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You Need Cybernetic Implants to Endure TEXHNOLYZE - - DVD Review

A cyberpunk snoozefest where any sort of excitement has been surgically removed.

You’ve got to sympathize with the animators tasked to make this especially mirthless vision of the future happen. It must’ve been a real drag to work on, for however many months-unto-years.

On the Vice Pit a while back, we discussed the sorts of anime (and the “tropes” thereof) which we have a particular dislike for. I focused mostly on shows about Amnesiac Child Assassins, and then Sword & Sorcery shows whose fantasies are inflexibly governed by the rules of RPG playbooks. Titles with excessively-complicated grammar and spellings - - quite reliable indicators that a show’s going to suck - - were a trope I forgot to bring up; as were shows in the sub-sub-genre that TEXHNOLYZE belongs to.

This last niche possesses undesirable qualities from all the other three. One could picture it being spawned after some gross, passionless menage a trois like the one with the trio of alien sexes in that old Asimov novel, THE GODS THEMSELVES.

All the characters speak with so little emotion that they may as well be Amnesiac Child Assassins. The “hardness” of the sci-fi presumes that the highly-researched details of made-up cybernetic surgery are fascinating enough to carry a story (even while those details are just as practical as footnotes in a D&D manual). And I don’t know how the hell to pronounce “TEXHNOLYZE” - - let alone comprehend why it couldn’t suffice to just title this “Technolize” or some such - - so it falls pretty neatly under the rules about unnecessarily complicated titles.

Watching this, one might presume that a whole sect of anime directors had their minds blown by NUEROMANCER while still managing to totally miss the charmingly cosmopolitan conversational appeal of the book. Lump it with the GHOST IN THE SHELL flick in the just-described sub-sub-genre of “Colorless Cyberpunk” - - or perhaps “Animated Grad Student Thesis Paper.” These are sci-fi thrillers that offer a dubious amount of thrills, but a high volume of well-exhausted Big Questions about the nature of man and machine.

You know… “Am I still a human being if I’ve got a robot arm? Just what is the nature of consciousness, anyway?” Philosophical inquires, presented as if they’re being asked for the first time, and as if their asking was profound, in of itself. Call it an intellectual smoke & mirrors act - - or storytelling vaporware, to use a more tech-appropriate term - - because these Biq Questions are just filibuster to hopefully distract the viewer from how incoherent the narrative is.

What can be gathered from the synopsis of these first half-dozen episodes is that TEXHNOLYZE is about some fighter who crosses some mobsters after sleeping with some guy’s wife. A couple of his limbs are taken away as punishment and, after wandering the streets as a double-amputee derelict for a while, a cybernetic “Doc” grabs him and “Texhnolyzes” him - - grafting some replacement cybernetic limbs onto the bastard. He then struggles to reject or accept these gifts, and wrestle with all the accompanying conundrums, and question reality... and so on and so forth.

Wrapped up somewhere in all of that is a sub-plot about a girl and an unassuming mystery man who looks like Stan’s Dad from SOUTH PARK trying hard to take on a more dramatic role. People are ambushed and gunned down without much explanation and, after enough of that, it gets even harder to care. Even typing up this brief summary runs the risk of some words streeeeeeeeeeeeetching...

...as I potentially fall asleep on the keyboard. It really does get that languid.

This review hasn’t got some Philistine aim of poo-pooing an anime for aiming for some loftier, though-provoking heights. Rather, the aim is to point that TEXHNOLYZE hopped over a lot of basic requirements of Story in the attempt to get at those heights.

The show’s certainly admirable for its palpable, doomy sense of mood and for the nigh photo-real scenery and character animation. When modern society as we know it finally declines into the Sprawl, you can bet it will look just as gray and desolate as this. However, visuals and atmosphere can only go so far when the plot’s coming at such a laborious clip.

