Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cogito Ergo Proxy

Yay, back at home for Thanksgiving Break. I really haven’t been too busy lately, but I also haven’t done much either.

Ergo Proxy happened this week. Sigh. It's an incredibly difficult task to describe exactly what's up with Proxy. At first glance, it's a darker, grittier, and bleaker version of Lain, complete with a dystopian derelict of a city compounded with incessant "what is reality?" musings. However, after a fairly innocuous start, Proxy quickly spirals into flat-out depravity by laying on the surrealism so thick and in such a protracted manner that the whole shebang morphs into a twisted incomprehensible jumble of nonsense.

One of Proxy's motifs is the concept of one's "identity," and how our true "selves" are shaped by our raison d'etre's. Thus, it is extremely ironic that the characters themselves don't really develop at all throughout the entire series. Sure there's some psychological development, but all the characters feel rather shallow and seem all too content with lackadaisically meandering around. They prefer to wander aimlessly rather than looking inwards to foster genuine growth or looking forward to embark on a journey of discovery and there's always this feeling that story progression is repeatedly being ground to a complete halt. Doubly tragic is the fact that the show spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on characters' inner dialogue, which wouldn't be so unbearable if it didn't come across as tedious and meaningless drivel. Perhaps a more fitting name for the series would be Ergo Prolix-y (har har).

The biggest problem with Proxy is that it's literally choking on its own hamfisted pretentiousness. It makes severe sacrifices to shove its existentialist philosophies into your face instead of disseminating them in a discreet and subtle manner, which, as proven by the likes of Evangelion often fails miserably. Proxy is no exception. At best, it sparks faint intellectual rumination. At worst, it's borderline obnoxious. And believe me, it leans towards the latter far more often than not. As for the sacrifices, let's just say that the plot literally plummets down a bottomless abyss, never to be seen again, about halfway through the series. There's at least some semblance of a story early on, but by the end, Proxy is struggling to inch by on disjointed stand-alone episodes and a contrived conspiracy yarn held together by wet tissue paper.

Proxy is just one of those series’ that it gets done in by its own lofty aspirations. The first episode is a gorgeously engrossing opener with vast potential that quickly gets whittled away by more and more staggering lapses in relevance, plot coherence, characterization, and pacing. In fact, the only reason I stuck through with it for so long is because I have a soft spot for dark dystopian backdrops such as 1984 and feel that Proxy did a great job with its alluring mix of gothic and cyberpunk. If not for the setting and scenery, I'd have dumped it around that childishly gimmicky gameshow episode. Hey, at least the music is a blast. That opening is pure genius.

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