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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moe for Peno!

I just finished the anime series "Ergo Proxy". This is a thing to see especially if you are now burnt out with the whole anime interest as I imagine many are. The market has gotten pretty saturated with predictable tropes and there seems to be no expectation of avoiding them.

"Ergo Proxy" is not recent but it is breakout. Several of the typical themes in anime appear here. But there is still a greater and refreshing pitch in the execution and direction in this story. It is not a Gonzo product but it does use the latest in CGI techniques. The visuals are stunning and the music score production values are very high. The character designs are closer to American comic styles but are still well done. It is also important that they are not static. Changes in the plot coordinate with changes in the depiction of characters so that the design is part of the story.

There are several philosophical references but much of them are just for kitsch.

The supplements to the DVD indicate that the story was influenced by the turn to the "dark age" of comics in American comics. That's too bad since I have had it up to here with the Dark Age of comics, which seems to have reduced from striving for a sense of authenticity to a formula for a political platitude. However, that decline has not quite found its way into this piece which seem to reflect more of the original inspiration of that movement.

The story is edgy and hard hitting. It is not compromising, which makes this anime more tough than other recent eye candy. The story is fairly complete. There are refreshingly few danglers by the end of this than I have seen in a lot of recent anime. However, some moves still seem to be ad hoc to me.

Commentators speak well of the influence of dystopian nature of the story as if that were the reason to like it. It is dystopian but it trades most on striving being an original story and concept. The element of plausibility that is normally an important feature of a dystopian scenario is not so strongly highlighted here.

One of the things that I like in anime in general is the speculation about robots with a soul. That appears in different degrees of sophistication in many anime features. This anime features them also but without much speculation about their significance. But on the up side, it has one of the most endearing robot characters I have ever seen in an anime so far. One of the main characters is Peno, a robot originally designed as a companion android who gets infected with a computer virus that induces sapience and personhood in robots. But the important thing is the deep way this is portrayed in the story. I couldn't help but worry about this character and her fortunes in the story. What other anime accomplish concerning the theme of sentient robots by introducing exposition, this anime accomplishes in the Dickensian fashion of simply showing rather than saying.

For more details, see the link in the post title.

I have had to take seriously the belief that there very little chance that one is going to find the good stuff saving money. The best anime is often the BANDAI or GENEON which also is more expensive than ADVision.