THE LADY AND ANIME

Exploring the World of Anime

Ergo Proxy: The Conclusion

A couple of nights ago I completed watching Ergo Proxy so my feelings are still achingly fresh. I started this series with high hopes based off positive reviews and a number of recommendations that were given. Initially, the reviews seemed to be correct and I felt I had made a good choice in choosing to watch the show. If you have read my earlier posting when I started watching the show, you could see that I was enjoying it. The heavy philosophical tone was a compelling reason for me but as the series progressed it got lost with unnecessary episodes that even after further thought really showed no purpose. Why this show that was not based off a manga had fillers I could not understand; because that’s what they were; fillers. It was as if the writer of the show completely forgot himself what the series was about and thought “Hey, let’s throw in this game show type episode with shadowy figures hovering around giving off an ominous vibe.” Yes, there was an episode that was a game show in which Vincent Law had to answer a certain amount of questions correctly or he would die. The episode would have been better if the questions weren’t so ridiculous and focused more on questions regarding PROXIES to at least help the watcher enjoy it a bit more.

Now I know it may seem that I am fuming over the show and I was a bit perturbed. The last two episodes came off rushed and left so many plot holes and not in a good way. It left plot holes as in it felt as if the writer did not know what else to do and had to end it in a hurry. But let’s talk about what I did appreciate about the show. Vincent Law. Pino. But we’ll focus on Vincent Law. He is the main protagonist and my goodness, he was the best thing from the series outside of Pino.

Closed

Initially, Vincent Law’s character is introduced with his eyes closed. His eyes are closed and he carries himself in a servile manner as he is an immigrant from Mosque and wants to become a good citizen of Romdeau. When he gives up on trying to be a good citizen in the domed city of Romdeau, his eyes open and we get a glimpse into the man named Vincent Law.

Awakening

Looks like two different people, doesn’t it? This is when you get the first glimpse that all is not as it seems with Vincent Law. Vincent Law is what makes Ergo Proxy as interesting as was the point, of course. There is this metamorphosis with his character that is not often seen in anime. The concept of Vincent Law as two different people or entities (however, you want to view it) is the driving force behind the series. That they showed it not just with his behaviors but gave a stark visual was magnificent. I was left wanting with Vincent Law as although you find out who he is which is easily figured out in the first couple of episodes without being told; the last episode throws a curve-ball about everything that was previously introduced regarding him. Speaking on the last episode, it was the last two episodes of this series that I felt tainted this show for me. I could tolerate the random episodes that contributed nothing to the series but I was hoping for a fitting conclusion.

The series which had so many philosophical tenets derailed. I understood what it was trying to discuss but it fell flat. Tormented gods created by a tormented Creator to create tormented humans. Then there is an angel? An angel that was created in the lab by a man obsessed with Re-L Mayer but was really another PROXY, Monad who was supposedly killed by Ergo Proxy in one of the first episodes. What??? The tormented gods being the PROXIES who we are only introduced to a few, their purposes little explained outside of being killed by Ergo Proxy; God of Death.

Re-L Mayer, a completely unlikable character in the beginning but grows into her humanity. Regarding Re-L’s humanity, the humans of the domed cities which is where humans live because they cannot survive outside of them due to humans destroying the Earth; the humans are modified humans.  They are not reproduced by sexual means but by artificial wombs. Did Ergo Proxy discuss this in-depth? Nope. They touched on it in a roundabout way in one of the last episodes in which Vincent Law, Re-L Mayer, and Pino encounter creatures who live in a cave teeming with toxic fumes. The humanoid creatures have adapted to survive in this toxic environment so they cannot breathe clean air without dying and must forever live in the cave. There are paintings on the wall showing the creatures who are technically humans but have evolved; pregnant. Then Vincent Law sees one of the actual creatures is pregnant; he acknowledges it silently and Pino is happy that one of the child creatures has found its “father”. Vincent tries to explain that it is not a “father” to Pino to no avail. However, this is another gaping hole in the series, the watcher is initially told that humans are unable to reproduce sexually so is it safe to assume that this was to show that was not true? More frustration.

