Otaku USA Magazine
Ergo Proxy: Complete Box Set

From the very opening episode of Manglobe’s Ergo Proxy, I knew I had stumbled upon an anime that was incredibly special. Set in a future that doesn’t seem too far-flung from our own, Ergo Proxy begins in the domed city of Romdo, a place where true “citizens” are heralded as nobility while the “immigrants” are treated with little regard. In Romdo, the civilians inside consider the place to be a paradise. Emotions are kept to a minimum, crime is non-existent, and every piece of a person’s life is monitored by the government.

In this first episode, we’re introduced to Re-l Mayer, the granddaughter of the cities ruler, and an immigrant known as Vincent Law, who is responsible for helping dispose of AutoReivs (robots) that are infected with the Cogito Virus. Re-l is tasked with investigating some murders that have been caused by AutoReivs infected with Cogito, and she has a chance encounter with Vincent. Everything seems to be flowing in perfect motion, until Re-l is suddenly attacked by an incredibly fast, incredibly strong monster known only as a Proxy.

The end of the first episode features one of the most striking scenes I’ve ever encountered in any anime. After encountering the Proxy for the first time, the creature returns, crashes through the ceiling of her apartment while she is preparing for bed, and pins her against a wall in a way that radiates frustration, sexual tension and aggression all at once. Re-l’s fear on the screen is palpable, but the destruction of her reality also comes thundering into the forefront.

Make no mistake, Ergo Proxy is a show for adults. Scenes of intense violence and some nudity are prevalent, not to mention the weighty gloom of the world is heart-wrenching. Although I’ve seen and enjoyed my fair share of dystpoian/post-apocalyptic media over the past six months, Ergo Proxy slides past all of the other features and clearly stands among the best of the best. Not only does Ergo Proxy pay homage to other dystopian features like Logan’s Run, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and Blade Runner, but it also finds its own originality by injecting a bit of science fiction into its joints.

The intensity of that first episode continues throughout the course of the next few episodes, and the pacing of the story never hits a true low point. Even in the more bizarre episodes (like Episode 15: The Nightmare Quiz Show or Episode 19: The Girl with the Smile), the writers present the audience with little tidbits of information and details that otherwise might have never come up in the standard progression of the show.

However, the plot behind Ergo Proxy can sometimes be mind boggling. Although revelations do present themselves every so often, there aren’t many clues within the series itself to help lead the viewers to particular epiphanies. While the major plot twist in the show, which occurs around episode nine and the few episodes thereafter, is relatively easy to deduce, the conclusion of the story made my head spin. Although it wouldn’t be fair to give the conclusion away, I will say that you honestly won’t see it coming, simply because there’s nothing that points you in an appropriate direction as a viewer.

But for most anime fans, the story is only half the feature. The other half of the anime lies in the artwork, and this is where Ergo Proxy really shines. Throughout the entire series, I thought the artwork was absolutely splendid. Although the first and last episodes were the best of the bunch, the in-between episodes certainly have a flair and enough sharp, punchy action to keep those looking for violence perfectly pleased. The quality of the animation is so fluid, especially whenever a Proxy is engaged in battle, that you’ll be begging for more.

Along with the animation and art direction, the music for Ergo Proxy, especially the opening credit anthem, is fantastic. The dubbing in Ergo Proxy is done exceptionally well by New Generation Pictures, with the actors behind Vincent Law (Liam O’Brien), Pino (Rachel Hirschfield), and Iggy (Travis Willingham), putting in terrific performances. Although Re-l is a strong part of the show, with actress Megan Hollingshead turning in an acceptable performance, there’s still something lacking behind her voice work that could have been so much more. The special features (which are more numerous in this series than in many others) give you a nice insight into the way the English staff approached the series.

Despite my relatively small complaints, Ergo Proxy is fantastic. The setting, story, animation, and music all form a cohesive bond that push the series beyond mediocrity and into something more. If you have a love for anime that makes you think, or you’re looking for something that jumps outside the box of traditional anime, Ergo Proxy is definitely the series for you. Even if you don’t fall into those categories, Ergo Proxy just may be entertaining enough for anyone to at least consider purchasing.

Studio/Company: Manglobe/FUNimation
Available: Now
Rating: Not Rated