Ergo Proxy – 5 – Revolution is in the air

We’ve had to sit through five episodes, but it’s only now starting to feel like Ergo Proxy is settling down into a proper flow of story-telling and I’m enjoying it a lot more; on a level beyond what previously amounted to a purely superficial attraction.
I suspect I preferred this episode to it’s predecessors because it’s basically set in the world outside of Romdeau. The character’s living in the wastelands are a lot more opinionated- and hence, interesting, and their indiscretions also add a neat sense of humour to an otherwise very serious narrative. Also, we are learning more about Proxy.
Inside Romdeau; Proxy is a villainous monster, but outside, he is the opposite; a fabled legend. Now I realize I’m jumping the gun on this next point, but I think it’s fair to assume that Vincent is indeed Proxy (who only emerges during times of great danger) and when the old man of the waste lands describes him as “Romdeau’s famous revolutionary”, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vincent eventually leading a civilian uprising against the oppressive government of Romdeau. I’m still unsure about Lil’s place in all of this, though I doubt she will be fighting for the government for much longer; she doesn’t strike me as a particularly happy bunny in Romdeau and since she is presumably breaking the law by going outside of the city walls to bring back Vincent, I wonder whether even her powerfully connected grandfather will want her back?
Upon analyzing Ergo Proxy- the political commentary is particularly relevant to the viewer’s current social climate, though it’s neither forced nor particularly obvious. Episode 5 is full of good, solid story telling and ends poised on a knife edge- the robots of Romdeau have attacked the peasants, coldly killing a young boy in the process and Lil (escorting Vincent back to the city) ended up being attacked too. I’m looking forward to seeing where it all goes next; how the homeless vagrants react to this episode’s slaughter, whether or not Lil defects to the “terrorists” and if Vincent is indeed Proxy.
And I must add, I’m really loving the rousing opening sequence.

Early impressions of Ergo Proxy

As a means of grasping the story of Ergo Proxy, I decided to hold off on watching the first four episodes and marathoned my way through them earlier today; in terms of understanding the plot, I can’t say this approach ended up benefiting me. Ergo Proxy has a very fractured narrative flow, there are no handy sections of explanitory dialogue to be found here, and when something happens, it’s usually unexpected and bemusing. Basically, each episode is as weird as the last.
With that said, I can see myself really enjoying this show. As a science fiction fan I can’t help but fall in love with the premise; years into the future, humanity has been split into two distinct sections- the “priviledged few” live peacefully in an enclosed city where everything about their lives is monitored and controlled by the government, while outside the city there is nothing but a desolate wasteland; some people try to live out there though, because sometimes freedom is more important than having clean toilets. It’s an idea that breeds conspiracy, revolution and ultimately, the importance of being free.
The setting is wonderfully realised with snatches of dark post-apocalyptic animation (emphasis on dark) and a quick glace at the screencaps below will reveal that the character designs are about as stylish as they come. The heroine of Ergo Proxy; Lil, is as she looks, a strong-willed and firey female lead akin to Ghost in the Shell’s Kusangai. The other focus of the story seems to be Vincent- the man who makes the unenviable trip from utopian paradise to disease ridden hell hole.
At such an early stage, I’m hesistant to say whether or not Ergo Proxy is a clear winner, because although I really enjoyed the harsh nature of these early episodes, I wonder whether or not I’m simply over awed by the show’s more superficial elements. While it’s being directed in a fresh way, there is no denying that the plot is cliche science fiction and I’m struggling to empathise with any of the characters, but in terms of moody atmosphere, gothic charm and muddy sci-fi visuals Ergo Proxy has some interesting things to say, and as long as the character development steps up a gear, I can see myself becoming a real fan.

Yokohama Shopping Trip – 2

Despite clearly being the better of the original two Yokohama Shopping Trip OVAs, episode two serves up an unsettling mood of desolation and loneliness. During a five minute period in which Alpha simply brews a cup of coffee, there is no music, no dialogue, only the sounds of a creeky old house to keep her (and indeed, us) company. During this remarkably extended scene, outside the whispy white clouds shuffle and day becomes night- truely, I couldn’t tell whether Alpha was brewing her coffee for days rather than minutes, and with the way she seems to space out, I suspect that neither does she. This is perhaps the first solid piece of social commentary I’ve managed to construe from Yokohama Shopping Trip; I wonder if this scene is trying to convey the repetition of life- how we can happily stick to the same routines day in, day out irregardless of the time we waste doing so.
Aside from this period, most of episode 2 deals with Alpha learning to understand and express human emotion. It ends with a suitably attractive scene of Alpha and a friend looking out over the flooded cities of our present day, interestingly- the street lights still work, so when night approaches, the still rivers literally shine with a million neon lights. It’s a profound moment, subtely portraying the insignificant beauty of human life.