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Ergo Proxy 12 (Raw)

Animation: Worse than the last episode, and probably the worst art in the series thus far. I'm not sure what happened here, since the last episode was great with the facial expressions and faces in general, and usually it's the talking episodes that get the lower quality art. Vincent's head seems too square, and Real is practically two eyes, a bit of shine to indicate lips and the occasional triangle to indicate a nose from chin-up shots. Even where episodes have had some troublesome sequences before, I could count on at least the distant perspectives and profiles to look good. Not here. On the other hand, Pino and Iggy look great. And I do mean Pino looks sweet in a number of shots, especially the final frame of the episode. Perhaps what particularly disappoints me about this episode is that there's a chunk of fighting at the end that could've really benefited from slicker art. It works and it doesn't work (see under Spoiler cut for an explanation), but it mostly doesn't work.

Voice acting: Voice acting for Iggy, Vincent and Pino really work. For Iggy in particular, I appreciated the undertone of restraint he had to have for this episode, overlaid by the motherly concern for Real. Vincent bumbles, something he's great at (much as I prefer the angst voice). I guess one of the reasons Vince's voice has never hit me with any force of personality is because he is meant to be that sort of flat character that agrees with everything. It works for the story, and Vince is a good sort of character that way, but I want to hear a few more emotions than "bumbling", "angsty", "distracted" and "in denial". Pino is just Pino, telling us she understands more than she's letting on with subtext.

Sound/Music: Okay, mostly selections from the running OST. What is it with guns falling off beds in this show?

So. I've heard a few things about this ep from bloggers who've watched it simultaneously with Japan, namely, there is kissing, raburabu and dire confessing going all over the place. Okay, so there is kissing, raburabu and dire confessing going on all over the place. But more importantly, slightly more plot is revealed, and Real reassures us she will be the most likely to kill Vincent if she has to.

I have a real fondness for that scene back in Episode 5 (I believe) where Real did what all good heroines do when the hero is comatose: slap him silly and give him a good shake, so he feels the pain.

Anyway, the episode starts with Real returning Vince's pendant. She doesn't get why Ergo Proxy always shows up when Vince is around. Vince responds by admitting he's the Ergo Proxy before boarding the Usagi and flying off. Real and Iggy tag the ship from higher above, Real still filled with doubt. On board the Usagi, Pino talks to Vince about the Scary Onee-chan, noting quite sneakily that for all of his poker face, he's actually happy to see her, isn't he? Vince nearly cracks a smile, so Pino (I love this kid) tells him that he's making a funny face. The Ergo-gumi reach a forest, where they're noticed by a shadowy figure carrying food who watches them land. Pino calls out loudly for, "Scary Onee-chan" to get off her ship, before Vincent comes along to quiet her down. (laughs) Real leaves Iggy behind on her ship, fearing Pino's Cogito infection could spread to him. Iggy tries to interrupt her, but she doesn't notice.

Real and Vince share some soup over a gas stove, as I try to get over the fact we've just been shown our first natural vegetation in the entire series thus far (more on this later). I don't know about soup flavours in SF dystopias, but that's either cream of pumpkin or instant miso (more like the latter). For those who remember the miso soup incident in Witch Hunter Robin, that whole scene just brought a smile to my face. Real raises her doubts again about Vince's sincerity on the Proxy issue. Vince briefs her on the story of Horus and Asura, and the destructive force within him, but concedes that he can't believe himself either.

Real naps in her ship as Iggy checks the vessel over for the night. She starts reminiscing about Daedalus when he offered her the new anti-Proxy bullets we saw briefly in Episode 11. Daedalus explains how the bullets destroy Amrita cells' abilities to infinitely reproduce themselves and offhandedly wishes her goodbye (he's sure he'll see her again.) For a guy who's sending the person he truly cares about to kill demigods, you'd think he'd supply her with more than two bullets. Iggy returns to the ship, and Real wonders if she'll need to kill Vincent. Frustrated with her own confusion, she dashes across to the Usagi to see Vincent.

