[Review] Ergo Proxy
Ergo Proxy is my all-time favorite anime, and has remained so after a recently reinvigorated interest. This blog is going to break down precisely why this anime is great.
First off, if you're a fan of action-oriented anime, this is not for you. It is character driven, slow-paced, symbolic, and very much not straightforward. The series wants to tell you a lot, not only through the metaphors and symbols, but where they get their references. Occasionally at the ends of the episodes, a little wall of text will come up further describing some of the source material of their information, while not being essential to the main plot.
tl;dr version at the end
There are mixed thoughts on this. Maybe I'm a perfectionist, as I noticed several times where someone's face wasn't perfectly symmetrical or the designs felt lacking, but for the most part, the animation is stunning. It's gorgeous, while being dark. The forests of the real world are lush as well as intimidating, giving that feeling of being trapped in the middle of nowhere. The utopian city is bright and clean and 'formal', yet gray, stiff, and rigid; uncreative, uninspired.
The character design is solid. When I first started watching, Vincent seemed so terribly generic and generally unattractive, from his clothes to his closed eyes and his goofy hair, but it all had a purpose. He changes, and over the series grows considerably more mature and even a little badass as he confronts his obstacles. Though his outfit is still a little dumb-looking. Real (Re-l, Lil, etc) Mayer has a unique design, though for an anime she's pretty attractive; this may have something to do with the obvious sexual tension between the two major characters.
Vincent Law is an immigrant working for the Control Divsion of Romdeau, hunting down and disposing of infected AutoRaves. He's surprisingly connected to the plot in so many ways, it's amazing. Without giving anything away, you understand how important not only he is, but how crucial his journey is. A large amount of the series is him embarking on his quest over which he grows, develops, matures, and learns, becoming who he needs to be to prepare for the conclusion, and beyond that, the truth.
Real Mayer, the granddaughter of the regent of the utopian society, wants her grandfather's love, and comes off as cold, sharp, all while being strangely attracted to the originally bumbling Vincent; and the attraction is mutual. Being a direct relative to the leader of the society makes her important by default; the first few episodes are arguably from her perspective, and that's one of the points of story-telling I enjoy. The narrative comfortably shifts between two characters to tell the story, making both of them the main character. You could argue Real is more the central protagonist, but Vincent's sheer importance gives him a very strong argument as well. Her analytical skills allow her to take a role more as the witness, the observer, and she in turn learns about Vincent and the world around her while they explore it.
There are only a small handful of minor characters, each of them important. Most of them are in the city in the beginning, so don't think they'll fade away when the 'journey' starts. The structure of a utopia, the pressure of keeping everything in line and ordered, working with androids who are steadily becoming infected with a "self-aware" virus commonly seen in this type of genre... everything is trying to tear this world apart, and those in the world, even those out of it, work not only to survive but to keep what they know together. The minor characters develop, but not all of them come full circle or share the joy of enlightenment; some of them stay prisoners, as that is their choice from the beginning.
This is one of the very few series (second to RahXephon in sound quality, imo) that actually takes advantage of its aural presentation. The soundtrack is amazing, with a well-known ending, Paranoid Android by Radiohead giving it a boost of popularity, and the opening isn't bad either. The editing throughout the series is solid and the other tracks are top-notch. They give the right feel and set the mood, yet are as subtly incorporated to the series as some of the more layered ideas, that you don't notice them so much as you become completely immersed.
I tried watching the dub. Usually I'm optimistic and tolerant when it comes to dubbed anime; RahXephon did okay, and Samurai Champloo and Bebop had excellent dubbing (the latter moreso), but this is one of those cases where I'll just say, as more anime fans would expect: go with the subtitled. Make sure you get excellent subtitles though. I believe Shinsen was the one I watched, though shortly I'll be able to watch the official subs when I purchase the DVD. Thankfully, the walls of text at the end of the episodes explaining many of the references are all in English. Anyway, the japanese acting fits all of the characters and is as high quality as you can imagine, the standard fare for an Anime. It doesn't feel like a drone of chatter like Death Note, nor does it feel like a bunch of old men with that thick samurai voice either; the characters are varied and the little emotions are all captured.
