Texhnolyze Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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

Texhnolyze Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     July 06, 2004
Release Date: June 29, 2004


Texhnolyze Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The underground city of Lukuss is ruled by gangs and religious fanatics who have all carved their own piece out of the city. Peace is held together by a very fragile balance. But now the city appears to be on the verge of chaos as that balance begins to fall apart. Four individual lives hold the city's fate in their hands: Onishi: the leader of the most powerful Gang in Lukuss, Yoshii a mysterious man from the surface world, Ran: a young girl who can see into the future and Ichise: a loner who has had his arm and leg replaced with the incredible science known as Texhnolyze. One of these four will try to destroy Lukuss while the others will either try to save the city or themselves from a terrible fate. But who will win?

The Review!
Slowly but surely this series is making sense as small chunks of it start to expand and the tale gets told more clearly.

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, the cover is a gorgeous and detailed shot Ran with her flowers and cat mask standing by the edge of the street. 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. It's worth saying though that this isn't the kind of series you'd expect much from in terms of alternate takes, but they do some really amusing stuff here, particularly the opening piece that harkens back to some 80's music I used to listen to far too often.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Texhnolyze captured our imaginations heavily with the first volume with its stunning visuals and the strange world that they had built up with the city that's the focus of things. A lot of necessary details were left out of it and the feel we got was that of a good hard science fiction novel where the setting is so familiar yet not that you don't take anything as a given and it's a challenge to get through. Often with stories like that the payoff is very worthwhile, so we've been excited about this show because of elements like that.

Over the course of the four episodes here, more things do come to light and it starts to become apparent of what certain things are actually doing there. A number of threads start to show their interconnectedness in different ways and some of the elements that have been put into play start coming together. Manipulation seems to be the key to things early on here and that's going on in a number of different levels. And a lot of the manipulation is being put into place by Yoshii, someone who hasn't been clearly defined and even if he was I'd probably consider it all to be a smokescreen. His time spent in the city has lent him the ability to roam around and talk with all sorts of people and to make small pushes here and there. Let him follow it up with some violence in a few key areas and it pushes the larger factions into play without them realizing it.

Well, with the exception of Onishi, who as the head of Organo can feel the external hands of someone trying to force him into something. The start of a small scale gang war between fringe extremists of the Salvation Union against his own men doesn't come across as a strong enough threat to warrant further action but does force him into trying to establish contact with the Unionists again. But as Yoshii manipulates them as well, he brings both sides against each other eventually while also including a new group of a street gang that's fairy popular and strong. The inclusion of Shinji and his gang of rogues is well done and it serves to bring another piece into the picture as well, that of Ichise.

Ichise still hasn't had it easy since his escape. With his now texhnolyzed arm and leg, he's still struggling throughout the city in trying to avoid capture and to simply survive. The doc is still pushing Onishi heavily to find him as she's convinced he's something special and wants to see where it'll all go, in addition to finishing up her work on him. For Ichise, he's still as ragged as ever and challenged by the simplest of things such as stairs as his things mechanical leg is hard to master. The Texhnolyze visuals he's getting through his vision are still confusing but they're slowly making sense as he sees them working more and more. Ichise still doesn't have many lines here all told, but his role is greatly increased here beyond being chased.

Combined with getting a few more tiny nuggets out of Ran through their apparent unstated friendship, Ichise ends up hooking up with Shinji and becoming part of that group. Shinji wants him not only for his expensive texhnolyzed parts but just for what he's been able to do so far. We get a couple of brief sequences where we see the Texhnolyze in action, one of the few real action sequences in this otherwise very dialogue and mood heavy series, and they're just fascinating to watch. The raffia and its uses as texhnolyzed limbs (there's even an amusing joke regarding texhnoylzed genitalia) is still very much a mystery here but we're starting to see some more of its uses. Ichise isn't able to control it fully here and it does seem to overwhelm him at times, but the power and violence that he becomes capable of, particularly in comparison to his near-dead state most of the time, is fascinating.

In Summary:
With so many series being obvious from the first frame where their storyline is going (or not going) to go, something like Texhnolyze is a breath of fresh air, especially if it's so completely out in left field that we can't imagine where it'll go from one frame to the next. I've longed adored Konaka's writing, from Serial Experiments Lain up through the Big O, so while this series is confusing and parts of it are starting to make sense, I'm given to trust him completely for whatever goal he's aiming at here. This is a big moody piece with a lot of characters running around and going about their own goals. I can't wait to see what the big picture is and how it's all brought together. This volume pushes forward towards that goal and starts giving some new crucial hints. Very good stuff!

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

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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