Ergo Proxy Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, July 30, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2007
What They Say
The journey to Mosko is approaching its end but not before Re-l, Vincent and Pino discover an appalling revelation about humanities fall from grace. As they wander through Vincent's city, they realize that the answer to his lingering question lies not in the wreckage of the destroyed dome but back in Romdo. All roads lead to the same conclusion and the journey to the end must inevitably lead to a new beginning.
Revelations abound as the series mixes in the past with events in the present while still managing another bizarre yet fascinating episode in the middle.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The audio mixes on this release are pretty strong as both languages get a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix and one English track also gets a DTS 5.1 mix. In listening to the Japanese mix, it's got a strong sense of placement to it with a lot of dark and creepy scenes using sound effects well as well as using the entire forward soundstage to really draw out the music. Dialogue is well placed though a lot of it is focused through the center and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in early 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Due to the style and design of the show, this is one where it's really hard to get it completely right on DVD. Heavy in blacks and all sorts of shades of gray in between, it has a certain oppressive feel to it that can be lost easily if the transfer looks soft or details are missing. While I doubt it captures it one hundred percent of what's in the source, this release does a solid job. Blacks mostly maintain a solid feel; the noise level is kept relatively low and the shadings as it moves from black to lighter shades looks decent. Some areas do have some very noticeable color gradient issues but this goes back to the source with its digital painting. Where it works out is that there isn't quite as much visible blocking when the camera pans over these areas. On most sets, Ergo Proxy will look quite good and pack a solid visual punch.
As much as I enjoy the show, the cover artwork is definitely having a hard time selling it I'm sure. Similar to the previous volume, this one has a slick looking pencil board included with it that livens up the front cover artwork nicely. The design of Vincent in his Proxy mode really works much better in this highlighted format. For people watching the show it's certainly a good looking cover but for those who are curious about it, well, it simply doesn't click much. The back cover has a good looking shot from the show that's close to an action pose while listing the episode numbers and titles over it. Below, the shows premise and technical features are listed clearly as is the production information. That section seems to get smaller and tighter with every new release. The discs basic technical information is in the single line strip below that as is the rest of the logos and information that's generally required. The insert breaks down the chapter lists for the episodes and has a shot associated with them while it opens up to a shot of Daedelus. The back cover has more from the show and basic information about the property and Geneon itself.
The menu layout is a rather busy piece that uses elements form the opening and closing sequences set to an angle with the menu selections overlaid on them. The visuals for the show are good and the menu does admittedly fit into the theme and style of the show, but it's a bit too, well, almost garish in a way I think. There is a brief bit of instrumental music that plays during it and navigation is quick and simple. Access times are nice and fast and we had no problems with our player presets being picked up.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Ergo Proxy has progressed along and made its series of revelations amid action sequences and intellectual debates, it has managed for the most part to avoid becoming too pretentious. This set of episodes does the same though it's starting to feel a touch more repetitive in how they're approaching the weird episodes. The previous installment had a wonderful way of doing a recap while mixing in a lot of key information through the game show. This volume takes that idea and runs with it in a different manner.
While Re-l and Vincent are still pretty much the lead characters of the series, Raul becomes more critical to the show after several episodes of being frustrated by his inability to do anything. With his position as the Security Chief, he's been able to learn more about the reality of the dome and what goes on there and it's having some obvious effects on him. In a situation where you know more about the truth, or at least the truths that were hidden even if it isn't all of them, you start to realize how serious the overall situation is. This is something that's affected previous Security Chief's as well we learn through conversations with the voices that control the city as Raul begins to act in his own best interest. Though the episode is done with some bothersome time jumps in order to tell the tale, it's a fascinating piece inside the city as events continue on outside.
For Re-l and Vincent, they maintain a solid series of stories that brings about so many small but key revelations all while growing the characters that it's endless fascinating. Few shows can really draw you in like this in terms of atmosphere and pacing but Ergo Proxy just keeps your attention for every frame of the show as you can blink and miss something important. The journey on the outside to Mosk has been a driving force for some time and to discover the city in ruins, coming at the same time that Raul has tried something radical, just oozes with despair. Combined with the discovery of a subspecies of humans who have adapted to the atmosphere outside even as it slowly kills them, both Re-l and Vincent have a hard time really handling everything that's going on and taking it all in.
While Vincent has had a surreal episode that put him in the position of a game show contestant, Pino finds herself in a similar position when the group unknowingly goes up against another Proxy. Attempting to be different in a striking manner in terms of visuals, this episode brings Pino to a place called Smile Land where it's made up of characters that are created to entertain the masses. They don't last long due to fickle tastes though and new characters are constantly created. That leaves a lot of others in the trash bin which is where Pino awakens. Taking several cues for classic Disney films and promotional material, Pino begins a journey to meet Will B. Good, the man behind the creations. It's a very light episode in terms of animation and design but it's so tinged with darkness and despair that the smiles feel so incredibly forced, which is part of the point.
Ergo Proxy has so many things going on yet feels so laid back that it comes across as incredibly deceptive. There are numerous layers being explored across these episodes that are tying things together in a very tight manner as the series gets closer to its conclusion. The series does fall into a mode of feeling pretentious at times and being dark for dark's sake but the end result is one that is simply endlessly fascinating. Though I suspect this may be another series where the journey is far better than the conclusion, what we've seen so far has been highly engaging and creative. These episodes carry on that tradition and had me glued to the set for the entire time. Ergo Proxy may not be a big mainstream success but it's appeal is there for a good segment of fans that are willing to give it a chance. This one requires effort but the payoff in each episode and each revelation has been incredibly worthwhile.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English DTS 5.1 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ergo Proxy