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Texhnolyze Box Set

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It has long been thought that the days of the coliseum were over, where people paid to see humans battle each other to the death; however, this is commonplace in the underground city of Lukuss. Yet, it’s not just the fact that there are coliseum that makes Lukuss a ruthless place, but the punishments that are handed out for stepping out of line by the current gang in power. These punishments are seen almost immediately and there’s clearly a level of masochism in the city that isn’t matched anywhere else in the world. Or so it could be thought initially.

In Lukuss, where rival gangs are constantly killing each other, members of there own gang and civilians in the street. The ultimate form of power is to become Texhnolyzed, which means that status and power is bestowed upon the Texhnolyzed. It also means that they are not scared of handing out brutal punishments to those who deserve it. Ichise is one of these people; however, unlike many he did not have to pay for this, nor does he hold power or status. After having an affair with a fight promoter’s wife, he finds that his punishment is to have one full arm and one full leg removed and them be left to fend for himself in blind agony and with blood pouring out. He was found wandering the dilapidated city by a rich doctor who forces him to become Texhnolyzed against his will, by stealing the last few cells of Ichise’s dead mother.

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Lukuss is a city that’s deep under the earth, many of the cities inhabitants have never seen the sun, have never known fresh air and the people on the world outside have rarely been to Lukuss – except one person who’s walked down the thousands of steps to see Lukuss with his own eyes. Kazuho Yoshii decided to take the four or five day walk down the stairs to see what’s happening in the semi-Texhnolyzed world of Lukuss and runs into the mysterious prophet Ran. The pair set off to Lukuss and starts to cause difficulties for people who clearly deserve it.

With Yoshii at the helm of the destruction, there’s problems being created left right and centre with a new wave of destruction from a single gang that destroys all of the known infrastructure in the corrupt political world of Lukuss and Ran leaves the city to suffer.

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This incredibly dark and thought-provoking anime is the next piece of work from the genius that is Yoshitoshi ABe. After his work with Serial Experiments Lain, ABe become known worldwide for creating an anime that feels slow moving, but is so action packed and intricate that it requires several watchings for understanding to flourish. His next step with Haibane Renmei was equally as touching, although marginally less dark. In Texhnolyze ABe has used the darkness of Lain and the touching elements of Renmei to create his obfuscous work yet.

For someone who has never seen this show before, the first few episodes of this thin-pack boxset is absolutely amazing. The animation is stunningly distinct and the level of detail on the painstakingly created world is apparent from the word go. With the washed out pallets and the destruction of the world around them it’s hardly surprising that the inhabitants of this city turn to crime. However, the first two episodes show that mutilation of the body isn’t something that really bothers the people of Lukuss. In many a lesser anime swearing and overdramatised screams would have been abundant; however, ABe knows how to create a subtle yet memorable anime by simply fading the scream to silence.

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Throughout Texhnolyze there is very little dialogue, this is clear attempt to encourage the viewer to listen to the soundtrack rather than the characters, due to the subtle and enticing soundtrack this is done well and Texhnolyze in surround sound, or at the cinema, is an experience as the footsteps of a character, the explosion of a factory or simply the wind through the streets of Lukuss is creating the ambiance of the entire show. The characters’ dialogue is merely there to push the story further quicker, it’s a shame that there’s not an entire episode where not a single word is said – although Epsiode 1 isn’t far from this. Fortunately the voice acting cast is brilliant, to display little emotion and indifference to a fellow living being without being or sounding like a robot is a difficult task that both the English and the Japanese voice acting cast manage to achieve.

Unfortunately the general pace and feel of the show isn’t for everyone. This is a very serious anime that is questioning what it is to be a human, society and the general makeup of the world. With the slow paced feel, the lack of dialogue and the very sick and depressive feel of the anime it’s certainly something that only refined tastes will enjoy.

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The visuals on this show are simply stunning. Not in the standard anime fashion where everything is in a high contrast, where half naked girls are running around and the backgrounds simply outshine half of the main cast, but in the sense that the entire show has this grim, almost not caring attitude. This highly stylised sense of vision is certainly one that’s done no harm to the show and has improved the look and feel of Texhnolyze.

Final Score

9

A stunning show, that challenges convention and requires effort and concentration to enjoy. It's another classic.