Welcome to Anime Rants’ review and analysis of Ergo Proxy episode four. As usual, we have an episode synopsis, followed by a discussion section and a section for mythology and language topics. Let’s rant!
The first 6 or 7 minutes of Ergo proxy episode 04 show the workings of the unconscious mind of Vincent when he is passed out from a fever for days. By going through all these dreams, Vincent’s psyche is processing everything that happened recently: his experiences trying to be a model citizen, the monster that chased him, the way he was framed, and his flight through the mazelike city with Pino. From Vincent’s dreams it’s clear that this is the worst thing that could have happened to him. He wanted with all his heart to be a model citizen in Romdeau. His failure to do so is even more upsetting to him than being stalked by a Proxy monster.
When he finally wakes up, Vincent thinks he is in the immigrant sector of Romdeau. Pino and a man named Hoody are there taking care of him. Hoody explains that Vincent caught a virus and almost died, sleeping for ten long days. Now he has recovered. Much to Vincent’s shock, he also learns that he’s outside Romdeau. He somehow survived the fall off the side of the great domed city. Now, he is in a small commune of exiled and runaway humans who live off the junk that Romdeau citizens throw outside of the city. Hoody and the rest of the humans are welcoming and hospitable toward Vincent and Pino. However, Vincent is extremely depressed, and misses Romdeau.
Back inside the city, Re-L has met the consequences of her actions in the last episode. She was fired from her current investigation job, and Iggy was taken away from her. She was made to visit Daedalus again. At the appointment, the young doctor acts much more like an ally than last time, but he still isn’t being completely honest. Re-L realizes that she needs Daedalus’ help and must risk telling him the truth of her experiences. So tells him what she found when she was investigating alone the day after Vincent’s disappearance: the corpse of Monad Proxy.
The two long-time acquaintances reach a deal. In return for showing Daedalus the location of the corpse, Re-L will receive any and all information that comes from Daedalus’ analysis of the specimen. Neither of of them are to tell the government of Romdeau anything. It becomes clear that Daedalus has known of the existence of Proxies all along, but Re-L forgives him for hiding it from her. After showing the monster’s body to Daedalus, Re-L leaves to investigate the escape route of infected Autoreivs. Daedalus is free to begin analyzing Monad’s corpse.
Returning to the commune outside of Romdeau, Pino is adjusting well, but Vincent is depressed. He meets a middle-aged woman named Quinn who is considered a weirdo and almost an outcast by the rest of the commune. She is gathering technology to eventually leave the commune and carve out her own life without being a “dome parasite.” Quinn helps cheer up Vincent and tells him to get his act together. She also teaches him to hide when surveillance drones from Romdeau come along on their patrols.
One of the armed drones spots Pino, and Vincent rushes to save her. He shoots and destroys the drone. However, before it goes offline, the drone captures a blurry image of Vincent’s outline and sends it back to the city. Not surprisingly, the footage is seen by Raul, who is determined to drag Vincent back and get some answers out of him. This is where the episode ends.
1) How did Vincent survive?
The drop from the side of Romdeau’s dome was immense. Any human should die from falling that distance. So how did Vincent survive? Furthermore, how did Pino survive? At this point in the series, there’s no clear answer to this possible plot hole. It might be covered in a later episode, but I don’t remember. Still, one can hypothesize a potential solution. I think Vincent must have changed into Ergo Proxy as he fell down. His Proxy powers enabled him to survive the fall as well as carry Pino down with him. However, almost immediately, he caught the virus and collapsed from fever. And as usual, Vincent doesn’t remember this happened due to dissociative amnesia. That is one possible explanation to the plot hole.
2) Living in the commune
The people living in the commune outside the city are quite proud and forward with their behavior and attitudes. This is the opposite of what I initially expected. The world is a dark place, the environment is harsh, the people have to live off junk, and food can only be so plentiful without agriculture. One might expect a depressed commune. But most of the people here are relatively happy and proud because to them, this is “freedom.” They have escaped the oppressive dystopia of Romdeau. For the first time they can live without being so controlled and manipulated– they can live without lies. They are eager to accept new people too, since they empathize with being driven out of their old homes. The commune members constantly celebrate their freedom in small ways.
