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Ergo Proxy 14 (Raw)

Remember one thing, and one thing alone: Someday, we will catch Vince without his pants.

So I'm starting to think that I might've gotten it wrong. The Proxies are not aspects of the worst human traits in their individual societies, rather, they are the embodiment of the isolation that people feel from each other, from themselves, from nature and from the entire world. This is the human completion project all over again. Vincent is now very much an older, angstier, less wanky Shinji. And instead of giant robot battles leading to self-realization, we have people's loneliness as Proxies, destroying each other in a strange bid to run away from the isolation, that strange way that lonely people escape themselves.

In this episode, Vincent tells us a bit more about himself. Real is all at once trying and all at once nice again. Pino is just adorable.

And we start again with Vincent having no pants. Literally, the first shots we get are his pants, floating in the wind. I admit to rewinding just to make sure it was only his pants and not Real's up on the mast as well, because, y'know, that might just be bad stuff. No pants, you say? Ah, if we were only so lucky.

Real scopes out the road ahead of the Usagi as Vincent poddles by to take the wheel from Pino. Yes, he has no pants. But he's all wrapped up in a bright yellow blanket, so damn if we get any fanservice for girls out of this. Vince mentions that he saw Real die, to which Real replies, she's not dead. We're then taken to a view of Real sinking in a pond. Vincent and Pino are both in the water, watching as she slips away. Vincent smiles.

It's a beautiful opening scene. Animation for this episode is definitely doing its damndest again. The Centzon Totochtin looks real as it flies across the plains. People's expressions are a wonder to behold. And Real is gorgeous sinking into the water. The ripples are practically zen.

The group are in a seemingly abandoned Dome. Vincent and Pino are in a hypermarket, loading a cart with supplies. The whole place is eerily empty. Pino is in charge of carrying the water supplies, and knowing how heavy each of those barrels weigh makes me wonder how much strength the girl has in her tiny android frame. Real is out on the street, looking for signs of life, but finds nothing, not even autoreivs. She gets a sudden flashback to Iggy calling for her, but it's all in her head. She then spots a pond shining in a distance. When she heads over to check it out, she feels someone behind her and turns around. Again, no one's there.

We next see the Ergo-gumi at a food court. Vince has heated up pea soup for the humans, and Pino is randomly opening up cans on the floor. Vincent asks Real if she wants coffee or tea to go with that, and she asks for ginger ale. (I did like her better when she wasn't the total princess.) They start eating, and Real puts her spoon down after a taste. Can't say I blame her. Pea soup makes me green too. Real is frustrated about the journey, but I wasn't able to make out quite what the conversation was about. Along comes Pino with a dish she constructed herself out of canned food, including lions and tigers and bears. Real loses her appetite and walks off. I have begun to notice that Real does seem to switch between a two-piece purple vest and miniskirt over her bodysuit, and a full purple mini-dress. It's a strange thing to notice, but wait till you see what else the animators throw at us. Vincent is now left alone with Pino, who seriously wants someone to try her food. So Vincent plays the nice onii-chan, scoops up a mouthful and goes, "Mmrrkt!"

Real ends up on the roof. We see the name of the hypermarket they're in is called Ophelia (like the name of this episode). Cut to Vincent walking past the food court with their supplies. Real is back in her seat, finishing her food. Vincent hands her some ginger ale he found, and she thanks him with a smile. Pino comes along with a barrel of water, asking if this is what Vincent wanted. The two leave for the Usagi.

Back to Real, on the roof. Vincent climbs up to see her with ginger ale. She thanks him, without a smile. Vincent is in full squinty gerbil mode, and smiling, which is truly creepy. As they ponder the empty city before them, Real gets increasingly snappy. Vincent asks why, in spite of everything, can't she be a little kinder to them? He starts getting touchy, reminding her that he likes her. Real pushes him off the roof's edge, and he falls with a loud thud. She climbs down to check on him, but his corpse is gone by the time she reaches the ground.

Cut to Vincent in the supermarket, doublechecking the supplies. He goes into the loading bay round the back, where they've parked the Usagi, where he finds Real wandering around with her gun drawn. She tells him something's amiss and asks where Pino is. Real thinks Pino is responsible for the odd events. Vince doesn't get what's going on. Pino appears behind him though, and Real immediately tries to attack her. Pino runs away when she sees the gun, so Vince chases after her. Before he does, however, he locks Real in the loading bay of the supermarket.

We then see Pino talking to Vincent at the check-out. She seems a little confused, but okay. There's another loud thud as we see something fall from the roof through the supermarket's windows. Vince and Pino run out to find Real's body on the pavement. Remember the two-piece? The version of Real here appears to be only in her bodysuit with her jacket on top. The animators give us questionable fan service, basically flashing Real's interesting bottom in its bodysuit at us the entire time Vince is checking her pulse. In the meantime, a dark figure is seen peering over the roof, so Vince runs back into the supermarket. He passes by the open door of the loading bay on his way to the roof. When he peers over the edge of the roof himself, however, neither Real nor Pino are down below. Instead, Real comes up behind him with her gun aimed for his head. Real now suspects he's not himself, and that whatever it is that's been happening revolves around him. When Vincent insists he is who he claims to be, she runs off and locks him on the roof. Vincent peers over the edge again. His shadow is the mirror image of the figure he saw on the roof earlier.

