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Ergo Proxy 17 (Raw)

They cannot. They cannot. They must not. They absolutely cannot.

I know I said I'd review EP 15 with a fully translated question set, and given the references this ep throws, I actually have to do that quite quickly. Please accept my apologies again. The circumstances at the moment are difficult in that regard.

My two favourite characters in Ergo Proxy have always been, and pretty much stands to always be, Raul Creed and his daughter, Pino. Theirs is the must understated and most terrible of all the connections in this entire show, an almost unending circle of loss for both. I was expecting for a long time that they would have an inevitable reunion, at least, to have their individual goals come to a head. I was not expecting it to happen like this. I was not expecting it to be as difficult as this. And this is why they remain my best loved characters by far.

For those who somehow missed this up till now, yes, Raul is Pino's "Papa", the one she mentions in passing. While this episode seals the deal, the earliest proofs were in Ep 1-6, with a bonus in Ep 15, in reasonably this order:

1. Pino's "mother" mentions her husband is the head of a major government department, but is cut off when it comes to exactly which department that is. (Episode 1)
2. Pino plays a piano by a window as Vincent leaves her home which Raul is also seen playing later. (Episode 1 and 2)
3. Pino's "mother" phones someone about the new baby she is adopting, saying she will meet this person later. Raul is also seen on the phone saying he will meet someone, but the details aren't mentioned. (Episode 1 and 2)
4. When Pino's family is massacred, Raul is waiting for someone at the mall. This is the same mall Pino and family are wandering through at precisely the same moment. He goes into catatonic shock after seeing precisely three images: Pino's mother falling down the stairs, the pram at the bottom of the stairs and Pino succumbing to the Cogito Virus. This will be the first and last time he shows any sort of profound emotion up until Episode 17. (Episode 2)
5. Pino is waiting for her Papa to come home the night she is hunted down by soldiers. (Episode 2)
6. When Vincent and Pino go through the hatch leaving Romdeau, Raul attempts to force leaving the hatch open directly after spotting Pino, until Kristeva pushes him to close it. (Episode 3)
7. While looking for Timothy, Pino encounters Hoody. When Hoody asks her if she misses anyone/feels sadness, Pino mentions her "Papa", again. (Episode 6)
8. Pino tells Quinn that she reminds her of her "Papa". Quinn corrects her, saying she should be a "Mama", but the comparison of characters here stands. Quinn is very much a female Raul, and is also a parent. (Episode 6)
9. Raul is seen watching surveillance videos of Pino going through the hatch in his office shortly before he is told Real's ship has returned to Romdeau. He immediately closes this video when Kristeva comes in. (Episode 6)
10. Raul is one of two people shown reacting to the quiz show that was aired throughout Romdeau. He concentrates on Pino, and seems genuinely sad when he sees her. Again, he immediately stops this when Kristeva comes in. (Episode 15)

Episode 17 focuses mostly on Raul and Pino's relationship, with the remainding portions simultaneously handling the issue of families and human continuity (part of major plot). The very first scene shows Raul on the run from armed autoreivs in Romdeau's tunnels. He is seen dumping his citizen's card, before we see a flashback of him using this card to access the breeding chamber under the city. He doesn't like what he sees, and it gets worse with the arrival of Daedalus, who comes largely to taunt him. There's some conversation here about continuity and the utter disgust of continuing with host mothers, and how the Proxies can be an alternative, but my Japanese fails me. At any rate, Raul is angry after this, and shoves Daedalus onto the floor. Raul is later shown using an iris scanner to enter a secret chamber with Kristeva waiting outside. The piano piece Pino plays in Episode 2 starts to play.

