"Fellow citizens! The time is now to consume. Why skimp, when you deserve more? Fellow citizens! Do your part, and make waste. Life is easier when you lighten the load. Fellow citizens! The time is..."
This 23 episode sci-fi anime from Manglobe
is set in a ravaged, blasted future
where humans have confined themselves to domed cities
in order to survive. Ergo Proxy
is the story of an amnesiac immigrant named Vincent Law and the intelligence operative Re-l Mayer, as they are caught up in the tangled web of secrets surrounding the city of Romdeau
and the truth behind the chaos. Central to all of this is the nature of the utopia of Romdeau and the powerful, mysterious monsters known as Proxies.Ergo Proxy
is notable for its beautiful animation as well as its love of Mind Screw
. It contains elements of Post-Cyberpunk
, and Film Noir
; and draws motifs from advanced psychology and philosophy.
Has a character page
, Serial Experiments Lain
and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- Achilles' Heel: The Proxies and UV light. There's a good explanation for it, as the "Creators" intentionally designed the Proxies that way to prevent rebellion and to destroy them once their tasks of ecological cleanup and human regeneration were complete.
- Action Girl: Re-l Mayer, some of the time.
- Adventure Towns: Not always in a good way.
- After the End: Most humans live in domed cities to escape the diseases in the wasteland outside.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Every robot apart from Pino and arguably Kristeva. While there are a number of Cogito-infected AutoReivs that don't go on murderous rampages, they do inevitably go insane.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Vincent and Re-l both have feelings like this. Vincent feels that he'll never become a Fellow Citizen, while Re-l just feels that she's too different from all of the other residents of Romdeau.
- All There in the Manual: Some nigh unreadable text in the opening credits actually reveals most of the backstory.
- Always Night: A thick grey cloud covers the entire Earth throughout each day.
- Ambiguously Gay: Iggy. Later episodes reveal that Re-l deliberately chose him to sound this way.
- Amnesiac God: Vincent Law.
- Anti-Villain: The Walt Disney Captain Ersatz, Will B. Good, in Smile World.
- Apocalypse How: Class 1.
- Arc Words:
- The Pulse of the Awakening.
- "Raison d'être."
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: A possible interpretation of the fate of Daedalus' Monad.
- Awesome McCoolname: Vincent Law. "Vincent" is derived from the roman "vincere", to conquer. So, his name is basically "Conquer the law". Anyway, Vincent Law. C'mon, say it aloud. You know you want to.
- Badass Longcoat: Re-l and Ergo Proxy.
- Beautiful All Along: Vincent starts the series looking kind of short and dumpy. Once he opens his eyes and lets his hair down, however, he's revealed to be rather attractive. After leaving Romdeau he also seems to grow a couple of inches, though this could just be down to him walking more upright. Fridge Brilliance hits when one realizes that as a Proxy, Vincent is a shapeshifter.
The game show episode is particularly good for showing these changes; Vincent starts in his "I am meek and small" appearance from the beginning, and gradually returns to his later look as his confidence improves.
- Big Damn Heroes: In the last episode, when Romdeau is collapsing, the platform that Re-l is standing on crumbles beneath her and she is clinging for her life to some debris above the fire below. But then Pino and Kristeva come in the Four-hundreds Rabbit Just in Time before the the rest of the platform falls.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: MCQ spends half the game show episode addressing the viewer.
- Breather Episode: Episode 16, "Busy Doing Nothing." The episode is taken from the point of view of Re-l as she suffers from Cabin Fever after their ship is stranded for several days from lack of wind. She keeps a diary of her observations as well as her intent to busy herself with almost meaningless tasks to prevent herself from going crazy. As the episode goes on, Re-l begins to loosen up as she sees Vincent and Pino making the most of their situation by just being laid back.
- But What About the Astronauts?: Well... After the End (or just before) the human race went into space to flee from the dying Earth, although they realized that given enough time and some help the world could be healed. They created the Proxies for this specific task, and at the end of the series when the clouds open (signalling the world has mostly been healed) you can see the spaceships returning home.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Robots are Autoreivs, though that's pretty much the only example.
- Camp Gay: Iggy. He's even billed as "Iggy, the gay robot" in the Japanese commercial included on the special features disc.
- Character Title
- Cheeky Mouth
- Child Prodigy Daedalus Yumeno who is a doctor at 13 or 14.
- City in a Bottle: Romdeau.
- The Comically Serious: Re-l keeps a diary of their journey, recording daily occurrences with utmost gravity. It is Serious Business.
- Cool Boat: The Four-hundred Rabbits. It hovers!
