Texhnolyze: Volume Two: Spectacle
The second volume of Texhnolyze, bringing episodes five through eight of the dark, ambitious project by much of the same team that produced Serial Experiments Lain, clarifies more pieces of the puzzle that composes Lukuss and those trying to manipulate it and its people. Whereas the first volume focused on drowning the viewer in the heavy atmosphere of a city that practically breathes despair, and drawing vague lines as to the players who are trying to shape it–the second takes steps to show how these people begin to become drawn together, and hints at who may really be pulling the strings behind the violence and gang wars that threaten to erupt into full-out war.
Taking directly off from the first volume, Texhnolyze continue to submerge its viewer into the dark, nightmarish world of Lukuss and the eyes of its residents. After using his mother’s cells to create a new, experimental form of Texhnolyzation, the Doc employs the help of Onishi, a young leader of the Organo, to track down the escaped Ichise, who is now a valuable specimen to she and her research, as well as her goal of continuing to push humanity’s evolution as far as it can go.
On Ichise’s front, whereas the first volume concentrated on immersing the viewer in the visceral, painful experience of losing his limbs; the second volume spends a lot of time portraying in torturous detail how struggles to adjust to his Tehxnolyzation, including a fringe gang attempting to add him to their ranks. In the background, following his every move is the young girl Ran–whose role still remains ambiguous, but once senses a tenuous, undefined, silent connection forming between she and Ichise–she and the flowers she sends drifting to meet him in the sewers are perhaps the one real point of clarity in Ichise’s world, which passes by in an agonizing, confused sort of blur.
However, the most intriguing development, slowly pulling the pieces into place, comes from the activities of Yoshii, who came across as fairly friendly early on–several degrees more compassionate than almost everyone else in the show–but in this volume his true sociopathic nature becomes slowly, frighteningly clear. Manipulating the events and people around him to turn against each other with a detached sort of amusement, he begins to take steps to truly create a bloody war between the different factions of Lukuss, leaving even the leaders who begin to realize that they’re being toyed with helpless in the wake of the violence and rage he leaves behind.
In the final episode in the volume, this leads to a violent confrontation that leads to Ichise landing in with Onishi. Ran remains as enigmatic as ever, watching from the sidelines, and Yoshii observes from above, a vacant, benign smile on his face, remarking about how he wants to see more of these “primitive human energies” unleashed.
The visual detail and direction remains breathtaking. Seeing the world through Ichise’s eyes is disturbing with the unnatural data signals registering across his vision; it’s easy to connect to his horror and frustration at the new body parts he’s been given. Ran remains a delicate, ethereal enigma that feels disconnected to the rest of the dystopic city, drawing Ichise to her. There’s even a horrific sort of beauty in watching Yoshii’s machinations unfold, coldly gunning down a man on the streets after strangling his wife to death in a strange, twisted act of mercy.
The English language track remains consistently high-quality as with the first volume. Both languages are perfectly enjoyable to listen to.
Sound and visual quality is still very high. The extras are considerably more sparse this time around; the main feature is the textless opening–beautiful, to be sure, but not quite as interesting as the insightful interview included within the first volume.
The pieces of the puzzle begin to draw together in this second volume, as the different fragments of perspective established in the first four episodes begin to connect with each other to form a more coherent narrative picture. It’s a mild shift from the pure artistry of the beginning, but it’s probably a necessary one, and the show is still visually breathtaking and absolutely unique. The depth of emotion evoked by the direction is astonishing, capturing growing horror and relentless desperation with superb skill.
Overall Score: 8.5