Having travelled up from their underground city at the centre of the world, Ichise and the Doc look upon Earth's surface world for the very first time - this episode is called "Heaven Ward", and if they have just arrived at heaven’s gate, where did they crawl up from?
In this penultimate volume we chart the fall of Lukuss as the insane Kano and his army of grotesque human cyborgs march on through the artificial city and quell any signs of rebellion. It seems almost futile to fight; in a war between frail humans and steel cyborgs, there can be only one winner. You can stand your ground and be a martyr or run and hide; live for just a few more hours. To live is to accept there is hope for the future; Ichise and the Doc have travelled upward in search of help - but all they find is a vacant ghost town and a bunch of uninterested and apathetic "people". Ironically the last embers of humanity - or what's left of it - are left burning in the flames of Lukuss.
By now it should go without saying that Texhnolyze is not a happy anime series; it's an intense charting of the end of the world, symbolic, restrained and beautiful. There is no real hope for the future of these characters; even if he wanted to, Ichise can't save the human race once the people have already given up their humanity in exchange for Kano's alien take on the ultimate Texhnolyzation of man; remove as much body as possible, leaving only what appears to be the head and an insect-like bag of vital organs. It can be hard and depressing to watch, but interesting and evocative too.
All that's now left to experience is the end of the end. I have some big questions to ask of Texhnolyze, but I'm not expecting answers - at least, no straight forward answers. This has always been a series that expresses itself through creative means; an image or a sound, and tapping into this dystopian theme, letting it wash over you, is what's most important here.
Visually Texhnolyze has been an absolute treat for those who enjoy their heavy symbolism mixed in with dripping atmospherics and Volume 5 continues this trend with outstanding style. Most notable is the surface world - a sparse, quiet and lonely collection of clean and tidy streets and shops; a heart breakingly cold vision of the "perfect world" that could moonlight as a collection of modernist paintings. As ever Hajime Mizoguchi's industrial score; evocative electronic beats underscoring the sad demise of Lukuss, continues to be one of the best collections of music produced for anime in recent years.
Flickering, dying, sad and violent, Texhnolyze's negative portrayal of our future lurches ever onwards as Lukuss falls to Kano's army of ex-humans; worth buying if just for the tantalisingly melancholic vision of the "upper world", Volume 5 is the penultimate vision of an expected apocalypse. The end of the world is nigh.
||8 out of 10
||Tue, 28 Nov 2006