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Monday, September 29, 2008

Ergo Proxy: Into Philosophy World

After I got speechless watching all Ghost in The Shell which talked pretty deep about the hyper-world and its philosophy, just starting 2 days ago, I am watching Ergo Proxy. The graphics are superb and the story's quality is clearly clever. I am just not about patient to finish it.

(note: I wrote this on mitayashi の 前 on 2008/8/11 and started writing the review before I finished it. I will not write the synopsis because it can be accessed at Wikipedia. I consider you as an advance reader. ;) However, there are spoilers in this review. Skip if you don't feel right to read. The pictures are directly linked to Ergo Proxy's English Official Website. I also re-edit the review to fix some errors + giving details.)

As the story sets at the future, it remains me to I Robot (Will Smith), Wolf's Rain (anime), and even... Batman. Hate me not, but when I saw Ergo Proxy - the character, his lips were totally pull my memory to Joker in Batman and The Crow (U.S TV drama/movie). I joked about it to my brother and the next scene was about several cards with one joker were blown. Coincidence? I guess not. Just like Ghost in The Shell (GiTS), this series knew what to do. It was clear that every scene had meaning.

The Two Big Themes:
"I think, therefore I am"

Cogito, ergo sum. Popularize by Descartes. This philosophy word became popular - and sometimes I think it became a modern icon - which I believe is a fundamental question of humanity, too. Do we really exist because we think, or our existence is out there but it is needed to be be acknowledge?

In first episodes, the spread of virus Cogito brought a conscience to the robots (they called it Autoreiv). This part, - more or less - was close to I Robot story. I think GiTS was also took the same theme on one of its episode. I personally wonder, how good or bad when a robot has its own mind and feeling. Will it help or just nuisance? Will it useful or even 'kill' human? If a robot become look like human, then,... isn't it a human itself? The series would give you some answers according to the questions.

"Raison d'etre"

What is your purpose in this world? What's for you are living in this world? The series told us that every existence has its purpose to serve the universe/life. I think, it's like a fate - a fate DNA - which telling you what you should do for your life. Sometimes, the purpose is to reveal the truth (like Re-L) or to find out who you really are (like Vincent), or to serve/accompany someone (like Iggy). By having the purpose, we know our goal, our dream, and our duty. Having purpose in this world, I guess it would prevent somebody from suicide and make us as a productive entity.

I think this is an important moral message from the series. Though in many mainstream anime, a message like this might appear (usually they will yelled, "Don't give up!", or something like "Find by yourself what you want to do in your life").

Other moral message that clearly appeared was about world destruction. The scene outside dome-city were portrayed as desert and deserted world. This part remains me to Wonderful Days (Korean anime) where outside the utopia was a polluted area with dark gray clouds around. Through Wikipedia I red about the cause and the reason why humans were limited (I'm not yet watching that explanation episodes). However, the part about to create human through artificial womb (WombSys) - again - remains me to an anime called 12 Kingdoms and Fafner.


After seeing 12 first episodes, I thought nothing change - or at least not much change - to the characterization of each character. But surprises were coming. Out of my expectation. For example, I thought Re-L was an independent woman but on episode 13, I could see how spoiled she was by giving order to Pino and Vincent to comb her hair! wow... Not only that, she treated others badly. A self-center? Maybe. But by staying with Vincent and Pino, she learn lot of things, too. In episode 16, where the "boat" was sinking because there was no wind, Re-L wrote diary which actually her observation on Vincent and Pino. She made several experiments with them and found out that both are left-hand (like me! ^_^) . Her character was a very structural person and too serious (rarely smile... uh..). It was opposite to Pino (childish and carefree) and Vincent (naive and honest). The more she interacted with them, the more natural she became. I think, it was good for her.

The Graphic, Plotting Story, and Music

Now, let's move on to the graphic part. Re-L's make up was surely looked like Nana in NANA. The dark and gloomy atmosphere of Romdo brought a feeling of mystery. Watching 2 first episodes had given me a high impression.

The first 30 seconds of pilot episode (or you might called it first episode) had shown a strong impression of what Proxy was, though I didn't know what kind of thing it was. The way the animators gave the speed and movement was impressive.

As three plots happened in the same time, the story of Re-L, Vincent, and Pino slowly met at a point. It took a little time, since there were sub-plots like Raul and Daedalus but they matched in harmony. However, if you find in the beginning that the story looked so serious, you will get the gag at episode 15. The Quiz story was pretty comical and satire. Re-L who was usually looked serious, this time looked funny with her hilarious angry face. This episode was also like a gate to the next stage of the story. It revealed earth's history, the "Proxy One", and "Project Boomerang" as clues. Episode 14 was a thrilling episode where the story of Ophelia took place. Though it didn't take a pure Ophelia story, instead, combining with self-acknowledgement theme; it was quite confusing story where "2 Vincents and 2 Re-Ls" were there. In this episode, the story cleverly put Pino as the one who the first time realized there were twins. Why? Probably because she was gaining knowledge or by her observation.

I didn't yet pay too much attention on the music. However, when my brother crossed my room he said that one score sounded like Linking Park. I once also noticed the Gregorian style in one score. Question, why is Gregorian style is almost linked to Gothic style? Were they on the same period..?


Why was this series resemble so many anime/movie? I think the writer(s) wanted to strengthen the ideas in many stories before this anime was made. Lot of problems are still actual like energy crisis, war, global warming, mortality and immortality, birth control and death problem, and the spread of computer viruses. Not to forget that this anime tried to explain philosophy in a clear but still aesthetic way to watch. Somehow, even though I usually half give up to understand philosophy books, I still can get it through this anime. It works? Yes. Personally, I would rate Ergo Proxy in honorable place and make it as one of my most recommended anime.

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