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REVIEW: Texhnolyze DVD


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dm



Joined: 24 Sep 2010
Posts: 208

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:27 pm Reply with quote
Damn, Carl, you've almost talked me into watching it again, even though I think you're right that few will want to watch it more than once. The first episode --- which has, I think, only a single line of dialogue --- is grueling, but, like an accident on the freeway, you can't take your eyes off it.

It's an interesting take on the Red Harvest/Yojimbo formula of the outsider coming to town and precipitating a gang war.

And you're right, the OP is brilliant.
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B-503_MIA



Joined: 15 Dec 2008
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Location: Green Bay, WI

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:30 pm Reply with quote
Excellent review, hard to top that, puts into words the way I felt about this series...

Among bleak anime like Casshern Sins, Ergo Proxy, N&T, H&T - Texhnolyze takes it to a higher (lower?) level. No rays of light or hope exist in Lux, if there's even a glimmer it is snuffed out by overwhelming & inescapable despair...

I recently posted a tweet about Casshern Sins -
"This show is so bleak I keep expecting Re-l Mayer & Ichise to show up..."

Well done...
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Otaking09



Joined: 24 Feb 2009
Posts: 614

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:32 pm Reply with quote
Man..... you've completely described - in wondrous somber detail - of what makes Texhnolyze one of the greatest sci-fi anime ever. Greatest in how it supports a vision that came off to me as wholly possible as the emotions felt in Ep. 1.
I hope this review convinces people that "hating a show =//= a show being bad" but rather "feeling provocation (of any kind of response) = a successful work of art".

I really wish Carl you could've reviewed Ergo Proxy if just to know your personal take on what it set out to accomplish in a polished summary in addition to its success rivaling Texh's.

Even though I hate nihilism more than any incarnation of evil I know, if anything is understandable, I'll lend an ear. I use bitter shows like Abe's stuff to remind me the difference between "artistic expression" and "visual assaults", further explaining my distancing towards Madoka/RahXephon.

Great job Carl, great job... Anime cry
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Ddoddka_10



Joined: 19 Dec 2011
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:39 am Reply with quote
so ep 1 has harldy and dialog Shocked ... must admit i will be getting this as it sounds amazing
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staab99



Joined: 05 Jul 2010
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:01 am Reply with quote
I own the original Geneon release and I loved it. It's one of the most depressing shows out there, but it's rather good. That ending is one of the most beautifully tragic endings I have ever seen in an anime. Go pick it up if you haven't.
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publicenemy333
He started itHe started it


Joined: 21 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:16 am Reply with quote
So its depressing as shit? Might have to add this to my Amazon list...
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danilo07



Joined: 25 Dec 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:28 am Reply with quote
I dare to say this is one of the best reviews on the site of one the best animes of all times.
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Fletcher1991



Joined: 14 Apr 2009
Posts: 514
Location: Long Island, NY

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:18 am Reply with quote
staab99 wrote:
That ending is one of the most beautifully tragic endings I have ever seen in an anime. Go pick it up if you haven't.


That is one way to put it. It basically made me feel like it doesn't matter how hard you try, life sucks anyways.
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Chagen46



Joined: 27 Jun 2010
Posts: 4233

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:55 am Reply with quote
Dystopian Sci-Fi? I must watch this. And the first episode having almost no dialogue sounds intriguing to a fan of minimalism such as myself.

I do wish the review went over the English dub than one sentence, but given the equal score to the sub, I'd assume that it equals the Japanese.
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PingSoni
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Joined: 05 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:11 am Reply with quote
Good review. I've watched it once, and may again some day. It's not an experience one forgets. The second ending theme, Walking Through the Empty Age by Yoko Ishida is incredibly haunting and I still listen to it from time to time.
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Yanqui U.X.O.



Joined: 02 May 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:14 am Reply with quote
A good review for an anime that I definitely consider to be one of the best ever made. I do feel I have to make a case against it being the complete black hole of despair that both the review and the majority of people seem to make it out to be, though.

I certainly agree that it's one of the most depressing things that I've watched- it pretty much left in a stupor for two days after I finished it. The thing that inherently gives the show something of a hopeful note, however was the transformation that the main character has undergone by the end - from a directionless, rage-fueled stray-dog who cares nothing about himself or others, to someone who wants desperately to change himself and who eventually has a singular goal of alleviating someone else's suffering. The review alludes to this and while that transformation may indeed bring him more pain, I'd say it's not a transformation that he regrets, which you can base off what he says on the way to opera house in the last episode spoiler["I've changed, haven't I? Not because I got this arm. Because I met you." Then he smiles.)] and the second-to-last image of the show spoiler[another smile and literally the only time he looks happy in the entire series. Depending on how optimistic you're willing to be, you could also see the projected image of Ran's flower as actually being Ran's doing through her burial/reincarnation in the Raffia ravine.]

