Ergo Proxy Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Friday, March 14, 2008
Release Date: Monday, April 07, 2008



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.

Episodes Comprise
17 - Terra Incognita
18 - Life After God
19 - Eternal Smile
20 - Goodbye Vincent


The Review!
Ergo Proxy continues to mess with the head, as this volume steps up the mind games to the point where it's difficult to tell what's real anymore. Has Vincent awakened? Has the world ended without telling anyone? Answers on a postcard...

Audio:
Audio is presented in English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English DTS 5.1 tracks. I listened to the Japanese track for this review, which like the rest of the show is of very high quality - sounds and dialogue are all places extremely well, with subtle sound effects used to help boost the atmosphere of the piece. Full use is made of the available channels, and it sounds very impressive. There were no obvious encoding problems.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect, and again has been very well done to make the series and its setting as atmospheric as possible. There's plenty of use made of dark colours, making Romdo feel as oppressive as possible, without there being any significant problems with colour banding on gradients. Ergo Proxy was made in high-definition and broadcast as such in Japan - the DVD release obviously can't capture the full details of an HD original, but this transfer does a very good job of it and is a joy to look at.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review disc.

Menu:
Menus are a simple affair, consisting of the series logo on a background that looks a lot like an interference pattern, with some images from the series just about visible behind. Direct access is provided to the episodes along with a Play All option, while submenus are available for language selection and extras. That's pretty much the ideal menu layout, and with no transition animations it's all quick & easy to use.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
As Vincent and the others get ever closer to Mosk, he continues to doubt who he really is - why does he have no memories of his former life? Could his life have really been so bad that it needed to be erased? He still doesn't seem to have come to terms with his being a Proxy, either, and that could well be part of his problem. Another problem arises when Pino disappears during a break in their journey - while searching for her, Re-l and Vincent discover a cave full of the corpses of humanoid creatures, the likes of which they've never seen. Back in Romdo, former security chief Raul finds himself on the run, and reliant on Daedelus to keep ahead of his pursuers...

So my last review of Ergo Proxy started with the comment that, if you thought the show had been messing with your head up to that point, you hadn't seen anything yet. When the time came to write up this volume, the first draft started off much the same way - there's a definite trend here for the series to really mess with your thoughts, and to teach you every so often that what you thought you knew, you didn't really. I haven't decided yet if that's a good thing or not - it's good to know what's going on, but Ergo Proxy never quite lets you get to that point. There are some little bits of useful information leaked out along the way, but never enough to let you really get a handle on things.

There are two ends to the real story at here - Vincent's arrival at Mosk, which given the duration of the trip to get there turns out to be something of an anti-climax; and events back in Romdo, where Raul's actions after being relieved of his post have a direct impact on Vincent and R-el, despite the huge distance separating them. There's a real feeling that develops as you watch these episodes that the end is near - not of the series (although that's true too), but of humanity's precarious existence on what's left of the Earth. The story is quite blunt about pointing this out - this volume's token Proxy is quite clear that time is running out; there are creatures met that are like humanity in miniature, determined to live in a place where they're doomed to die, just as humanity as a whole seems to be; and more hints besides. Through all this, Vincent is still trying to figure out who or what he is - the destruction of Mosk itself doesn't really get in the way of that, but there's one sequence in particular where you think the pieces are finally about to fall into place for him, before what appears to be his Proxy alter-ego steps in to make sure he can't relearn his past.

The final episode on the disc brings our travellers back to Romdo, although in a way that once again leaves you scrabbling about while you try to figure out what's reality and what isn't. Confused? Yes, I am. I can't say I'm entirely happy about it, either, but if there's one thing that makes Ergo Proxy stand out, it's the ease with which it makes you start thinking about everything you've seen while you try to make sense of it. The end result is that, while I can't deny I'm frustrated at the way the show sometimes presents things, I've also had the ol' brain cells turning over to the point where I think I know where we're going.

Now watch the final volume prove me horribly wrong.

Ergo Proxy is easily my favourite current show, despite the way it insists on trying to keep you in the dark. While that's almost a cardinal sin in some other shows, there's just something about the way it's done here that almost makes the experience enjoyable. With only four episodes to go, though, it's time now for the series to settle down and finally be upfront about what it's trying to do. Hopefully that's what the final volume will give us.

In summary:
The most important thing about watching Ergo Proxy is to go into it in the right frame of mind - alert, ready to think about it and analyse, and aware that you're still not going to "get" it all. It's not something to watch if you just want to waste an hour or two, but given the attention it deserves, it's hugely enjoyable. If you've been following the series up to this point, this volume will certainly not disappoint.

Features
Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 5.1,English Language DTS 5.1,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
MSRP: 15.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ergo Proxy