"If there's anything you want, anything at all... come to me. I'll be your guardian angel."
— Opening Themenote the line itself is taken from the film The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster
In the not-too-distant future, deep underground, descendants of a banished generation vie for control of the crumbling city of Lux. Ichise, an orphan turned prize fighter, loses an arm and a leg to satisfy an enraged promoter. On the brink of death, he is taken in by a young female doctor and used as a guinea pig for the next evolution of texhnolyze.Having adjusted to his new limbs, Ichise is eventually taken under the wing of Onishi, the powerful but distrusted leader of Organo, a criminal organization with some hold over the people of Lux. Meanwhile, four different factions begin to draw battlelines for territorial control of the city: the aforementioned Organo; the Union, a fiercely anti-texhnolyze faction; the Racan, a group of rebellious texhnolyzed youths; and the Class, a mysterious group of privileged beings who lurk behind the city. As Ichise is unwillingly drawn deeper into an uncontrollable war, he learns of his possible future from the prophet girl Ran, who guides him from the shadows in his darkest times. When society comes crashing down, Ichise must uncover the truth about Lux and fight for his survival.Made by the same team that produced Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze is often considered to be one of the strangest and darkest anime ever made.
A Glass of Chianti: Doc can frequently be seen drinking red wine, from a lab beaker no less.
Apocalypse How: It is vaguely presented, but the implications are that the surface-dwellers of the world at least partially predicted the decline of the human species, and isolated those with greatest genetic chances of prospering, which just happen also to be those that create violent tendencies. Also isolated were predecessors of the members of the Class, who were given special privileges in Lux in return for their cooperation. It is arguable as to whether this was a better decision than their first choice to solve the problem: kill everyone.
Artificial Limbs: The texhnolyze technology applied to humans, mainly in Ichise and Onishi's case but also Kano. Later events take this trope to a very disturbing extreme with the Shapes, humans who discard their biological bodies to be almost fully automatized as mechanical beings.
The Bad Guy Wins: Both Yoshii and Kano ultimately get what they want, in spite of the fact that they both die in the process.
Badass: Several, the most frequent ones being Ichise, Onishi, Shinji, Kimata and Toyama.
Back-to-Back Badasses: In episode 17, Onishi and Kimata, leaders of opposing organizations who would like nothing more than to tear out each others' throats, commit to this as the Organo aids the Union in fending off the Shapes.
Body Horror: All over the place. Texhnolyzation itself is seen as such by several characters. Then there are the Shapes, and what happens to Ran.
Bond Villain Stupidity The villains frequently keep blathering while they have one of the protagonists at their mercy.
Justified in Kano's case. When confronted by Ichise, he is physically helpless, and only has his words to defend himself. And of course both he and Yoshii really want to be believed and understood by others, and genuinely try to appeal to people with their rants.
Boomerang Bigot: Kimata, the leader of the Union, hates texhnolyze despite being texhnolyzed himself. Towards the end of the series his dragon calls him out on it only to reveal himself as a far worse hypocrite by defecting to the Class and becoming a Shape.
Crapsack World: Lux is presented as the dumping site of the planet. However, the surface world is revealed to be almost completely depopulated, save for "ghosts" of people, because humanity has lost the collective will to live.
Creepy Monotone: Kano's voice always stays flat and emotionless, which just adds to his creepy nature. Yoshii is much the same, maintaining a pleasant falsetto tone to his voice.
Death Ray: The Shapes carry these, capable of shooting a perfectly circular hole through anything.
Despair Event Horizon: The series starts here and gets worse. The city of Lux is full of people despairing with their lives to the point where some just sit on the street too depressed to move, and Ichise comes from a childhood of despair. Yoshii was driven to insanity through his despair and dissatisfaction with the surface world, Tetsuya lives on the horizon, Shinji passes it when he goes on his Kill 'em All rampage up on the Hill, and Doc passes it when she discovers what the surface world consists of. Fitting, given that the rest of the surface-dwellers of the Earth passed it a long time ago.
Determinator: Ichise proves immovably determined to stay alive time and time again. Even Doc and Onishi remark on this, the first with amusement, the second with irritation because Ichise refuses to die in the first couple of episodes when he really should have.
Downer Ending: While maintaining an extremely dark and depressing atmosphere throughout the show, the ending still manages to be impressively sad.
Driven to Madness: In perhaps the most ambitious example of this trope, Kano drives the entire city of Lux to madness, reflecting the inner state of his mind. Lampshaded by Ran, Onishi, and Kano.