For as much as the show points out how much the various philosophies of human existence are flawed through groups like the Organo, the Union, etc, it also highlights that one meaningful connection and an act of kindness can be enough to change someone for the better. Considering how much despair is present in the rest of the show, that message, however small and perhaps even inconsequential in the grand scheme of the story, was enough to make me feel like it offered something of a positive message.

Again, still overwhelmingly depressing, but not a nihilistic black void either.


Last edited by Yanqui U.X.O. on Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:54 am; edited 2 times in total
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Bonham



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
Posts: 303
Location: Columbus, OH

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:25 am Reply with quote
Great review, Carl. I particularly love this description:

Carl Kimlinger wrote:
His only company is a stone-faced girl, a masked seer who stays by him without a word or reason—sometimes following, sometimes leading: a silent pigtailed Virgil accompanying a blank-eyed, half-machine Dante through the grimy hell of a mafia mining town.

It gets right down to two of the most essential characters, and also succinctly describes Lux itself.

I would say, though, that you shouldn't attribute Texhnolyze to much to yoshitoshi ABe; like Serial Experiments Lain, it belongs more to Chiaki J. Konaka and even Yasuyuki Ueda (and this time Hiroshi Hamasaki). I actually find it to be the most interesting of the three, if only because it's more structurally cohesive and emotional than Lain, and because it's more ambitious than Haibane Renmei (which isn't a knock against Haibane at all -- it's my second favorite anime series -- but it's far more accessible than TEX).

In fact, I'd say Texhnolyze is arguably the most ambitious anime series ever made. You've had experiments like this with anime film (some of Tezuka's Mushi Pro stuff, for example), but to be able to sell something like this to a television station? It really could only have been made in the time period that it came out in (much like The Wire).

It's the closest any anime has gotten to something like Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. TEX is certainly more accessible than Tarkovsky's film, but it also has very familiar ambitions in how its pacing is meant to establish a sense of mood and time (not of a time period, but rather the physicality of time that is central to Tarkovsky's works), how it is very much about people attempting to navigate and make sense of a ruined environment, and how it is very much about symbols and the power people attribute to them. TEX is dialectical rather than strictly allegorical, with various ideologies and outcomes (or rather a struggle for an alternative to Ran's vision) fighting each other. Hell, dialectics is what helps form Yoshi's rather philosophy and actions, and the power of symbols is what feeds Kano's vision (spoiler[he considers the shapes to be aesthetically perfect compared to the easily disposable and weak bodies that the Class have]), as well as everyone else in the series: Doc's fascination (and fetishization) of texhnolyzed limbs, the rejection of the limbs by the Union, Ichise's initial rejection stemming from the hierarchal/class division that texhnolyzation signifies (the process and mechanical limbs being a sign of power, and also literally representing the group that cut off his own limbs), the spoiler[surface-dwellers, or Theonormals, creating a kind of nostalgic vision of 1920s America, visually referencing Edward Hopper, and preferring augmented limbs rather than mechanical replacements]... and so on.

It's also one of the most visually-accomplished anime ever made. The cinematography is not merely functional like most anime, but compares quite well with live-action films. Went on and on about it in this post.

dm wrote:
The first episode --- which has, I think, only a single line of dialogue...

It has more than that, but the first line of dialogue doesn't occur until about 11 minutes into the episode.

Otaking09 wrote:
I hope this review convinces people that "hating a show =//= a show being bad" but rather "feeling provocation (of any kind of response) = a successful work of art".

The only potential issue with the review is that I think it oversells the bleakness of the series. It's dark as hell, and more pessimistic than any other anime I've seen (except for maybe Gilgamesh, which is comically nihilistic), but I would argue that it's just as cathartic. I can understand why Carl hammered that point home, but there is some sense of release and vague optimism about humans being able to change. (It's also hilarious at times, such as the transitional episodes in 11 and 12 when Mizuno tries and fails to take over the Organo.) There was an article I read a while back about a Japanese concept of finding beauty in death/struggle, and I wish I could find it. spoiler[And despite the fact that most of the characters die, some of them do attain a certain peace by the end, such as the fact that Ichise can change into a caring, selfless human being may not be uplifting enough for some people, but it's a point worth considering.]

Quote:
Even though I hate nihilism more than any incarnation of evil I know, if anything is understandable, I'll lend an ear.

I wouldn't call Texhnolyze nihilist. On the most basic level, if it really saw no point to humanity's existence, I don't think spoiler[the final shots of the series would be of Ichise smiling as his arm projects Ran's flower. The series seems to suggest that relationships and actions without ideology are what validates us, but presents a world where nearly everyone is an ideologue. Ichise is the lone exception to this -- and perhaps Onishi by the end, when he realizes what the Obelisk is and smiles as he's gun downed -- and so despite his failure, I think Ichise attains a certain peace at the end, and the final ending theme, Walking Through the Empty Ages, seems to point to this.]

