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|Average Rating: 7.36|
Ryan scored this with 7/10. Disagree?
The story of Ergo Proxy had always split its attention between the events within the domed city of Romdo, a cold, mechanical dystopia closed off from the world, and the bleak surroundings leading from there to Mosk, where Re-l and Vincent seek the truth of the Proxies and Romdo.
The trio finally arrive at Mosk, but not before the rogue Director-General of the Security Bureau, Raul Creed, can nuke the city in his attempts to throw away the God Proxies and force man to stand on its own two feet, by preventing Vincent from realising his true role for taking Pino from him, if I understand correctly. Of course, if it is for Pino's sake, then Raul's newfound desire to have no place for despair, but also to destroy as much as he can and hasten the end of mankind in so doing, seems unimaginably exaggerated (even forced in its existential pretensions), and if it isn't for Pino's sake, then we're again forced to watch a character make decisions because they know things that we don't - about the nature of Ergo Proxy's world, for example. And this illustrates a problem I had earlier in the series; some of the characters seem absurdly manipulative, or to give rise to very complex but ultimately unrealistic desires that we as an audience can neither understand or empathise with, let alone know whether they're punching above their weight and making absurd leaps in judgement. Either way, arriving in Mosk, the characters discover little of any use or significance (that isn't in some fashion destroyed), except for a single word scrawled on the wall of a room which Vincent's pendant unlocks. From this, and the fact that the same word was written on her mirror before the Proxies fell into her bathroom, Re-l divines that the truth lay back in Romdo.
Not knowing how the story will end, it would be foolish of me to judge before it can be properly concluded and tied up, especially with a series as unique and idiosyncratic as Ergo Proxy. Looking back over what has come to light so far, however, I can't help but feel like the series is a little absurd in some ways. Vincent's apparently self-inflicted amnesia has proven no help, their long journey to Mosk has been riddled with events and locations that felt incredibly uneven, and after more than a dozen episodes of watching the unimaginably boring Vincent try to reach his home town, there's nothing there of more significance than a single word which sends them right back to Romdo. So what did they learn? Well, the long journey seems to have taught us that the outside world is in fact hospitable (volume 2), that Vincent is a Proxy (volume 3), that the Proxies were necessary for the survival of mankind (volume 4), and that the rest is all in Romdo (volume 5). This isn't to second-guess what revelations might be found in the place where we started - and I wanted to stay all along - but to make openly apparent how absurdly flat and unrewarding some parts of the journey can seem when cast in a different light. It reminds me of the story of Final Fantasy 8, which, viewed retrospectively, involved several children living in an orphanage, moving apart (though they all ended up in one of two schools), forgetting each other, becoming friends again, fighting an evil sorceress and remembering that they all used to know each other and that she was their matron.
One episode, which again has no bearing on the series as a whole is set in a theme park called 'Smile Land'. Waking up in the theme parks disposal unit, Pino stumbles upon various characters who are now being put aside for newer ones, but who decide to ask their creator why they were ever born, what their purpose is now, and how he can help Pino. Based on the stylings of the early Walt Disney, the characters have a distinctly Western aesthetic, jumping off the screen next to the comparatively realistic animation of the series, striking a feel more like 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' than anything else. This turns out to be another series of hallucinations experienced this time by Pino, as one of the Proxies tries to mislead her into telling him Vincent's weakness, but is unable to do so. In the end Pino decides to steer Vincent away from going to 'Smile Land', however, leaving the Proxy to continue building the theme park in order to make others happy (however true that is).
Two sequential episodes set in Romdo then manage to round off this volume and do the best job yet of misleading viewers with their purposefully deceitful narrative and surreal effect on audiences (albeit that there is a more psychological feel here). It would be a shame to spoil these episodes because they do an incredible job of guiding the viewer through hoops, but the more sustained nature of this dual-episode story gave me time to realise what I have disliked so much about the series surreal Proxy fights, which would normally be to my taste. Far from advancing the story or our understanding of the characters, they often succeed only in holding us further at arms length from the revelations and material truths that the series has been teasing with since the beginning. This wouldn't normally be a problem, but Ergo Proxy is a powerful, story-led series, that has managed to feed its viewers on faith in its story and events, rather than the story or its mysteries themselves.
Altogether these episodes are quite successful, but I do have doubts about the way the series has handled its story, saving everything for last and piling mystery on top of mystery without answers or payoff. Given that the next volume is the last, this volume doesn't feel quite so far away from the end, but in itself it offers few answers and no closure, meaning that it's just another stepping stone for fans waiting for the ever elusive truth behind the series.
A thoughtful series, but one which has hidden its hand for too long. Good in its own right, but overshadowed by the very thing it chooses to bait its viewers with.
|Score:||7 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Sat, 10 May 2008|
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