3 May 2008 | rosti-4
Deus Ex Machina - A Review By Cythrosi
A while back, as I was scouring through the Internet, I came across some beautiful artwork from some anime series I had not come across before. Upon further research I found this series to be none other than Ergo Proxy . Intrigued, I went out and found the full series, purely out of interest in the art, and the desire for something new to watch.
Starting off, the series is somewhat confusing. You are given very little background on any of the characters or the strange world they inhabit. All you find out is that the story begins in the Utopian city of Romdo (also seen as Romadeu in some adaptations). You are quickly introduced to one of the main characters, Re-l (also seen as Real) Mayer, an investigator with the city's Intelligence Bureau, along with her AutoReiv Iggy. AutoReivs are androids created to aid, serve and protect the humans of Romdo. However, Romdo faces the issue of the Cogito Virus (a reference to René Descartes statement "Congito, ergo sum" which translates to "I think, therefore I am"), which causes these AutoReivs to become self-aware. Some of them, in their desire to find their raison d'être, or reason to be, attack the human inhabitants of Romdo. Re-l is in charge of investigating these AutoReivs. Not too long after meeting Re-l and Iggy, we are introduced to Vincent Law, an immigrant that recently arrived from the city of Mosko (also seen as Mosque) who is working for the AutoReiv Control Division, hoping to be made into a full citizen. His duty is to find and dispose of AutoReivs infected with Cogito. The peace and order of Romdo is soon disturbed shortly after Re-l is attacked by a mysterious humanoid creature during one of her investigations. Another one of these creatures attacks her in her home, and the other joins it. Re-l later learns these creatures are called Proxy and her curiosity soon begins to drive her to discover more about the mysterious Proxy. She will soon find that there is a connection between her, Vincent Law and the two Proxy that attacked her home which will lead her on a long and difficult journey for the truth, whatever it may be.
As the story unfolds, many new characters are introduced, such as Pino, a Cogito infected AutoReiv, who then takes on innocence and curiosity of a young child (and is also thought to be loosely based on Pinocchio). She is probably one of the more beloved characters of this series, with her constant positive outlook and adorable appearance (she spends a nice portion of the series a pink bunny snowsuit). The series also makes references to several famous philosophers and historical figures, as well as having a deep meaning behind these names for the characters. The stone AutoReivs that help rule Romdo are all named after famous philosophers and one psychoanalyst: Lacan, Husserl, Derrida and Berkeley. Then there is the character Daedalus Yumeno, who is a reference to the tale of Daedalus and Icarus. The series has many other references to various people, places and ideas from history. The series attempts to address many issues concerning society, our desire for answers and the truth as well our own raison d'être.
I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed this series. It took the typical dysfunctional utopia idea and shed a new light on it, showing a new perspective on what it means to be human, on religion, and one's sense of self. It had its fair share of action, but also causes you to think about various issues. Some episodes heavily focused on battles, others on various ideologies and philosophies. I enjoyed all the characters and their unique personalities, especially Pino. She made some of the heavy scenes tolerable, acting as a bit of comic relief, but also made the deaths of a few of the characters all the more saddening. Re-l bothered me at first, seemingly a cold-hearted, self-centred woman set only on finding the truth, as the series carried on, a more humane side of her either emerged or developed. Vincent was a character easily to identify with for those who try to fit in but never quite seem to be able to find a way to. It had a great choice of music as well as literary and artistic references in it, such as the stone AutoReivs that were mention earlier being based off Michelangelo's Night and Day and Twilight and Dawn statues. The series flowed very well too, considering it didn't always travel in a linear storyline, but rather played with the notion that reality is not always what a person perceives it to be. However, not everyone enjoys this sort of plot line, since at times it can be a bit confusing, jumping around and not entirely clear about everything. Some things are later explained, however there are many thing in the series that are left up to the viewer to discern on their own. There is also a rather dark tone to the series, with a majority of the characters dying during the series, as well as some rather graphic and bloody action sequences. The effects of these on how you enjoy the series are all a matter of preference. However, I encourage everyone to at least give the series a try, for it provides a great deal of food for thought.