Pino is waiting at the check-out. Vincent walks up to her with Real's body slung over his shoulder. Pino asks him, very specifically, "Where's Real Real?" He instead replies that they should hurry along.

Vincent and Pino walk down the streets towards the pond from earlier. When Pino asks where they're going, Vince asks Pino if she likes being with him. Pino says she does. Vince gives her a very sad smile.

At the pond, Vincent lets Real's body sink into the water, much like he did at the start of the episode. Pino asks him if Real Real is dead. Vincent respones, roughly, that people are destroyed, and so goes the world. Real slips away.

Vincent is now running through the hypermarket and down the street calling for Real and Pino. It's brief, but I like the animated world whizzing by him as he runs. He returns to the loading bay to find the Usagi gone. Vincent falls to his knees in despair. Walking out into the street, he ponders abandonment. There's a nice moment where it seems as though he's about to cry, but the shine in his eyes is really a reflection of light on the pond. We also see that the abandoned Dome they're in is a sort of cup-shape, with the pond at the very bottom.

Cut to the pond, where Vince and Pino watch Real's body float by. Pino asks Vince where Real Real is. Vincent tells her Real is no more. Pino states that Vincent is alone now. Vincent smiles, agreeing that he's alone. Pino then tells him that he isn't the real Vince, because Vincent and Real are a pair. She wonders what's up, in that creepy and cute way of hers, as Vincent wraps his hands around her neck and strangles her. When her neck doesn't give, she flips her head back to stare at him, and in another Pino coup, tells him she was right. He is different. Vincent exclaims that she's an autoreiv and runs.

Vincent is walking on the path towards the pond. He spies Real's body sinking into the water. The animation at this point is at its best, as we watch Real's face and its reflection fuse into each other on the surface of the pond, and Vincent's eyes widen in horror. He dives in to save her. When he pulls her out, he freaks, asking her if she could really leave him when she already said she wanted to destroy him. She wakes up, and Vince freaks out even more, giving her a big hug. A total Ringu moment ensues where she reaches around to put her hands around his neck, and they suddenly plunge back into the water.

We're brought back to Real Real (it's just cute the way Pino goes, "Riiru Riiru," I can't help myself here), now safely waking up on the ground. Pino's dragged her out of the water. Real immediately tests Pino by asking where they are, and Pino starts by stating the exact number of kilometres they've left since Romdeau. :)

In the pond, Real still has her hands around Vincent, who turns into Ergo Proxy. Real states, "You're a Proxy..." before disappearing. Ergo Proxy finds himself flying into an image of the empty Dome at the bottom of the pond. In this version of that Dome, people are wandering the streets, and run when they see him land. He looks up to see himself as Vincent Law across the street. Vincent tells Ergo that they are looking at the landscape through his eyes, a story he can't understand himself. He doesn't understand why people just don't like him. As Ergo ponders this, we are shown flashbacks of Vince's life in Romdeau, of a group of angry men, of Vince living and commuting alone and Vince being rejected by an unknown girl. He tells us he was unloved, and unable to be loved. Ergo reverts to his Vincent form, with glowing eyes. The other, narrating Vincent also begins to glow, and an argument ensues where Ergo/Vincent denies that it's his fate to be alone. Mirror Vincent is lovely, both in form and voice acting, perfectly presenting a manic depressive's self-hatred in a convincingly offhanded manner that crawls under the skin. He reminds Ergo/Vincent that he is only telling him his own life's story.

The surface of the pond begins to glow. Ergo/Vincent swims upwards and breaks the surface. He sees Real on the shore. More great facial expressions abound throughout this and the last scene. Vince is relieved to greet her, but Real pulls her gun on him as he draws near. She wishes him goodbye and walks away. A downcast Vince asks her back about the promise she made to destroy him.

The most insidious kind of worm in the mind, it seems, is the nice one. Mirror Vincent appears to tell him that he understands him. That all Vincent wants to do is disappear. Vincent lashes out, and finds himself at the bottom of the pond again, facing the people of this Dome in suspended animation. Mirror Vincent tells him to look and understand that they're same. That these people represent unhappiness.

Vincent rises from the pond again. In an exact reply of what happened before, Real immediately begins to suspect he's a fake. Vince starts up a defense, but immediately says it's no use. It's the same as before.

From the bottom of the pond, we see Real and Pino looking in. Pino tells Real that the real Vince is inside. Pino suddenly points in a distance, at a glowing spot in the middle of pond.