Vincent is asleep though, so she ends up doing a scene lifted right out of Witch Hunter Robin (see below), aiming her gun for his head, and later for his legs. She gives up and sits on his cot, wondering aloud about why she's attracted to his presence in the first place. This wakes up Vince, who hears the attraction bit and blushes behind her. I have my doubts about how she interprets "attraction" here, because she probably thinks of him more as prey than she'd consider him as a guy (more on that below too). But we get the idea, these two really like each other. After hearing Real, Vincent has trouble controlling himself and drags her onto the bed beside him, basically in a moment of, "Yes! I like you too!" followed shortly by, "But aren't I supposed to be a monster?" (Vince was so much of a blustering dweeb at this point. I was laughing, because it was very Vince to react this way.) In the meantime, Real is trying to reach for her gun, which fell down in the tussle, before Vince notices it. (There is a nearly fanservice-y shot of Real here from a perspective I can only call, "up her chest.") When he asks her how she could like him in spite of his being a monster, she starts. We hear the gun fall, and catch a glimpse of it at the edge of the bed. Vince follows Real's eyes, and as he's about to see the gun, Real reaches up and kisses him.

Real uses the time to kick the gun back under the bed. As soon as that's done, she withdraws, leaving one confused (and slightly mortified) Vince and one slightly guilty looking Real. (We are given a tantalising sweep of Real's body from the face to her hands, which reminds me of that entire lecherous oggling of Real in her underwear, twice, from the last episode.) Just then, there's a noise offscreen, and Vince sees the shadowy figure from before making off with some of their food supply. While all this was happening, Iggy had walked over to the Usagi, stopping to study a sleeping Pino out front. Vince proceeds to chase the figure off the ship, Iggy looks up to Real in the cabin, Real reclaims her gun from under the bed and wipes her mouth.

The shadowy figure reaches a cave. She gives the food she stole to a much larger person inside.

Later in the night, Iggy keeps watch on the Usagi from the cockpit of Real's transport, as Real emerges (freshly awake) from the back with coffee. Across the meadow, we see Vince hasn't been getting much sleep, as he fixes a rail the shadowy figure managed to break off its stand. There's a cute moment here as Vince can be seen and heard hammering in the rail, and Pino is sitting beside (bored out of her mind again) imitating him complete with hammering sounds. Iggy reports: not much happened while you were gone. Another interesting moment occurs as Iggy helps do Real's hair. A few theories have been floated about how dependent the humans in Romdeau are on their Entourages -- this scene clearly shows us Iggy is very much combination nanny and bodyguard. The other thing this scene enforces is that Iggy cares about Real as a friend (where have we seen other autoraves feeling before?). My favourite characters by far in this show seem to be the Entourages.

Iggy appears to be trying to talk Real into going back to Romdeau, because Regent Donov is bound to worry about her. I think Real responds that Daedalus will take care of him. Iggy prods her some more about going back at once, but Real tells him to Romdeau City, she is officially dead. So Iggy reminds her about her grandfather, again, and Real simply replies she has her pride to uphold. Real keeps trying to turn her head and look at Vincent hammering away on the Usagi (and Iggy keeps trying to get her hair done right). She changes the subject to Vincent, and I think she's going on about how he's an odd duck, but the specifics elude me. Once Iggy gets her hair in place, Real gives him a friendly shove and bolts.

On the Usagi, Vincent calls for Pino, who's disappeared again. He makes a comment, I think, about why can't it be like Real and her (obedient) Entourage, which brings up a memory of Real's mouth, and results in him driving the hammer into his hand just as Real is seen walking up behind him. Adding to the stuff I already like about Vincent: he's a perfectly nice young man who's just asking to be used, isn't he? The moral of the story is, unless Real decides to jump him again, Vincent is a basket case.

Cue to Pino in the forest. She meets up with the shadowy figure (another young girl), who walks away when she sees her. Pino keeps following her, saying she left the Usagi because Vincent wouldn't shut up with the hammering. The other girl reaches the cave, and the larger person, really a Proxy, appears. Pino screams and runs.

