Review of Texhnolyze (2003)

Moving picture, 9 hours

A dark city known as Lukuss (rukusu in Japanese, probably alluding to the latin lux (light) and English looks, i.e. appearances) exists because of a strange species of flower that grows beneath it. The flower greatly simplifies cybernetic splicing, making it possible to equip humans with durable new limbs quite cheaply. However, Lukuss is in disrepair, practically abandoned to warfare between a number of gangs with contrasting philosophies. The former rulers are aloof, slowly dying.

So you want to make straight-faced dystopian SF with the people who made Serial Experiments Lain (1998). Good, just make sure the title is cryptic. You produce a first episode with less than a dozen lines of dialogue. You keep the brightness way down to ensure that nobody who watches the first couple of DVDs will have a single lamp in the room. Yeah, that works. Keep it all mysterious, so they think it’s scripted. When you have them on the hook, kick up the brightness, throw in an army of root-sprouting cyborgs with anti-tank weapons resisted only by infantry with small arms, and space out completely. You’ve got yourself an idiotic bloodbath, a 9.0 average on IMDb (2020 update: 7.7) and a group of loyal fans who don’t mind being bludgeoned by ridiculous symbolism.

This way, a progressive SF drama ends in a pit of silly fantasy pretention. Texhnolyze is ambitious in a sense, trying to mix a grungy cyberpunk aesthetic like Blame (1997) with the dreamlike premises of a folk tale; imagine The Journey of Shuna (1983) with a pounding eurodisco opener. In the field of such strangely lopsided realism in anime, it competes with Someday’s Dreamers (2003) and falls even further from its greater altitude of effort. Like Blame (2003), it’s permanently bleak and intentionally abrasive to eyes and ears, and the ending theme sung by Gackt does not help.

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction series