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Ergo Proxy 15 (Raw)

I apologize to everyone who was waiting for this review. As I promised, I translated the full list of questions that showed up in this episode. My Japanese is still very 0.05%, so this took a long time, plus, I don't vouch for my accuracy either. But, the sequence of questions was very intriguing (and also full of spoilers).

So, there's this million dollar game. The loser gets killed. Vincent plays it against his will. Or he appears to be in the game, but is he really? This episode is easily the weirdest in the entire series, the one where we're told more than we're shown, but actually given more questions than answers. It starts off on the set of the Million Dollar Game.

Our MC for the day is MC Q.

Round 1:

Q: [Man is a thinking reed.] Which philosopher said this?
A: Pascal

Note: Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed. Pretty hard snub to start a quiz with.

Q: Which ancient Greek mathematician discovered the theory of calculating the 3 sides of a right angle triangle?
A: Pythagoras

Note: They're talking about the Pythagorean Theorem to find the lengths of each side of a right angle triangle, a2 + b2 = c2. Interestingly, at age 12, Pascal discovered this theorem on his own. Both Pythagoras and Pascal were mathematicians and philosophers. Pythagoreans believed numbers represented the true nature of things. Pascal was fascinated with using mathematics to discover truths. In a roundabout way, we could be looking at using science to discover the nature of things, but Pascal and Pythagoras appeared to eventually give in to religion's superiority as an ultimate truth. Though that could be the point as well. Alternatively, it could just imply that if you know one side of the problem, you can deduce the others by reasoning.

Q: Complete this English proverb: The pen is mightier than the ______.
A: Sword

Note: The chain reaction in and from this episode speaks for itself, but it's a great snark regarding how all this information empowers the humans to create change.

Q: Name the phenomenon where a person's voice grows louder as it approaches you, and grows lower as it draws away from you.
A: Doppler effect.

Note: Information passing through...

Q: At what temperature is water at its densest?
A: 4 degrees.

Note: ...in which unit?

Q: Now, how many questions were there?
A: 6.

Q: Who invented dynamite?
A: Nobel

Note: This is the same Alfred Nobel to who began the Nobel Prizes, which is said to have come about because he wanted to be remembered for more than an inventor of new ways to die. It's certainly interesting to think of in the context of the human continuity issues in this series. It hints that the person responsible for airing the quiz show wants to be more than creative death. Now who might that be?

Q: An astronomical unit corresponds to the distance between ________ and ________.
A: The Sun and the Earth.

Note: Foreshadowing a later point. This imitation Vince is creepy. More so because I think he's the same Evil Vincent from the later eps.

Q: What's the name of this song?
A: Kiri. :)

Note: MC Q? Is that like Bond's Q? Comes with a bowtie too.

Round 2:

The Ergo-gumi are shown locked in glass tubes on the upper floor of the studio. Q introduces them as supporting guests, but then again...

Who is this?

Q: Likes black clothes.
Q: Can detect evil.
Q: Appears young.

Note: The graphic clues for this game are hilarious. Guy in his undies surrounded by penguins in the North Pole hilarious. Vincent responds to this set of descriptions with, "Real Mayer."

Q: Resistant to cold.
Q: Seen in public.
Q: Longs to be near Vincent.

The exercise comes off as one of Vincent's own memory-mapping sequences, in that he's being coerced quite strongly to remember something about himself. We can't really know exactly, by watching this episode, if Vincent is indeed inside his own head and this is getting beamed across to Romdeau, if another party is infiltrating his head and beaming the results to Romdeau, or finally, if this is something someone else completely made up to leak classified information to the Romdeau public. It's definitely not likely this broadcast would be able to reach Vincent and his crew outsdie of Romdea. But it's obvious whoever sent out this telecast clearly disdains Vincent, since he's being parodied quite blatantly here. Q is also anything but friendly behind his smiles.

Vincent responds to the second set of descriptions with, "Pino."

