This week’s Guest Post was written by our contributor TuxEGP and it’s about an anime called Ergo Proxy. I hope you enjoy! 🙂
There is a great variety of anime out there. Some of them just pass by, leaving no message nor legacy at all. Some are made just for the purpose of entertaining (and they are very good at it) and there is a third kind – the ones that make you rethink about the world and your own beliefs while maintaining a great plot. Ergo Proxy enters in that third category.
“EP” is a science-fiction, with cyber-punk and psychological elements story, produced by Manglobe studio and written by Dei Sato.
It is highly praised by its visuals and animations (one of the best of 2006), characterized by its darker tone and an amazing soundtrack, both of ambient noises and thriller/action musics composed by Yoshihiro Ike.
It’s heavily influenced by philosophical themes, such as Descartes’ Dream Argument (which states that we cannot know if this world is but a dream before waking up of it) and its Cogito, Ergo Sum (“I think, therefore I exist.”) phrase. The whole story could be summed up by saying it is a search for truth, truth about who you are, about the world you’re living, about the people around you and about the importance of your past. And those questions are answered… well, kind of.
The plot is set in the future, after an ecological disaster that made almost all humans in the world die and making the Earth itself unable to sustain life, becoming a toxic place falling apart with only a few signs of having already sustained life as we know it. The few reminiscent humans built domed cities, with high technology and sustainability, in order to survive until the planet recovers.
To help them, they create android-like machines called AutoReivs, the AutoReivs serve for many purposes, from domestic(those are called “Companion”) usage to military combat (know as “Entourages”), they are able to live peacefully and the world seems to have found peace again, and so life continues for a few thousands of years.
The story begins with Re-L (pronounced “Real”) Mayer, an inspector of the Citizen Intelligence Bureau of Romdeau City, charged to investigate along with her AutoReiv partner, Iggy. A series of murders committed apparently by AutoReivs infected with the Cogito virus (a virus that makes AutoReivs self-aware, thus becoming crazy and here comes part of Decartes’ philosophy. During the anime there are some infected AutoReivs and all of them act in a different manner, embracing or hating the curse of self-awareness).
During her investigations, she encounters with an unknown creature, that appears to affect AutoReivs around it. After finishing her work and going home, in the bathroom she finds out a message in the mirror and then she’s suddenly attacked by another monster that makes her faint.
While those events occur, a man called Vincent Law (who’s an immigrant from Mosk dome working for Romdeau’s AutoReiv Control Division), set up to hunt the infected AutoReivs appears to suffer from some kind of amnesia about everything he has done before coming to Romdeau. Later is also found he is related to the Proxies and the attack at Re-L’s house.
Everything past this point would be too much spoiler, but what I can add is: Re-L, Vincent and another character called Pino, (probably one of the most human characters you will ever see), go out on a journey. And although they may start in the same path, they also have different answers and outcomes. As the story goes, the plot becomes more entwined untill reaching its climax, where everything is revealed.
The reason why I like it so much is because the story is so unique, the characters are very contrasting and it takes itself seriously (different from a lot of recent animes with so much comic reliefs, Ergo Proxy is surely one hell of a serious story, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its moments of fun) and it has a slow pace, so you can absorb everything properly.
It also has a lot of moments where the characters need to confront with their real selves and go through the process of accepting the fact that reality may be hurtful, but the truth is more important than any plastic-fake world. It’s cool because makes you think about your own world and who you think you are, making it stuck in your head even after finishing it.
Despite its lack of action, it has a high amount of suspense, filled with moments where your jaw will fall (for the good and the bad).
It also is full of references (like the name of some of the characters being names of real philosophers such as Kristeva, Derrida and Berkeley) or its ending music, Paranoid Android by Radiohead (a really cool band if I can say so). Its lyrics talk about what is like for a robot to gain self-awareness (like the ones in Ergo Proxy with the Cogito virus) and the fact that they disrespect the so called Laws of Robotics (created by Isaac Asimov), which states (among other things) that robots cannot attack humans. The opening music, Kiri by Monoral is pretty much about Vincent’s character as a whole, and is also very good.
One point I think should be considered is that it’s one of the few animes that have a REALLY good english dub. Seriously, the voices may sound to you even better than the originals (given the fact no character in Ergo Proxy has any trace of being Japanese or Chinese).
At least, the anime is heavily influenced by western culture, so much that it doesn’t hold almost anything of Japanese culture, making it a good shot to show to a friend that isn’t much into the weird (but cool) Japanese culture, a point I’d also like to show is that Re-L design was based upon Amy Lee, the vocalist of Evanescence in the cover of the album Fallen.
Ergo Proxy, unfortunately, isn’t made for everyone. The plot requires a lot of attention and some may find its slow pace and lack of action boring, but it’s one of those shows where the result is always bigger than the sum of the pieces.
If you’re looking for an epic, something to make you think or simply a very complex story with great plot-twists, Ergo Proxy is the right one.