Ergo Proxy Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ergo Proxy

Ergo Proxy Vol. #1

By Bryan Morton     August 06, 2007
Release Date: August 06, 2007

Ergo Proxy Vol. #1
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
The domed city of Romdo is an impenetrable would-be utopia where humans and robots coexist and everything is under complete government control - or so it appears.

While working on a mysterious murder case, Re-l Mayer, a female detective from the Civilian Intelligence Office, receives a foreboding message that something is going to "awaken." That night, she's attacked by a deformed super-being. What was this unidentified monster that attacked her, and who was the figure that came in between them?

As Re-l attempts to unlock this spiralling mystery, a metaphysical battle cry leads her to the unknown outside world...

Episodes Comprise
1 " Awakenings
2 " Confession
3 " Mazecity
4 " Futu-Risk

The Review!
Ergo Proxy treads a lot of ground that's been done by other high-profile series " not least Ghost in the Shell " but does it in a way that makes itself stand out. Investigator Re-l Mayer may live in a supposed utopia, but there's more going on in the closed city of Romdo that she's ever realised " and she's about to find herself caught up in something she'd be better staying clear of...

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 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.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

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.

With over a half-hour of extras content, no counting the promotional clips & art galleries, you can't complain about being stinted. First up is a pair of short clips explaining some of the show's terminology and setting, which proves useful if you use them as a primer before watching. Next is a behind-the-scenes clip, visiting manglobe's studios and seeing where the series was produced; there's also a 30-minute interview with English dub director Johnathan Klein and scriptwriter Taliesin Jaffe, looking at their impressions of the show and the production of the English dub. Add in a set of promotional trailers & commercials, and a set of 4 different art galleries each looking at a different aspect of the show (characters, AutoReivs, Romdo and props), and there's plenty here to spend your time trawling through.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Earth of the future, and ecological mis-management sees the remnants of the human race living inside a single domed city, Romdo, with their android servants, the AutoReivs. Romdo is meant to be a utopia, but I wouldn't want to live there - with emotion cast aside and consumerism king, it's not the most pleasant of places. Add a series of murders to the list, believed to have been committed by out-of-control AutoReivs infected by the Cogito virus, and it gets even less appealing. Re-l Mayer is an investigator from the Civilian Intelligence Office, and along with her AutoReiv partner Iggy have been assigned to investigate the killings - and Re-l's about to discover there's more going on that anyone suspected.

Uto-pia (yu-'tO-pE-&): a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions. The word probably puts a whole slew of ideas into peoples' heads about what the ideal society should be " Romdo, the domed refuge for humanity's remains, claims to be just that, but while for some of its inhabitants it may fill that role, scratch beneath the surface and the underlying reality is very different. That's the world that Re-l Meyer and Iggy live in, and after about five minutes of watching Ergo Proxy you realise it's more dystopia than utopia. Within the city live the "fellow citizens", those who live their lives according to the rules; the AutoReivs, their intelligent, mechanical servants; and the refugees, those who have found their way to Romdo from the outside world and are trying to prove themselves worthy of citizenship. Vincent Law is a refugee, working in Romdo to prove his worth, and making good progress " until he's implicated in an attack on Re-l and becomes a fugitive from the Security Bureau. Re-l's sure that it wasn't Vincent, but a creature of some sort, and her attempts to discover what had attacked her soon lead her to areas where good citizens shouldn't go.

Vincent's and Re-l's paths cross several times throughout these episodes, until it becomes clear that he may know more about what's going on than a lowly immigrant should, and that whatever creature had attacked Re-l is also after him. Re-l herself is a very interesting character " confident but naïve, she falls short of being a kick-ass character in the mould of Ghost in the Shell's Major Kusanagi, but she's also far from being a pushover. Vincent is an enigma " his initial persona of the eager-to-please citizen candidate soon gives way to a stronger personality as he finds himself on the wrong side of events and Romdo's authorities. There's a strong feeling that there's more to him than there at first appears, and there still seems to be a lot to learn about him.

The creature that attacks both Re-l and Vincent is the proxy " a creature of immense power and ability that Romdo's authorities had been experimenting upon. The string of killings began when the proxy escaped from the testing facility, but Vincent appears to be of particular interest to it. As for what the proxy is, or pretty much everything else about it, that's all a mystery for now.

As you'd expect, these initial episodes introduce the main characters and setting, while laying the groundwork for the story that's hopefully going to unfold over the remaining volumes. The future world portrayed in Ergo Proxy is very well-realised and detailed, with aspects of Ghost in the Shell, 1984, and other dark futures all brought together to create a believable whole. It's not original, sure, but the pieces of inspiration taken from other sources have been woven together to create a world that the series soon makes its own. The way that world is presented on-screen " dark, foreboding, and in some ways threatening " does a lot to enhance the atmosphere of the show and bring you into the world that the characters inhabit. Full marks on that front.

As for the story itself " while a number of issues have been introduced, there's been very little in the way of explanation so far. The proxy's escape impacts on a number of people " Vincent, Re-l, and the chief of the Security Bureau, Raul, who looks set to play a larger role in events as the story progresses " and how they interact looks to be the key to how events will unfold. While there's a lack of information, though, there's no lack in desire to keep watching, as the whole setup is just so intriguing it's hard not to get pulled in.

In summary:
Dark futures have been done many times before, to varying degrees of success. Ergo Proxy is one of the better ones, with its utopia-gone-wrong, a cast of varied and interesting characters, and the foundations of a mystery having been carefully laid and now waiting to be resolved. It's early days for the series yet, but this is a very promising start and I'm looking forward to seeing the next instalment.

Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 5.1,English Language DTS 5.1,Keywords of Ergo Proxy,Behind the Scenes,English Staff Interview,Clean Openings (episodes 1 & 2),Promotional Trailers,Commercials,Galleries

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.


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