Pino; a likable character from the beginning who literally grows into her humanity. She is an auto-reiv afflicted with the Cogito virus that makes auto-reivs self-aware. This was another interesting aspect of the series that was left in the dust and ignored. Why weren’t we told more about the Cogito virus? Why waste episodes with unnecessary fluff when you had a perfectly good concept to explore?

Did I like the series? Yes. Was I disappointed? Yes. So much potential wasted.

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35 Comments

  1. SuperCold

    I saw this a couple of years ago and I thought it was too dark. Maybe I was too little to understand but I agree with you, There were some filler like episodes and potential was indeed, wasted.

    It’s a good anime, it really is. But I think it is a little too hyped and a bit overrated.

    • I didn’t mind that it was dark. I was bothered that they didn’t bother to fill plot holes that were important to the story. It is definitely too hyped and absolutely overrated. I felt that it was incomplete. There are good cliff-hangers, then there is just leaving people hanging for no reason.

  2. chum

    I think that was the entire idea of the anime series to keep us wondering so much. It was fashioned like a psychological adventure. It was a very good anime in my judgement. The fillers I think showed a bit of the psychological chaos involved with the soul searching of someone who is already in self denial. Just like Alice in Wonderland. I think the makers of the anime is appealing to the viewers to do their own research on the philosophies brought out and for us to try to fill in the gaps ourselves.

    • Hmmm…now that’s what I expected to be the show about but sadly it wasn’t to me. The “psychological chaos” added nothing to the story and derailed the show. I wasn’t left wondering, I was left perturbed. It was a good anime but it had the potential to be a great anime. It did not explore the philosophical concepts that were introduced. The beauty of philosophy is there are no answers but the show did try to answer questions but in ways that did not match where it initially started. It was completely disorganized which destroyed the show’s ability to be an instant classic.

  3. chum

    I think Real Meier is the only clone cable of producing children sexually and that is why Vincent wants her lololol.

    • LOL. I think you might be right here actually.

  4. Rachael

    OKay, here is a question; Do you think Vincent would be able to live outside the dome with the sun,since Ergo is technically dead now and Vincent is half a proxy(Im assuming). And since Real is a clone as well but of Monad, wouldn’t you think she would be in danger as well as Vincent? Im so confused! Im assuming they will be able to reproduce as well as live under the blue skies.LOL

    • I think they all would be able to live outside of the Dome. I felt the Dome was there to withhold the truth that they could adapt and reproduce. I really hoped the story would go in that direction but it didn’t. Real was a clone but I saw her name as a play on words, she is real as Vincent. I believe they could have reproduced together.

  5. Wombie

    I think you missed few concepts, you can have a look here for an explanation:
    http://ergoproxyexplained.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/30000-foot-overview.html

    • No, I didn’t miss those concepts. The show did not clearly identify those concepts and led to a muddled mess that left a poor taste in my mouth. I was definitely hoping for a philosophical component but it went off on a tangent and in its attempt to be avant garde, it became an inconclusive season that answered absolutely no questions it posed.

      Thanks for the post, though. Very nice read.

  6. jesusmarathon

    “tormented gods, angel….” it all makes sense, Mankind are the creators of proxies, and the artifical humans that live in domes see proxies as gods because proxies created those artifical humans
    it was all planned by the true mankind – which fled from earth because of methane gas explosion, proxies are just that- Proxies, agents that keep the place and prepare it for when the mankind returns {that is when the planet becomes habitable again}
    but proxies had some flaws, I don’t know if intended or not, proxies had emotions, therefore they are tormented when they come to think that they only were used as tools by their creators, so they can feel anger and loneliness, and destroy each other, and they can not live on the planet once it recovers, because sunlight will kill them, maybe it was the plan for when mankind finally returns, so the place is clean of all proxies.. all that has to do with proxies and all around them is very insignificant story when you compare it to the real plot, and that is what is so interesting about it

    • What.

      It makes no sense. Why would mankind leave behind proxies? They could just leave and then come back. There’s no need for artificial humans and proxies, unless perhaps those domes were used to clean the planet. This wasnt suggested by the show at all.

      Additionally, the last two episodes where shit hits the fan makes not a single moment of sense. Vincent randomly disappears which isn’t explained at all. Neither is why he decided to kill the GandMaster.
      The original proxy’s “revenge” made absolutely no sense.

