The Crushing, Nihilistic Agony of Texhnolyze

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If you don’t want to be spoiled for this show and just want to know if it’s worth watching or not, then check out this review by GoatJesus. If you’ve already seen the show or just don’t care, then proceed without caution.

Texhnolyze is a self-fulfilling prophesy of brutal nihilism. Midway through, it tells us that its main character, Ichise, will end up alone in the ruins of his world at the end; and then it proceeds to follow through on that promise. It chronicles the twilight of human existence–when evolution reaches the end of its course, and humanity as we know it comes to a bitter, violent conclusion. It is not a tale of rebirth or of hope–it is a tale of death.

Watching Texhnolyze is downright excruciating in a palpable, physical way. Nothing good ever happens in the series. Scene after scene, episode after episode, it displays a slow, grinding portrait of death, despair, and suffering. It is cold, stark, and callous, bouncing its cast of murderous gangsters against a dirty, barren city, wherein the only remaining culture is that of violence. Knowing this, I find myself tasked with a question: why would I ever watch Texhnolyze? Moreover, how is it possible that I actually like Texhnolyze?

I think it’s because Texhnolyze is pure. It doesn’t ask me to like any of its characters, or to get invested in its storyline. It doesn’t try to create drama or to present a mix of highs and lows. It doesn’t connect to its viewers by creating complex scenarios or ideas–it connects by boiling human nature down to its most basic impulses. It strips away all of the philosophy and culture that we’ve concocted to help ourselves achieve actualization, and presents the truth that we are nothing more than animals struggling for survival in a godless void.

Texhnolyze is something that I can understand viscerally just by looking at it and listening to it. Watching broken humans persist in the bombed-out husk of their pigfuck nightmare reality, surrounded by the hollow industrial buzz of the technology that destroyed them, I am faced with the horrific vision of mankind’s worst possible future. Where Serial Experiments Lain showed us humanity on the cusp of achieving immortality by integrating with technology, Texhnolyze gives us a world wherein immortality has become an endless, torturous boredom, leading the humans who’ve made it that far to give up on persistence. Above the surface, humankind has been reduced to ghosts without shells. Underground, humans struggle to evolve in every way that they know how, and are crushed under the inevitability of their species’ end.

Ichise represents the true core of what it means to be human. It is his complete lack of self-actualization that makes him so terrifying and fascinating to the people around him. He is a mirror for others to see themselves in–to remind them of where they’ve come from and what they’re really doing. Some find themselves frustrated with his ability to persist without any apparent ambition, because they believe that their ambitions are what allow them to persist in the first place.

Ichise is surrounded by men and women with ideals and beliefs, that will be trampled under the heels of a meaningless truth. The series posits that our pillars of faith and self-actualization are no different from the fist which Ichise flails against the walls of his prison existence. Human action is nothing more than struggle. All of the logic, reason, and purpose that I use to define the world around me, is nothing more than a tool to convince myself that I know how to survive. Everything that I believe about myself is a fabrication built to help me push forward–to live in spite of myself, and in spite of the lack of meaning that my life ultimately has.

What Texhnolyze deliberately and expertly plays on are primal concerns. It is no accident that we almost exclusively see characters killing, fucking, and eating. It is no mistake that the only brief glimpses of artistic culture we see are those belonging to the most elite, who seem to have them only as a way of asserting their elitism.

Yoshii refers to those in power as “those who assert their existence;” and those who do so seem oblivious to all the people clinging to life in spite of themselves. Having witnessed the idealistic death of humanity on the surface, Yoshii has found that the only purpose worth experiencing is that which can be had in the moment. He preaches that waiting around for a higher meaning is missing the point–that meaning is something which must be taken into your own hands by asserting your livelihood.

In that way, Yoshii and Ichise are two sides of the same coin. Ichise is a man who persists without meaning, while Yoshii has embraced that lack of meaning and chosen to run with it. In their final moments, many of the other characters seem to come to grips with this lack of meaning themselves. By the end, the only thing left is to either go out with a bang in a glorious explosion of ideals, or to continue persisting alone until the inevitable end. The end itself, of course, is inescapable.

Maybe I’m a masochist. Maybe I just want to wallow in my own misery from time to time. That old cliche about how we need to experience lows in order to appreciate highs comes to mind. It’s even possible that I find it easier to believe that I’m just an animal operating on instinct than it is to believe that anything I say or do makes sense. There’s a certain comfort in the logic that mankind are only simple creatures feigning complexity; that our narratives and philosophies are nothing more than elaborate defense mechanisms used to foster community between us in the name of our successful survival. They say that the best answers are usually the most simple ones, and there’s not much more simple than the pure logic of evolution. I dunno. I was inspired to rewatch this show by the misery that came from eating Denny’s last night, and maybe I felt the need to punish myself. If you like this show, explain why in the comments below; and if you want to help alleviate the crushing weight of nihilistic depression weighing down on me, then support my channel via patreon. Thanks again for watching; I’ll see you in the next one.

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