08 Oct 2006

Ergo Proxy

Anime

First 14 episodes subbed by Shinsen-Subs. Epsiodes 15-23 (final) by pino-no-usagi. (Pino’s rabbit.)

Ergo Proxy never made it to my “current obsessions.” That’s probably partly because I didn’t start watching it in earnest until the series was complete. Mostly, though, it’s because it didn’t hook me. Which isn’t to say that I was disappointed with it; that would be far from the truth.

In fact, it has been one of the most intriguing animes I’ve ever seen. Very well done, far more imaginative than most, excellent presentation. I didn’t feel much of an attachment to the characters, which is probably why I never had the same drive to see the next episode that I still do with Strawberry Panic! (I think less than 24 hours now…) or Simoun. But it wasn’t necessary for the story.

I’ve heard that it wasn’t a very popular series, and I think I know at least part of the reason why. It took itself far too seriously. In trying to center on philosophy it became very pretentious. Episodes 15 and 19 in particular were just… not exactly dumb, but far too contrived. So many episodes were entirely set in one character’s illusory world. It had the feel at times of a late night university drinking session, full of fake profundity. Or of a 1970s science-fiction novel, using metaphor to imply that reality is impossible to describe.

(One day I need to write about metaphor in cyberspace. Done well, it’s excellent. Done badly, it lacks credibility. Not directly relevant here, but related.)

Good music, both incidental and opening / closing sequences. The opening sequence was especially well-animated, but the closing sequence has the edge musically, being Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.”

If I had any problems with the style it was just how dark everything was. Not a problem indoors in low light, but hard to watch in some situations. Effective, but it could have done with just a touch more light. Great character design. Real is gorgeous, yet moody. Pino the child android with a soul is fun without ever being overly cute Рand is certainly the character that I found most sympathetic. No clich̩d anime schoolkids; Real and Vincent are working professionals.

I do hope this series is licensed. It will definitely be one I’ll buy.

Shinsen-Subs has put a lot of effort into exposing the philosophical references in the series. Each episode ends with a number of panels explaining what’s going on. Valuable and interesting, though it adds to the series’ apparent pretentiousness. pino-no-usagi, who have continued the series after Shinsen took an extended vacation, don’t have these, but I prefer their translations. As always, I have no idea of absolute accuracy, but pino-no-usagi’s English idiom is better, and seems to have the clarity that comes with accuracy. “Mosque” in Shinsen becomes “Moscow” in pino-no-usagi; whether this corresponds to modern Moscow is not clear.

Most of the above is spoiler free. This is a spoiler, though the reason why may not be clear to the end. [spoiler /Mild spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] My main thought on Ergo Proxy, now that it’s over, is this: the series is the antibody to the plague which was Neon Genesis Evangelion.[/spoiler]

Current obsessions: (anime) Strawberry Panic!
Simoun
Reading: The Narrows (Michael Connelly)

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 8th, 2006 at 12:25 am and is filed under Anime. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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