- Cool Guns: Re-l's gun looks somewhat like a sawed-off shotgun.
- Crashing Dreams: Vincent, when he's sick and unconscious at the Commune.
- Creepy Child:
- Pino, before she left the city.
- Also the child clone of Re-l, which is especially creepy in the sense that Daedalus made her to, um, "replace" Re-l.
- Cyber Punk: Well, it appears to be from the first few episodes, at least. "Post-Cyberpunk" is another option, come the finale, at any rate.
- Deadly Euphemism: Rapture. After all, it is a great sin to give a name like rapture to a thermonuclear bomb - one of the few things Raul Creed states correctly. Truth in Television, too; have a look at Operation Smiling Buddha.
- Deadpan Snarker: Re-l's condescension knows very few limits.
- Death Faked for You: To Re-l.
- Death Seeker: Several of the proxies; notably, the super-cheery MCQ seems keen on ending it all.
- Death Takes a Holiday
- Decoy Protagonist: Both marketing material and the first four episodes make Re-l out to be the main character. It's actually Vincent; Re-l is simply there along for the ride.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "I'm no longer conducting examinations anymore."
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The Proxy-killing bullets. Fairly useless unless it hits the vitals though. Ergo takes one in the arm, rips the arm off, grows a new one and keeps going.
- Did You Just Have Sex?: Oddly, it's likely the viewer thinking this, as towards the end of the series, after months of Unresolved Sexual Tension, Vincent and Re-l abruptly start being nice to each other and acting somewhat couply.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Vincent tackles Re-l to the ground to and declares his undying love for her to get her gun away from her. Re-l responds by kissing Vincent to distract him long enough so she can get her gun back.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Vincent to Re-l.
- Domed Hometown
- Doom Magnet: The first eight episodes at least everyone around Vincent Law dies and in Light Beam his has a montage of thinking he might be the angel of death. He is, in fact, the Agent of Death.
- Driving Question: "What are the Proxies?"
- Emotionless Girl: Re-l gets very close to this a lot of the time. She is, however, very well acquainted with anger and exasperation.
- Even Evil Has Standards: By the end of the series, Raul is on the wrong side of sanity, but he still comments that Daedalus is over the edge for cloning Re-l and raising the toddler clone as part of Wife Husbandry.
- Eyes Always Shut: Vincent Law in his "harmless immigrant" persona.
- Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: Re-L isn't evil, but she does apparently keep a large container of that dark blue eyeshadow with her at all times. The only times she isn't shown wearing it are when she's just gotten out of bed.
- Flash Step: Any Proxy fight; often taken to extremes. Completely justified, but still, extreme.
- Gambit Pileup: This show is a good example of what can happen when you plan too much. It's possibly the only case of a Xanatos Gambit accidentally turning into a Gambit Pileup. The human "Creators" planned on coming back on their own after the Proxies finished cleaning up their mess. But if they didn't make it, the plan was to have the Proxies create their own batch of humans to repopulate Earth with. If the regrown humans didn't work out, the Cogito Virus was designed to make the AutoReivs take up the role. The "Creators" didn't really think about what would happen if ALL of those things happened at the same time. And they certainly didn't think a Proxy would still be alive when they came back.
- Genre Shift: The first few episodes are straight-up Cyber Punk and Film Noir, but as soon as Vincent leaves Romdeau those themes are downplayed in favor of the post-apocalyptic setting. Then another Genre Shift occurs towards the end of the series when Vincent and Re-I return to Romdeau, and the Cyber Punk and Film Noir themes return at full throttle.
- Green-Eyed Monster: The main reason Daedalus ends up losing it big time.
- Green Eyes: Vincent, used to great effect artistically. His file in episode three may say that they're blue, but there's a reason for that.
- Harmful to Minors: Timothy's death might count, although Pino is too naïve to realise he's dead.
- Hospital Hottie: Swan in Vincent's dream.
- Humans Are Bastards: The original human race abandoned the Earth, but not before they engineered a race of sapient, godlike posthumans to fix the dying world, with a killswitch built into them which would cause them to die upon the completion of their task. The plan was also to wipe out any surviving clone populations on the surface. Nice plan. No shortage of genocide there at all.
- Icarus Allusion: One of Daedalus's creations is given wings and is expected to die from exposure to the sun, not because of wings melting, but because she was a Proxy and sunlight is their Achilles' Heel. What exactly happens however, is very much left to interpretation, see: Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence above, for instance.
- Industrial: The entire soundtrack barring the opening and ending themes.
- In Medias Res: A staple of the show's Mind Screw is how often episodes begin like this, skipping over events with no explanation of How We Got Here.