Driven to Suicide: It is implied that Doc committed suicide in the bathtub of their hotel suite after Ichise went back to Lux. Also Ran, who killed her own mind to spite Kano and escape from an And I Must Scream situation.
Dying Alone: Ichise inadvertently fulfils Ran's prophecy of him. However, as the power of his texhnolyzed limbs almost dissipates completely, his arm projects an image of a flower onto the ground.
Enemy Mine: Onishi tries to negotiate this with the Racan and the Salvation Union in the beginning of the series when he suspects that somebody's attempting to break the incredibly fragile peace in Lux.
Onishi and the Organo assist Kimata and the Union when they attempt to rally against the Shapes. It doesn't end very well for the Union and Onishi's forced to retreat.
Eye Scream: Ichise gets his pupil plugged by the fingernail of his promoter's girlfriend during sex, which earns her a punch in the face. Hal also suffers one of these when he betrays Shinji and then returns to kill him as a Shape. You don't see the actual injury, but the crunching sound is enough.
Fallen Princess: Doc was initially a member of the Class, but is banished for vague reasons.
Fan Disservice: Ichise's shirtless scenes and Doc's fetish of sleeping with her patients would provide relief from the impending grimness of the show if it wasn't for the disturbing manner in which they are presented.
Fate Worse Than Death: The Shapes, left immobile and immortal, and Tetsuya, who is left to wait until he dies in silent misery on the surface.
For the Evulz: This is what makes Yoshii's reign of terror all the more horrifying: his utter lack of a motive for it. It's made even worse by his placid and rational demeanour throughout the whole event and gets down right chilling when we see through Sakimura that he was once just an innocent, optimistic office drone.
Food Porn: Inverted. The only appetizing food shown is that eaten by privileged inhabitants of Lux like Doc and Onishi. Everybody else's is unappetizing goo.
From Bad to Worse: In general, the longer the show goes on, the more hopeless its characters' situations start to look. And then you find out what's above-ground.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Yoshii arrives in Lux halfway through his transition and its only through flashbacks that we learn just how much of a nobody he was before he damn near destroyed the city.
Hilarious Outtakes: The DVD releases feature "Alternate Dialogue Outtakes", which redub select clips from the included episodes with snarky, filthy, or outright bizarre dialogue (such as changing a vicious gun battle into a rather enthusiastic paintball match, and by-and-large lampshading the entire bowdlerization process).
Human Resources: Raffia. Even more terrible when it's revealed that it actually no longer serves a purpose and is simply being produced as a matter of procedure.
Heads-Up Display: For texhnolyzed people through their corneas, complete with bubbling gurgly noises.
Humanity Is Insane: Kano seems to believe this. Within the context of the show, he is arguably right.
I Lied: Doc reveals that she never used the (dead) cells of Ichise's mother to power his arm—it was just so she could get him to accept the texhnolyzation. Ichise is far from amused.
Industrial: It is Cyber Punk after all. Some prominent examples include the Juno Reactor Theme Song "Guardian Angel (Xavier's Edit)" and "A Dog's Heart Leaping from Irritation".
Innocent Flower Girl: Ran plays with the trope in various ways, though she really isn't all that innocent.
I Reject Your Reality: Kano is a delusional solipsist with severe homicidal tendencies who won't entertain the idea that human beings are anything other than playthings produced by his mind.
It's All About Me: Kano, in one of the most horrifying examples of this trope. He believes that Lux itself is a reflection of his mind, and that humans are puppets or homunculi eroding it. He would qualify for A God Am I, except that he doesn't believe that he's God, he believes that he is reality itself.
Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The workings of the Raffia, the Organo, the Class and surface are all explained through minimalist storytelling. Pay attention.
Katanas Are Just Better: Subverted at times but also played straight many a time. Some of the curved blades used by the Organo thugs seem to be cavalry sabers rather than katanas, but the main characters in Organo all use katanas, so this trope is played straight more often than not.
Last Stand: The final episode tells us exactly what happened in Lux while Ichise and Doc were investigating and warning the surface, in a vignette-like film-grainy fashion. Onishi, Shinji and what's left of Lux (including the Seer's followers) band together to try to prevent Ran from being taken by Kano and the Shapes, since she's the only person left to protect. Not surprisingly, it fails, and all the people of Lux lose the will to do anything once Ran is taken.
Lost Technology: Interestingly enough, the surface world seems to be stylistically stuck in the fifties, with old fashioned radios and other outdated technology just laying around, but mixed with various examples of extremely sophisticated tech.
