“I had no idea how we were going to put a show like this on TV.” – Yoshitoshi ABe
Herein follows some unrepentant weebery, the gist of which will be familiar to those of you better versed in K/r-selection and the like than myself. I won’t try to spoil too much, as I recommend Texhnolyze to anyone with the heart and stomach for it. I apologize for any errors; I haven’t watched this in a little while, but this is something I’ve been wanting to talk about ever since.
It is part of a series of series: Texhnolyze (2003) is about the body, Serial Experiments Lain (1998) is about the mind, and Haibane Renmei (2002) is about the soul. Yasuyuki Ueda produced all three, Yoshitoshi ABe designed the characters for all three series and wrote Haibane Renmei, and Chiaki J. Konaka wrote Serial Experiment Lain and Texhnolyze.
For those of you who want to hear some of the points I will be making here with far deeper analysis and context (including spoilers), check this out when you have seventeen minutes to spare. Texhnolyze is marketed as a series about the impact of cybernetic-prosthetic technology on mankind, but the author of that video makes a superb case about how forces within the soul are affected by technology in general: i.e. “good times creating weak men”, as the saying goes – or in this case mice, as in Calhoun’s famous “mouse utopia” experiments.
These experiments may be familiar to you, but if they aren’t – well, look at any American city. The contagion is drifting in, spore-like, from the coasts. Males either preen their way into sterilization, or scrap outside of liquor stores. (Some do both, if Slick Rick’s reference to “Gucci underwear” is to be believed.) Sterile women deny the truth of life, and veer into inverted trysts amongst themselves, or nigh-incestuous relationships (the whole “daddy” thing creeps me out to no end).
The Ruin will wipe away our culture if we think it is immortal. Take nothing for granted.
Both extreme types of men careen into childless catastrophe. Japan herself will either texhnolyze their way into a human-robot social contract, or if Abenomics continue for too much longer, risk replacement of the Japanese people by gaijin. People have become hyperfocused on whichever handful of things push the dopamine button over and over and over again – me too, Lord help me. Without Renaissance men, complete men, there can be no hope of Renaissance.
Yet despite all of that, there is depiction of a hero. Ichise is continually exploited by everyone he comes across, but he does not let that stop him. He starts off fighting to survive for other people’s entertainment. After he crosses the line and insults an adulterous mob wife, he has his ability to fight taken away for a time – he paid with an arm and a leg, literally.
After that, a doctor takes him in, gives him new limbs, but it’s all for her own ends – certainly at first. Ichise soon starts working for the mob – he even stops a gang war which a bored, pampered interloper tried to set off. He gets caught up in some weird metaphysical stuff, and he glimpses the strange and terrible secrets about how the world really works.
Alongside all of that is the question: how will Ichise survive? How will humanity survive in the face of technological crutches and spiritual inertia? I expect you are interested in those questions.
One more point must be made, and that is about Männerbünde: spoiling a plot point here, the seconds-in-command of a few different factions betray their group when offered the opportunity for more power. They are given new bodies, but with them come a new master, and they become biomechanized puppets in his vision of a new world.
As has been noted before and in great detail elsewhere, a Bund operates with a hierarchy. This hierarchy arises from the laws of nature. Every man, including the top man, must have the humility to know and to live his place, to fulfill his duty to the Bund and his love for his brothers, for the sake of all.
Texhnolyze depicts a lot of physical death, but physical death is only a tragedy when it follows a spiritual death. When there has been no spiritual death, therein lies eternity. Whether the last episode depicts this eternity or not is up for debate. Whether you want to watch this at all is up to you – after all, speaking for myself, I have kids to feed and work in the morning.