- Instant Illness: When Re-l goes to the commune outside of Romdeau to retrieve Vincent, she immediately gets sick from contamination exposure when she takes off her protective suit.
- Ironic Echo: When Vincent first encounter Proxy One, he said, "I am Ergo Proxy - the agent of death." This was said when Vincent was not sure of himself or what he even was, but by the end of the series, he says the exact same thing only with more confidence and assurance, making it his Badass Creed.
- Jerkass: Re-l. She starts to get better after Iggy's death.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Too many to count.
- Killed Off for Real: Good God, where to start? The majority of the secondary characters don't survive to see the end of the series, including all of the citizens at the commune, the soldiers stationed at Halos, and Re-l's grandfather. As far as the main cast goes Iggy, Raul and Daedalus don't survive to the end either. Re-l also dies at one point, but she got better.
- Lecture As Exposition: Technically, Game Show as Exposition.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Two Proxies in the same room? They have to fight. This compulsion is an effect of the Pulse of the Awakening. Before the Pulse began, Proxies were able to live in the some dome, and some even loved each other: Monad and Ergo, and Senex and Kazkis. Once the Pulse started, Senex and Kazkis were forced to retreat to separate towers lest they kill one another, and Ergo did kill Monad. At least one Proxy is shown to be tired of having to kill his kindred every time they meet, and spends an entire episode giving Pino a message via a dream that she shouldn't let Ergo Proxy come to his town because Ergo will kill him and indirectly kill all the people living there if he goes there.
- Limited Wardrobe: Re-L lampshades this at one point ("I've been wearing this for twenty-four hours" after her apartment is destroyed); Iggy tries to take her clothes shopping. She ends up wearing that exact same outfit for at least several months, and who know if there are any other clothes left in the world by that point.
- Literal Metaphor: All over the place, to the extent where it's hard to tell whether some things are actually happening.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: A tactic frequently employed by battling Proxies. It is never directly stated, but the fact that Ergo appears to use this on Vincent to get him to recognize that he is Ergo Proxy implies that this is a power that all Proxies have, possibly to limit to collateral damage of their battles.
- Luminescent Blush
- Kryptonite Ring: UV bullets.
- Magic Pants: Vincent's clothes.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Re-L Mayer and Vincent Law, Vincent is easily more emotional while Real is usually expressionless, impatient, or angry.
- Male Gaze: Taken literally in a flashback from Vincent's perspective when he barges into Re-l's room. Somewhat Narmful.
- The Masochism Tango: Oh, yes. Right down to shotguns being waved in people's faces, and stalking someone across most of a continent because they didn't bring you on their awesome wasteland adventure.
- Maybe Ever After: In the end, Vincent/Ergo Proxy chooses Re-l over Monad, and they both escape from Romdeau unscathed, and Re-l, Pino, and Kristeva are about to pick Vincent up in the Four-Hundred Rabbits. Vincent also implies that he may wish to have words with the returning human "Creators" about the rotten mess they put everyone through.
- Meaningful Name:
- Pretty much everybody's name either has a meaning within the show (like the Proxies being literal proxies of "the creator"), is a reference to a well known story (like Dr "don't fly so high" Daedalus and "I want to be a real girl" Pino (Pinocchio)), has a meaning within the context of the show's philosophical psychobabble (like Re-l (Real) and Monad (which in philosophy is the one God and embodiment of reality), which is all even more symbolic given that Daedalus' Monad is a clone of Re-l) or are a reference to notable philosophers and psychologists. The extensive proliferation of meaningful names would be insufferable if they didn't reference how pretentious such a naming scheme was in the dialog.
- Vincent "Law" is key in exploring the boundaries of the established laws, and fails at his own quest to obey the law to the letter.
- Medium Blending: The live action pigeons in the intro.
- Mind Screw: Too many to count.
- Mini-Mecha: Or maybe Powered Armor; some (?) of the "armed autoreivs" seem to be controlled by a human riding on their backs.
- Mr. Alt Disney: Will B. Good
- Ms. Fanservice: When she's in bed, Re-L only wears a pair of white panties and a camisole-style top that isn't even a bra. Her Spy Catsuit also qualifies. Still fairly mild by anime standards, since she at least tends to wear a coat.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Raul becomes one of these with some Dark Messiah pretensions.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Our introduction to the city of Romdeau: "Romdeau City. This place is undoubtedly our final paradise. Today is just another day here. Nothing changes for the better in this cradle...A boring paradise."
- Notice This: The glint on Swan's pendant.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: tends to pop up when Re-l is ever conversing with the statues in the chamber.