Perhaps that sounds like a challenge to those wishing to truly test their patience in marathoning an anime. I'd argue that anybody looking for a show offering something to wrap their heads around would honestly find more cogent and meaningful discussion points in a series like GURREN LAGANN. A show like that goes after the same Big Questions as TEXHNOLYZE, but without the sort of self-importance that made this stroll into dystopia so boring.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

sickVisionz moderator on Aug. 21, 2012 at 6 p.m.

I believe this and Noein are what inspired me to finally create a Technobabble concept. I gave this one an honest shot about a year or so ago but couldn't make it past about 5 episodes. None of it made much sense to me other than that there were cyborgs and probably something about poor people being taken advantage of. I chalked it up as a if I am you and you are me techno/philoso-babble series and called it quits.

There was some decent gore in it and I think there was a freak slut doctor or something like that. And someone was an assassin and that was a twist. Those are the only elements I can remember. Oh, and I think a little girl in a mask was supposed to be like the god of a new world or some nonsense.

Dream moderator is online on Aug. 21, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.
I recall seeing this in college. It was quite hard for me to get into as well thanks to its cast hardly emoting during many of its scenes. Unlike Lain and Haibane Renmei, I could never really get a grasp on what this series was trying to explore with its dark world and characters, which was really disappointing considering Texhnolyze was made by the same minds that came up with the two former excellent titles that I had enough fun in trying to pick apart and which I personally own. 
shelson Aug. 22, 2012 at 3:25 a.m.

This is my favorite anime apart from Evangelion, i picked it up on dvd as soon as it came out, and it has one of the best ending in anime history. As of the first episode if i recall correctly was almost entirely void of speech, as the creator intended, to alienate casual viewers from the series.

There's also a great deal of influence from Edward Hopper's paintings in the series, which happens to be one of my favorite painters.

Really comparing it with Gurren Lagann, the most overhyped, overrated and full of itself piece of crap Gainax ever made. Most of the time that so called "self-importance" an anime possesses is in the eye of the beholder only to justify his inability to enjoy something.

zaldaron Aug. 22, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.

@shels: Said better than I can ever say. As people NEVER ask the questions that this show poses or not nearly enough at all..yes the asking of them and exploring of them IS profound. Yes the show is not "action packed' and is cerebral and takes place mostly in the philosophical world. BUT that is a GOOD thing. A show that is character and theme focused rather than plot focused is almost ALWAYS better. Is it as good as Haibane Renmei? Well no, but then practically nothing is. Does it start slow without action? Yes...but having an episode all most completely without dialog is a very interesting stylistic choice and shows the nihilistic feel of the world very well (and it is some very well done pictorial story telling). Did you ever stop to think that the emotionless feel was supposed to be the point? The world has proven that nothing matters and people know it so they become emotionless and almost machines...even if they are not actually mechanical. The depths this show goes to is amazing...some have said it is a retelling of Buddhism in its original extremely nihilistic form. Life sucks..then you die and if you are lucky you are not reborn and experience nothingness.

Start aneurism emotional rant here: The idea that something has to have ACTION or even any interesting story at all to be good is ridiculous. Some of the most fun I have ever had is talking about big ideas, these type of questions, well into the night (without any chemical aids) with highly intelligent and educated people. Being about BIG IDEAS is what makes something art. Neuromancer was good BECAUSE of its big ideas not in spite of them. Hard science fiction that looks at how things might work is also INCREDIBLY interesting if you have ANY scientific bent at all...which honestly everyone should. Can it be done poorly? Of course..but there is a reason 2001 is hailed as one of the best science fiction movies ever (and it isn't because people doped up and watched the ending). This is also the reason books by Arthur C. Clark, and Asimov, are better than "star wars" or "star trek" which isn't really even science fiction, but Fantasy. Shows like THIS ONE are what make anime worthwhile and BETTER than western media, they actually MAKE YOU THINK. Rather than just simply ask you to sit back and be "entertained". There is a great quote from Babylon five about how a culture that cares only about trinkets and toys...is a dead culture. For years Western and now Japanese media have put out very few pictures like this...maybe why we are now declining as a culture...we NO LONGER THINK? Honestly Tom when you started the Watch and Learn I had high hopes we were going to talk about some truly intellectual anime and have serious discussions about the themes and ideas they brought up...but we have devolved into discussions about crazy stupid shonen shows and music shows with no point and no plot (and if you think Chapmloo has more plot than this show you are even crazier than I thought). I had all but stopped using what you like as I guide to what I might like, but now that is completely done. Not even sure if I will continue reading these segments... YOU. ARE. DEAD. TO. ME. There is no philosobable..like the old saying..stupid people talk about other people...normal people talk about things...intelligent people talk about ideas. Applies to art as well. I was going to miss being able to come here and read these since I am starting law school...not so much anymore.

