounds from the life you do see, it's very well done and precisely placed. With such detail paid attention to, it's really surprising that this didn't start with a 5.1 track. Once the show progresses and dialogue becomes more common, the track takes the standard route and comes across well with some good placement and clear distinct voices.

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, the cover is a gorgeous and detailed shot of Ichise bearing his Texhnolyzed arm with the backdrop of the dark dank underground world that he lives in. The colors and details are fantastic here. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and gives a summary of the basic premise and the characters ? I'd say to read this before watching the show since it will help with some of the basics; I don't think they even mention the main character by name until the third or fourth episode. 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 a bit minimal here but there's some good stuff. The first is a ten minute interview with Abe and Ueda about how the series came about and how all the pieces fell into place for the creative team to come together. The other extra is a brief forty-second series of alternate dialogue takes for a few scenes on this volume, usually comical in nature. No textless opening or ending on this volume, which is somewhat surprising.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Texhnolyze is a series that's many things right from the start. It's fascinating; the opening sequence with music by Juno Reactor elicits a lot of reactions by itself, with the kind of imagery you'd expect from and industrial music video that rails against everything and provides some disturbing imagery to go alongside it. It's chaotic; though we get to meet a number of characters throughout the first four episodes, most of them we don't get names for until further in, making the connection a bit more difficult and awkward in general. It's detailed; there is so much put into each scene in the backgrounds that it becomes a much richer tapestry of a story. More so than regular film, because every single thing that goes there has to be put there by the animators.

And at first, it almost looks predictable. There's one scene about midway through where we see our lead as a young boy standing next to his mother who is awash in tears as they look on at their father, hung out for dead above them. From there, you can read how his life went forward and where it's going to go with its ?man against fate? angle. Or, as we've learned with past series by this creative team, we think we know where it's going to go only to be very surprised by what really happens.

The world of Texhnolyze in the series is hard to discern, so I'll go by what they tell us on the packaging. The world we see is an experimental metropolis that's buried deep inside the earth. We see that it takes quite some time to get there as there isn't a lot of communication between the two worlds. One man has descended down the stairway to the world below, and his claim of it taking four days longer than expected gives hint at just how deep and isolated the place is. The explorer, Yoshii, has felt himself drawn to come down here but with no specific cause. He has simply come to see what's here. But his arrival is marked as an event when he comes across one of the groups down there and is introduced to the elder by a young woman who wears a white mask. The woman he's told can peek into the future, but only one of many. When she sees a radical group attacking them, Yoshii helps defend the elder from the attack and earns his trust. This trust is repaid when the elder sends him onto the city with the young woman, Ran, as his guide.

In the city of Lukuss itself, we're presented with a city that looks and feels corrupt. A city that has only strong and victims. Through a series of flashbacks, we get to see Ichise as he fights in the boxing ring, only to be eventually taken down. From all appearances, he's gone against the way he should have fought in the match and that's let him become prey to the mafia-like Organo organization. There's a brief but violent chase of him through the streets eventually, and we come to an area where he's being held by those sent to get him. Before we know it, he's arm and leg is lopped off. To the groups surprise, the leader of the Organo, Onishi, has just arrived there and is a bit disappointed he wasn't told about this ?game dog? going wild. With a few bullets in him, Ichise is left for dead in the sewers.

But even here, Ichise refuses to give up and fights against what fate has supposedly set aside for him. Dragging along both his arm and leg, he stumbles through the under city and eventually into the upper city to survive. Through him we get to see just how the victims, the ordinary citizen of Lukuss, live and try to survive among those who feel the only way to prove yourself is to prove your strength and superiority over others. But even he gives in after some time, only to find himself apparently rescued by a young blond woman who is a master at the arts of Texhnolyze, that of combining mechanical limbs onto human bodies using specialized materials suited for that. In fact, she's the one who maintains Onishi's legs.

Texhnolyze as a series is both difficult and easy to explain from these few episodes. It seems easy in that you can predict that it's a mafia style show where one of their victims becomes juiced up and then seeks revenge. But that's a false trail of sorts as later episodes will reveal. The difficulty part comes in that you know that such a simple story isn't going to be the end result here based on past projects of this time. What we get here is simply the opening setup episodes that get you to feel what this world is like and not quite so much of plot. This almost feels like a prologue in retrospect.

Visually, there is just so much to take in here it's almost overwhelming. One of the first things I was appreciative of is that the cast is Asian looking, giving it a far more real-world flair than most series give these days, something that's often left to just the theatrical films to play with. These characters are distinctly Asian though, and that gives them something more to work with in this show, from the hair to the dark look in the eyes ? a look that would have been off-putting if they had bright big blue eyes. The world that they live in is, while disturbingly rundown and barren, so richly animated it quickly becomes a main character in itself. With it being so rundown and underground, there's a lot of playing around with lighting sources and the variations caused by movement, which adds even more to the rich feeling of the animation. This is one of those series that you feel like the animators were really able to stretch their creative juices and make something more than they usually are able to.

The variations in the music are well done also. The opening theme from Juno Reactor we commented on earlier. There's just something almost perfect in how that brings much of the shows premise into play in that short opening sequence. The end song goes in the complete other direction with a piece by Gackt, as it plays a more sorrowful and somber piece. What complements both of these pieces in the actual show itself is a fantastic score by Hajime Mizoguchi, one of my long time favorites since first hearing his work on Please Save My Earth. The incidental music that he uses in the show helps the world of Lukuss come alive with short bursts or longer more subtle pieces.

In Summary:
With a number of series recently starting off so poorly in their first episodes before gaining strength, Texhnolyze manages to not only pull off an interesting first episode, they manage to do the bulk of it without dialogue at all. The story is told visually so well that it becomes enticing and all the more interesting when the dialogue does start in. The numerous layers to the story become apparent early on as well, with its simple and deceiving obvious direction and then the twists that start to occur as you dig deeper. Texhnolyze managed to snare us right from the start and the hooks only got deeper as we saw more and more of this world. This looks to be a fascinating and disturbing trip.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interviews,Alternate Dialogue Takes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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