- The Outside World: Re-l actually makes it to the Outside World, only to find that it is effectively a dark, very dark, Crapsack World.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Proxies.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Re-l, taken to Amy Lee extremes—but with the permanent overcast and all it's not like there's a lot of sunshine to bask in.
- Personality Chip: The 'Turing Program' that houses AutoReivs's personality can be turned off should it get inconvenient.
Chat mode off!
- Platonic Cave : The domes.
- Pretty in Mink: Re-L Mayer wears a white fur jacket half the time.
- Quivering Eyes
- Rage Against the Reflection: Done by Raul, and then later Vincent.
- Real Song Theme Tune: The ending theme is a heavily cut version of "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When Iggy gets infected with the Cogito virus he really let Re-l have it. And he loves the phrase "useless bitch" far too much. After that, her character progressively improves. And by "progressively", we mean a really slow defrosting stage.
- Recap Episode: The odd game show episode functions as this, except that the rest of the cast who aren't traveling in the Power Trio get to see the Clip Show elements as well, and thus learn plot important information.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning:
- Iggy is shown in darkness with red eyes in one scene after he's infected with the Cogito virus, and before he kidnaps Re-l.
- Subverted with Kristeva, who is also shown with red eyes at times after getting the Cogito virus, and is an Entourage class like Iggy, but doesn't go Yandere and escapes Rondo with Re-L and Pino, assigning herself as Pino's guardian as her final order from Raul.
- Uninfected Autoreivs tend to have red eyes when being overridden remotely.
- Red String of Fate: The fake Re-l has a red ball of wool.
- Replacement Goldfish: Daedalus attempts to clone the woman he is infatuated with.
- Ridiculously Human Robots:
- The Cogito infected AutoReivs. Mind you, they weren't built like that on purpose; they gain souls when infected with Cogito.
- They were however designed to respond to the Cogito virus as an alternative, by gaining souls the 'reivs would replace humanity's role in the plan. It wasn't a last resort but due to everything going down the toilet, it activated while the humans were still viable, therefore causing Cogito infectees to be Ax-Crazy. Kristeva drops this one to Pino near the end.
- Kristeva is a robot that, for some reason, wears lipstick.
- Robot Kid: Pino.
- Robot Religion: Apparently, the first thing a Cogito-infected Auto Reiv does is pray.
- Royal "We": Re-l's grandfather, the regent of Romdeau, speaks in this manner through four Auto Reivs.
- The Ruins I Caused: The last scene shows Vincent standing at the top of the ruins of Romdeau, with his caplet billowing in the wind. It's a very badass ending.
- Rule of Cool: When asked why he named the show "Ergo Proxy," those being two words that would never otherwise be next to each other in a sentence, the writer, Dai Sato, said, "It sounds cool."
- Scavenger World: The settlement outside Romdeau.
- Scenery Porn: Either that or Scenery Gorn, YMMV, but you can't deny it's beautifully done.
- Self-Parody: A brief one; when Vincent is sick and hallucinating, he has a nightmare where Re-l's already-copious eyeshadow expands to exaggerated proportions.
- Pino is named after the creation of a certain Japanese Doctor, who was herself named after "Pinnochio."
- Vincent also bears similarities to the Final Fantasy VII character Vincent Valentine. Aside from having the same name, both wear red capes and have demonic alter-egos, Ergo Proxy and Chaos respectively, who have a passing resemblance to each other.
- Episode 15:
- Rogi the Cricket needs little explanation.
- Re-L Mayer's citizen Number is 124c41, Hugo Gernsback wrote a novel with the title Ralph 124C 41+, see the similarities?
- One episode, named "Sacred Eye of the Void", takes place inside a character's subconscious, referencing the novel Eye in the Sky.
- Shrinking Violet: To an extent, Vincent is one.
- Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: So gritty that you can't even see the picture half of the time.
- Smarmy Host: In the game show episode, Vincent and co. end up trapped by a Proxy who acts as a gameshow host and has this personality to a T, and delivers exposition in the form of quiz questions.
- Something Completely Different: Happens twice; the first time with the Gameshow episode, and the second with the Who Framed Roger Rabbit -esque episode. Both utilise a completely different format of telling the story; the first with a gameshow/clipshow, and the second by seeing Toon World from Pino's perspective.
- Souvenir Land: Has its own episode.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Re-l vs Real, Romdo vs Romdeau, and countless others.
- Seeing Re-l's name on a computer in one episode suggests that both spellings could be correct, as it shows "REAL" with "RE-L" superimposed on it.
- Spoiled Brat: Re-L pulls this off when she first joins up with Pino and Vincent on The Thousand Rabbits. She gets better eventually.
