Elements of Ergo Proxy: I

February 19, 2015

In light of the abundance of “Fundamentals of Ergo Proxy” in the literature, albeit contradicting at times, to date there are no comprehensive documentation of episode-wise micro-level explanation. Therefore I decided to take the matter into my own hands for the peace of my bewildered mind.

Pulse of Awakening/Awakening

Watching the series afresh from the start, I was shocked to see Vincent Law’s debut. The hair that obviously took him great effort to tame still has those two uncompromising hairs funnily sticking out. This seems to coincide with his subconscious incompatibility with the Romdeau society in spite of his announced will. Then there is his “boring face of a fellow citizen”, as remarked by Re-l, constantly displaying a made-up submissiveness, though exceptionally young-looking. After a long journey accompanied by the gradual change of his appearance, during which I also acquired a taste for Law’s face, the shock (and possible resentment) from this first encounter for the second time indeed demonstrates the purposefulness of the character design.

Among the overwhelming information that the first few episodes poured into me and that I failed to register during the first round, is the appearance of Proxy One and his declaration of intention. Given the context, I now understand why this man has charcoal colored skin and why he has those glowing eyes, as are the common features of proxies. He has already discovered the utmost malice of this world, and has planned his revenge prior to this awakening stage, which is when the story begins. One also has to notice the distinct voice given to Proxy One in order to identify when he comes to manipulate things in later episodes. All these things about Proxy One were easily missed, which contributed to the total confusion upon finishing the first round.

After Monad’s escape, Vincent was called up at night to handle some infected Autoreivs and he fell down at the red light. What does this traffic accident signify? Some implies it’s the pulse of awakening at work in his body and mind. Or, think I, it simply tells us how hard Vincent has to work in order to become a fellow citizen. And the serious fatigue leads to this accident as well as him being knocked out by an Autoreiv later during a mission.

So here we come to this battle. At first it seemed to me the vehicle Autoreiv (later revealed on Re-l’s iPad to be a PK30 model) was chasing the escaping humanoid Autoreiv, as though the vehicle was on the AR control side. However as soon as Vincent finished the humanoid, he turned to aim at the PK30 but was beaten up. It then hops away to some other scene, leaving me profoundly confused: which side does this PK30 belong? And what happened to Vincent after he was punched flying in the air? Such is the story telling of this show. The next day Vincent showed up unharmed and from his conversation with Dorothy we can infer that PK30 did no further harm to Vincent and simply ran away. Now that I think of it, it’s only logical that Vincent is safe and sound since he’s a proxy! As for the first question concerning the PK30, after reviewing I found out it often bumped into sideways during its motion. That doesn’t look like normal behavior for a well-programmed vehicle. So perhaps at the time it had indeed contracted the Cogito virus and was simply running with the humanoid. And the story of this machine does not end here. Later when Re-l was in the abandoned immigration facility, she was attacked by this same guy – another thing I never figured out before!

Now let me turn back a bit and take some notes on Re-l’s debut. Blue eye shadow, cat ear hairstyle… At first I wasn’t impressed. But as I got more and more obsessed with this show, I found her a rare beauty (not when she was drawn awkwardly at quite a few moments of course). It definitely worth it to peek into her iPad. On one page she put up a sticky note on Raul Creed which reads

Something’s up
Why him?
Former chief lasted 4 years
Too short. Why?
“Mental breakdown” yeah right!

Much later into the show, the philosopher Autoreivs would remark similarly that security bureau chiefs never manage to serve a full term. Because they know too much to maintain a fellow citizen world view. This also explains why when Raul Creed inquired about the nature of proxies, the philosopher Autoreivs chose to remain silent.

Another page where there is a photograph of the escaped PK30 unit, it’s actually an apology letter filed by Vincent! What a subservient smell; he apologized again and again for failing to dispose that Autoreiv. So on the next page was Re-l’s comment

What a mug! Hate to be him.

Strangely on Vincent’s personal profile page, his eyes are stated as blue. But evidently his eye color is green. This is an unresolved issue…

When inspector Re-l arrived to meet Vincent, she mentioned an earlier meeting and suggested better ways to become a fellow citizen, which led some to speculate that Vincent as a new immigrant is under her supervision. At the time of her arrival, Vincent was presented a new possible infection case, with a permission to enter the residence area. On the document is Pino! When I saw her photo I felt something queer about her. After the second episode I realized that was her hair color. Her hair turned purple only after her infection! A detail overlooked on the first view. However, this change of hair color doesn’t seem to be a universal feature. I observed Mary, the companion Autoreiv in the abandoned facility but found no evidence of hair color change.

