Texhnolyze (pronounced “technolize”) shares a closeness with Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell by presenting a human race that has become technologically advanced to the point where cybernetic limbs have become a reality. However, where Ghost in the Shell argued the moral and ethical implications of advancing humans through technology, Texhnolyze merely uses augmented limbs as a tool used by factions living in a massive underground city.
Ichise has angered the wrong people. A prize fighter, Ichise finds himself on the wrong end of a sword after upsetting his promoters who, as a form of punishment and humiliation, cut off one of his arms and legs. Left for dead, Ichise is “rescued” by a genius doctor who fits him with experimental cybernetic limbs in a process called Texhnolyzation—one that is usually reserved for the elite members of the Organo, a yakuza-like organization that rules the city of Lux. The Organo are beset by two factions: the Salvation Union, a group that advocates human purity, and the Racan, a gang of young Texhnolyzed toughs with access to weapons and nothing to do. At the center of this volatile mix is a young girl named Ran who has the ability to see into a person’s future.
Texhnolyze is bursting at the seams with plot. The twenty-six episodes are split into two halves, the first dealing with the interplay between Lux’s factions as tensions mount due to instigation by an unlikely third (fourth?) party. The second half of the series focuses more on Ichise as he falls under the employ of the Organo and encounters a new, terrifying race of Texhnolyzed people called Shapes.
I was surprised to find that Ichise’s journey from underground prize fighter to tortured soul really doesn’t start developing until half way through the series. He really doesn’t play much of a part during the outsider’s reign of terror and spends most of the show sulking and brooding. I was hoping to see more drama surrounding his forced Texhnolyzation and learning to deal with his new existence. I didn’t really care for the show’s supernatural thread. For the most part, Texhnolyze is grounded within the cyberpunk genre. The presence of Ran, the child psychic, and the hints of Lux having a consciousness seem like a tired and worn plot device, especially since Ran spends most of her scenes sitting or standing in the shadow of the primary character.
Texhnolyze is very much a character drama, taking its time to show and develop the relationships between the heroes and villains. It does this nearly to a fault, as the story drags a bit in a few spots. There’s also a surprising lack of dialog (Ichise hardly speaks at all), with everyone speaking deliberately and only when necessary. As a result, there are a great deal of long, quiet panning shots and wide camera angles. This does, however, make the moments of action really stand out. The lack of dialog and the heavy camera direction is interesting, but sometimes I wish the show would really pick up the pace.
Texhnolyze is a sensible mixture of cyberpunk and crime drama that should satisfy fans of both genres.
directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki
500 minutes, Number of Discs: 4
Company Age Rating: 17+