Texhnolyze: Volume Four: Suspicions
With the shadow of Yoshii gone and Ichise fully inducted as a member of the Organo, he becomes witness to the brutal internal politics of the organization. Meanwhile Onishi becomes aware of an even larger threat looming with the intentions of changing Lukuss forever. Texhnolyze continues in this volume, which contains episodes thirteen through sixteen, as the final puzzle pieces of the setting click into piece to begin pushing forward towards the true core of its story.
To summarize, we’ve wrapped up immersing you in the suffocating atmosphere of the city and its portrayal of suffering and despair. Now the time has come for a ROBOT TAKEOVER.
That’s oversimplifying things a bit, obviously, but with these episodes Texhnolyze finally begins to reveal its hand for where the show is ultimately driving its course. As a result, it also sheds a good deal of its earlier stylistic trappings to engage in a more linear narrative. If we can say Volume Three focused on this actual transition, it’s Volume Four that’s finally free to move ahead with the more plot-focused second phase of the show. While several unanswered questions, of course, remain, we’ve reached the point where the audience hook is actually waiting to watch how events play out, rather than waiting for the setting and the situation to explain itself.
The first few episodes are an echo of the early arc we saw involving Yoshii, with mysterious assassinations and betrayals taking place amongst the Organo, with the obvious intention of destroying the status quo. This serves as a fairly well-played device to further indoctrinate Ichise into the workings of the organization and the methods of those bidding for power within it, in spite of Ran’s troubling warning to him that he would cause the destruction of everything.
Ran’s background, her role, and what she is being forced to deal with as the Seer of Gabe Village is finally made substantially clear. As practically the embodiment of the surreal dreaminess that defined Texhnolyze up until this point, her character becoming somewhat more concrete as her origins and intentions are made clear is perhaps the best example of the evolution of the narrative style. Despite being stone-faced and speaking little, her character is fairly sympathetic, as the audience once again feels drawn into her sense of dread for the events to come.
Ichise also comes somewhat more into his own as a character, as even other characters remark on his becoming more ‘human’. We become more starkly aware of his independent emotions and anxieties, his tenuous ties to a few of the people surrounding him, rather than him mostly functioning as window to the horrors of Lukuss and its gateway to human suffering.
One particularly nice thing about this, and these episodes, is seeing a meaningful connection beginning to develop between Onishi and Ichise. We’ve seen glimpses and hints of affection traded between the characters before, such as with Onishi and his wife, but it’s an entirely different experience seeing respect and possibly genuine affection developing right before our eyes. Even something as small as that does a lot to emotionally ground Texhnolyze after twelve episodes of focus on atmospheric experimentation.
The question of the Class and their intentions for Lukuss are intriguing, as is the rogue member who is apparently the mastermind behind it all. His manipulations successfully displace Doc and quickly dissolve the different factions running the city at this point, and Onishi is one of the few willing to stand against him, assisted by his men and Ichise. The DVD leaves off on a rather tense moment, but the developments are thoroughly engaging and pacing and direction are executed well for such a thorough upheaval of what the show had struggling to laboriously establish up until this point. The action sequences are also well done, and as always, there’s a delicate balance of surreal dream and stark brutality that combine to evoke the singular mood of the show.
English track keeps up its high standard. The new characters are both well casted and played. I do appreciate that the track is willing to deviate some from the sound of the Japanese actors in order to keep things sounding natural instead of attempting to force an imitation.
Not much to comment on at this point, really; the high visual and audio quality is maintained; par for the impressively maintained course. The only real extra of not is another reel of gag clips by the dub actors, some of which are actually decently funny, if obviously scripted.
Texhnolyze’s tone and narrative technique is shifting, and that becomes clearer than ever in this volume. As intriguing and artistically captivating as the first half was, it was also an exhausting, wearying experience to sit through and wouldn’t have been able to carry the entirety of the series. With the rebound emphasis on plot and slowly deepening character connections, Texhnolyze gains its second wind, capturing enough interest to see what will undoubtedly be an utterly destructive, chaotic–but beautifully executed–end.
Overall Score: 9.0