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Secret Santa Project 2015 – Ergo Proxy

December 28, 2015

Secret Santa

So once again I decided to participate in this year’s Secret Santa project organised by Reverse Thieves – it’s my fourth year now, and I’m still terrible at getting the post done before Christmas!  The concept is simple; you get three series recommended to you by an anonymous blogger based on your anime list, and you have to review at least one of them before Christmas Day.

This year my Secret Santa gave me some pretty great choices – Ergo Proxy, Gungrave and Victorian Romance Emma. I had intended to get round to them all at some point anyway, so decided to go for the one that’s been hanging around my to-watch list for the longest – Ergo Proxy (I’ve had that series sitting ready to watch since 2008!).  So yeah I’m super late getting this post out this year not because I wasn’t keen on the selections, but solely due to a lack of time – I only managed to start the show on Christmas Eve!  Ah well, I’m done now – apologies and thank you Secret Santa~!

Ergo_Proxy_cover

So Ergo Proxy then – watching this series sure made for an interesting couple of evenings!  Ergo Proxy is by no stretch of the imagination a perfect show.  It is riddled with plot inconsistencies and strange jumps in logic, has odd, experimental episodes and generally just tries way too hard to be deep and intelligent, like some sort of misunderstood teenager going through their goth phase.  However saying that I really did like the show for the most part, because at least it really tries to do something ambitious and different…..even if it gets a bit lost when in pursuit of that perfect dark and edgy aesthetic.

Set in a dystopian future where some cataclysmic disaster has sent the remnants of humanity to live in strictly administrated domed cities, protected from the polluted outside world, Ergo Proxy starts off quite strongly.  There is some great attention to detail in the setting, and almost immediately you get the feeling that all is not as perfect as the gleaming white surface of the city would suggest.  The feeling of discontent embodied in the character of Re_L added to the strange behaviour of the android companions of the human residents and the appearance of a strange monster called Proxy, all give this great mystery atmosphere to the early episodes of the show.

Unfortunately the series gets all a bit too caught up in it’s own cleverness after this point – by which I mean it starts talking like a philosophy major in their first year.  The character of Vincent is the personification of this – if Vincent spent one episode lost in introspection (who am I? what am I? what is my purpose in life! No one understands what I’m going through!) he must have spent six – and the other characters all got their moment inside their own heads too.  These episode were interesting on a stand alone basis – I do like the experimental nature of them and they were really unusual ways to work in some exposition – but there were just too many of them, and we never really get to know much about Vincent’s personal feelings in particular despite all his soul searching.  Some episodes were really jarring and took me out of the atmosphere of the show (the game show & Smile Land really stand out), but I can appreciate how creatively they were put together.

By the end of the series it mostly just felt like they were pulling crap out of the air just to wrap things up in the most sensational manner possible (woo explosions~!).  There are hints peppered though the show, so it wasn’t completely out of nowhere, but the ending still felt a bit ham-fisted and overblown in comparison to the more subdued nature of the rest of the show.  A touch disappointing really, which I suppose is surprising considering my general enjoyment of loud, action packed finales!

So Ergo Proxy’s story may have fallen at the last hurdle, but it was still an interesting trip – have to give the show some marks for attempting to produce something complex and intriguing.  The characters may have ended up being a little shallow, but they are memorable – mostly thanks to the strong visual aesthetic that Ergo Proxy excels at.  Even if you haven’t seen the show, I’m sure you’d be able to pick out Re_L as the main character of the show thanks to her blue eyeliner and black clothing!  Yes if there is one thing Ergo Proxy really got right it is the visual design and presentation of its world and characters coupled with the understated electronica soundtrack and great OP & ED tracks.

Ergo Proxy looks and sounds great for the majority of the time.  From the gleaming city to the endless, barren wastelands and deserted, ruined cities of the outside world, it is easy to get sucked into the world being presented.  That’s not to say that its beautiful all the time – there are some seriously derpy faces going on at times, and the endless expanses of nothing get a bit boring to look at after a few episodes, and sometimes the dark, grimy filter over everything makes it a bit hard to make out the details.  But still, for the most part the show looks impressive.

So, over all a bit of a mixed review!  I’ve still given the series 7/10 though because I do admire the commitment to it’s aesthetic and the attempt to deliver an intelligent series that doesn’t spoon-feed the audience or hold their hand throughout the complex dialogue.  However along the way there is no denying that Ergo Proxy got a little carried away and too pretentious for its own good.  I’m very pleased that I finally got to sit down and watch it though, it was certainly well worth seeing, so thank you Secret Santa for the necessary kick in the arse to do so!

Maybe next year (if I’m still about) I’ll get the post out on Christmas Eve like we’re supposed to!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2015 5:08 pm

    You have explained my feelings regarding Ergo Proxy perfectly with this review! I posted on Ergo Proxy a couple of years back and my post is still getting angry ramblings because I too felt it got too pretentious and outright lost its way. It could have been a perfect show, a classic even but it tried to be too philosophical, left many plot holes, and frankly didn’t finish what it started.

    • December 28, 2015 5:21 pm

      The series is weird in that it feels both overly long and not long enough! Too many episodes spent on pretentious soul-searching that ultimately didn’t go anywhere, meant not enough time to adequately cover all the plot threads and issues raised early on in the show. It’s a pity indeed since Ergo Proxy had the building blocks of a cyberpunk masterpiece, but got a bit carried away with itself and lost the plot in the process.

      • December 28, 2015 5:30 pm

        Agreed! It left me feeling unsatisfied. It almost felt like the creators forgot where they were going with their story.

  2. December 28, 2015 7:01 pm

    Series sounds like Texhnolyze if it wasn’t executed very well. I need to give it a shot just to see how it is.

    • December 28, 2015 9:46 pm

      I really, really need to watch Texhnolyze – it’s another of those glaring omissions from my anime list.

      • December 29, 2015 2:34 am

        Don’t forget all those current western cartoons that are popular amongst anime fans. Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Rick and Morty, Over the Garden Wall, Gravity Falls…

  3. December 29, 2015 12:32 am

    Oh man, I really need to get around to participating in this Secret Santa thing at some point. Every year I remind myself that I should, and every year I completely forget to do so until it’s too late to sign up. Anyhow, nice review! I have pretty similar feelings about Ergo Proxy – though my gosh is it ever a pretty one just to watch. The OP is flat-out gorgeous too.

    I see that Flawfinder mentioned Texhnolyze in a comment, which doesn’t surprise me – it and Ergo Proxy are compared to each other a lot, and for good reason. Personally I enjoyed Texhnolyze more, though that’s definitely not to say it’s a perfect series. If you’re interested in finding out more before you watch, I posted a non-spoilery review not too long ago.

    • December 29, 2015 5:15 pm

      Secret Santa is really fun thing to do – although I do feel desperately sorry for whoever gets me every year. It has to be challenging to find something decent that I haven’t seen already! Keep an eye out in October – that’s generally when the sign-ups open.

      I had to download the OP for Ergo Proxy – I never skipped it despite being quite pressed for time – so good!

      I’ve had Texhnolyze on the back-burner for almost as long as Ergo Proxy – never been in the mood for it, but think I may have to push it up the priority list.

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