      Never before has any show annoyed me so much yet entertained me so. If they gave an extra 6 episodes to explore the cogito virus and explain the ending to a degree that made at least partial sense, I would put this as the best anime, period. But they didn’t. They had a great concept and burnt it away.

      • Well-said.

  7. No, no, no. You’ve got it all wrong.. or at least you’ve missed some of the points.

    The filler episodes were to supply you with background information, and yes, though I agree that this was perhaps not the best way to supply it (Vince or Re-L could have found a booklet instead or whatever), it was at least original, but moreover effective.
    If you paid attention during it and did not skip it, you’d have learned that ‘the creator’ is not one person or god, but a group of humans who evacuated earth in a spaceship because of the methane hydrate disaster, due to their desperate search for alternative fuel. In their search for an alternative to gasoline, which is based on the oil that was running low, they over-mined the methane hydrate, causing the global ecosystem to collapse. All life on earth died, because all oxygen was replaced by methane.

    Earth was simply put not inhabitable anymore, because we needed to run our cars and planes.

    The people who evacuated were far too little in numbers to repopulate an entire earth, plus they needed insurance that earth would in fact become habitable once again. Therefore (‘ergo’) they made 300 proxies – each of which had the mission to settle and create a local eco system, in which copy-humans could live and could work to restore the earth. That’s why the domes had a strict waste policy: to revive the eco system.

    However: as they intended to come back to earth once it was habitable again, the people from space needed to make sure that the proxies would not interfere with them, as they were very powerful, in order to be able to create the domes and the people in them in the first place. Therefore they made them in such a way that they were vulnerable to sunlight, and they gave them souls, so that they would become unstable, like humans. Souls equal free will, which equal unpredictability, you see, so the Proxies would eventually become violent, or passionate, or lonely, or anything that would make them throw the domes out of balance.

    As for these domes: the humans inside them were sterile – they could not reproduce. That’s why they needed the womb-system, which in turn needed the Proxies. This is why Re-L was so surprised to find the toxic creatures, who gave live birth in that cave. They were most surely descendants of the original humans, who got messed up due to the toxicity of the earth, but managed to survive long enough in the caves, to evolve into the cave dwellers we witnessed.

    Ergo Proxy, then, (as well as the other ones we’ve seen) was one of the Proxies that indeed became unstable. In his case, he got lonely, left the dome, left all of its admin to mister Mayar, and wiped his memories – in effect becoming Vincent, later falling in love with Re-L, a girl who would be created from the DNA of the soon to be captured Monad Proxy.

    However, as Ergo Proxy took a hike and deserted his creation (the dome of Romdo), the people needed another source for their survival, and therefore invaded Mosque and captured Monad (Proxy XIII) from them. A little after this, the series start, when Monad escapes, because Ergo Proxy returns as the immigrant Vincent Law, drawn to the genetic descendant of Monad, Re-L.

    All this culminates in Vincent rediscovering who and what he is, in order to realise (thanks to meeting the other Proxies) that he is a creator of domes and pseudo-men, created by men and intended to burn away as soon as the earth got healthy again and the skies cleared up – which is about to happen when the series take place. The earth is restoring, which is evident because there are refugees living outside of the domes, which means the Proxies are a dying species, ready to be replaced by the men that created them. And Vincent discovers this, only to end the series by waiting for the space shuttles to land on what is now his front yard.

    Bam. Ergo Proxy in its almost full glory. I’m too tired to explain EVERYthing. Watch the series with this background, and enjoy the piece of art it really is.

    • I hear what you’re saying. I disagree. It was a muddled mess as it progressed. I was disappointed. It bored me towards the end.

    • Blaise

      This is the most sensible explanation I have found on the internet. In collaboration with the Wiki, I think I finally understand the plot. Why do you disagree Navi?

      I agree with the OP’s opinion on the anime. The first 10 episodes were great, the last ten very poor. I think the anime would have been best adapted as a 13 episode anime, mostly with all the filler from ~episode 12 – episode 21 cut out and the plot information bridged in a less lazy way like a gameshow. When you watch an anime, it’s natural to search for a sense of purpose. I would have been happy with just the storyline and setting, if it hadn’t wasted so much time and fallen flat in the second half. Barring the storyline, the next logical conjecture is some sort of philosophical purpose from the anime, but here the anime also fell flat. I think the anime would have been fine condensed to 13 episodes, providing an entertaining story and setting.