Back at the meadow, Vincent feels the other Proxy and grips his chest in pain. Real and Iggy hear Pino falling in the forest. Real runs towards the sound, telling Iggy not to follow, because the other autorave is infected. Iggy mumbles that it's no longer relevant as she moves away from him, and is about to follow her when he notices Vincent on the Usagi. We get flashes of Real as seen through Vincent's eyes before Ergo Proxy goes nuts, and Vincent is seen leaping up the Usagi's mast and through the forest, Inuyasha-style.

On the forest path, Pino runs towards Real when she sees her. They both come face to face with the Forest Proxy. This is the first time in the series I've seen Real visibly terrified. She's shaking as she reaches for her gun. Before she can use it, however, a half-transformed Vincent dashes out of the woods and throws him against a tree. Vincent transforms before Real's eyes. When Ergo Proxy turns to look at her, she starts to cry, as she did in Episode 1. This is an interesting reaction, as Real's crying in Episode 1 could be seen as either an induced reaction to Ergo's presence, or crying from fear. But in this episode, she cries for no apparent reason, leading me to wonder if there is something inside her that specifically reacts to Ergo, and what that might be. I don't think she's crying because Vincent was telling the truth about his inner Proxy.

Pino sees Real crying and misreads her, saying Vincent will be okay because he's strong. Real goes forth to hunt the Proxies with a grim expression on her face, even as Pino tells her it's dangerous. Iggy arrives, telling her he saw what happened to Vincent too. Real says she believes Vincent is the Proxy now, that she has a job to do, that she missed him the first time in Romdeau City, but she'll get him this time.

Cut to Ergo Proxy vs. the Forest Proxy. As I mentioned previously, the animation for this fight isn't as smooth as the other fights in this series, even including the stuttering fight with Kazukis. It's like the characters are moving through fog, as if their limbs were somehow heavier. It can work for the fight, as the Forest Proxy appears to be quite Hulk-like and prone to blind onslaughts. But the animation still seems "jerky". Ergo Proxy has his hands full dealing with the Forest Proxy. The guy is resistant to brute force, thoughts about Real keep distracting him, and the Forest Proxy's child helper comes in to tag team against him. Ergo Proxy slices through the helper's arm, only to find the helper is really an autorave. Real and Iggy watch from the shadows, and Iggy urges Real to shoot while she has a clear shot. The Forest Proxy goes into a rage after seeing his friend fall, and charges at Ergo. Real shoots the Forest Proxy.

We see Daedalus's FP rays inside the bullet eat the Forest Proxy from the inside, killing him. Ergo Proxy, semi-transformed, calls out to Real in Vincent's voice. There's a loud snap, and the forest autorave gets up, one arm missing, to walk back into the forest. Real prepares to shoot Ergo. Pino appears from behind the trees. We get a shot of Ergo's mouth curling into a sneer. He tells her she couldn't possibly destroy him as he reaches out to her. Vincent stops Ergo from getting any closer, clutching his face. When he lifts his claws, we see that Ergo is gone, leaving Vincent's human face. Real puts down her gun and tells Vincent that she won't kill him now, but asks if liking her is a good idea, since she will have to eventually kill him. (Another WHR lift? See below.)

Back at Real's ship, Iggy is packing up the Forest Proxy. Real tells him to go back to Romdeau, to deliver this Proxy to Daedalus. Iggy refuses to leave without her. Real then switches off his chat mode and orders him to go back. There's a great shot of Iggy's hand at this point, where we see him curling it into a fist in frustration, before responding with the emotionless electronic voice he'll follow her orders. Interesting note here: Iggy is clear he doesn't want to leave Real and is only faking turning off his AI mode. Add to that, he's indicated twice in the story he doesn't care about Pino's Cogito virus spreading to him.

When Iggy suggests the Cogito virus won't affect him, giving us the idea he might be infected, there's also another thing that he's suggesting. Up till now, whenever Daedalus says he's reprogramed the autoraves to not spy on him, we would think he meant he was changing their software. But a few eps back, he also commented on how Raul was playing with the Cogito virus on the assassin autoraves without really knowing what he was doing. Also, Daedalus is a doctor, not a hacker. Does this mean Daedalus is deliberately infecting autoraves with the Cogito virus? That guy knows more than he's letting on.

