Cine Outsider header
front page    disc reviews    film reviews    articles    interviews  
"It's a tragic thing, being human"
A UK region 2 DVD review of ERGO PROXY, VOL. 2 by Slarek
 

If you're new to Ergo Proxy then you'll find an overview of the story and series in my coverage of Volume 1. I'd advise reading that before you progress here, as I'm assuming that those coming to Volume 2 are already familiar with the first four episodes and will hopefully have seen them. If not then beware, as there are definitely going to be spoilers for newcomers. Starting right now.

The story picks up where it left off in episode 4, in the wasteland community into which the fugitive Vincent and his AutoReiv companion Pino have fled. Regarded with suspicion by the locals because of an increase in patrol flights since his arrival, Vincent finds a friend in the community's ageing patriarch Hoody, who talks him up to the others as The Chosen One. Just who Vincent really is proves to be the key question posed by the four episodes here. Volume 1 suggested a mysterious link between him and the rampaging monsters known as Proxies who were at large in the domed city of Romdo, and this is underlined here when Proxy activity within Romdo ceases, only to briefly reappear in the wasteland when the community comes under attack. Later even Vincent muses on the possible connection and who or what he actually might be. As those around him start dying, he grimly observes, "I bring death to everyone."

Vincent is not the only one wondering about the possible Proxy link. Intelligence Beureau Detective Re-l Mayer breaks the Romdo rules to venture into the wasteland to locate him, but on arriving at the community she is mistaken by the inhabitants for the Romdo negotiator that Hoody has claimed is coming, part of his information smokescreen to protect Vincent that offers false hope to those wishing to return to the city. In fact Re-l has come to take Vincent back to Romdo, but when her electrical connection with co-conspirator Dr. Daeldus fails and she abandons her protective suit during an attack on the community, she falls victim to the toxins in the wasteland air and collapses. Her only hope of survival lies with Vincent voluntarily taking her back to Romdo, a decision that would likely result in his immediate execution and the hands of Security Bureau chief Raul Creed and his minions.

Volume 2 kicks off in fine form with an episode entitled Tasogare, a gripping blend of intrigue, character development, exposition and action, the focal point being a security patrol assault on the encampment, which disables Re-l's protective suit and provides her and us with further (albeit circumstantial) evidence of a link between Vincent and the Proxy. It also results in a death that starts Pino on the road to the development of human-like emotions, once again recalling Blade Runner (the series borrows some of that film's key android concepts) and even having echoes of the development of the android Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Pino remains the most intriguing character, her programmed girlish joviality providing a sometimes surreal counterpoint to the dark events unfolding around her, while her awakening awareness of possible emotional responses is touching and intelligent without ever stooping to mawkishness. A shift in character emphasis from Volume 1 moves Vincent to centre stage, to the degree that episode 8 is devoted entirely to his homeland quest at the expense of almost all other regulars, including one whose end-of-episode fate will remain tantalisingly unconfirmed until Volume 3. It's in episode 7 that we get inside Vincent's head for the first time, his thoughts and actions compellingly alternated with those of the recovering Re-l, while the cross-cutting climax of episode 6 has to rank as one of the series' best sequences yet.

Volume 2 delivers on the promise of the first four episodes of what is shaping up to be a stylish, intriguing and well developed series. It keeps you guessing in the way such series should, puts is borrowings to effective use and balances action with exposition and socio-politics with rare precision. My only reservations concern a slight shift of focus in episode 8 that suggests a possible future emphasis on generically familiar fantasy elements at the expense of the altogether more intriguing character drama in which they sit.

The four episodes of Volume 2 are titled: Tasogare (Recall), Domecoming (Return Home), RE-L124C41+ and Shining Light (Light Beam)

sound and vision

As with Volume 1, the 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer here copes well with some of the darkest imagery I've seen in an anime series, while the lack of banding or bleed on the deliberately burned-out whites is also pleasing. The artwork is as impressive as ever and the animation sometimes better than the genre average, especially when the action hots up.

The same three soundtrack options on Volume 1 are on offer: Japanese 5.1, English 5.1 and English DTS. Dialogue aside, they sound identical, with an involving though unflashy use of the soundstage made by all three.

The English subtitles are easy to read and cope with two voices speaking at once by simultaneously displaying subtitles at the top and bottom of the screen. This may require pausing to clearly read, but is welcome nonetheless. Once again the Japanese curse "shit" has been downgraded to "dammit," though during the attack on the ship in episode 6 its frantic multiple usage is accurately translated.

extra features

All that's here are a trailers for Trinity Blood (1:31) and Basilisk (2:01).

summary

The standard set by Volume 1 is maintained in this visually and aurally arresting 4-episode continuation of a still compelling narrative. It will be interesting to see where the series heads in Volume 3, given my uncertainty about the development of the fantasy elements, but for many this will work fine – it's all a matter of preference.

Ergo Proxy,
Vol. 2
RE-L124C41+

Japan 2006
103 mins
director
Shuko Murase

DVD details
region 2 UK
video
1.78:1 anamorphic
sound
Dolby surround 5.1
DTS surround 5.1
languages
Japanese
English
subtitles
English
English signs only
extras
Trailers
distributor
MVM
release date
1 October 2007
review posted
10 October 2007

Related articles
Ergo proxy, Vol. 1 DVD review
Ergo proxy, Vol. 3 DVD review
Ergo proxy, Vol. 4 DVD review
Ergo proxy, Vol. 5 DVD review
Ergo proxy, Vol. 6 DVD review

See all of Slarek's reviews