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So here we go again with another piece of Japanese animation (Anime') that serves a purpose as a total mind-f**k experience. I just got done watching the Japanese Anime' series "Ergo Proxy" yesterday and I'm up right now, at 7:00 A.M. writing about it, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around some things.
First of all, it goes without saying that this is a very intelligent Anime', produced by the studio Manglobe, and skillfully written by Dai Sato and a team of other writers, and directed by Shukuo Murase. When watching "Ergo Proxy," it helps for the viewer to abandon all known concepts of reality and straightforward storytelling to focus on a confusing (but intelligent, wow-oh-wow) storyline. (Can't think of many Anime' pieces that don't have some sort of absolute gosh-wow factor.)
With accompanying beginning and ending theme songs by Monoral ("Kiri") and Radiohead ("Paranoid Android"), respectively, and an out-there creepy sci-fi soundtrack by Yoshihiro Ike, "Ergo Proxy" is set some time in the distant future, when planet Earth has become so uninhabitable because of a worldwide ecological disaster that human beings are forced to live in massive domed cities. One of these domed cities is Romdo, where inspector Re-L Mayer is investigating murders committed by auto-reivs (robots built by humans to help with everyday tasks) infected by an out-of-control virus called the "Cogito Virus," which causes machines to become self-aware. Since machines aware of their own existence are seen as a threat capable of upsetting Romdo's delicate social balance and order, disposal units are given the tasks of destroying any and all infected auto-reivs.
In the course of her investigation, Re-L is attacked by a hideous, deformed humanoid monster in her apartment, after the creature had scrawled a cryptic message on her mirror. In searching for answers, she learns that the creature, called a "proxy," may have escaped from a government facility where it was being experimented on because it is believed that this being holds the key to the survival of mankind. Re-L later finds herself (along with her Entourage auto-reiv Iggy), by events too complicated to reveal here, linked to the mysterious Vincent Law and the Cogito-infected Companion auto-reiv Pino, and on a journey outside the city's walls into the wastelands of planet Earth.
Just to get pretenses out of the way, "Ergo Proxy" is a visually astounding Anime', mixing two-dimensional cell animation with computer-generated imagery and special effects. The plot-line is even more astounding, with a number of deep philosophical undertones meant to question the role memory plays in developing individual identity. There are plenty of moments when you sit back and say, "What the f**k?" - just as characters often find themselves questioning who they are in long, drawn-out soliloquies (like those in any play you can think of written by Shakespeare).
I've been watching the "Ergo Proxy" series for almost a year now and I still find it to be uniquely entertaining stuff. The series at first appears to be another typical Anime' with humans and androids living together and an inevitable conflict arising from their tensions of coexistence, but then a curve ball (more like, curve balls) comes at you fast from left field, catapulting you somewhere you didn't expect to be. Tensions can rise between the viewer and the confusing storytelling narrative, with a number of episodes that seem sporadic and out-of-place (such as the characters appearing as contestants on a life-or-death game show, or Vincent Law experiencing a bunch of random flashbacks in one of the most confusing episodes of the series). But upon closer inspection (more like, deep meditation) of those "questionable" episodes, I've found that they serve a purpose just as the main storyline does, perhaps, sometimes, even more a greater purpose than the general episodes.
All of this adds up to a "What the f**k" mind-blowing experience and what some may call a rather cheap and confusing ending. But what "Ergo Proxy" has going for it is a deep and intelligent narrative, properly fleshed out because of Dai Sato and his legion of skilled and thoughtful screenwriters.
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