Real leaves Iggy, a large suitcase in tow. She only wears the same set of clothes for the whole series. Maybe those are her spare shotguns? Iggy flies off in Real's ship. The forest autorave runs after Iggy with a look of longing on her face. Interestingly, the forest autorave looks about the same "age" as Pino, and she has a tanned complexion with silver hair. I wonder who were the people who built her, and which society the Forest Proxy comes from, or if these things will be answered in the next episode?

Pino is watching a recovering Vincent, who's basically sitting on the ground asking after his pained existence. Real drops her suitcase in front of them. Vincent gets up to greet her, and they stare each other down. It begins to snow. A snowflake falls above Pino's eyelid. In one of the best shots of the series, the last frame we see is of the snowflake melting down her open eye, like a tear.

End Notes:

a. Vegetation has so far been scarce in this reality. The only flora we've seen thus far are the gardens inside Romdeau, and though rabbits have been mentioned (but never sighted), there hasn't been a blade of grass anywhere in the wastes outside Romdeau. Does this vegetation suggest a place outside Romdeau where people are able to live? In previous episodes, there has been suggestions there were more Communes than just the one Hoody ran. Whose society does the Forest Proxy come from? Who built his autorave? And why is there suddenly an abandoned, starving Proxy in the middle of the forest, for no apparently good reason?

b. Raising Horus and Asura in this episode is interesting. Kazukis, the Proxy of Light (Episode 9), suggested that Monad Proxy was once Ergo Proxy's lover, as he was related to the Proxy of the Moon. This puts some of Monad's intentions into perspective:

1. Monad was forcefully awakened after it apparently died back in Mosque Dome. Back in Episode 1, it escaped Daedalus's lab explicitly to chase down Ergo Proxy.
2. This essentially suggests Monad is a zombie. It didn't really know why it was doing anything it did, except that it needed to find Ergo.
3. Kazukis wondered why Ergo would suppress his memories about Mosque Dome, and pities Monad for wanting to return the memories in question.
4. Monad chased down only Vince/Ergo in Romdeau. When it appeared in Real's apartment, it was there only because it followed Vince, who was in the same area chasing down the infected sexual companion autorave from the old Immigration Centre that attacked Real in the same episode. Incidentally, the infected autorave was infected by Monad. So was Monad trying to kill Real? I don't think so. Monad's target has been, and always appeared to be, Ergo Proxy.
5. But there is doubt Monad was actually seeking Ergo to kill him. As Kazukis said, Monad seemed compelled to make Ergo remember his past.
6. Then why did Ergo kill Monad? Was it really because he is the Proxy of Death (and compelled to kill all other Proxies)? Was it a genuine mistake, in that he didn't remember who Monad was, and killed it in self-defense? Was Ergo aware of Monad the whole time, killing it because Vincent, inside him, and in a way Ergo too, preferred Real? Or was Mondad really nothing more than an empty shell at that point, little more than a raised corpse?

And why this is interesting to raise now is because Vincent is clearly able to control himself enough to stop Ergo from killing Real when he needs to. But when he was truly an amnesiac, he nearly molested her in Proxy form. Pino has also mentioned that she isn't afraid of Ergo Proxy because Vince tends to save her all the time. So are Ergo and Vincent really two separate personalities? Or is Vincent assuming Ergo is the second out of fear of what happened in his past, with his Vincent personality trying to establish a full separation because he's trying to run away? Remember, Vincent's personality is the direct opposite of Ergo's. There has to be a good reason why Ergo would allow his personality to be suppressed that far to begin with.

c. Way back when I started watching this, I wondered how much of the show would follow Witch Hunter Robin. The WHR format ran thus: the first half of the series was peculiarly episodic, building the characters, and the latter half suddenly slammed the plot in full gear. EP clearly has a root storyline that was established from the start, and each episode has definitely appeared well planned in term of what it needs to reveal. Yet, for all the interconnectedness we have seen, EP still manages to be quite episodic, which lends itself to sporadic comments that we still don't really know what's going on. Considering there are now ten episodes left, I strongly believe we have just passed the point in Episode 12 where the story gets to the main issues.

