Ergo Proxy anime – the major’s rave
Anime review: Made by quality newish anime studio Manglobe, “Ergo Proxy” is a thinking person’s anime series with twists, turns, beautiful anime stylings and robots so cute they contravene all laws of physics. If anime fans haven’t got their teeth around Ergo Proxy, now’s the time to take a bite.
Now, anyone who knows me well knows how particular I am when it comes to media of any variety – and how snobbish I can be when making a decision on what to watch. When I heard that MVM was to release Ergo Proxy in the UK I didn’t exactly bat an eyelid. To be honest, I wasn’t remotely interested – until I won the first DVD volume in a competition a few months back.
I wound up getting the Ergo Proxy DVD in the post on a day where I had absolutely nothing better to do, so I made myself a brew and got comfy on the settee in case I fell asleep (which I frequently do when watching something that doesn’t engage me).
What can I say? I was proved very, VERY wrong. My media snobbery could have made me miss a fantastic series. Ergo Proxy has barged its way into my ‘Current Fave Animes’ list, and I’m not complaining about it being there. I even went so far as to pre-order the new volumes a week in advance so I wouldn’t forget!
Ergo Proxy, a 23 episode series made by Manglobe (Samurai Champloo), with screenplay by the one and only Dai Sato (GITS:SAC and Cowboy Bebop to name a few), is directed by Shukou Murase (Witch Hunter Robin.)
I don’t want to give too much of the storyline away as this is an anime that should be watched by anyone wanting something more substantial, but here’s a taster…
The story begins sometime in the future in Romdo, a domed utopian city sheltering its citizens from a colossal worldwide ecological disaster caused by pollution and global warming, which has supposedly rendered the outside world inhabitable. Inside this utopia, the citizens co-exist with AI androids named Autoreivs and are under total management by the government.
But something goes amiss when some of the Autoreivs contract the mysterious Cogito virus which supposedly makes androids self-aware. Some of these androids go on to commit violent murders on the people who used to control them. And if that isn’t enough, the opening scenes of the first episode reveal that the government are conducting top secret research on a creature known as a Proxy. From this point on the story develops at a nice steady rate, provoking thought as to what will happen next (and how exactly does that last scene you just watched tie in with the rest?).
Enter the heroine, Re-l Mayer; a young inspector of the Citizens Intelligence Bureau and grand-daughter of the Regent of Romdo, who is investigating the murders apparently committed by the Cogito-infected Autoreivs along with her own Autoreiv named Iggy. (The phrase “I am a gay robot” comes to mind when Iggy is mentioned.) Re-l eventually gets caught up in a whirlwind of government secrets and turmoil that seem to revolve around an immigrant named Vincent Law. Many other characters are quickly introduced early on and develop well through subsequent episodes. Including the cuter than cute Autoreiv, Pino.
The first two episodes have no introduction animation, so you go straight into it. The third episode contains the intro “Kiri” by MONORAL, which – when I’m in a slightly emotional state – drives me to tears. Ergo Proxy also has the benefit, if you will, of having the fitting “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead as its ending theme. Overall the background score and impressive sound fit well with the series and adds to the suspense and tension. Ergo Proxy is best viewed with the lights off and preferably, a set-up that will maximise the effect of the fantastic 5.1 audio.
It’s not an entirely confusing storyline, but one that you have to persevere with when it comes to understanding other episodes. I would however recommend watching both the Japanese vocal track and the dub if you want to be a bit more clued up. The dub itself is excellent in my opinion, with the voices fitting their characters well, but the script does get slightly baffling at some points. And this is where I would suggest switching to subtitles – only on odd occasions, though.
From a buyer’s point of view, the first DVD volume is worth the money you pay for it as it comes with a few more extras than later volumes (which reflect the tight-arse-ish-ness of MVM who give you bugger-all on most occasions bar a few trailers and more recently, a sticker thing…) But I reckon the fact that you get roughly 4 episodes on each disc of a very high quality anime more than makes up for the lack of extras on the following DVD volumes.
All in all, I can’t stress enough how worthwhile this anime actually is. Okay, so Manglobe may only have Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo under their belt anime-wise, but as a fairly recent studio they have managed to make Ergo Proxy look incredibly stylish, fresh and flawless. They get even more brownie points for not filling every episode with unnecessary and blatantly obvious CGI that can ruin a perfectly good anime. Character design is intriguing, backgrounds are stunning, even angles and colouring are perfect in my eyes. To me, Ergo Proxy is nothing short of being damn perfect. It’s that enjoyable, even my mother likes it.
The only downsides of Ergo Proxy – apart from the lack of extras, if that’s your bag – will be the excruciating wait between DVD releases.