Aneurysm over....

Call out to the small segment that enjoys philosophical discussion and intellectual shows...interest in a blog that watches the shows and discusses them? I am entering law school so I wouldn't be able to host it..but would love for someone else to and I can participate.....I would love to watch Ergo Proxy, and rewatch Eva, Lain, Tex, Now and Then Here and There, and discuss them on the deep social and cultural historical masters pHD level they deserve.

Darokion Aug. 22, 2012 at 7:24 p.m.

I'll side on those who are with Texhnolyze. I consider it one of the best anime I've watched and it evokes a sense of dread and hopelessness that few things can, and that few will find "entertaining". There's plenty of things to entertain me. There's few that fascinate me. I might be looking at it with rose colored glasses, but I'll probably rewatch and see if it holds up as strongly as I remember it doing.

sickVisionz moderator on Aug. 23, 2012 at 6:27 a.m.

@zaldar said:

The idea that something has to have ACTION or even any interesting story at all to be good is ridiculous.

A show doesn't need action but a show without an interesting story or plot isn't interesting by default. I think a series like Kaiba tackles heady content in an intelligent way with very little action and shows that you don't have to be dull, flat, over the top obtuse, and boring to do so.

I had all but stopped using what you like as I guide to what I might like, but now that is completely done. Not even sure if I will continue reading these segments... YOU. ARE. DEAD. TO. ME.

LOL @ how upset Tom not liking this series has made you. Calm down. Take a deep breath. You'll have a heart attack getting so worked up over what a random dude on the internet with no impact on your life or well being thinks about things.

shelson Aug. 23, 2012 at 5:11 p.m.

@sickVisionz said:

A show doesn't need action but a show without an interesting story or plot isn't interesting by default.

I think what it meant to say by "interesting" was, in a way,a more broad and approchable method to attract viewers, as the word even says - to interest to someone. There are different ways to interest different people, as always is up to the viewer.

I completely agree with zaldar on that, a story might only rely on style over substance without appearing interesting and even so, be good, Bladerunner might be an example of that. A film can be solely based upon a concept or an art movement without appearing "interesting" and even so achieving his objectives.

Just the other day i saw Orson Wells's The Trial and if anyone is acquainted with it and with the original Kafka's novel, knows that the plot isn't seemingly that interesting, what makes it interesting it's the way it develops and the way it makes us wonder.

zaldaron Aug. 26, 2012 at 6:47 a.m.

@sickVisionz: Heh thanks for worrying but most of that was for fun and was specifically done to be over the top...though the points I made I agree with. But then I read modern "classic" literature where the digressions from the main plot are the point (think the wrong science in Mobey Dick).

Glad to see some other people also like the show and are intellectual. Certainly a story can be interesting and not have a "plot" per say. Blade runner is an excellent example....I will have to see The Trial.

Dig Deeper into Texhnolyze

A brooding, slow-paced, but intelligent and well-done series about a dystopian, underground city where lost limbs are replaced by artificial ones called Texhnolyze.

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