d. Episode 12 is that episode which reminds me most of WHR. One of the best parts of WHR was the sexual tension between the leads Amon and Robin. This tension was never resolved onscreen, and much of WHR was spent with the two angsting over their mutual abilities to destroy each other. This included a lot of pointing of guns, something we've seen happen in EP. Amon's last lines to Robin, in fact, involved him saying he would watch her lest she turn against her fellow man, and kill her for it. Cut to Ergo Proxy, where Real reminds of Amon with her self-doubts, sense of duty and manipulative ability, and Vince is our token polite, faithful mahou shounen. You think I'm making up Real's ability to order Vince about and Vince's ability to follow her to the grave now, wait and see. Heck, he's an even worse girl than Robin was. Robin saved her wanton molestation of Amon for hugging TV sets, not the real article. So the scene of judicious kissing was, in essence, Real being the lovely manipulator, but probably enjoying more than she wants to know. And what a great scene this was. Real's nuances, the way you could see her eyes following her gun the entire time, and how everything lasted only as long as she could hide the weapon, the way she seemed a bit guilty after everything. I don't doubt there is romantic interest between the two, but I also believe we're seeing the Amon/Robin chemistry at work too. One of them will always be the hunter fascinated with prey. While there is a higher chance of the attraction in EP being mutually returned, as well, I still won't be surprised if we see the unrequited frustration getting ported over from WHR too.

Extended Theory

a. The Forest Proxy shares a trait with Ergo Proxy that I've found quite curious. Both Proxies share close relationships with an autorave (child) companion, whose primary purpose appears to be offering a modicum of mental or emotional support. In Ergo Proxy/Vincent's case, Pino was his only companion for a while as they traveled through the wastes, pretty much his only grip on reality apart from memories of Real. Vincent, in spite of his initial misgivings about an artificial companion, does care for Pino, and more than once has saved her from danger much as one would a normal child. In the Forest Proxy's case, the forest autorave foraged for food on his behalf, and the feelings of kinship appear to be mutual, in spite of the Forest Proxy's dubious mental state. I wonder what sort of mental state the Forest Proxy actually had directly prior to his death. He appeared completely dependent on his autorave for food, and appeared to live mostly for his next meal. He attacked anyone who was not his autorave. And yet it's clear he is able to register when his friend is hurt, if nothing else. Is the Forest Proxy some indication of what the Proxies could devolve into, over time?

None of the Proxies we've seen to date have had any complete grasp of their mental health. Kazukis was alchoholic, Seneks was a gibbering idiot, Monad (whom I still suspect was actually empty) was homicidal. Even Ergo appears to be suffering from some severe form of depression (and we haven't got to the part where he's compelled to kill everything yet.) If my suspicious are true, then the Forest Proxy was probably once a whole personality, before he reverted to his bestial state. Given that all the Proxies thus far have also had corresponding societies they represented, what does this tell us about his missing people? Certainly, if the Forest Proxy once had a human form, like Vincent, when he gained his autorave, then it's disturbing to consider with regards to Vincent's character in the long run.

b. From the above, the introduction of a forest smack in the middle of the wastes could suggest something about the Forest Proxy's nature. That there are wastes, and that people have to live completely inside artificial domes when there are forests, could indicate that the Forest Proxy also represents the complete opposite sort of human trait -- bestiality, a complete return to nature. In fact, why haven't any of the characters from Romdeau not reacted to the sight of the forest as yet, though at least Real would never have set sight on one? Isn't a forest a sign that the environment can normalize outside Romdeau? I wait to see if there are any more of these green lungs in future episodes.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
That forest proxy looks a bit like an ogrish troll living in the forest. I have done some dialog summary for episode 8-12.

Jun. 3rd, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC)
Ergo, some thoughts
Wow you really are articulate, Vampyrichamster!

Hope you don't mind if I followed you over here from the Shinsen Subs forum.

I love your site. Very interesting observations about Ergo Proxy and I thought of a million things to respond as I working earlier but of course now that I have the time to respond I forget. :(

Thanks for posting your comparisons with WHR episodes. I couldn't bear that series which was a huge disappointment since I was so looking forward to it after seeing the trailers on the tee vee. But I could hardly get through the first episode. I think I watched about three before I gave up on it. Don't know what it was, but it reminded me of X-Files which I also detested.