Vincent rises from the pond, and it's the third repeat of the scene with Real. Vincent lunges at her with Ergo's speed, and strangles her. Pino runs up and yells that he's making a mistake. Vince doesn't hear her, and kills Real. When Real falls to her knees, limp, Vince does notice Pino, who runs away screaming. Mirror Vince's voice can be heard telling him about his fate with unhappiness. That this was the story of his life. That this was his wish in life. Vince exclaims that he's alone. Behind him, Mirror Vince reaches in for an embrace, telling him that he is not alone after all.

Pino and Real are watching the two Vinces face each other in the middle of the lake. We see both Vinces about waist deep in water. Ergo/Vince narrates, as both Vinces progressively sink down, that being alone is frightening. That being unable to understand one's part in life is frightening. That giving in is frightening. But giving up is pointless. The two Vinces turn into Ergo Proxy and return underwater. Real shouts at Vince to get out before he's killed. The two Ergos head towards a bright light.

Vincent rises from the pond. He sees Real, but continues walking out. Real asks him if he's really Vincent, twice.

Back on the Rabbit, we see Pino reading in bed and a bottle of ginger ale. There's a sound of the bottle being popped. Cut to Real lifting the bottle and taking a sip as she leaves the cabin. I think Real was making a snark about how cool Vince looked piloting the Rabbit in his boots and a rug. Vince says she doesn't understand, that he really thought he was alone, but is cut short by a sneeze. Real says something along the lines of it's a good thing he came back, since she and Pino were getting worried. Vincent thanks Real for helping him understand. She doesn't see what's there to be thanked about. Vincent continues his thought internally, saying that he now understands because he has Pino and Real to love in his heart, he can continue his journey with hope, in spite of his inner Proxy. The episode ends as Real takes another swig of her drink and gives him her first genuine smile in the whole series, which Vincent happily returns.

In another interesting twist, the preview for next week's episode gets hijacked by an MTV-style ad for a game show.

Writing and animation for this episode has been spot on. The voice of Vincent has never been quite so insidious or creepy, and the loops into which he thinks himself are eerily familiar - they're shining examples of the mental state of the suicidally depressed. Vincent's reality warping abilities, unconscious though they are, continues to lend weight to the idea that this show is going to end on an Evangelion-style reboot. A lot of this ep further reminds me of El Arte de Morir's reality ping-pong match -- there is that sense of disturbance in our perception of EP's reality. If we consider how much Vincent is able to influence reality, then it's worth asking, is his perception correct? Again, we're faced with how each character on the show has or is questioning their version of reality in some way, how each character wants to believe thinking is equatable to being. Ergo Proxy, bringing out the tangible sense of isolation in Vincent's mind, makes everything we perceive through him suspect. Who is Real to him? Who is Pino? And what does he intend to do with his world?



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 12th, 2006 02:39 am (UTC)
hi vampy,

i came across your detailed review of jrock ink #1 (http://vampyrichamster.livejournal.com/290333.html) and just wanted to say I'm glad you enjoyed the interview with sawao. :)

Jun. 12th, 2006 05:08 pm (UTC)
Re: thanks!
Thanks! Good to see you here. :)
As for me, I like your reviews over at your place, though I do tend to be quiet. Am looking forward to receiving my copy of Purple Sky's summer issue.

- hamp
Jun. 13th, 2006 03:30 am (UTC)
*is confused why someone wants to see him pantsless, however, if it's pictures the public wants he'll post them*

Jun. 13th, 2006 09:55 am (UTC)
Fufufu...thought I might attract you with that line. ;)
Unfortunately, the Vince in question would look rather unlike you, with or without the pants, but who am I to deny the public your lack of pants? :P But hey, since we're on this, and you're probably the only person other than me I know who liked Witch Hunter Robin, have you watched Ergo Proxy? ;)

It's all dark, and droopy, with miserable people everywhere! I highly recommend it!
Jun. 17th, 2006 10:50 am (UTC)
Man, your reveiws so entertaining. Great line to start this entry with.

One thing I don't get is how Pino didn't realize the guy who carried Real wasn't Vincent. I thought she could see light of proxies or distinguish their danger level or whatever (since kazkis seemed to freak her out and he wasn't scary looking like the Forest proxy).

As for the Ringu scene...good grief that was creepy. I'm impressed. XD

Kouji Yasu did wonderfully this episode. XD (I fear for the dub...)

Goodness, I can't even imagine what will happen next. Not that the preview helps much in predicting the next episode...
Jun. 18th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, I wonder what's with the MTV-gameshow style intro too. I might find out really soon, since EP 15 is nearly done dling.

Thanks for reading! I think Pino did realize the guy who carried Real wasn't Vincent. She certainly knew right from the start that Real wasn't the "Riiru Riiru".

Ringu scene was indeed creepy. I fear for dubs of all kinds, but the actual Japanese ver. DVDs are out. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )