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.