Now is the time for the two intense and breathtakingly beautiful encounters with the proxies. In the abandoned facility, Re-l strolls down the stairs, observing the surroundings. The vibe is perfectly built up for Monad’s silent and graceful free-fall. Re-l’s facial expressions are delicately carved out, the composure of the pre-encounter moment, the contained shock from the brief encounter with a mysterious power, the cautious change of focus to the approaching Autoreiv, a slight infatuation upon observing firsthand the prayer offered by the Autoreiv, a keen perception of an impending attack from the PK30 and finally, a deadly decisiveness when she neutralized the target, perfectly accompanied by a recoil effect.
Now at her own bathroom, face to face with Ergo Proxy, she is mostly overcame by fear but there is also a strange sensation aroused by her own innate connection with Ergo Proxy. Whereas Ergo Proxy, is moved to tears by his own inexplicable feelings towards Re-l. As the wind blows in from the broken roof, Ergo Proxy quickly detects the advent of Monad (her signature elegance again). After being thrown aside by Ergo Proxy, Monad is given a closeup shot. When I knew nothing about her, I was most terrified by her monstrous look and deemed her some evil creature. But now, observing her stitched face, which indicates that she had possibly undergone some most unimaginable inhumane experiments, at the same time recalling the faces of her two clones, and her slim body, one can imagine how beautiful she used to be. Now having lost her mind, with only the instinct of the naked love left, she stands there gazing at the one she yearns for and she shivers. Ah, thinking about her eventual fate, I feel deeply for her. Now I understand how tragic a character she is. I’m amazed at how powerful these scenes are after every single movement of the characters are put into context and given meaning to.

There are still several questions involved with these two epic scenes. First, Vincent was fast approaching an Autoreiv that was already shot dead shortly before his transformation. What why and how? If he received a call from Dorothy instructing him to handle another case in the residence area, I can’t imagine how this Autoreiv could be killed, specifically shot dead – which most probably can’t be the work of a proxy, before Vincent arrived.
The second issue revolves around the relationship between Ergo Proxy, Monad and Re-l. We know that Re-l is an imperfect clone of Monad. Ergo Proxy is in a sense a clone of Proxy One (albeit superior in that the sunlight can’t kill him). We also know that Monad and Ergo Proxy were in love. So why in this case Ergo Proxy sees Monad as an enemy and tries to protect Re-l? There are some speculations circulating around. One says Proxy One wanted Ergo Proxy dead, and he attempted to wake up Re-l to turn into some proxy sort and kill Ergo Proxy. While Monad perceived Proxy One’s intention and tried to stop Re-l’s awakening and came to protect Ergo Proxy. I can in no way understand this reasoning. I offer my explanation as follows, which is still not round enough.
Ergo Proxy and Monad were lovers in the past. But Ergo Proxy erased his memory because he was so much in pain to see his people invading Mosko Dome. It is strange that he asked Monad to keep his erased memory as if he didn’t know Monad would lose her sanity, which enabled some small fry army to capture and imprison her like that! Anyway, having erased his memory, his love for Monad can no longer be conscious. Since we see the clones of Monad, Re-l and Real both have varying degrees of feeling for Ergo Proxy, which indicates that the feeling can be encoded into some physical, even genetic form, so to speak. So in turn it is possible that Ergo Proxy, or Vincent’s unconscious feeling for Monad is also kept in this physical way and can be evoked by her physically similar clone. Now it chanced the first person from the “Monad sisters” that Vincent met since loss of memory, is Re-l! Consequently his unconscious feeling is evoked and probably even without that, he would also fall in love with her. So anyway this is an established fact that the presence of another clone, or even the original herself, cannot break. As for Monad, she lost sanity but that is completely different from losing memory. Her love is ever unyieldingly for Ergo Proxy and she never had a problem of confusing him with his original, Proxy One. It’s possible after her escape from the lab, she ran into Re-l and felt some extraordinary connection. What did she do then? Well she jumped down towards Re-l. It’s the same kind of jump towards Ergo Proxy, which we are certain meant no harm to him. So it could be that the first jump towards Re-l is just a way of saying hi. Or, since she was already on a killing spree, she might just habitually do the same to Re-l. Or even better, she was simply as confused as us that she didn’t know what to do and when she did jump, she might not be aware what she was doing. In any case, Re-l foiled her “attack” – a brand new kind of experience as of late, which confused her even more. That’s why when Re-l and Iggy left the building, she did not attempt to jump at her again, although being a real proxy she could have easily killed Re-l. Instead she followed Re-l to the vicinity of her home as she couldn’t come up with a better thing to do. Dramatically Vincent was also just hanging around. His instinct might have felt the presence of another proxy near his dream girl Re-l, so he immediately felt threatened and turned into his proxy form, from which point the rest of the story was explicitly unfolded in the episode.
As for the signs of awakening, one in Vincent’s milk cornflakes, another on the mirror of Re-l’s bathroom, both of them could only be the work of Proxy One. I don’t think he wants to wake Re-l to turn into her proxy form and kill Ergo Proxy because a) Ergo Proxy is his last hope of revenge, why would he want to kill Ergo Proxy? And b) Re-l is an imperfect clone that cannot really turn into a proxy. She has had enough shocking encounters with proxies and other world-view changing events during the entire show. But she never transformed. Also it is implied she will live through the new dawn with Vincent and so she won’t be killed by sunlight. The awakening on her mirror and the subsequent events probably worked on her mentally. She gradually becomes more curious, uncompromising in seeking truth. Also she looks at herself and at the world anew. That’s a necessity to fulfill her role in Proxy One’s grand scheme. On the other hand, the message left in Vincent’s cornflakes seems to have been missed by this guy. But in any case, I see these messages as symbolic. There are plenty of practical awakening inducement in their lives ahead.

 

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