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skrotkanon

  • Schweden
  • Joined Mar 31, 2010
  • 29 / M

Ergo Proxy

Ambivalence is what I'd use if I had to describe Ergo Proxy in just one word. It has a few great episodes, a lot of mediocre ones and a couple truly awful pieces.

But first I'm going to talk about characterisation because it's highly relevant to this show. To be like a character he/she must first of all feel like a person obviously. He must have motives to what he does, he needs his unique way of talking and he must have his own values. The best way to show how a character works is to put him in a mundane situation. When we know how a person behaves during his daily routine it gets intereesting to see what happens when he steps out of it. In other words we have a point of reference to compare with.

This is partly what makes the initial episodes of Ergo Proxy so great.

Re-l Mayer isn't the most interesting character to grace the screen but I can sympathise with her since I'm shown what she works with, where she lives and how she handles her asshole of a boss. (Also I'm a fan of cyberpunk and bleak sci-fi which is what made me watch it in the first place.)

Anyway, we're greeted to this mysterious city called Romdeau and some vague talk about the outside world not faring very well. Re-l stumbles upon a mystery bearing the words Ergo Proxy which soon turns out to be a near immortal monster that for some reason has taken interest in her. Apparently the studio only had a concept for a sci-fi detective thriller at first before the director fucked it up. Because this is glorious. Mystery everywhere with only bits and pieces of information slowly given to the viewer. It's probably the best detective show I've seen in anime ever.

Then they get cast out into the barren, empty world and decide that they're gonna find this city on the other side of the endless ashen desert. After they get there they go home again and then the shows over. Yes, there is more story during the first few episodes than the rest of the show. What starts out as a mystery drama soon turns into your typical shonen filled with existensial angst and demons slinging fireballs. What the hell? There's even a episode where they're stuck in a library and a dude talks for twenty minutes straight about absolutely nothing of value.

Because now we get to the heart of the problem. Ergo Proxy loves it pseudo-intellectuality and napkin philosophy. The characters prance on about the meaning of life, destiny, morale and whatever issue the creators could think of and each topic is given roughly fifteen minutes. It does not work. Books have been written about all these topics which means the show isn't adding anything to the debate and it's not enough time to even make a statement. So all we get is endless babbling. But in all honesty I'm not sure what's worse, the babbling or the horrid fights. (You can't have fireballs and philosophy in the same show and be expected to be taken seriously.)

But in the middle of all this bullshit where I almost stopped watching I'm greeted to this amazing episode where fuck all happens. The wind has stopped blowing so they're stranded in the middle of nowhere. And suddenly the show is all about the characters again. For twenty minutes we get to see what their daily routine is like and how they get when they're really bored. We get little glimpses of their actual personalitys instead of their dramatic personas. I don't remember a single minute of this episode, I just know it's my favourite.

Animation:

The show looks and feels immensely bleak, everything is just screwed beyond recognition. Animation is fluid and character designs pretty good. What more is there to say? Good work guys!

Sound:

Same deal here. The music present works and the voiceacting is all fine. No bad casting or grating voices. It's competent but never exceptional.

Characters:

It sort of falls apart here. I vaguely remember Re-l and I know there was this guy called Vincent, some robot called Pino and a doctor. Also a bunch of talking faces who were pretty hilarious. It gets A for effort because at times it really did seem to try and make us like the characters. But too much time was spent hunting and defeating proxys or talking about gods grand plan.

Overall:

As I said initially, my feelings about this show are hugely conflicting. On one hand I hate the endless blather, the fireball slinging and the monster of the week episode structure. On the other hand I love the slower episodes and especially the first few ones where the viewer is as much in the dark as the characters. So ultimately I like it but I really wished they would have prioritised differently and continued with the detective mystery instead of turning into such a clusterfuck.

5/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
6/10 overall

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skrotkanon says...

I suppose six might seem like a low score but I do like the show, otherwise I wouldn't even have watched it to the end.And the reason I started watching it was because of the cyberpunk-tag.

I also did like Pino, whenever she was toting around in her bunnypyjamas, drawing and what not my face would look all dumb. But Rel got less and less sympathetic and that other guy (main character or something) was boring from start to finish.

And you're right about it not being philosophical essays, it's visual media after all! Yet they have long monologues that at times sounds like someone reading an excerpt from a Wikipedia article.

They're just stretching it too thin. I always come back to Chobits (we've had this debate and I believe we agreed) as a good example of how to cover philosophy. They present the issue, shows us rather than tells about the various arguments and viewpoints and does so over the whole series.

A thought just popped into my head. We talked about demographics before and I suppose all the things I dislike about Ergo Proxy are things usually present in Shonen shows. Texhnolyze is a lot like Ergo Proxy only it lacks fireslinging demons and monologues (and the ending is mindnumblingly depressing, in a good way).

But you seem to disagree (peeked at your "Watched anime"-list). I'm actually very curious about what made you dislike Texhnolyze considering how similar our tastes seem otherwise.

Mar 27, 2012
LeaT says...

Oh, I love Ergo Proxy despite all its flaws. I don't mind that it's a little bit pretentious at times but I agree that they should've attempted to make the story more character-driven instead of plot-driven because Ergo Proxy got potentially good characters, especially the more flawed ones like Daedalus that felt underdeveloped.

I guess my problem is my weakness for cyberpunk, and I DO think it is possible to combine fireball slinging with philosophy, but it's just going to be hard. Also, must philosophical thoughts necessarily contribute to existing literature written about the subject? If so, it would be hard for any fiction to ever make comments regarding existentiality that's still the main gripe in EP, since there is indeed no way an anime can ever cover any philosophy in depth and exhaustively simply because the medium is like that. It's entertainment, not philosophical essays.

I've also found that I've enjoyed EP more the more I rewatch it, although I suspect that given the low rating you would not be so inclined to do so :P It might be worth a try though, at some plot elements are easier to appreciate because they are laid out in such a way that it's hard to make a connection unless you rewatch. Pino's background is such an example. I am surprised Pino's charm didn't take you in though, I absolutely adore her because she's actually portrayed as the child that she is.

Mar 23, 2012