Ergo Proxy has one of the best first episodes of all time, complete with shower scene and perfectly executed original concepts, but tends to become a little confusing towards the last episode. Many people view this confusion as a bad thing, but I found it, at the very least, interesting and, at the very most, satisfyingly emotional.
In the future everyone has their own robot, or AutoReiv, designed for any purpose and the sanctity of that purpose never come into question by the government.
They’re too busy conducting secret experiments.
The excessively hierarchical city of Romdo, a dome city due to environmental destruction, allows for a dark and mysterious set of occurrences to unfold. The main mystery is that these AutoReivs are contracting a virus that allows them free will.
The viciously determined and beautiful granddaughter of the higher ups, Re-l, in the city is sent to investigate, complete with cyberpunk AutoRiev, Vehicle, and absolute demand for respect. Her cast later grows to a party of four and incorporates more steampunk-like devices. The shadowy and almost murky plot is coupled very nicely by her heavy gothic completion and style. She ends up having to share to role for protagonist with a man named Vincent, who offers some more well executed original concepts later on.
The plot has heavy philosophical undertones and tends to focus on the psychological aspects of the characters as well, rather than infinite futuristic action. When there is action, there is a reason, and it is intended for the viewer to seek that reason out.
When I first watched the series, I know that I saw some notes and quotations provided by certain philosophers at some point in the series. I have had this idea denied by members of my anime society and can no longer seem to find them myself, but do not concede their existence.
The name itself is a philosophic quote from Descartes, meaning, “I think therefore I am.”
The show is heavily philosophical, regardless, and ties in well together overall since the director, Shukou Murase, says he was given almost “too much freedom” by Manglobe, the producers.
Ergo Proxy aired in both Japan and the US in 2006 and is now showing for free on its current owner’s, Funimation, YouTube channel.
The show’s puzzling and dark tones can be almost mirrored in Witch Hunter Robin, Murase’s debut anime, where isolation is sometimes the only form of safety.
The soundtrack is beyond reproach as originality goes. It has a score set for intensity and thought provoking that is ever ominous in a non-nagging way. It is almost like opera while bringing in orchestral instruments for that added control. It is a very interesting pairing for the dingy streets of the futuristic Romdo. The music is one of the most drawling and refreshing aspects in the anime as this director has a real mastery of artistically utilizing the frames in concurrence with the music.
Its refreshing mix of steampunk, cyberpunk, and originality earned Ergo Proxy quite a cult following. Many people even refuse to accept the ending as the true ending. This is purely because of their feeling and not because of any other factor, such as budget cuts. I believe that this attests to the compellingly well done other 21 episodes, as, famous anime of merit, Neon Genesis Evangelion had this exact same issue of hatred for the ending episodes.
It is definitely worth watching the first episode regardless of what people say. It is one of the best written and produced 20-minute pieces of media around.