Not everyone agrees with the consensus. There’s also Quinn, who believes the rest are fools for celebrating this form of “freedom.” You see, Quinn realizes that it’s far too early to feel safe. They could be discovered and wiped out by Romdeau at any time. Practically speaking, the people are not free at all. In addition, they aren’t ideologically free either, at least according to Quinn. They are still living off of Romdeau like parasites. Even though they claim to not be part of the city or support it, the people cannot live without it. That’s not true independence. Thus, Quinn wants to find a way to live apart from Romdeau altogether.
From the perspective of the rest of the commune, Quinn is sort of a rebel and generally disliked. The differing philosophies of freedom between the main populace and Quinn will lead to conflict down the road. That’s why it was important to discuss. It’s also interesting to consider different ideas and definitions of freedom.
On a last note, I found it interesting and surprising at first that there is a deadly virus outside of Romdeau. According to Hoody, this virus kills up to 80% of those who flee Romdeau and join the commune. if you think about it though, it’s pretty realistic. The people live in artificial, highly controlled environments, where their immunity is ensured. But once they step into the wild outside world, they are hit with numerous pathogens against which they have no defense. It must be hard living in the commune when the vast majority of new people who try joining die of the virus.
3) Raul’s Attitude Change
Raul seems like a hyper-logical and extremely practical person. We’ve also seen that he’s emotionally distant, serious, and lacking in normal expression. But now, we’re seeing a change in Raul. The scene where he talks to his Entourage at the end is very telling. The way he looks happy when he talks about catching Vincent is one example. In addition, Raul relies on his intuitive gut feeling that Vincent has all the answers; he says he can tell for sure. When the Entourage says this emotional reasoning is unusual, Raul isn’t bothered at all. He actually cracks a joke, saying that it’s as if he has caught the Cogito Virus.
What is this change and why is it happening? It might seem like a good thing at first that Raul is becoming more expressive. He’s been bottling up his true responses, thoughts, and feelings for so long. However, it seems to me that Raul is becoming less stable, not more. He isn’t grieving in a healthy way, but simply directing his feelings into an obsession about catching Vincent. After all, form Raul’s perspective, it’s Vincent’s fault that his wife and child died that day at the mall. So although Raul has loosened up, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. We’ll wait and see how this develops in future episodes.
4) City of Lies
“Lies are truth until you know them to be lies. It may be the right thing to do to discern truth from lies, but that does not mean it will bring happiness.”
~Hoody, Ergo Proxy episode 4
The last discussion topic for this post is all about Hoody’s wise words to Vincent when he awakens. (See the quote above.) Vincent is frustrated at Romdeau for all its lies, and he is well justified to be so. But the truths that Vincent has begun to discover are not happy truths at all. The point of Hoody’s words is especially relevant to Vincent and to himself, since both of them loved Romdeau and miss it. Perhaps they would have been happier living forever in the city of lies. Life would certainly be easier and there would be more modern conveniences. I’d like to discuss what this issue means for me personally, but first, let me make sure I’ve explained what Vincent is going through.
Vincent thought that if he tried hard enough and was polite enough, his good work would be rewarded and he would be accepted as a model citizen of Romdeau. That was his dream. But in reality, hard work isn’t always rewarded. Vincent also thought he had a fair chance, but the reality was that Romdeau treated the Mosk immigrants unfairly, almost as if they were subhuman. In addition, Vincent thought that Romdeau would come to his aid when he was in trouble. But after he was attacked by a monster, the only thing the authorities did was frame him for a crime as an excuse to capture and interrogate him. All of this disillusionment with Romdeau and reality itself is causing Vincent immense internal suffering. The truth hasn’t made him happier by an stretch of the imagination. Hopefully, you can now understand what Hoody meant.
Hoody’s words also have personal meaning for me. Most of it has to do with my journey away from a cult-like upbringing of religion and lies. I care about what is true more than what feels good, but my younger self naively thought that truth would always lead to happiness. I quickly found out it was very painful for me to come to a better understanding of reality. I suffered, mostly alone, for a long time. It didn’t help that for a while I had no support outside of the religious fundamentalist circles I grew up in. The truth can hurt, and it may even make your life utterly miserable for a while.
