Texhnolyze Volume 1: Inhumane & Beautiful
Ichise only has eyes for his girlfriend
Cynthia Ward · June 17, 2004 | In twenty years of watching Japanese animation, I've noticed Western influences as diverse as Walt Disney's mouse, William Gibson's cyberspace, and H.R. Giger's alien. But it wasn't until Texhnolyze that I thought of David Lynch's Eraserhead. The trying pace, the industrial decay, the oppressive atmosphere, the enigmatic images, the bizarre behavior—I couldn't help but wonder if the animators spent a lot of time watching Lynch's cult classic, though its plot resembles Texhnolyze's not at all. Even the colors reminded me of black-and-white Eraserhead; Texhnolyze's first four episodes (labeled "rogues") share a muted palette dominated by shades of metal, rust, and rot.

Volume 1, Inhumane & Beautiful introduces three plotlines. In one, a man from the surface, Yoshii, descends to the hell of the near-future underground city of Lukuss, where he tangles with a precognitive girl, her grandfather, and cult assassins. Another plotline involves the mysterious businessman Onishi, leader of the Organo, the gang that rules Lukuss. He wears a Western-style business suit, carries a samurai sword, and has replaced his legs (removed by rivals?) with cybernetic limbs called Texhnolyze.

Texhnolyze Volume 1: Inhumane & Beautiful
Geneon Entertainment, 2004
Originally released in 2003
Directed by Horishi Hamasaki
100 minutes

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The dominant plotline concerns a bare-knuckle fighter named Ichise. His lover has a robotic arm, and during sex she sinks its pointed thumbnail into Ichise's eye. This doesn't appear to harm him, but, understandably, he throws her off. In apparent punishment, his arm and leg are cut off with a samurai sword. Texhnolyze are only for the elite, but Ichise, hallucinating at death's door, is rescued by a doctor who wants him to test her cutting-edge experimental limbs (she fulfills a role I haven't seen before, that of the sexy, kinky, female mad scientist).

The subtitle of Volume 1, Inhumane & Beautiful, perfectly describes this brilliant, disturbing, dystopic anime, which pushes the cold, violent, criminal futures envisioned by cyberpunk to a brutally logical extreme.

What's Good: Excellent art; good soundtrack; challenging pace; nightmarish atmosphere; assumes viewer is intelligent.

What's Bad: Sketchy characterization; few DVD extras.

DVD Features: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen; interactive motion menu animated by Nightjar; scene access; bilingual audio (English 2.0/Japanese 2.0); English subtitles; interview with character designer Yoshitoshi Abe and producer Yasuyuki Ueda; alternate dialog outtakes.
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