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.
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!
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.
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.
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.