All that being said, I absolutely do not regret my journey of discovering truth. The journey continues to this day, since I want to always be seeking knowledge. I think for me, the hardest part is over. I made it through the darkness. Now, while I may not have achieved “happiness” (or being cured of major depression disorder), I’m still glad I found a more accurate and realistic view of the world and life. As I said earlier, I do care more about what’s true than what feels good. I think Vincent will eventually be glad, as well, that he began a quest for truth. It’s just that it will be highly painful for a time.
Mythology, Language, and Philosophy Section
1) Reference to Hades
The title of the episode is “Sign of the Future, Hades of the Future.” What does that mean? I think the sign of the future part refers to the fact that a lot of future episodes will be taking place outside of Romdeau. This is but the first episode of many where Vincent is no longer in a dome city. But what does the Hades reference mean? To understand, let’s review the origin and meanings of the word.
If you’re at all interested in mythology, you probably already know that Hades was the Ancient Greek god of the underworld, a realm beneath earth where the souls of the dead reside. But importantly, Hades also refers to the underworld itself. The word Hades is also used in some translations of the Bible– interchangeably with the Hebrew word sheol– also to refer to the land of the dead.
As far as Ergo Proxy’s episode 4 title is concerned, I’m pretty sure Hades means underworld or world of death rather than the god ruling it. The world outside of the paradise of Romdeau seems, in comparison, like hell. It’s not a completely dead or toxic world, as Vincent previously thought, but it’s still overwhelmingly dark, lonely, and empty. There isn’t much life left on Earth. Particularly for Vincent, who fell from the high dome, it seems like he descended into some kind of underworld. Since Ergo Proxy happens an unspecified amount of time in the future, calling the world “Hades of The Future” makes perfect sense.
2) Joe Bousquet
A Frenchman who lived in the early 1900s, Joe Bousquet was a poet. He was partially paralyzed in a battle in the first World War. After that, he spent his time reading, writing, and managing his pain with opium. I was unable to find a sample of his writing online aside from one or two quotes which are the same ones said in Ergo Proxy. However, Wikipedia suggests Bousquet wrote surreal-style poetry reflecting the surrealism movement following the war.
In Ergo Proxy, Hoody reads from a book containing some of Joe Bousquet’s writings. He does this during Vincent’s ten-day fever. As as result, Vincent heard some of the words and subconsciously digested them into his mind. The anime doesn’t make it very clear which of Hoody’s lines during the dream sequence were quotes, and which might have been original script. It also doesn’t state whether or not those poetic lines were part of the same piece of writing. I can only go with my best guess. I think the following lines from Hoody were all written by Bousquet, and they were meant to be read and understood together. The paragraph below is the collection of those lines.
“(1) Nothing there was a city, or a church, or a river. Not color, light, or shadow.
(2) For a time, not moving in the slightest, I felt the indescribably immense tide, the serenity of the vast sky, and the melancholy of the hour spread pleasantly through every fiber of my being.
(3) I do not know what happened within my psyche, nor am I able to express what happened.
(4) That moment, when I felt something go to sleep within me and something else awaken, was a moment that defied description.
(5) In that world born of himself, people could become anything they wanted to be.”
For our purposes, the real question is whether these poetic lines have any meaning that could be relevant to Ergo Proxy. I most definitely think there is such an interpretation. Those lines carry great significance for Vincent and his identity crisis. As we know from future episodes, Vincent is the human alter-ego of Ergo Proxy. At some point, with Monad’s help, a new identity was born from Ergo: Vincent, the human. What did Vincent/Ergo feel in the moment of splitting? It was probably a very spiritual, almost dissociative experience, much like what Bousquet described in those lines. There was some moment where everything made sense to Ergo, but it passed, because of the splitting of his identity.
Importantly, the opening line from Ergo/Vincent in episode one vaguely resembles the words of the poet. He says, “In that moment, I understood everything: the workings of the creators, and the totality of malevolence.” Ergo’s moment of understanding himself was probably also related to his knowledge of Proxy One, who isn’t precisely part of him, but is almost always around him. In the presence, Vincent knows nothing of Proxy One. But understanding that being and its relation to Ergo must have contributed to that indescribable moment of understanding and subsequent separation.
That wraps it up for today. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to read or just click on the post. It means a lot. Have a good one everybody! Also have a cute picture of Pino just cuz.