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|Average Rating: 8.23|
Ryan scored this with 8/10. Disagree?
Ergo Proxy appears, from first impressions, to be a uniquely thoughtful and reflective series, conceived within the framework of a Westernised vision of a conversely utopian and dystopian society.
The story begins in the city of Romdo, a domed structure that established wisdom regards as a paradise, and a defence against the uninhabitable outside world. Equally, it is also a society founded on the repression of information and one's own feelings, bearing the hallmarks of Orwellian surveillance and Draconian punishment. Autoreivs, or robots, also exert a significant presence within Romdo, aiding affluent members of society and professionals, whilst monitoring and spying upon them.
Re-l Mayer, an elite agent in the employ of the Intelligence Bureau and the protagonist, is assigned to investigate the spreading Cogito virus, which is believed to produce self-awareness and emotion within the Autoreivs - things that need to be suppressed, and are discouraged even among citizens. Upon examination of the immigration districts with her own Autoreiv assistant, Iggy, which have been the home of recent Cogito infected attacks, Re-L soon comes into contact with the real culprit - a creature far more dangerous than the infected Autoreivs - a monstrous being known as a Proxy.
After returning home, Re-l tries to continue about her life, but is again disturbed by the Proxy, which crashes through her roof, and engages another in a fight that destroys much of her residence. Made to follow procedure, Re-l is tried with identifying her "attacker" from a database of citizens in Romdo, but is naturally unable, and becomes frustrated upon discovering that acknowledgement of the Proxy has been withheld, and Iggy's memories erased.
Meanwhile, a number of powerful members of society, from the doctor Deadalus, to Raul, the Director-General of the Citizen Security Bureau, and the immigrant Vincent Law, are found themselves to be intrigued by, and in varying degrees embroiled in the mystery of the Proxies. Against this backdrop, Re-l dangerously continues her search for the Proxy, while Vincent tries to escape the false-accusations of the Romdo government - who pin him as the culprit and a scapegoat.
The story is intricate and well-paced, with a variety of surprises which I have tried to avoid divulging by only giving the basic premise - the atmosphere is consistently sombre and overarching, and the series is itself amazingly beautiful, with only one scene being visually sub-par by comparison with the rest. Over the course of this volume a number of dynamics also arise, from questions about the humanity of artificial intelligence in the form of Autoreivs, to contrast of dystopian and utopian ideas. Although it has yet to be seen whether there is intellectual value in the series, it also nonetheless generates a number of references to philosophers and other notable thinkers, from Descartes to Michelangelo and Turin.
The only problems I can foresee, despite how promising a first volume this is, which I have already found hints of - are the potential for intellectual superficiality, and of greater concern, the possibility of becoming itself dull, as a consequence of walking the tight-rope of trying to portray a dull society - in which thought and emotion are discouraged.
Ergo Proxy is a series that you can't help but feel - and that is at the same time its greatest strength, and its greatest flaw. As painful as it is onscreen, so it has been for me, and it was a monster to review. I personally recommend that you try the series for yourself, if you like the sound of it, which is a must, but I have, of course, tried to do justice to the series as it currently stands.
Even with this in mind, Ergo Proxy has so far impressed with its weighty atmosphere, superb animation and intriguing fiction. The first episode is the real show-case, with a clearly inflated budget, great action and the first trappings of mystery, but the whole volume shines in its own murky way - with no one episode failing to advance the story or maintain its hold on the viewer.
Visceral, uniquely stylised and reflective, austere and powerful, but unproven and painful at times. Potentially the best new sci-fi anime series in a long time, and for a long time to come.
|Score:||8 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Sun, 28 Oct 2007|
1. Comment by Outlawstar
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