Ergo Proxy is an anime series created by the animation studio Manglobe before they went bankrupt. The story takes place in the city of Romdo, one of the last places of civilization on earth as centuries ago, a global ecological disaster caused massive irreparable damage to earth. In order for humanity to recover, Autoreives, human like androids were created to assist humans in various day to day tasks. The Autoreives are multipurpose creations that can perform a variety of mundane jobs as well as fight in combat.
Humans are now reproduced artificially but they still have biological ancestors and humans are now bred for certain tasks in the world. Supposedly, they cannot reproduce but as time goes by things start to change.
Romdo city is run by a totalitarian government which controls many aspects of the citizens life in order to maintain the worlds balance. Recently, the Cogito virus has infected the Autoreives causing them to malfunction. The Cogito virus causes Autoreives to develop human emotions and as a result they behave very erratically and are a danger to others and to themselves. Re-I, an inspector from the Citizen Intelligence Bureau and her partner Iggy were assigned to investigate the origins of the destructive virus before it can become widespread and cripple the city. What begins as a routine investigation evolves into a massive conspiracy going all the way to the government of Romdo. Re-I has to decode this puzzle and to add another twist to an already complex issue, mysterious creatures known as “Proxies” appear to be in the center of the cogito virus. Vincent Law, an Autorieve specialist is caught up in a series of strange events and meets with Re-I in passing and they to team up together to figure out what is really going on and what is the purpose of the Proxies. Proxies cannot be explained and understood in full detail as they are portrayed as god like beings.
Ergo Proxy has some influences from the French philosopher Rene Descartes as well as Shakespeare. Other symbolism includes a parody of Walt Disney and Disneyland being the epitome of order, greed and corruption to represent the state of Romdo city and the government who runs it. Another episode is a parody of Jeopardy but a more sadistic and violent version and this episode is focused on world building with black comedy.
The lore of the show was very interesting to learn about and there was even an episode dedicated to explaining what has happened during the history of Ergo Proxy and how it ended up in its current state. Ergo Proxy shows the consequences of life under a restrictive government system and the resulting physical and moral decay. It depicts the duality of humans, their public public selves and then their private personas. As Ergo Proxy is a cyberpunk, it has a very bleak and dark futuristic atmosphere and there is no hope for survival outside of the city. It is very easy to get lost in the show and figure out what is going on because how engaging it is.
The cinematography for each shot was very well crafted. The animation opening and ending has to be one of the best of any anime. The animation is made by a combination of 2D digital cel animation, 3D computer modeling and digital special effects. The voice acting for both the sub and dub are excellent and the dialogue convincing.
Ergo Proxy has lots of bloody action especially on the uncensored version. Re-I while she is a very skilled fighter, she does not overmatch her opponents and don’t win easily. The audio quality for its time was superb and the soundtrack has a haunting quality.
The show takes full advantage of its long length and pacing to leave no plot holes in the episodes. The character development is another well explored aspect of the show. It focuses on self discovery and thinking for yourself instead of following others blindly. Re-I is the grandaughter of the regent leadear of Romdo City, Domtov Mayer. She is very selfish, spoiled and egotistical. She wants everyone to respect her or she has no use for them. Iggy her personal Autoreive, is used to carry out basic errands and she is always paranoid of her surroundings. This is due to the restrictive lifestyle of Romdo Re-I has never spent anytime outside the city. She is a slave to the system and observes a very strict routine. When anything goes wrong Re-I, becomes very stressed and erratic. When she steps foot outside of Romdo, she sees what the world is like beyond Romdo and she has to change her viewpoints and lifestyle in order to solve the mystery.
Vincent is trying to figure out who he is because of amnesia. In the early episodes, he cannot defend himself but as time goes by, he becomes more skilled in combat. Vincent is more modest than Re-I but there is great chemistry between them. Re-I is a very analytical woman and she shares a very interesting perspective to the current events that happens in the show.
Every character interaction and their motives are fully explored. There are episodes where certain characters have their own personal past explored and why they are in the state they are in today and how it relates to the current events. There are also a lot of filler episodes that felt out of sync with the show and these did not contribute to the overall story and progression of the show. The comedy seemed out of place and not really needed due to the serious nature of the story. The romance elements were unnecessary to me as it did not jell with the overall theme of the anime.
The artstyle is very complex and intricate especially by 2000 standards. The background design of Romdo city and the world in which it is set is very bleak and high tech. Visually, its dark and while fitting, it can be to the point you can barely see anything. The lighting effects and its contrast with shadow was very well weaved into both the art and the story itself. The ending of the story left more questions than answers despite the rest of the anime not having many major plot holes. The character designs for each character were well drawn and realistic. But the character designs were at times inconsistent from episode to episode with disproportionate body parts.
Something that should be noted about Re-I is she bears a very strong resemblance to Amy Lee of Evanescence. Considering that Dai Sato was a writer for Cowboy Bebop an anime notable for its use of pop culture references and modeling characters off actors and musicians it should come as no surprise. While not officially confirmed, it is still a matter of debate to this day whether she looks like Amy Lee and that is one of the of the topics that often comes up when the show is discussed.
Overall, Ergo Proxy is a very good cyberpunk anime.
It gets 4 out of 5.
If you’re going to find a copy of this series, get it on blu ray where you can enjoy the show uncut and uncensored.