Q: Cool guy. (Lit. "Taciturn sell", like a "hard sell". Q is referring to the tall, dark, barely emotional, kind of undead-looking guy the women try to climb all over -- much like the visual clue that comes with this question.)
Q: Contrary to expectations, a person who cries easily.
Q: Can be threacherous.
Q: Only concerned with winning.
Q: Naked under a blue sky.
Q: Who is this? (profile of someone who looks like Vincent in proxy form, shaded)

Vincent thinks its, "Ergo Proxy." It's really the First (see below).

Round 3:

Mosaic 1: Looked a bit like the breeding chamber under Romdeau.

Raul and Kristeva are listening to the broadcast while discussing how the quiz show has taken over Romdeau's systems. According to Anikimeiski, the broadcasted dialogue at this point appears to be talking about a project to preserve "original" human beings before they became the production line humans without the capacity for evolution. Kind of like the way the DNA of endangered animals are preserved now in the hopes of growing them later. But the narrator goes on to say the project was a failure because the original and new humans were unable to crossbreed. Some mockery about this failure on the part of the creators ensues, which sounds like it's in the sense of mocking an error-prone god.

Raul's attention is focused on Pino onscreen. Her poor Papa has the saddest eyes- the PinoPapa and Pino sub-plot has been one of major focuses, if not my major focus, for this series. I've always liked how it's told in the most understated ways between the lines. I've only just realized it, but Pino's hair and eye colour have switched from Raul's shades to blue hair and green eyes after she left Romdeau/probably after she was infected. I didn't really think much about it before until I saw earlier shots with her original colours. In Ep 3, if I remember correctly, when she meets up with Vincent to run away, she's in her cat suit, which hides her hair, and I completely missed her eyes.

We see flashes to Daedalus, who is pining at the shots of Real on his screen, and the Council, who are also watching the quiz.

Round 4:

Triple Chance (Group Effort)

Real and Pino are called in to help Vincent. Real looks very bored, whereas Pino is all ears. The Ergo-gumi are shown a sequence of the creation of the universe, along with the evolution of critters leading up to humankind in all their murderous ways. They're then given a mosaic of what looks like a satellite.

Pino draws out the mosaic on her answer sheet. Exactly just the mosaic. Real doesn't care. Vincent thinks its a rocket.

A: Boomerang Star

It's a massive space shuttle designed to be a last escape should human beings completely fail on Earth.

Final Round:

Q stops for a powder check. At least he's human -- unlike the other people in the studio barring Real and Vincent, everyone is an autoreiv. This is a freaky point. Where is this mysterious studio? Have they all been infected?

Q: In the latter half of the 21st Century, what was the most anticipated energy source apart from nuclear energy, (derived from solidified deposits of methane gas)?
A: Methane hydrate

Note: Methane hydrate is a potential alternative energy source Japan is currently involved in researching on a commercial scale. Methane is also theorized as being a cause of past and future climate changes, which ties into the post-apocalyptic environment from a purely worst-case scenario standpoint.

Q: How many percent of life on Earth perished due to the resultant breakdown of the methane hydrate layer?
A: 85%

Note: This appears to be a running commentary on how the world of Ergo Proxy got to its current state. From the previous question, the sudden release of methane gas from beneath the earth would naturally cause global warming. This implies that the trigger for humankind's downfall in this series was not manmade, but natural causes -- leading to humans screwing themselves over again anyway.

Q: The plan for mankind's resurrection has the short form of?
A: P.P.

Notation monkey: Proxy Project. (see below)

Q: Whose existence became unnecessary after mankind's resurrection?
A: The Proxies of the world.

Note: Interesting. So Proxies were necessary for the resurrection of mankind, hence why Daedalus and certain others refer to them as "gods", but weren't viable after a certain point? Going back to the earlier note about crossbreeding, could Proxies be considered leftover experiments that failed because they weren't able to pass on their genes? Are we looking at a kind of failed artificial evolution? With Proxies being unable to breed and humans being unable to live, no wonder they're trying to genetically splice the two again.

Note 2: Vincent responds to this question with, "Me?", and though the commentator originally doesn't give him any points for this, Q asks the producers to reverse the decision on principle. The show is outing Vincent as a Proxy to Romdeau.

