The first thing I saw related to Ergo Proxy was the picture where Real Mayer, the female protagonist was holding her shotgun towards the broken window looking mysteriously annoyed by something. My first thought was: “Cool! A goth girl with shotgun in a science fiction world, it is a must see. I mean, right now!” Soon I started watching it, waiting in excitement for epic battles between cute girls and giant monsters, but I soon realised how mistaken I was, and that I should never believe my first impressions again.
The story of the series itself can be explained in one minute at most. A utopistic world struggling to survive after some catastrophe using any means necessary to achieve its mysterious goals. Then some weird humanoid life form, who apparently escaped from the government’s captivity, starts wreaking havoc in the streets looking for a simple man for unknown reasons, who later embarks on a journey to rediscover his past and identity with one question in mind: “Who am I?” It is nothing new really. Many authors have already used similar settings for their works. At first it can sound interesting; we expect fierce battles with big mysteries to unfold, and then after a few episodes of endless conversations, we get bored and disappointed. But as with most novels, films or series, not always the outcome, the ending, the feeling of closure or the amount of people we kill is what matters, but the journey that our characters undertake, and the journey we do with them. If we let them take us. That is why I think Ergo Proxy is one of the best series I have ever seen.
Ergo Proxy is not for everyone. If I tried to portray what you should expect while you are watching it, I would say that you would be seeing some surrealistic artist painting random futuristic pictures while Rousseau narrating the whole story using references from many philosophers throughout history from Aristotle through Machiavelli to Nietzsche touching so many subjects that leaves you wondering why you should even listen. Well, luckily for you, you needn’t if you don’t want to. What it really does is to present you with situations to ponder about. It does not give you solutions, does not state unshakable facts, only floods you with points of views that you may decide to forget entirely, or ponder about it later. This is the reason that many, who seek a light science-fiction entertainment packed with spectacular action scenes, will not like the show, and those who like only one great philosophic idea to be present in a movie find it a blasphemy. Also, it is filled with small references of philosophers, poets, mutters strange French words during conversations, and gives better known Latin names to computer viruses. If you do not want to look up every bit of unknown element for this kind of narration every five minutes, or you just simply don’t care, then you should never watch this anime. But if you are ready to be taken on a mind numbing, sometimes unexplainable philosophical journey with lots of interesting ideas, you won’t be disappointed.
Ergo Proxy’s animation is quite good. The art is one of my favourites even if somewhat empty and often dark, the character designs are one of the best for my preferences. The action sequences are sufficiently drawn and animated to serve their purpose. But the most important part is that it gives you enough immersion into certain situations presented in each episode that you may really enjoy watching through them. Futuristic if necessary, surrealistic, if it needs to be, or just plain stupid when it is decided to be so.
The best thing about the sound that it fits the scenes so well that you don’t even realise you would miss them if the designers were lazy enough to leave out some of the details. Clothes waving in the wind, the constant murmur of the boat’s engine, I believe the series does an excellent job in these parts as well. The industrialish ambient music, even if it is not my favourite, fits the scenes quite well, and sometimes gives a cyberpunk feeling, but it probably is just my imagination. The opening song is great, I loved the random scenery and printed texts smashed into my face so much, I think I watched it every time I started a new episode. The voice actors did an excellent job maintaining an intentionally dull presentation without becoming too boring, a great feat in my opinion.
The character presentation remains somewhat strange throughout the series. There’s not so much character development that one would expect, but what makes them really interesting is how their relationships progress during the long journey they undertake. No flashbacks, no reminiscing about a past before the first episode, only when necessary, and only for a few seconds. None of them has a past (that we know of at that point), but all of them have a purpose, and act guided by it, sometimes making conflicts with the people they meet, or with each other. We get to know sometimes the smallest characteristics that define our protagonists seemingly unrelated to the plot creating a slice of life feeling, then dropped entirely. What really is interesting that it is presented in such a way we ourselves if we managed to watch everything until now, start feeling something about the characters, and philosophise about meaningless things and sometimes, if we care enough, about ourselves. This kind of storytelling makes Ergo Proxy’s narration very clever and unique, making it really enjoyable.
To summarise, Ergo Proxy is a 6 episode science fiction series presented with great graphics and sound, an interesting but unelaborated story with a 17 episode filler of deep philosophical bullshit of random themes that only the bravest of souls should try out. But if you are into philosophic ideas about themes like “Who am I? What is my purpose?” or ”What is a Proxy?” and can wait 5-6 hours to even try to understand where the hell the main characters are going, still enjoying their everyday life, you should try it out.