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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ergo Proxy: Box Set
Ergo Proxy: Box Set
FUNimation // Unrated // October 7, 2008
List Price: $69.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted October 27, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Show:

As an anime fan I can't tell you how much I appreciate FUNimation reviving some of the series that went out of print as a result of Geneon biting the dust. So many great shows either stopped being produced or simply vanished, and as a result otaku thought them to be lost forever. Due to the semi-recent announcement that FUNimation would distribute Geneon titles, shows such as Hellsing Ultimate, Fate/Stay Night, Black Lagoon, and Karin have been resurrected and given new life. There are so many great titles back from the dead, and one of them is the cult favorite Ergo Proxy.

Surreal science fiction pieces often draw in quite the crowd due to their innovative views of the future and unique stories. Ergo Proxy is a perfect example of one of these genre pieces done right. The show originally came out in 2006 and quickly became licensed by Geneon for release here in the States. Consisting of 23 episodes, Ergo Proxy was directed by Shuko Murase who was also known for Witch Hunter Robin, so naturally the two have a very similar tone. If that's not enough to entice you into watching this program, it was also produced by Manglobe who worked on Samurai Champloo and the currently buzzed about Michiko to Hatchin, which is being aired in Japan as I write this review. It's safe to say that Ergo Proxy has some pedigree, but what is it all about?

Well, it's all set in the future and begins in the sprawling, enclosed city of Romdo. After the world was hit by a disaster of sorts, humanity holed themselves up inside the walls of Rombdo. Once there they lived side-by-side with androids known as AutoReivs, whom they had built as workers, peers, and subordinates. It was more or less a utopia where people had grown complacent and began to forget about the troubles of the outside world. That was, at least, until the troubles continued inside the dome.

Re-l (pronounced Rielle) Mayer is an investigator for the Citizen Intelligence Bureau. She has a goth's taste in fashion and also just happens to be the granddaughter of the Regent of Romdo. A string of murders occurs and naturally that keeps Re-l busy, but the interesting thing about these murders is that they are outside the norm. As it turns out, the killings were perpetrated by a being known as a Proxy, who was created by a guy named Vincent with nothing but the best of intentions at heart.

The Proxy becomes a serious threat for not only the people of Romdo, but for the AutoReivs as well. The androids become infected by some virus known as Cogito, which more or less gives them the free will to have a chip on their shoulder. They become argumentative and violent towards the people they once regarded as friends, but each of them reacts in a different way. The shocking thing here is the involvement of the government in the case of the Proxy, and it ships some people outside the city walls in an effort to exterminate them and quash rumors. This prompts Re-l to go beyond the city limits and it's an adventure that takes its toll on her health. She winds up back inside Romdo with the desire to see just what kind of person her grandfather is and get to the bottom of what's transpiring all over the city.

The whole affair leads Re-l abroad again where she, her AutoReiv Iggy, and Vincent investigate the world and try to uncover the history that lead to current events. Some new characters are also introduced, such as Pino, who is a child-form AutoReiv infected by the Cogito virus. The unlikely group uncovers some tragic facts, and there are several surprises that await Re-l and company.

Right up to the end Ergo Proxy is an anime that will keep you guessing. It's surreal, almost to the point of being compared to Lain, but it yields such a Witch Hunter Robin-like feel in its approach. The deliberate pacing, solemn characters, and dark atmosphere help keep this one firmly rooted as a gothic science fiction piece. Needless to say, the show feels rather unique in this regard, and because of that it stands out from the crowd.

As far as the story itself is concerned, the 23 episodes unveil appropriate pieces of the plot at just the right moments. Truths are concealed the entire way through, and though events happen for questionable reasons, we are left guessing right along with the main characters. It gives the tale a very edge-of-your-seat kind of feeling that will keep you pushing from one episode to the next. Now, it's worth mentioning that there are a few missteps along the way and the pacing is very deliberate. Despite the slow nature of the program you'll be caught up in the events towards the end and be left guessing until the credits roll.

If you missed it the first time around when Geneon was distributing the show, then FUNimation's collection of Ergo Proxy is strongly recommended. It's a rarity to find a show with an atmosphere such as this and the story stays strong and keeps you guessing throughout all 23 episodes. There are a few missteps along the way, and some things are never explained as well as they could be, but all in all this is a solid ride from start to finish. If you're in the market for a solid and interesting sci-fi piece, then definitely give this one a spin.

The DVD:

Video:

Ergo Proxy is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio. The show looks stellar in almost every regard and considering it aired during 2006 you can imagine the clarity of the image. While the design for Ergo Proxy may feature drab colors and a murky atmosphere to boot, it's hard to deny that the show isn't vibrant at times. Amongst the dankness there is a certain pop in sections of it and the are plenty of moments that stand out. The overall quality of the transfer here is very good as well. The picture is mostly clear and is free of an abundance of artifacts. During some of the darker moments (and there are many) it's not entirely uncommon to see blocking in the grayer sections, but this transfer more or less mutes them out to a successful degree.

Audio:

With English and Japanese 5.1 tracks the audio in Ergo Proxy is no less than stellar in terms of quality. There is a defined crispness to everything from dialogue and music to sound and atmospheric effects. The rear channels pick up audio at the appropriate level and the end result is a track that is quite immersive for both languages. The quality of both dubs is very good as well and to be honest I found myself enjoying both equally. While the video transfer may have a few minor flaws it's nice to see that the audio provides just about everything you could hope for.

Extras:

Considering this FUNimation collection is simply a repack of the original Geneon DVDs, you're not going to get much of anything in terms of bonus content across the six discs of the show. With that being said, the special edition bonus DVD that was included with the limited edition of the first volume has been packed in here for good measure! This extra disc includes a variety of bonus content that helps to ease the void felt on the other discs.

Included here are textless animations, product art galleries, TV commercials, and promotional trailers. Not only is that light fare present on the disc, but more substantial stuff such as a summary of key words in the show, interviews with the English staff, and a behind the scenes featurette with the original Japanese production staff are included as well. Thankfully the decision was made to include this disc, because otherwise this release would have been completely barebones.

Final Thoughts:

If you've never seen Ergo Proxy, then there's never been a better time to check out it. FUNimation's revival of the show from the brink of obscurity is definitely appreciated, and those who had a difficult time complete the series once Geneon died will have plenty to cheer about. The show itself is a solid science fiction ride with gothic elements and a surreal atmosphere. Few series match Ergo Proxy's moody setting and the story is an interesting ride right up to the end. Check it out and consider it strongly recommended.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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