Q: How many Proxies were released into the world as a result of P.P, or the Proxy Project?
A: 300

Note: That's a lot of random battles for our party to handle alone, with or without Vincent's limit break. I assume with so many superpowered bosses wandering around, enough of them have wound up dead by now.

Note 2: Vincent was given three options: A. 30, B. 300 and C. 3000. Vince answered C. Q immediately poked him about it because it's a really horrible number if that were case. Cute.

Q: What is the Pulse of Awakening?
A: The end of the Proxy Project.

Note: Now the quiz is practically advertising death to all Proxies.

Q: The author of Psychology and Alchemy, as you know, is Carl Gustav Jung. In this book, what is the name of the purported King?
A: The King of the Underworld (Hades)

Note: Not sure I understood this one. I tried poking around online, but apart from Psychology and Alchemy being about Jung connecting alchemical processes and spiritual growth, and that he apparently played with Greco-Roman mythos a lot in the process, I'm not very sure how this fits into the story thus far. Hades is the King of the Underworld, representing a lot of death -- is this implying that the next stage of human evolution, by virtue of destroying Proxies, involves the awakening of Death? as I also highly suspect a language failure means I translated the context of the King in the question wrongly. I yearn to hear what my betters have to say about this.

Q: What is the name for humankind's plan against the Cogito Virus?
A: Boomerang Project (BP)

Note: This, in the chain of questions, confirms that the Proxies are responsible for the Cogito Virus. If Proxies can't crossbreed with humans, their gifting androids with self-awareness instead is horribly ironic. This leads into another thought: if the key to human evolution turns out to be self-awareness (very NGE), then we are still headed towards Shinji-type reboots of the known universe.

Q: Of the Egyptian gods who share our sacred vision, what sort of god is Ra?
A: The Sun God.

Note: Going back to the Proxy who stands naked under a blue sky, this question implies two things: Q seems to be referring to himself as being among the Proxies, and the Proxies are being referred to as gods.

The effect of this question is that Vincent seems to wake up and begin to answer questions accurately at a fast rate. Unfortunately, this also hits the bare limits of my language stamina. Spoken Japanese is by and far not my forte at all - the written words can at least be looked up, so I missed out on virtually all the questions in the rest of this round. There were also a number of answers without questions. This is the list of answers:

1. Fate
2. Conductor
3. Defeated
4. Torn portion
5. Contract
6. Substitute
7. Remembering (lit. "pulling away what was forgotten")
8. Waking
9. Warring
10. A Past Era
11. Using reason (to fathom)
12. The Labyrinth

And so it seems, the message is getting Vincent to navigate his own memories to decipher his past. But why is it so essential for him to remember, is the question we don't yet have. Interestingly, Q seems happier than he's walked "Vincent" through his memories than the man himself is, and gets all the praise for the job. I wonder if Q isn't some kind of Proxy who works with memories, like the Memory Hacker. Or a tool of a Proxy's mind, like JJ, except he clearly despises Vincent.

Note: For most of the questions throughout the quiz, and especially in the fast round, the female commentator describes the answer as belonging "to the World." Like, "the world's awakening" and "the world's contract." My take on this is that the Proxies (or one Proxy) is unhappy with the world for abandoning him after he helped save them. (Eg. The Chickens are Restless)

The episode ends with the answer "viewer response" question that asks the viewer to spot the difference between three large koi-shaped kits. The correct answer is that the red koi in the middle is missing two scales. It's another in-episode snark, because they then introduce First Proxy, a guy who looks a lot like Vincent, complete with flowing cloak, sans mask, but with red hair and blue eyes. This is the same fellow we saw in the opening moments of Episode 1 (went back to look at this -- I thought it was really Vincent earlier too), holding a pendant like Vincent's before we cut to Monad Proxy murdering its first kill.

Now that I've translated the sequence of questions, I have no doubt in my mind that Raul was the one who broadcasted the quiz show. Round 2's questions are an almost unnerving description of Raul Creed. He probably wasn't working with First Proxy as an active part of his personality yet at Ep 15, so the broadcast was probably First Proxy working as a secret, unknown person within Raul much like Ergo Proxy did for Vincent before, but he's clearly a part of Raul by the end of Ep 18. And there is that intriguing order of questions. It's a look into Vincent's mind, but it could well be a look into First Proxy's instead.