Inextricably tied with Character, the story of Ergo Proxy is no small thing to swallow. It takes a second look, or at the least a very thorough first look, and the viewer may need to rely on expanded media to fully comprehend every little detail and absorb every tidbit of symbolism, but if you pay attention to everything, you'll have a more than clear understanding.
Some episodes fool you into thinking they're filler, and yet turn out to be genius examples of exposition or foreshadowing. There are three notable episodes that completely check out from the usual pace of the storytelling to give you information, or humor, or both! A slice-of-life episode, showing a day in the lives of the travelers and highlighting the little things; how they live together, how they interact, how they tolerate one another when they're abandoned in the middle of nowhere. A game-show episode with a completely ridiculous point system that makes no sense, but if you pay attention to the questions and everything being said, you'll be much more enlightened and savvy to the story. Third is a rather crazy adventure around a Disneyland-esque theme park with quirky characters; it may seem pointless, but hang in there and pay attention, as it's just as integral to the plot as the first or last episode.
There are so many ways this series can be dissected and analyzed, and many levels of depth can be extrapolated from careful analysis, but you could do this with almost any heavy work of fiction. It's a fantasy epic with emphasis on journey, at the same time it's a sci-fi story with themes of humanity and enlightenment and reality versus illusion and honesty versus living a lie. No, it's not filled with hard-and-fast action scenes, but the more thought out parts of the series give it tremendous replay value. It's worth a second watch and even a third, if not just to understand everything that went down.
But it is imperfect. A crucial rule of storytelling is not to get lost in the ambiance or symbolism, and one should never have to rely on outside materials to comprehend a work as a whole, but I don't think Ergo Proxy is entirely guilty of this. It's convoluted, and messy, and can seem horribly drawn-out, but with patience and careful interest, the experience should pay off. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. I didn't think it was for me, as I have a poor attention span. But I stuck with it and I'm glad for it.
Ergo Proxy is a sci-fi, psychological suspense drama made in 2006 that boasts an impressive use of digital cel animation, 3d computer modeling, and great digital special effects. Many will find ties to the beloved and more well-known Ghost in the Shell series, but the similarities are few.
- Excellent, thorough character development
- Fluid, lush design and consistent animation
- A great soundtrack
- More than enough extras and layers to get lost in for anyone who enjoys analysis or thought-provocation in their series
- Postcyberpunk themes and classical Identity-based messages found in sci-fi and post-apocalypse as well as utopian sic-fi
- Occasional animation jumps that stand out due to the rest of the animating being solid and fluid
- A less than inspiring dub track that will turn off viewers who aren't keen on reading subtitles for such a layered series.
- More than slightly convoluted story, slow pacing, and (at a glance) pointless asides and attempts to deepen the story that backfire on the whole
- Somewhat cliche or overused elements. This is sci-fi with androids and a "Cogito" virus taken from "Cogito Ergo Sum", it doesn't introduce new ideas but works with themes already presented.
Despite the flaws I still recommend this anime very strongly as it has a lot to give and I believe it to be very under-appreciated. It's not for everyone, I know, and the flaws may be more than enough to turn potential viewers away, but believe me when I say Ergo Proxy has a lot of thought put into it, quite a lot to say in the context of the story and beyond it, and was very much a satisfying experience.
Download Link: http://www.da-anime.info/index.php?o...=358&Itemid=29
Thanks for reading.
Total Comments 10
|Posted 10-19-2009 at 11:23 AM by airyie|
|Posted 10-19-2009 at 12:17 PM by Wrasvan|
|Posted 10-20-2009 at 09:42 AM by airyie|
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|Posted 10-20-2009 at 02:14 PM by MCAV|
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|Posted 10-23-2009 at 05:10 AM by Aidan|
|Posted 10-23-2009 at 06:48 AM by Wrasvan|
Posted 11-06-2009 at 03:07 PM by Elarius
Updated 11-06-2009 at 03:08 PM by Elarius
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