      • I think I stated why I disagreed. It became quite disjointed as the series progressed. It no longer had a cohesive plot line and though I see where it was going, it seemed they lost steam or funding towards the end.

  8. Johan Liebert

    I won’t disagree totally, only offer up that perhaps the licensing part of Japanese animation of requiring 13, 26, or more episodes being the reason why the last couple episodes felt rushed, and in general the other “filler” episodes came in the middle of the scenarios, leaving viewers disjoined. For example, when the episode with the one Proxy “fighting” Vincent (Ergo Proxy) via a game show, to the death, viewers walked in to the middle of the game show. I too was like “wtf?” I had to watch the end of the last episode to satisfy myself that I hadn’t missed something.

    You, like many other viewers, like seeing seamless segments flowing together to tell a story. Sadly, this was not possible given the length of the series.

    I think it could have been executed better. Personally I hope they serialize it more. I found the series more fulfilling the second watch through.

    You also seem to dislike vague endings, such as whether Vincent will live to fight the returning humans in retribution for thousands of years of deception, or whether he would simply live and have his “revenge” by bucking the system the original humans left in place. And what of Re-L’s budding romance with Vincent? I too was left with these questions but I’ve seen movies and shows with similarly vague endings, where the audience is left to answer questions on their own. To me, the producer was asking “what would you do?” Call me weird but I sorta like that. Spoon-fed stuff is great and all, and as an engineer I love that stuff, but more open-ended non-resolutions also have their place and I think the series left off on a good one.

    • I don’t dislike vague endings in general. I dislike vague endings in anime series that are disjointed and and convoluted plots such as Ergo Proxy. If it is a coherent series, I don’t mind a vague ending. Trigun had a vague ending, Attack on Titans had a vague ending, Psycho Pass had a vague ending, Cowboy Bebop had a vague ending, Serial Experiments Lain had a vague ending. Most anime series that I tend to watch have vague endings. But this particular series was not as great as people make it out to people. What could have been a great show ended in disappointment.

      I really wanted to like Ergo Proxy and I did but the series failed to reach its peak. It didn’t do what it set out to do. I do feel it had to do with budget and that is unfortunate. It seems people want to make me like it with their long drawn out explanations. It won’t change my thoughts and I appreciate that others enjoyed it. The beauty of being an individual is not having to like the same things as every other person.

  9. Well i guess you are right about everyone has their own opinion,you call the show mud and disjointed when to me it ended perfectly logical,you just seem to have to high expectations dont read recommendations if you are gona set your expectations too high that doesnt work 🙂

    • Of course I’m right. In terms of my expectations being too high; that is of course, your opinion. I can also read and watch what I so choose. Whether in the end, I am pleased with it, is on me. I’m not posting my thoughts for others to agree with it. I’m posting my thoughts because I enjoy watching anime and discussing it with others who do as well. We all don’t have to like the same thing. It doesn’t mean someone has too high of expectations or too low. Thanks for commenting. Please come again.

      • Alf

        I actually enjoyed this type of story telling. On the surface everything seems vaguely explained, but through subtle philosophical references more and more of the plot and the characters could be understood. There were no fillers imo. I recommend rewatching Ergo proxy and try to overthink every detail. This anime was a great eye opener for me.

      • I saw the subtle philosophical references but that still didn’t make it any better. In fact, it made it seemed rushed. I appreciate people trying to convince me and I really did want to love the show. I was very excited about it but halfway through, it lost me.

  10. drinnocuous

    There aren’t any plot holes, it just gives a lot of plot out at once which is somewhat confusing. The creators (original humans) made the proxies as gods to make domes and help repopulate the planet, the domes also served some ecological factors in rebuilding the atmosphere, though I forget how. Proxy one was huanted by the fact when the atmosphere was made stable the proxies would be killed off. So in an act of retaliation he made ergo proxy (his clone) who served the purpose of killing off the proxies and ruining the proxy project. Ergo fell in love with monad and tormented just as proxy one was (they are clones after all) he made a plan to bury his memories and run from romdo to most and be with monad. In their anger the council made by proxy one before he too abandoned it decided to destroy mosk for his betrayal. Thus the series begins. Real 2 is made from monads cells and is her clone fyi in case that confused you as much as I.