- Spoiler Opening: Both Iggy's red eyes and Vincent turning into a Proxy when the camera zooms out.
- Steam Punk: A majority of the series is set around the wind machine the 400 Rabbits.
- Spotting the Thread: In the episode "Ophelia" Re-l was able to tell the real Vincent from the imposter Vincent because it didn't leave a reflection on the water.
- Superpowered Evil Side: The Proxies. At least, Ergo Proxy, at any rate.
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids:
- Averted with the "civilian" robots who die incredibly easily; the military robots are entirely distinct.
- Also averted in several specific cases with Pino, a companion-type AutoReiv, having no useful features whatsoever, except for being mind-bogglingly adorable.
- The Proxies themselves are ludicrously potent, possessing honest-to-God superpowers, when their job was to fix the atmosphere and maybe grow and/or manage some pseudo-humans. Hmm... come to think of it, that last part might have justified the superpowers.
- Supporting Protagonist: Depending on your perspective, either Vincent or Re-l could be this.
- Surprisingly Good English:
- The opening, "Kiri" by Japanese duo Monoral, is sung entirely in perfect English. Both members of the band are fluent.
- Anytime English shows up in the episodes (the "fellow citizens" broadcast or just in the grocery store) it's also very good.
- Take My Hand: Pulled a few times. The crowning moment came from Pino when she rescues Re-l in the last episode.
- Title Drop: "I am Ergo Proxy, emissary of death."
- Tomato in the Mirror: Vincent is Ergo Proxy, who erased his memories in an attempt to live as a human.
- Too Dumb to Live: A mall full of people and AutoReivs come across as having the worst reaction times in the second episode. So they'll just gawk at an immigrant running hurriedly by them, firing a gun, and won't even look back at the long-haired freak chasing him in a very noisy Foe-Tossing Charge? Sure, they finally start reacting and getting the hell out eventually, but only after the Proxy's already cut a bloody path through half the main hall right in front of them.
- Took a Level in Badass: Vincent Law. Several.
- Trouble from the Past: The whole purpose of the Proxies is to clean up Earth's ruined environment for humanity at large to be able to return from space. And then the Proxies are supposed to die.
- Tsundere: Re-l can be quite unpleasant to Vincent (when she's not threatening to shoot him that is).
- Unexpected Genre Change: One episode features the characters on a game show, albeit the questions are relevant to the plot. Later in the series, there is an episode that seems like something out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This is also mind-bogglingly canonical and relevant.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Complicates things between Re-l and Vincent. Better keep that pistol handy.
- Uterine Replicator: All citizens are born from artificial wombs.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The Proxy Project.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Philosophical, literary and even programming references. A lot of fansubs give a crash-course in philosophy at the end of almost all episodes. Thanks!
- Viewer-Friendly Interface: Averted; computer terminals are just as cluttered with windows as any of ours would be, although depressingly blue-tinted.
- Walking the Earth
- Wasteland Elder: Hoody and a bunch of others in the Commune.
- We Are as Mayflies: Completely averted with the immortal Proxies.
- Wham Episode: Nightmare Quiz Show / Who Want to Be in Jeopardy, with its Info Dump about the Proxies and their purpose.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?
- White Mask of Doom / Cool Mask: Ergo Proxy himself with his half-face, Harlequin-esque... thing.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The episode "Ophelia" starts out with the Vincent, Re-l, and Pino bickering over something that previously happened. The rest of the episode flashes back to what had happened.
- Wife Husbandry: It's heavily implied that this was one of Daedalus' goals in creating Real.
- Will They or Won't They?: Vincent and Re-l.
- Winged Humanoid: Monad in the last episode.
- Worth Living For: Deconstructed. With the theme of raison d'etre in the story, characters presented with them are willing to go outstanding lengths in order to achieve it - even if it means losing their sanity over it.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Re-l spends the first six episodes thinking she's in an espionage thriller. Vincent spends that time thinking that he's in Kafta-meets-Lovecraft story, and Iggy thinks that it's his duty to make Re-L's life a rom-com with her and Vincent's encounters as Meet Cutes.
- The Cogito virus makes infected AutoReivs experience human emotions. Entourage-class robots can arrive at psychotic jealousy from their initial quiet obedience
- Daedalus also qualifies, especially when Re-l runs off with Vincent, and he decides to clone himself a new Re-l as a replacement. He then completely breaks after that Re-L begins showing more interest in Vincent as well.
- You Call That A Wound: Upon taking a UV shell to the arm, Ergo Proxy tears off the affected limb and instantly regrows a new one.