Bonus lesson of this episode: Translating is hard work. I respect all translators of any language. Then again, languages are fun!



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC)
ya know, they say the loser gets killed but we dont' really see anyone die. I'm so lost...(eh, probably better that way...)

btw, wow, those notes are fabulous! No wonder its taking everyone to bring out the subs for this episode. XD it really must be a pain for the subbers. XD

As for King of the underworld bit, didn't Ergo Proxy admit he was the emissary of death? (or was he just that for Kazkis...XD)

I dunno, seems like a stretch for Raul to be responsible for the quiz show...(how would that have come about?) or that he's connected to the first proxy. The first proxy is supposed to care about Vincent, no? And Raul...really doesn't. ^^;

But yeah, when I first saw this episode, I was so surprised to learn about Proxy One. XD; I had thought that was Vincent in episode one talking. Seriously, Proxy One? who the hell is that? Is he the guy that walked out of the train when Vincent was coming to from his crazy flashback dream?

eh heh, the thing that keeps me wondering about One Proxy is the whole crying thing. WHAT is THAT about? Tears definately mean something in this series, but I can't figure it out. I've seen previews of the show and they even show Real's grandfather with one tear in his eye, much like Ergo Proxy and Real, when they cry. Its significant, I know it is!
Jul. 19th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
I have a sincere admiration for what the translators must be going through after I tried translating just the written portion of this episode. It must be an extreme artform for them, and I couldn't fault them for taking their time with this in any fashion. It's a very hard ep. The scripted questions are just the obvious things. There's way more subtext in the actual dialogue that doesn't come through in my review because I've been barely able to make sense of it myself.

Ergo Proxy did admit he was the emissary of death, but I suspect the person being referred to is First Proxy instead. Hades isn't quite the emissary of death. He ruled the underworld (thereby controlling man's eternal life) and was a major god that way. I'm guessing the proper context of the question this is the answer for was that someone out there thinks he's a god, determine the kind of immortality humans will have -- the guy with the power to execute others at will on a grand scale, and ruler of the hell that ensues (unless it's implying the current reality is hell already.)

I'm not sure the First Proxy really cares for Vincent. I think he has a vendetta of some sort against Vincent, because it seems like he's the one who set Monad up to lure Ergo Proxy out from the start. First Proxy is the guy we see in profile at the start of Ep 1, who's swinging Vincent's pendant. Now that you've brought it up, he could probably be the same guy walking off the train after the flashback dream. I suspect the pendant from Ep 1 is what we see on Amnesia in Ep 18.

When Raul watches the quiz in Ep 15, he seems fascinated with Pino, but doesn't seem otherwise surprised by the fact there is a broadcast going on otherwise. As time goes on, I'm also starting to think Raul set everything in Ep 17 up, right down to his "capture" and "penance". I don't actually think he was conscious of what he was doing till that point -- beacuse I think the "Vincent" he keeps seeing really is First Proxy manipulating him from the inside, and he was manipulated for that ep in a big way. I'm not even sure if Raul is conscious when he's being manipulated by First Proxy now, though since he said he wasn't afraid of the Vincent in his reflection, he does seem to be acknowledging someone else is there.

The tears thing gets to me too. There is something meaningful about those tears. Like a religious rapture, maybe? Crying at the sight of a "god" or higher being? Pino, because she isn't built to cry, gets token tears of rain.
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:19 am (UTC)
I finally got tired of waiting for Shinsen to start subbing Ergo Proxy again (if they ever) and have moved on to one by the "Pino no Usagi" group. I'm not a fan of these types of quiz shows so consequently I wasn't entirely happy watching this whole thing, but thanks to all the useful background information given I didn't mind the semi-boredom. :o)
Aug. 21st, 2006 08:44 am (UTC)
There's a group called Pino no Usagi made up of disgruntled fans? ;)
I ended up watching totally raw, with notes from Anikimeiski. The quiz show was definitely out of the blue, and I don't like them on TV either. Also, the quiz-version Vincent was back to gerbil-mode, and that *is* annoying.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )