ERGO PROXY: A deep, dark journey down a cyberpunk rabbit hole - - DVD/Blu-Ray Review

Topic started by heyalexei on Aug. 16, 2012. Last post by sotyfan16 1 year, 9 months ago.
Post by heyalexei (9 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Staff

Have you seen ERGO PROXY? If so, can you tell me what it’s about? Having watched twelve of twenty-three episodes, I’m halfway through the show and still a little hazy about that.

But let me tell you, I’m not mad. You see, this is one of those shows that manages to be obtuse without being obnoxious. And I know I’m not alone in thinking so; rather, I’m right on track. I’ve come to the conclusion that the mystery is actually the entire point of the program, my confidence buoyed by the fact that the team at Manglobe saw fit to stage the eleventh episode entirely within the mind of show’s co-lead, Vincent Law. Turns out he doesn’t quite get it either.

As far as being along for the ride goes, there are worse rides out there to get strapped into. Here is what I do know about ERGO PROXY...

In this future, a global disaster has caused the death of the majority of mankind. The bulk of what’s left of the human race resides within high-tech domed cities run by know-it-all authoritarian regimes. Citizens are aided by AutoReivs, high-tech androids who do double-duty, providing both military might and domestic companionship.

Our first lead is Re-L Mayer, granddaughter of the city of Romdeau’s uppermost political leader, the Regent. Re-L, aided by her robot butler Iggy, acts as one of the few cynics in a realm of believers. She's been tasked with solving a recent rash of AutoReiv-related crimes resulting from a spreading android infection known as the Cogito virus (which causes AutoReivs to awaken and act like full-fledged humans.) Our other lead Vincent is a would-be citizen who has travelled to Romdeau from the far-away city of Mosk and been assigned the same detail as Re-L.

But, wouldn’t you know... things are not what they seem!

Early on, Re-L is visited by a superhuman being known as a Proxy who appears to be connected (in some way) to Vincent. Together, they all fall under the close scrutiny of the bureaucratic leadership of Romdeau. Not only is Vincent the key to the AutoReiv murders, he might also be connected to something bigger.

What is a Proxy, and what is its purpose? And while we’re at it - - what are any of our purposes? Nothing makes you consider the meaning of it all like peering over the edge of your walled city into the vast, garbage-filled abyss that was once life on Earth.

While the most interesting questions don’t always have answers, that doesn’t stop the characters and creators of ERGO PROXY from trying to fill in the blanks (which are abundant). Exploration of the outer world surrounding Romdeau, as well as the inner world of Vincent’s complicated psyche, provides plenty of discoveries to keep the series moving. And the plot, while deserving of terms like “plodding” and “methodical,” has abundant room for characters to wonder aloud about big ideas and occasionally even act on them.

Yes, monstrous beings occasionally clash, and shots are sporadically fired from futuristic sidearms, but ERGO PROXY is not the noirish detective series it plays itself as in the first few episodes. Action and adventuring takes a fast and definitive backseat to philosophical discussion; the likes of which even includes a talkative four-headed statue named after the philosophers Berkeley, Derrida, Husserl, and Lacan.

As a vehicle for heady postmodern philosophy, ERGO PROXY’s visuals are appropriately muted and austere, providing ample opportunity for the type of well-orchestrated rebellion we can really root for. Romdeau is a bleak place - - heavy on metallic tones and creeping shadows - - and the people who live there dress simply and emote with subtlety.

Meanwhile, Re-L’s bright blue eye-makeup screams for her sense of individuality, and Vincent’s red, high-collared coat (not to mention amnesia) calls to mind a descendent of Vash the Stampede. As the show progresses, sepia tones give way to a brighter palette - - but only slightly - - and the fights are straightforward and short.

Though I don’t know the solutions to the mysteries of ERGO PROXY, I’d like to - - regardless of my doubts that they’ll ever arrive. That’s not a negative judgement of this show, by the way. In fact, it’s just the opposite. There is value in the process of seeking answers and, in this case, the journey is gratifying no matter what destination awaits.

Specto ergo sum. I watch, therefore I am.