Yanqui U.X.O. wrote:
A good review for an anime that I definitely consider to be one of the best ever made. I do feel I have to make a case against it being the complete black hole of despair that both it and the majority of people seem to make it out to be, though.

I certainly agree that it's one of the most depressing things that I've watched- it pretty much left in a stupor for two days after I finished it. The thing that inherently gives the show something of a hopeful note, however was the transformation that the main character has undergone by the end - from a directionless, rage-fueled stray-dog who cares nothing about himself or others, to someone who wants desperately to change himself and who eventually has a singular goal of alleviating someone else's suffering. The review alludes to this and while that transformation may indeed bring him more pain, I'd say it's not a transformation that he regrets, which you can base off what he says on the way to opera house in the last episode spoiler["I've changed, haven't I? Not because I got this arm. Because I met you." Then he smiles.)] and the second-to-last image of the show spoiler[another smile and literally the only time he looks happy in the entire series. Depending on how optimistic you're willing to be, you could also see the projected image of Ran's flower as actually being Ran's doing through her burial/reincarnation in the Raffia ravine.]

For as much as the show points out how much the various philosophies of human existence are flawed through groups like the Organo, the Union, etc, it also highlights that one meaningful connection and an act of kindness can be enough to change someone for the better. Considering how much despair is present in the rest of the show, that message, however small and perhaps even inconsequential in the grand scheme of the story, was enough to make me feel like it offered something of a positive message.

A more eloquent argument than mine. Definitely something that should be considered in interpreting the series.
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Keichitsu0305



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 929

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:41 am Reply with quote
I'm currently watching Texhnolyze on Funi’s YouTube channel (not too far into the story) but, my gosh. What a rarity!
I think it's quite difficult to find any form of media (animation/live-action/literature) where the use of nihilism can be employed in such an effective and emotional manner.
Quote:
If, among ABe's “serious” works, Serial Experiments Lain is about the human mind and Haibane Renmei the human spirit, then Texhnolyze is about human flesh.

That’s exactly what I thought while watching all three series. It’s kinda scary how they all form one persona even though each series is separated with their own setting, time periods, genres, and characters. Almost, as if, without understanding the purpose of one series, then the viewer is left with an incomplete puzzle. (Or rather, without having a firm grasp on the spirit, the mind, and the body, a human may cease to be, well, humane)

Also, maybe I’m reading to much into it, but I’ve noticed that while Haibane & Lain have female protagonist (the soul & the mind), Texhnolyze, sort of, has a male as the lead (the flesh). Perhaps, unintentionally, these works might have implied some form of gender roles in Japanese society? Perhaps, certain genders are more “in tune” with certain human traits then others?
Sorry, I wasn’t trying to ramble or anything. Just got a little curious. Anime smallmouth

Excellent review Carl. I can’t wait to own all three Abe TV series!
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Animegomaniac



Joined: 16 Feb 2012
Posts: 1480

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:55 am Reply with quote
I tried watching this series many years ago, on Starz back when Starz was interesting but gave up after a certain number of episodes. Boring as hell, ugly as sin and it's also nihilstic to boot?

Hey, at least it can't be called "escapist"...
because it utterly fails as "entertainment".

Watching it once is two times too many.

I guess calling it "anime" is fine as calling it "crap" is too accurate.


But these are merely my impressions from an incomplete viewing ten years ago. I'm sure if I watched it today, I could complain more precisely and at greater length. But I have found out that I'm not a fan of ABe; It's like when I watch Christopher Nolan movies, themes which the general populace eat up seem hollow and, this is hard to define, incomplete to me.

A half formed idea followed up with a lot of hand waving which I don't buy. Ok, it's not that hard...
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Tuor_of_Gondolin
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:28 pm Reply with quote
Firstly, I think this was a great review. Well done, Carl.

I tend to agree with Yanqui's view of things, especially regarding Ichise and the transformation of his character. In particular, I don't think that Ichise gave in to dispair at the end. I think he simply had no where else to go: there was nothing more to be done. Knowing that you've done all that you could and there isn't anything else to be done is not the same as giving into dispair.

It was interesting seeing the different ways people reacted/responded to Ichise. It's been a couple of years since I watched this (though I own the series). But I recall that he brought out people's inner nature pretty easily, probably because he rarely talked. And despite all the horrible things going on around him, he felt things strongly -- he didn't close himself up -- and people responded to that as well.

But more than anyone else, I think he cared about Ran -- maybe he identified with the way people regarded her more as a thing than a person. I think he would've done -- and tried to do -- anything he could to save her. And even when she was gone, he kept his memory of her alive, and it became the only thing he had left at the end.

Yes, this is a pretty amazing series, but not one for the faint of heart.
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