We are then taken to Real and Pino looking at the world map in the Usagi. Real is much kinder to Pino these days - she even pets Pino on the head like Vincent does. Vincent angsts over getting close to Mosque Dome. He's all ready to let Real destroy him when the time comes. Real won't be any part of this whinging, merely saying she'll fulfill this last request of his. They suddenly realize they've lost Pino during the conversation, and go off to look for her. Real wonders after the troublesome autoreiv, I think it was about Pino's human-like behaviour again, blaming the Virus, and whether this made Pino a real person. Vincent seems worried about this train of thought, since it seems as though Real is out to destroy Pino if her Cogito Virus got out of hand, citing the fact that both Hoody and him were willing to accept the child as she was. Real merely smiles and says she cares/thinks she's real too, which placates Vincent, but makes him happy enough to slip off a cliff. When he tries to get up, they both realize he has accidentally caused part of the rock face to crumble away, revealing the opening of a cave.

Back in Romdeau, Raul is shown in flashback mode, watching the quiz again (specifically the portion which shows a world map). He suddenly gets a vision of Vincent mocking him. Through Raul's POV, we see Vincent showing him something beside him that we never get to look at, because Kristeva comes into the office to remind Raul of an appointment. Raul is then seen in an audience with Regent Donov. The Council is present to poke him. This is my second major language failure during this episode -- I believe that they're talking about all the leaked information during the broadcast the public is now aware of, there's more on that human continuity problem again and I think the Council might be trying to bring up Raul's obsession with Ergo Proxy as a kind of blame for ignoring matters of state. Raul is clearly frustrated to a point -- he starts hallucinating about Vincent again, who he sees behind the Regent. Raul has an angry exchange with his hallucination, which everyone else sees as a sign that he's losing control and falling apart. Raul regains his senses, but leaves in a huff. The Council orders Kristeva to execute Raul for this, giving her full control of the Security Bureau.

Daedalus is talking to a video of Real (most likely a clip from the quiz) about his broken arm, and basically being a very odd creepy stalker dude. The kid's psycho, loveable, but psycho, I tell you. He believes in Real.

Vincent and Real are exploring the cave, finding partially rotted, deformed corpses along the way. Real hears music from further inside, and they find Pino playing a piano in what looks like an abandoned room. Pino runs to them when she notices they're there, and we see she is being tagged by a little boy. The boy appears to be of the same blind albino race they found littering the opening of the cave. When the little boy runs off, the Vince and Real follow him to the very bottom of the cave.

Vincent and Real chance upon the little boy's community of humans who have evolved to live underground. Everyone is blind, albino and apparently eating dirt. Real begins to cough from the lack of oxygen and underground gasses, which she notes this race of people have managed to live with on their own. (Compare and contrast to psycho biogeneticist seen earlier.) Vincent is completely unharmed by virtue of his not-secret magic boy powers. He leads Real out (note to fans: by the hand, like a gentleman). The little boy from earlier follows them again.

Back in the piano room, Pino is having fun playing her favourite piece. Vincent and Real pass through, calling for her, but she doesn't want to leave. She finally catches up with them after they're a some ways ahead, and so has the little boy.

Raul is walking through the mall, using the same path his family took before they died. He gets a balloon from the costumed guy just like Pino did -- it's a heart-shaped balloon, very sweet. Kristeva is watching him from his office. She suddenly loses sight of him, just as a team arrives at the mall to pick him off. We hear the sound of a piano playing. Wished I knew what piece this was. Kristeva continues her search from a distance, which produces no results, and finally remembers Raul entering the secret chamber from earlier. Everybody is summoned to head down there.

Daedalus is pulling up a report on Raul's dismissal and taking the opportunity to mock him. One of his autoreiv assistants approaches and starts adding to the creepiness by calling him on his impervious status as the Prince in a very affectionate voice. I try not to think about what else Daedalus has probably programmed his chick droids to do in the absence and no particular ownership of Real.

Following the Ergo-gumi once more. The little boy collapses when the proximity to outside air poisons him. Pino literally drags Vincent over to help the kid. They drop him off at the piano room, where he promptly recovers. Real shines her torch on cave drawings of a woman. Just then, the little boy's pregnant mother shows up to collect him. Real notices the similarities between the drawing and this lady. Pino waves the kid off basically making the same Papa/Mama mistake she did with Quinn. Vincent laughs and says the lady's not a Papa. Interesting point here: Pino genuinely somehow cannot recognize the difference between parents. Is this because she's blocking out memories of her "mother"'s death? Is it because she is more attached to Raul, who seemed to genuinely love her? Some mix of both? The last thing Real sees as they leave the cave is the rest of the cave drawing, which shows a pregnant mother, a child and a father.