Alexei Bochenek is a lifelong tech nerd and film buff based in Los Angeles. He writes for various online publications and edits the Los Angeles events website LALookout.com. Follow his Twitter: @alexeigb.

Post by Elfenlied1012 (557 posts) See mini bio Level 15

@heyalexei: Very interested in checking it out, but I just dont have the money to pay for anime right now, hopefully it pops onto netflix, crunchyroll, or hulu at some point.

Post by sickVisionz (4,221 posts) See mini bio Level 24
Moderator

Hmmmm... new staff member?

Anyways, I remember watching this super early in my anime life and being pretty baffled by much of it, yet still enjoying it. I sum this type of stuff up by just calling it an if I am you and you are me show in reference to a trippy Evangelion scene. I usually hate psychobabble and technobabble but I was ok with this because one of the main characters was just as confused as I was, which makes me feel like you aren't supposed to get it and the creators are tryna let you know that it's ok to be confused because hey the man characters don't get it either. Plus, I think it's actually kinda light on philosobabble... although that could be wonky memories of when I thought psychobabble was so cool and "adult" so I don't remember this as having too much of it. Anyways, cool show although I probably would never watch it again.

Totally unrelated to that point, much like Casshern (this how shares a lot in common with that the more that I think about the two), I think the series gets loads better once they introduce the cute little girl into it. I think the main chick is some rich politician's daughter or something like that so I never thought of her plight as more than a rich kid lashing out and trying to prove that she's more than just some rich dude's daughter. Vincent was just the confused dude who let me know that it was ok to be confused. The little girl made the peril more real for me and cared about what happened to everyone because who else would take care of her?

After pondering on it even more, I wonder if my nostalgic fondness of this series is because it was good or because it introduced me to what would become my favorite band: Radiohead.

Post by AgentJ (1,545 posts) See mini bio Level 13

@sickVisionz: Her name is Pino, and like you say, she is probably the best part of this show.

Post by Rxanadu (83 posts) See mini bio Level 7

@Elfenlied1012: The show's available on FUNimation's main website in both sub and dub for free. Personally, I prefer the dub, but watch what you will.

Post by Elfenlied1012 (557 posts) See mini bio Level 15

@Rxanadu: Damn well thanks man

Post by Top8cat (71 posts) See mini bio Level 6

I find that this show can easily be dismissed as pretentious if you don't see it for what it is, a show with questions. If you can do that, it makes for a science channel like enjoyment(at least of what I remember).

Post by Om1kron (141 posts) See mini bio Level 7

I didn't like how it ended, but isn't that like all anime. One of those things that didn't seem to have religious overtones or suggestions throughout the whole thing only to hit you with a smorgasbord of that crap at the end. I really enjoyed the opening song for whatever stupid reason.

Post by DocHaus (922 posts) See mini bio Level 18

The only thing I can remember about Ergo Proxy was the endless journey to "Mosque," sick robots and a bunch of existential questions that were never quite answered. I guess that was the point, though? Like you I saw the whole show and I'm still a little fuzzy as to what it really meant.

On the other hand, it did have Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" as the ending theme. That was cool.

Also hey new staff member!

Post by heyalexei (9 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Staff

@sickVisionz: I agree with you that experiencing the not-knowing along with a character within the show goes a long way to making it bearable. However, the little girl is actually not a girl at all; she is an enlightened android. So far, she hasn't been in a lot of danger, but has been used (quite ironically) to remind Vincent of his humanity, as well as to generally lighten the mood of the show with her uber-cuteness. For added effect, she even wears a bunny suit, running off and causing Vincent to chase her in a very Alice In Wonderland style story propellant.