    • drinnocuous

      Mosk*

    • There was no confusion on Real 2. You didn’t see plot holes, I did. I have discussed this ad nauseam.

  11. macslate

    I just finished watching this anime and I have to say: I feel exactly as Navi did. First it sucked me in,around the middle it started to feel like they didn’t know where to go with it all and then towards the end they just tried frantically to bring everything to an conclusion before they ran out of episodes. Fittingly the last episode is called Deus ex Machina, because essentially that’s what they pulled with that angel (literally and figuratively). The whole thing left me kind of dissappointed. All in all not a bad anime, but it definitely doesn’t live up to buzz everybody is making about it (not trying to offend anybody,this is just my opinion which I wanted to share). Well I’m going to try my luck with Texhnolyze next.

    • Thank you for coming by and reading this old post. Ergo Proxy should have been an instant classic and a fantastic show. It started off beautifully but got lost on the way. What a shame.

  12. Random Guy

    The “angelic” Re-L was a clone of her, created by Daedelus using Monad’s amrita cells. He did this thinking it would allow him to have an immortal Re-L that would live forever. Her wings are a reference to the story of Daedelus and Icarus. The reason the humans in the cave could reproduce was because of mutations caused by the toxic fumes. The backstory of the Proxy project is actually most elaborated on in those supposed “filler” episodes if you know where to look. This does a good job of explaining it: http://ergoproxyexplained.blogspot.com/2009/12/30000-foot-overview.html?m=1
    You may think the series leaves too much to interpretation, and I’m somewhat with you there. However, the intention was that you would keep thinking about it in order to interpret it, making the series a more memorable and thought-provoking experience.
    Probably an 8 out of 10.

    • Thank you. I was very aware of the information you provided. I still found it to be convoluted and jumbled. It doesn’t change that I felt the series lost track of where it was going in its attempt to be purposefully obtuse and creative.

  13. Clearly this is only post you’ve read on my blog. I understand exactly what the show was trying to do, have a full grasp of the concept but felt in the end it was executed poorly. I was very excited about the show and it disappointed me. You don’t have to agree but you didn’t have to post a Wikipedia entry. If anyone wanted to watch the show, I hope they don’t read your spoiler comment. In short, yes, that is what Ergo Proxy was supposed to be about, but it became haphazard and sloppily done in the end. Serial Experiments Lain did not have this issue and IF you had actually read other blog posts, you would have realized it was one of my favorite shows.

    To note, I will be deleting your verbose comment after I feel you have had enough time to read my response so as not to spoil Ergo Proxy for those who haven’t seen it. I did not like the way it ended but I still want people to watch it and not have the whole story ruined.

  14. JohnDreamer

    The Boomerang/ARK- is a ship sent into space with most of the humans. After trying to find a new fuel- Earth became almost uninhabitable. The outside became toxic so the domes were made and proxys too to protect and look after the world until the humans returned – (Boomerangs always come back). The Proxy which is Vincent- Proxy of Death- is there to kill all the other Proxies once the humans on the Ark return. The creatures shown in the caves who are being poisoned but can’t escape without dying symbolize the Dome. People in the Domes/Dome aren’t dying from poison but they can no longer leave. When the humans from the Ark return, the Domes will no longer be needed and the humans in them will likely be wiped out. This is why I think Re-L’s grandfather planned to use the missile to blow up the humans when they returned- the domes and proxies would all be killed because they would no longer have a function and couldn’t live in the world. However Rhaul destroys the missile the grandfather had planned to use. ( I think, not so sure of this but Rhaul is supposed to be good). The missile is called ‘The Rapture’. This suggests that its used to take the humans to heaven. Re-L has called the Dome a haven multiple times which conveys that “The Rapture” missile is planned to kill the humans when they return so those in “Heaven”/the Dome can stay alive. Another pointer is at the start- Vincent never opens his eyes. You don’t need to know this but I think this is a pointer that he is shutting himself from any truth. “Fellow Citizens” follow blindly and do not question the Dome.

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