But I digress. This story had me hooked from the moment I saw Vincent reluctantly carrying out his job. I am a sucker for the hesitant hero - especially if he transforms into something which is completely opposite from his timid self. Why does this theme so fascinating? Do we all have monsters within that we need to keep in check?

I am also a sucker for post-apocalyptic worlds. I love the dark palette and windy barren wasteland. I think this series is highly experimental and perhaps what ppl are taking for "bad art" might be better classified as "failed risk" if you see what I am saying. But I dunno. Maybe my eyes are really getting bad or the lighting in my office isn't good enough and surely I need a new monitor. I need to watch the Shinsen version of ep 9 which I am sure has better resolution than the one I watched previously to be sure. But honestly I thought the artwork in ep 12 was outstanding as was the story. Here we see Vince at his bravest - hurrah!
Jun. 3rd, 2006 11:49 pm (UTC)
~ janeable
... oops, forgot to mention in the previous post who I was... this is from janeable to whom you responded in the Shinsen Subs forums.

Shame on me. Where are my manners?
Jun. 4th, 2006 01:13 pm (UTC)
Re: ~ janeable
*waves* I appreciate the thought! And it is nice to see people coming over, so don't worry about it. :)
Jun. 4th, 2006 01:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Ergo, some thoughts
Hi janeable. Good to have you here, and thank you for reading my rambles. Of course, I don't mind having you here. I wouldn't mind new friends at all! :)

WHR was certainly like the X-Files for a good 10+ eps or so, and you're not the only person I know who was put off by that. Even I had trouble with it -- WHR was on my B-list of watches when it ran, until its main plot really kicked in, which also drove the aforementioned sexual tension through the roof.

Both series rely heavily on underlying tension and subtext between the main characters. However, where WHR's lead couple were emotionally constipated, EP's lead couple seems to be more vocal about their feelings. I must add the Japanese voice actors for Amon/Robin and Vincent/Real have really worked for me as far as "coupling" issues go. It's one thing to have the nuances we can see onscreen, but both shows do a hell of a lot in the telling too.

Vincent actually annoyed me for the first few episodes. He was quite a Robin that way, the reluctantly dutiful character, quite apologetic and rabbity. But he was also whinier and more timid than Robin, which didn't have immediate appeal for me. Eventually, as he started revealing more of his thoughts, and the struggle with Ergo started becoming apparent, I really grew to like him. He's definitely grown into his own character now as a sensitive, hesitant, nice young man. As a hero, I like him. I like that they took the long route to develop him. He's definitely better than the usual macho schtick.

Plus, y'know, the whole "open your eyes" thing does wonders for his sex appeal. ;)

For a change, it's nice to have a nice young man genuinely afraid of kissing the girl. It's nice to have the girl being Real, and being the more forward one. I try hard not to, but I do flail around like an idjit at the thought. :)

Like you, I'm a sucker for the whole post-apocalyptic setting too. I love the barren wastes. I admire the lack of lighting, though at times I've wondered if I wasn't turning into a Vincent-gerbil from the squinting. I have a friend who watched ep 1 and told me, "Yes, EP is dark. By that I mean, I can't see a [verb] thing!" It's probably not your monitor. :)

As far as bad art goes, Ep 12 had some great shots, as I mentioned on the Shinsen forums. My real problem was the fighting sequence. I'm a horrible fighting sequence geek that way. Because the fighting sequences much earlier in the series were really good, I was hoping for something similar. Choreography wasn't quite spot on, though there were nice things happening, and maybe the Forest Proxy just didn't work for me as an opposing party (he's a bit of a blob). I agree with you though, the "bad art" could also be "failed risk" in many cases, or perhaps even, "personal taste" -- I've noticed that people have disagreed on where they thought the art was good/bad across and within episodes quite a bit for this show.

My take on it is that EP's art reminds me of shows like Serial Experiments Lain and Texhnolyze - not exactly the usual pointy-chinned horror, though maybe not as bloody either -- and of course, WHR. It's nicely dark overall. I don't think it's ever been really bad as such, though it is inconsistent.

Now, to see if Vince will go along and be "braver" in the next ep. ;P
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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