Friday, 29 May 2009]Ergo Proxy - complete

Ergo Proxy

- These are avi files
- The quality of the image is 5 stars, extremely good
- All 23 Episodes (250 mb each) High Definition japanese Voices with English Subtitles
- links

Comments on the series:

Ergo Proxy is directed by Witch Hunter Robin director Shinichirô Watanabe, and is written by Dai Sato the same guy who wrote Samurai Champloo. By all accounts the production values are high and the story is multi-layered and complex. The anime goes for 23 episodes, and like many cyberpunk animes, chances are that a lot of the story and plot will remain unclear until near the end of the series.

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The best way to describe Ergo Proxy is “C.S.I. meets Ghost in the Shell meets Bladerunner” with only a hawt gothic girl replacing hawt military girl and androgynous android replacing ta-chi-ko-ma-kun. Ril is the hawt gothic girl, and she is a detective for the Citizen Security Bureau for Romundo, a city-state where androids live amongst men. Her partner is the android Iggy. The setup is pure Bladerunner… if Ril doesn’t start questioning her humanity by episode six, I’d be shocked.

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…In this regard, a lot of people, too many people, have commented on its “similarity” to Ghost in the Shell and/or the Matrix. I’m sorry people, but the Matrix didn’t invent dark clothing or knee-length jackets, and GitS didn’t invent computers. The show is heavily inspired by the cyberpunk genre itself, but has its own unique style and setting, and does not borrow concepts from other entries in the genre. The best way I can think of to describe the atmosphere, is dark, gritty and sexy, a mature combination that works surprisingly well in illustrating a caged society on the edge.

This style is awesomely achieved with engaging direction, from abstract angles to a practical, yet sleek, approach. I cite this as a major reason for my love for the first Matrix film, and this raises the bar to a similar level, making everything far more memorable than it could be. The animation lives up to my demands, despite not being anywhere near as flashy as Samurai Champloo’s was. I think there is a slight shift in focus of animation from fluidity and movement, to detail and artwork. The show doesn’t feel more static than it should be, but, fitting for the dour, shadowy atmosphere there is a slot of standing around looking reflective. I’ll make sure you understand that it wasn’t a problem at all, though, and the attention to detail and consistency more than makes up for it. I guess we have plenty of time to find flaws though.

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The question: Is anime serious? People who make a living writing about such stuff have recently been denouncing the Western canard that cartoons are ‘kids stuff’. Critics such as Dr Susan Napier have argued that anime should be approached critically with the same serious hat on as other more established media (film, literature). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Whilst masterpieces such as Ghost in the Shell or Neon Genesis Evangelion may compete admirably against the cinematic heavyweights they are hardly representative of most. I mean, Cowboy Bebop is cool and all but you wouldn’t want to write your thesis on it. Like the best in pretentious referencing, when a ‘cartoon’ states its intentions with a quote from Michaelangelo and closes with an explanatory biography of several 19th and 20th century philosophers you can be sure we’re not talking Acme Hour here. In a market saturated with either exploding mecha-bots and schoolgirl romance fantasies this makes Ergo Proxy stand out like a shaved weiner. But while in-jokes about Battleship Potemkin and a pseudo-philosophical sounding title show admirable ambition they are obvious. Certainly, Ergo Proxy has haughty pretensions, but then so does David Lynch and it doesn’t make him any more likeable. This is no re-telling of the ‘beware the rise of the machines’ storyline. Ergo Proxy’s take on the replicant - the ‘autoraves’ – betrays there’s more than a few brain cells kicking against the cliché-mongers.

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In Romdeau citizens leave meticulously controlled, almost stupifyingly dull lives: “what a boring utopia”. Their robotic slaves, the autoraves, serve as guardians, companions, substitute children and even lovers by their human overlords. These are not the 2-dimensional ‘droids of traditional sci-fi, though; futuristic wallpaper to compliment the cool cyberpunk mantlepiece. As the story develops a bubbling subculture is revealed under the surface of doting subservience. The autoraves are installed with a Turing Application (as in Alan Turing’s test for machine intelligence) which may be switched on and off allowing for apparently human communication. Trouble brews when renegade machines begin contracting the Cogito Virus (another philosophical ref Descartes’ fans) threatening to de-stabalise the whole humans-and-robots setup. When infected, the robots become aware of their own existence. Thusly, the former servants of man embark on a mission to discover whether the virus created their identity or whether it was gained through their travels. It’s a parable for our own quest to discover if our nature is created by our environment or inherent. Naturally, they are all named after similarly perturbed humans of our world: Hegel, Husserl, Derrida, Lacan. Meanwhile, the government is conducting covert experiments on a humanoid lifeform known as the Proxy which they believe to hold the key to the survival of mankind.

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One thing Ergo Proxy is not going to do is make it easy for the casual viewer. Hard sci-fiers will be in technological heaven picking apart the meticulously crafted and confusing future-vision. In a deliberate attempt to foment this confuddliness, a different writer is contracted in for each episode leaving an oftimes ambigous and foggy path. For those of us unfamiliar with the comi-tragic meanderings of traditional Japanese theatre may find the gargantuan leaps from existential despair to flippant japery boggling. Episodes swing like a lonely housewife from murder mystery to theology; from political machinations to introverted psychology; from dark suspense to cute kookiness; from rabbit deities of Aztec mythology to the Classical philosophy of Rousseau and Heraclitus. Much of how this will be interpreted depends as much on the viewers affinity for rabid conspiracy and obsessive over-analysis as anything spelt out by the script. One must read between the frames, as it were.

Kirsteva, Deleuze, Gattari, the name-drops come flying in. A Rome-like Senate exists and the two statures in Regent Donov Mayar’s chamber is based on Michaelangelo’s Night and Day stature in the Medici Chapel in Florence. The voices of Night and Day represent those of Lacan and Husserl. The Twilight and Dawn simulacra representing Derrida and Berkeley. Characters recite [surrealist poet] Joe Bousquet like they read it in the funnies and weighty philosophical musings are never to far from the gun-totting Matrix-like face-offs. Those who’ve recently been enjoying the slightly absent desolation of Hitsuji no Uta or Serial Experiments Lain will know the feeling. Those of us who’ve woken up on a gloomy Monday morning to watch their alphabet cereal spell out ‘misfit’ in the milky murk may start to believe the developers have an inside channel straight to their innermost thoughts.

Want more? No better evidence exists of both Ergo Proxy’s intended demographic and its status as a prime example of how the best anime manages to embrace European thought and Western film whilst giving it a uniquely Japanese air plays out as Radiohead’s Paranoid Android closes the credit-sequence. A fitting, if a little obvious, choice unusual in anime which usually prefer to pen their own cheesy theme-tunes (although Paradise Kiss did use Franz Ferdinand to close out their episodes last year).
By Eric K (chucklechuck) & Washi



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