Texhnolyze Volume 1 : Inhumane and Beautiful

Image of DVD cover (63k jpg)

Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Region: Four.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
Disc 1:

Several times when watching anime you can see the creators drawing on Western cinematic motifs and genres for part of their storytelling style. We have seen strongly german influenced anime (many Matsumoto stories and more recently Last Exile), American cop shows (Gunsmith Cats) and even some film noir (Blood the Last Vampire). One thing I never expected to see though was a Japanese adoption of David Lynch's fairly unique filmmaking style.

Texhnolyze, especially in it's first episode, surprised me by reminding me strongly of David Lynch's first film 'Eraserhead'. Both share this dysptopian and run down world view where characters act in seemingly bizarre fashion but there is reasoning and sense behind it all. Also shared is a soundscape dominated by ambient sounds with often dialog reduced to an indistinct murmur. The first episode features no distinct dialog for thirteen minutes, instead relying on visuals and soundscape alone to tell the story.

It also has to be said that this story is obviously going to be unrelentingly brutal. Within the first episode several people have been shot, one main protagonist has had an arm severed (which as it turns out is still mild compared to what treatment he receives in episode two!) and there is a casual acceptance of violence as a way of life throughout the city. Indeed it has been so endemic that research into artificial limbs to replace those lost has resulted in the process called 'Texhnolyze' in which replacement limbs become integrated with a person and can offer superior ability in the limb to the one that was lost.

Cementing the mature tone of the series is an unabashedly frank look at the sexual mores of the citizens of Lukus. The first episode features heavily a series of scenes which are not sex per se, but definitely the expression of a sexual fetish as one person gets enjoyment while the other tries quite hard to passively accept matters.

Brought to us by Yoshitoshi ABe, Chiaki Konaka and Yasuyuki Ueda - all three last collaborated on Serial Experiments Lain - you have another series that is damn hard to pigeonhole where it is going. It looks to be a dark but interesting ride but possibly not to many's tastes.

Video wise we have a 16:9 transfer but not one that you are doing to be using a demonstration one anytime soon. With a deliberately washed out colour palette, intentional grain inserted into various sequences and use of blurring at times it isn't an overly pretty image. But then it is portraying a world that is largely well past being pretty and firmly is into the rotten and decayed. Suffice to say the transfer looks to be excellent at portraying what it is supposed to be portraying. Audio is a 2.0 mix for both Japanese and English but it is a finely crafted mix. The layered and textured sound alone caught my attention with this series, anyone who likes the more isolationist ambient style of music will find a lot here to enjoy.

Extras wise we are a little light. We do get a twelve minute interview with ABe and Ueda talking about their choices behind the series, which is interesting. The only other extra of note is a forty second 'vocal outtakes' snippet that offers a differing take on a couple of scenes that are moderately funny once you know the scene. (Best was the 'I cut myself shaving!' comment.) As is usual with Madman releases we also get a round of promotional trailers for other series.

While this one isn't as dense or outright surreal as Boogiepop Phantom or Serial Experiments Lain it still isn't for those who want light entertainment. Well worth trying though and possibly a contender for a high ranking in my 'most liked anime' list.

Philip R. Banks
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