Ergo Proxy. Wow. This one’s tough to review.
Ergo Proxy is not your typical cyberpunk anime. For more, it doesn’t rely on heavy gun-fighting action scenes to grasp viewers’ attentions instead it uses mind-break and a very intriguing strange and dark atmosphere in a post-apocalyptic world. Though a post-apocalyptic world is something that is not new or could even be said overused, Ergo Proxy’s is fluid and very well thought out.
Ergo Proxy stands out among other cyberpunk anime as this one is a truly original and is very unique as it takes on René Descartes’ very famous philosophical statement which is “cogito ergo sum” and views it on different perspectives. “Cogito ergo sum” means “I think, therefore I am” is basically the main theme of the anime. The whole world of Ergo Proxy itself is based on this theme while questioning and taunting the said philosophical statement. Everything was built along with those lines while the story revolves around the characters who were searching for self-actualization over the course of 23 episodes.
Ergo Proxy has a very fast pacing which could indeed get you hooked for about 10minutes into the show. It started off with Re-l Mayer investigating cases of “AutoReivs” (Android-like companions) being infected with a virus called “cogito.” This “cogito” virus is a dangerous virus for humans as this “AutoReivs” once infected with the virus comes to a realization that they too have a heart thus leading to human-like emotions which could in turn lead to trouble as they now tend to act on how they feel but not on how their masters command them to. After some investigations, while at home, Re-l saw a word written in blood that stated “awakening” and was approached by an entity called a “PROXY.” A lot of these intriguing scenarios will be shed light upon as the story progresses. Interesting right? See episode 2 as I’m sure you’ll instantly get hooked.
Ergo Proxy presents different but very realistic problems including politics, ways of life, beliefs, and the search for one’s true self. Treading along the anime, these issues will be faced with subtlety and precision without ever being dragging. Though its pacing is very fast, some might be surprised as at the middle of the anime, somewhere past around 13 episodes, it went to a complete halt as it now focused on the changes that are happening with the characters. We now see Pino’s journey for self-actualization, Vincent’s search for the truth, and Re-l’s changing feelings for the ones around her. These episodes are not entirely focused on the characters though; some contains bags of clues about the reality of Ergo Proxy while some are just placed there to add to the length or simply called fillers. Though these episodes might be fillers, you wouldn’t immediately recognize that they are, as these fillers have a knack of making your brain burst out leaving you thinking for hours about what really happened; but even if you’ve managed to solve what was the episode about, it wouldn’t change anything as these fillers were totally irrelevant to the main point of the story.
After some episodes that contain complete mindfuck which in turn made the story stagnant, Ergo Proxy now picks up on what it has left for the grand finale. If there was anything that I could really complain about Ergo Proxy, it would be the ending. For a total mind-breaking anime, I couldn’t ignore that some loose ends were still loose and some missing links were still missing. It actually felt like the anime was saying that it’s up to the viewers to figure out what happened about this or that; well for a total mindfuck anime, maybe it is really trying to do that. But still, it doesn’t hinder the thrilling rollercoaster ride I got from this anime.
What I absolutely find fascinating in Ergo Proxy is the gradual development of our three main characters. As I’ve said, Pino is in a journey of self-actualization and being infected by the cogito virus, this slowly transforms Pino from an emotionless companion-type AutoReiv to something that is more if not, realistically human. Vincent on the other hand, is in search for his true self as it was stated that he was brainwashed and is now on his way looking for answers. At first, I honestly thought that Vincent was a major wimpy guy, but he turned out to be one of the coolest male leading characters out there. As the story goes along, he gradually changes as the truth about him are unveiled. Lastly, Re-l is not your typical bad-ass girl who wields dual pistols and can shoot anyone with her eyes closed. No, she is your normal snobbish lady who gets scared, weak and is worth protecting; only thing is she’s really courageous or more like stubborn. After some realizations and some great revelations, you will notice her gradual change of heart regarding everyone around her. All of these traits make them look very real as humans which made me really admire Ergo Proxy as this is a hard one to pull off considering that the setting is in a post-apocalyptic world.
I believe that the production value of this anime is high as the animation was fluid and the backgrounds were simply amazing. From the desolated wastelands to the deserted cities, all were done with accuracy. Sometimes though, I think the lighting is somewhat of a bother as it tends to be too dark that you’ll have difficulty seeing what’s really happening. Character designs however were very human-like and if you’ve seen Witch Hunter Robin, it is very much the same. But there were also inconsistencies as sometimes, when looked from afar, the facial structure of the characters becomes distorted. Nevertheless, the animation was really good leaving you wanting for more.
Pino’s character design however was so adorable and lovely that no one could ever ignore her cuteness. Though this is not a comedy anime, sometimes you’ll find yourself smiling and even touched for the cute things she does. Often too that Pino’s character is matched with the dramatic scenes of this anime that you could even feel a small aching on your chest.
What made this successful was Pino’s seiyuu Akiko Yakima. She portrays her lines very well which fits the cute attitude of Pino. And I’m not saying that Pino has the only voice acting that was good, in fact all of the voices behind the characters were astounding. Not to mention that the opening and ending song were very good which weren’t J-pop but rather alternative English songs. The opening song (kiri) sets a thought-provoking environment while the ending song (PARANOID ANDROID) finishes what the opening has brought forth. The background music during scenes is good in setting the mood if it is meant to be thrilling or meant to be dramatic. And who could ignore the amazing use of background silence? Rarely could you see an anime that uses silence and be excellent with doing so.
Overall, Ergo Proxy is a very unique anime that could give you one hell of a ride all the way through. If it weren’t for the unneeded fillers and a much clearer explanation of things, then this would be something phenomenal. It is a true brain-twister that will leave you puzzled for hours just because of some certain events. If you’re into mentally challenging anime, then this is definitely for you. I certainly enjoyed it and much likely that you will too.
Just to summarize things:
Ergo Proxy = MINDFUCK.