Ergo Proxy Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • 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: 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. #4

By Bryan Morton     January 14, 2008
Release Date: February 04, 2008


Ergo Proxy Vol. #4
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
Re-l, Vincent and Pino have been re-united but the danger is far from over. Pino enters a cave and discovers a mysterious giant, Re-l is taken over by a not-so-pleasant doppelganger, and Vincent is forced to participate in a game show with deadly results for the loser. Each encounter that obstructs the journey ahead is connected to an inevitable fate and a betrayal no one could expect.

Episodes Comprise
13 – Wrong Way Home
14 – Ophelia
15 – Who Wants to be in Jeopardy
16 – Busy Doing Nothing

The Review!
If you thought Ergo Proxy was surreal before, you ain't seen nothing yet, as this volume cranks that aspect of the show up several notches, and may well leave you terminally confused. You'll have fun before you reach that addled stage, though…

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)
Being stuck out in the wasteland isn't doing Re-l's mood any favours - the group's been pinned down in a snowstorm, and with the winds too high to allow them to continue in the ship, her temper's getting frayed. Iggy, meanwhile, has disobeyed Re-l's orders to return to Romdo and is instead spending some time with the AutoReiv that had been with the Proxy that Vincent had killed. Seeing how she deals with no longer having a master puts some strange "ideas" in his Cogito-infected head, and feeling that he's lost Re-l to Vincent, sets out to put things right - by killing Vincent.

Later, there are strange goings-on to deal with in the abandoned dome of Ophelia, an appearance by Vincent on a high-stakes game show, and the mental stresses of being becalmed in the wasteland to deal with. Somehow, Mosk dome doesn't seem to be getting any closer…

These four episodes go out of their way to mess with the heads of Re-l and Vincent (and by extension, the audience), and all told do a very good job of it – although not so much that you want to give up watching and find something a bit less mentally taxing. Episodes 13 and 16 both have the same underlying problem – the gang being left stranded for a time when the weather won't allow Vincent's ship to go any further – but take different spins on the story, with Iggy's increasingly erratic behaviour as the Cogito virus takes hold being the focus of episode 13, and the far more mundane issue of simply finding things to do when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere filling episode 16. It's a far more interesting episode than you'd expect, given that it's essentially pure filler – it's seen through ReČ-l's eyes as she uses her analytical nature to help pass the time by making detailed observations of how Pino and Vincent are behaving, and gives enough of an insight into the way that she thinks that it becomes almost riveting viewing.

Likewise, the gameshow episode is surprisingly engaging. My initial reaction was "what the hell?", as there's no believable reason for why Vincent, Re-l and Pino should suddenly find themselves on TV (and what's going on behind the cameras is never explained), but it turns out to be a really clever way of filling in a lot of detail about the "current" state of the Earth, how it came to be in the mess that Ergo Proxy portrays it in, and drops a few hints about the origins and purposes of both the Proxies and the Cogito virus – as long as you fully pay attention to the questions and answers. As a plot exposition method, it's very original and effective. Who says that gameshows rot your brain?

Episode 14 is the strangest of a strange bunch, and also gives this volume its token encounter with another Proxy as Vincent and Re-l have to try and separate illusion from reality in a story that involves a lot on mistrust and paranoia – Ophelia dome is empty for a reason, and the being responsible soon turns its attention to our travellers. Its chosen method of attack is to mess with the mind, and the way that's presented on-screen, while not exactly easy to follow, is fascinating to watch.

In summary:
If you're prepared to give it the attention it needs, Ergo Proxy is a fascinating piece of work, and this volume is no exception – if anything, it messes with your head more than previous volumes have, but in ways that highlight the shows strong points: the attention to detail that have gone into the setting, and the strengths and flaws that both Vincent and Re-l have in their personalities. It really is a show I could easily marathon, it's that engaging, and every disc seems to end too soon. Definitely worth watching.

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.

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