& I actually wrote this review at the show's halfway point, having not seen the final conclusion; I watched 12 of 23 episodes. I liked it a lot and I intend to finish it, but I think there is a lot of merit in stopping to think critically and examine a series before completing it. Often times, the end of these shows--especially the far-out sci-fi series--can unfairly color the experience up until then, for better or for worse. (I'm looking at you, Eva!) If I'm going to eventually recommend putting hours of your life into a show, I want to be able to best speak for the experience of watching it, not necessarily pass judgement on if the ending is "good" or "bad," which is a very subjective concept. If you ever even want to reach that end point, you'll need to be engaged by the preceding hours, or else you'll move on. That being said... I'll write a post on my blog about whether the ending of this show is good or bad once I'm done watching it. ;)

Post by Vincent_Law (3 posts) See mini bio Level 4

Come and save meeeeeeee.

Ergo Proxy was about reality and destiny. The ending was excellent. The proxies were created as replacements for god because there isn't one. It came out six years ago so it's kind of funny to see an article about it now. It was my favorite anime until the recent rebuild of Evangelion. :3

WATCH IT.

Post by heyalexei (9 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Staff

@Vincent_Law: It is being re-released by Funimation on DVD in the USA this month.

Post by Vincent_Law (3 posts) See mini bio Level 4

o i see.

The blu-ray is $400. Fuck me.

Post by Om1kron (141 posts) See mini bio Level 7

@Vincent_Law said:

o i see.

The blu-ray is $400. Fuck me.

Has to be a typo or some sort!

@heyalexei said:

yada da

My apologies, I didn't mean to give you some kind of buzzkill perception to how the show was going to end or spoil it in that sense. It's been a while since I've watched it. It's one of those shows where it goes from a lot of nothing happening to some self discovery, and well like someone else mentioned comes out talking about destiny and what have you. It just seems to be the same template for all of these really good science fiction anime's that always have to dip back into the religious overtones at the end of the day. The Golden Compass is about atheists, and the lion which and wardrobe is about cristianity, and the whole time I'm watching both movies I just thought they were about fighting polar bears and lions and Minotaur's!

So when I was watching this it was like cool sci fi crime drama, big bad heirchy, religion? wait what the fuck just happened! Can we just have more cool mindless fights?

Post by zaldar (1,221 posts) See mini bio Level 15

If you are looking for mindless Om1kron then yeah like ghost in the shell this probably isn't the show for you. As one who LOVED the ending to the new battlestar galactica, loved the eva show ending, and loved both ghost in the shell movies (especially the second one really) this seems like something I need to watch today...to bad I doubt I will have time. Hopefully it will stay on funi's site for a time.

Post by Vincent_Law (3 posts) See mini bio Level 4

I don't think religion has any place in sci-fi. I don't mind anti-religion though. :P

I remember when I was watching Battlestar Gallactica and that chick came back to life and I couldn't really wrap my head around it because it made no sense. That's something that should happen in fantasy, not sci-fi. Then I watches Caprica and there was one part with a bunch of kids smoking and saying "yeah, god is real," and I was like REALLY? REALLY? REEAAALLLYYY? Using smoking to make something look cool in this century is just fucked up. :-\

Post by Om1kron (141 posts) See mini bio Level 7

@zaldar said:

If you are looking for mindless Om1kron then yeah like ghost in the shell this probably isn't the show for you.

Now hearing that from someone who hasn't watched this show, and not knowing that I'm probably one of the biggest Masumune Shirow fans and have watched EVERY G.I.T.S. imaginable I can tell you that this while in the same plane trying to be overly philosophical falls a bit flat in it's attempt. I think the art, animation, environment and character setup could've offered so much more. It's definitely a world maybe because it was a one shot series and not something ongoing or that had a second offering etc, that I felt a little cheated. While 20+ episodes is nothing to bark at It's just sad when it's over and all said and done.

Post by zaldar (1,221 posts) See mini bio Level 15

See I wouldn't use the term overly philosophical...I mean I liked the second movie better than the first. It is possible that this one may not have worked and yes I haven't seen it though I plan on it now...but this review makes me think it did.

Post by sotyfan16 (1,340 posts) See mini bio Level 20

I like what this series had to offer but damn if I wasn't confused the whole way through. And the ending, didn't even wrap my head around it. But I have the new boxset release and at some point a buddy and I will watch it for the first time in a few years in hopes of some better understanding.

We like to call series like this one a "mindfuck".

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