Kristeva reaches the underground chamber and gets in by scanning her own iris. I find this one very odd -- I hadn't noticed that the autoreivs had real irises to speak off before. Maybe Kristeva was fitted for a worst case scenario like this. The chamber is empty. It turns out to be a control room for the Rapture, the long-range missile Raul mentions in one the earlier eps as having been used during the attack on Mosque Dome. Kristeva orders the destruction of Raul's security clearances. This triggers off the launch of the Rapture. And we hear, again, the sound of piano music.

Raul is playing the piano in his home. It's his, and his daughter's, favourite piece again. He mulls over his losses, losing everything to Vincent. During his sequence of flashbacks, we are taken again to the mall massacre and then memories of him watching Pino play. The final image in his mind is Vincent taunting him in his office, and we see what was beside him at last -- Pino clinging to his leg like a child would to a parent. It is a frightening, heartbreaking scene. The music doesn't stop as the Rapture takes flight. It doesn't stop as soldiers begin to surround him. It doesn't stop when we see the Rapture's trail in the sky flying over the Usagi, far away from Romdeau, and Pino, imagining herself playing a piano. Vincent asks her if she likes playing the piano, to which she laughs a beautiful laugh. Real, Vince and Pino all notice the Rapture at that moment, and realize it's heading for Mosque Dome.

A brilliant, beautiful story, told in the most dramatic fashion. Raul was not yet dead at the end of this show. In the opening moments of the Rapture's take-off, Kristeva is shown with glowing red eyes, the mark of the Cogito Virus. I wonder what happens to him. I wonder if he will ever hear Pino laugh and be a real child, or if they are destined for the same terrible cycle of loss that this series throws about with abandon. Their story virtually began the unstoppable despair that has marked this series, after all. Remember, Pino's name is very likely a shortened "Pinocchio". And the Usagi is now close enough to its final destination that we will probably see Mosque Dome by the next episode. The missile is Raul's last desperate claw against Vincent, clearly trying to make him feel his own pain. Again, it's the juxtaposition of how Raul and Pino have come to cope with their losses (directly in relation to Vincent) that makes this so riveting. Whereas Raul has chosen subversive anger to the extent of jeapordizing his own mental health, Pino has accepted events as they've happened. Instead of clinging to the past, she has moved on, even grown up and become an emotional anchor for the adults around her. I would be very sad indeed if they do choose to kill Raul before he has the chance to see Pino again, before she has a chance to heal him too. I sincerely hope it does not come to that.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
*must not read this yet!!*

*is downloading shinsen-subs ep 14*
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
Whoa. You have ze icon! :)
Ah, and yes, I need to remember to put up spoiler warnings. I'd think it's a given, since this is ep so raw no one could possibly have translated it yet, but then again... Thanks for the reminder... *absent mindedly wanders*
Jul. 10th, 2006 09:56 am (UTC)
Man, I can't wait to see this episode on dvd. So tragic yet so nice. I have to wonder why we never are shown Pino's mother. I have to wonder what kind of woman Raul chose to marry. I also have to wonder if Pino's mother was jealous of Raul's affection for Pino and that's why she wanted to replace Pino. Besides the fact that Pino appeared to be on the woman's case a lot (how sad that the kid had to remind her to clean the house before Papa arrives from work so he doesn't get displeased...) She's the lazy type of woman, I guess? Where's her entourage to clean up after her?

Ah, questions that will never get answered. XD;; At any rate, we know now that Raul really loved Pino and Pino really loved her Papa. X3 waah, will they ever see eachother again? and in good terms not bad? ;o;
Jul. 10th, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
I have a feeling Pino was supposed to be her entourage. No wonder she was ticked off wanting a real maid-type. ;)

As for Pinopapa, I suspect we should be seeing something of this in...ep 19? Oh, dear.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )