Have you ever felt the pressure when you are writing a review? A cold sweat that the things you are about to write might not go over so well with everyone? I’m feeling that pressure right now. A certain amount of dread for a review that I have been promising for quite a while now. Namely that of the anime Ergo Proxy. And now that I’m actually starting my first draft for this, I don’t really know where to start. Because honestly I have no clue what to make of this series. When I first started watching this, and that was weeks ago, I really felt this was a anime that contained a lot of elements that I usually enjoy quite a lot. A dark dystopian future, a very unusual but utterly terrific style of animation, and characters that at first I thought I would really like. But at some point, it all started to go wrong. At least for me it did. So what happened? Let’s first talk about what this series is all about, before I am going to dive into the review itself.
Ergo Proxy is set into a future where thousands of years ago the planet was all but destroyed by a global ecological disaster. What is left of humanity lives on in a domed city called Romdo. It is supposed to be a utopia, but as is so often the case beneath all the shine, dark secrets are being kept from the general public. The humans that live in Romdo coexist with androids called AutoReivs. The AutoReivs serve humanity in different kind of ways either as Companions or Entourages. The peace is soon shattered when a series of grissly murders take place. Re-L Mayer is the investigator who is assigned to look into the case together with her AutoReiv partner Iggy. While at the site of one the murders, Re-L encounters an unknown entity. She has never seen anything like that before and later she is attacked at her house by a similar being. Her investigation eventually leads her to a young immigrant called Vincent Law that seems to be involved with these mysterious creatures called Proxys. But just how is he connected to them, and just what exactly is a Proxy? All the answers to these questions might be more than Re-L can handle, and might shake Romdo to it’s very core….
Ergo Proxy starts very promising. The first ten or so episodes tell a very interesting supernatural mystery, with some intriguing moments that will have you guessing at every turn. Re-L’s investigation into just what exactly is going on is a fascinating journey to follow, with many twists and turns. Eventually she ends up outside the city of Romdo together with Vincent Law and a young AutoReiv called Pino. And that is the point where it all started to go wrong for me. Every episode afterwards sees the three of them travelling across a dark and very depressive landscape aboard an airship. And almost nothing happens. The time is spent with a lot of talking, and talking….and more talking. Okay, this is maybe a bit of an exageration, but it is not very far of the mark. I don’t mind slow series at all. I certainly watched quite a few of those that were incredibly entertaining. But I do mind it, when a show goes into very deep philosophy mode about subjects that I can really not make heads nor tails of. And it becomes even worse for me when all of a sudden an episode is inserted that is just complete and utter crazyness.
Let me explain that last remark. Episode 15 sees our three leads enter a quizshow completely out of the blue. Yes you read that right, a quizshow. It is so incredibly out of place when compared to the rest of the series that one just had to wonder what the point of it was. Another thing that I was not satisfied with, was the wrap up of the story. Everything just goes into full on speed mode in the last 3 episodes. It was almost as if the creators were thinking we don’t have any time left, let’s finish this as quick as we can. The result is an unsatisfactory conclusion with quite a few things just not fully explained. And then there are the characters. Both Re-L and Vincent are just not really people that I would love to make friends with. They are incredibly dull, have an expression on their faces most of the time as if someone has died, and quite frankly were not people I could feel any sympathy for. Which is a real shame because the design for Re-L especially is really beautiful. She looks bad ass so to speak, and could have ended up as a truly amazing character.
This is turning a bit into a rant, for which I am truly sorry. Is there nothing positive? Yes there is. The animation style is really unusual but also very beautiful. The dark city of Romdo looks amazing, and so do the truly dark backgrounds. And then there is the character of Pino. This young childlike AutoReiv was a joy to watch, and one of the only shining lights in a series that consisted of characters that at any point seemed almost ready to take their lives. Or at least that was what they looked like at times. Pino was infected with the so called Cogito virus that makes her self aware. It only made her more human, and quite luckily a very welcome happy note in this very depressive series. The storyline itself, besides the for me truly poor execution, was still very intriguing. Especially in the beginning it contained some very cool elements that were a joy to watch and at times had me on the edge of my seat.
I really wanted to like this anime. I’m sure a lot of you reading this review might even be surprised at my reaction. But in the end the series just didn’t work for me. It unfortunately happens at times, and sometimes even with shows that contain elements that normally should have you bursting into joy. Another note of warning I also want to give to you is that this really isn’t a happy show. It can really affect your mood, turning it into something very melancholy. I know some people can be overly sensitive for things like this, and that’s why I’m at least mentioning it. So, in closing I want to say that this is my own opinion on an anime that really has some very high ratings. Don’t take my word for it, but just go and watch it yourself and maybe you will be someone that is going to really enjoy it. I hope not everyone is going to bite my head off after posting this. So with a few drops of sweat on my brow I guess I’m going to press the publish button.
I give Ergo Proxy a 5 out of 10 score.