Manipulative Bastard: Several; most prevalent are Yoshii and Kano. A couple of the Organo take a stab at it, but fail when they are thwarted by other, smarter Manipulative Bastards such as Kohakura and Onishi. And while not really being one himself, Shinji seems rather adept at seeing through other people's machinations when inclined.
Meaningful Name: Lux, or "Ru9su" as it was originally called. Kohakura makes a remark about this.
Kohakura: He said this is the Ninth Annex of the Reviving Hell.
Mukokuseki: Averted, by and large. It's possible to infer the entire cast's ethnic backgrounds just by looking at them, the only aberration of course being Kano, who was specifically designed to look as alien and "anime" as possible in order to sell just how much of an Outside-Context Villain he really was to Lux.
My New Gift Is Lame: Kano has a more petulant version of this in his backstory, just to show off what an irredeemable monster he is: Onishi sold his legs to the Class in exchange for what amounted to starter money to work his way in to the Organo (hence why he has texhnolyze legs). Kano received the legs as a gift and either got bored of them or found some other reason to be rid of them, effectively squandering Onishi's sacrifice. And of course, he gloats to Onishi about it when they meet face to face.
Oedipus Complex: Ichise, who never really knew his father, adopts Doc as his "second mother" by Word of God. However, he lets her have sex with him whenever she repairs his texhnolyzed limbs.
One-Hit Kill: Ichise basically does this to Yoshii, who had just recently taken down Onishi and effortlessly killed many Organo members. He does it again toToyama near the ends of the series and then makes it a hat-trick by punching Kano's head off its shoulders.
Outside-Context Villain: Kano. Lux might have been able to bounce back from Yoshii's reign of terror, but it was doomed the moment the Shapes arrived from the Hill. Kano steamrolls over everyone and despite Onishi's efforts to mount a counterattack Kano damn near wins before his self-destructive nihilism (and Ichise's fist) catches up with him.
Parental Incest: Poor Toyama. Apparently also how Kano came into this world.
Schizo Tech: The setting combines advanced Artificial Limbs and other futuristic technology with early 20th century phones, cars, trains and weapons. The Class, on the other hand, is so technologically advanced it's lead to a form of transhumanist inbreeding. See Kano and his retinue of Body Horror technofreaks. The surface world is shown to be both highly advanced (see Yoshii and Sakimura's office) and has apparently regressed back into the 1920s.
Screw Destiny: Ichise's approach to Ran's prophecy. It doesn't work.
Sexless Marriage: One scene shows that Onishi and his wife sleep in separate beds. Which would explain why Onishi sleeps with his secretary instead.
Sexy Secretary: Michiko, Onishi's secretary. On her day off she gets flirted with by Shinji too.
Sheath Strike: Onishi uses his sheathed sword to beat the crap out of Union and Racan thugs alike when he's caught alone amidst their street scuffle.
Shirtless Scene: The anime begins with a naked Ichise staring at himself in the mirror. Keeping up with the spirit of the series, it is not used as Fanservice.
Shout-Out: To Macbeth in episode 18. Also, scenes from the surface world mimic the paintings of Edward Hopper.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Ichise sharply disagrees with Kano's nihilism. This is expressed by punching Kano's head clean off.
Silence Is Golden: The first line of dialogue isn't spoken until 11 minutes into episode 1. Ichise, the protagonist of the series, doesn't say anything until episode 3, and after that is practically mute unless spoken to by someone he respects like Doc, Onishi, Toyama, or Ran.
Sliding Scale Of Free Will Versus Fate: Skates between type 0 and type 1. Ran predicts the future, but it is just one of many possible futures... unfortunately, if it is a long-term prediction it is almost always correct. It's not that there is a higher power, it's just that the inevitable succession of human actions leads to the result she predicts.
Surprisingly Good English: The second ED that plays after the final episode, "Walking this Empty Earth", features English lyrics and, while they are heavily accented and rather nonsensical, the grammar is correct and understandable.
There Are No Good Executives: A rare subversion in Onishi, who is distrusted as the head of the ominous mafia-like business, Organo, that maintains enough control over Lux to prevent it from falling apart; despite this, he is one of the show's few sympathetically heroic characters.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: There are big brown rats everywhere, they are particularly noticeable when Ichise gets thrown into the sewers, and they are Doc's test subjects, but they are not depicted as hostile; in most cases, they are presented as pitiful creatures.
World Half Empty: Few anime have ever been so faithful to this trope. Not only does Lux itself qualify, but we later learn that the world on the surface is nearly empty, being only populated by ghostly half-humans that have given up on living but are too tired to seek death.
Wretched Hive: Lux, obviously. This was inevitable due to the nature of its creation.