Hey everyone, I hope you’re well. Today on Anime Rants, we have a review and analysis of Ergo Proxy’s eighth episode. Let’s begin with the synopsis.
With food running out and no sign of Mosk, Vincent faces the prospect of dying in the wilderness with only Pino for a companion. However, the two of them run into an armed conflict between Autoreivs and humans piloting air forces. The humans are soldiers of the domed city fortress of Charos, and are led by a Commander Patecatl. They are fighting knight-like Autoreivs from the neighboring dome fortress of Asura. After winning the skirmish in the wilderness, the humans take in Vincent and Pino. They are hospital and generous with food, but the payment they demand is for Vincent to help them in their war against Autoreivs.
Vincent is unwilling to fight, but too nonconfrontational to refuse outright. Before he is given a chance to fight, however, Vincent is falsely accused of killing a few Charos soldiers for sport. The men lock him up in a prison where they also apparently keep the women of Charos. The real murderer of the soldiers is Senex Proxy, prowling around for unknown reasons. Pino and Vincent are now prisoners, and their only company is a mentally ill woman who seems to be prophesying about a lord descending into the city in moonlight. It sounds like nonsense, but it’s actually a prophesy for the advent of Ergo Proxy and his upcoming battle with Senex Proxy.
Suddenly , Vincent is incapacitated with panic and pain. He is beginning to transform into his proxy body. It’s apparently a traumatic thing for him to change, and he resists it for several minutes of agony. Meanwhile, Senex Proxy wipes out the soldier men of Charos. Afterward, the genderless but feminine Proxy descends into the prison area. She is met by Ergo Proxy, who engages her in battle just like in the old woman’s prophesy. Pino manages to stay safe and it’s unclear how much she saw. The fierce Proxy battle ends with Ergo’s Victory over Senex. Ergo/Vincent then passes out.
A strange man (who will know later as actually Kazkis) appears and finds the ravaged scene. He seems to know what’s going on, and looks impressed. Pino appears and asks who the man is, while Vincent is unconsciousness beside them. This is where the episode ends.
The Weakness of Vincent
Episode 8 isn’t one of my favorites and at first felt to me almost filler-like in placement and structure. However, it’s certainly not a filler episode in actuality, but a very important one for several reasons. It sets up the trend that will continue from here on wherein Ergo kills the Proxies from other dome cities. It also sets the stage for the episode dealing with Kazkis Proxy and his interactions with Vincent. In addition, episode 8 is key to showing the distress and pain Vincent is suffering.
For Vincent, it’s a big moment when he asks himself, “Am I death?” He’s observed that wherever he is involved, there is bloodshed. As he struggles in his loneliness and depression in the prison cell, Vincent thinks of the people at the mall in Romdeau as well as Quinn and others from the commune who died. Most likely, he feels guilt over their deaths. As if that wasn’t enough, this man feels terribly lonely, and out of place wherever he goes. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t fit into Romdeau or the commune, and now, he’s an outcast in Charos, too. Though Vincent hopes to find something that will help him in his old home of Mosk, he has no idea what he’s even searching for. His memories are a mess and he can’t recall anything about his old life, but he runs away from this fact desperately.
The weight of all this is close to crushing Vincent in episode 8 and that’s important to understand. Subconsciously, he knows he is Ergo, and can feel himself begin to change form. On a conscious level, he rejects his dual identity to the point of not recognizing it at all. With everything going on in Vincent’s heart and mind, it’s no wonder he doesn’t want to admit he’s not really human on top of everything else. Sympathizing with Vincent is painful, in his wretched, trembling state, desperately trying to maintain his identity and sense of humanity. Notably, it’s rare to see a main male anime character whose frailty and vulnerability is not framed in a negative or judgmental way. Vincent’s emotional agony is perfectly understandable given his situation. I genuinely appreciate this character framing.
The Women of Charos
I noticed at least once that the soldiers of Charos made reference to a woman who, like Pino, mentioned seeing a mysterious ray of light in the dark. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the soldier said “women” not “woman.” Rather than referring to the one mentally ill woman in the prison, he is likely referring to all the women in Charos. But for all the women to report the same strange sight, they would have to be in close quarters and in a dark place. And have you noticed that all the soldiers of Charos are male? When Vincent is thrown into the prison, he sees that many cells are occupied, not just the one right beside his. If you put all these hints together, it’s pretty obvious what is happening. All the women of Charos have been imprisoned.
Why was such a thing done? Well, there are two main possibilities. First of all, the women were put there to protect them from both the war and the Proxies. We know that after the pulse of the awakening, Senex and Kazkis Proxy went into some kind of temporary madness. They began to destroy their own cities for some reason. This would make the humans panic, and possibly make some ill choices. (Bottom line, though, locking people up in a prison in the name of “protection” they didn’t ask for is extremely unethical.)
The other darker option is that the men of Charos decided the women were no longer needed. After all, the men can protect the artificial womb rooms where new soldiers are being developed. A person who hated women are would say they are now useless since they are not needed for reproduction and not seen as being fit enough soldiers. In that case, the men simply locked up the women and can do whatever they want with them, be it sexual slavery or leaving them to rot in the dark. I believe this second option is what happened. That could also explain why Senex, a feminine-spirited Proxy, began killing off the men in episode 8. It was revenge for mistreating the women.
Though grim, I felt it was interesting to point all this out about the city of Charos. There’s just one other note to make on this topic. It’s not about the women collectively, but about a specific woman: you guessed it, the raving prisoner in the cell next to Vincent’s. Her words are seemingly nonsense at first, and her behavior is strange, leading to the conclusion that she is severely mentally ill. However, even if she is messed up in the head, her words turned out to be a prophecy that came true. Why is that?
Humans in the Ergo Proxy world so far don’t have any supernatural powers. Was the woman in the cell some kind of psychic? That’s certainly possible, but I think there’s another reason. I believe Senex Proxy was possessing that woman’s mind, so to speak. Proxies can and do use supernatural or psychic means to invade and manipulate human minds. Therefore, it’s likely that Senex was simply using that woman to state what she intended to do and what she predicted would happen with Ergo. Sadly, the woman died from an injury sustained during the destruction of the prison. But she appears to have died in an ecstatic state, marveling at the terrible beauty of Senex and Ergo battling in the moonlight. Let’s hope she felt at peace.
The Cards Theme
If you pay attention throughout the episode, you’ll notice that playing cards are a recurring visual motif. Early on, Pino was reading a picture book showing the card soldiers like from Alice in Wonderland. Later, when the soldiers of Charos are playing cards, Pino curiously investigates and asks if they are card soldiers. The theme of playing cards appears again when a deck is seen scattered over the remains of Senex Proxy. Kazkis examines the cards and turns over a joker, which seems to amuse him. So, does the theme of cards in episode 8 have any special meaning?
I think there was a clear reason the reference was made to the card soldiers of Alice in Wonderland. If you remember the story, the card soldiers are frantic to paint the roses the right color to please the erratic and moody Queen. She would order their deaths at the drop of a hat. This makes me think that the people of Charos are like the card soldiers and Senex Proxy was their unreasonable and murderous Queen. She started destroying the city, killing people, and stirring up a war with Asura. Then when the soldiers didn’t do what they were supposed to, she started killing them off for sport. If nothing else, we know that Senex enjoyed her killings.
As for the deck of playing cards strewn around the body of Senex, there may be a different meaning. Several different cards were shown in the scene, and while I’m not a player of many card games myself, I recognize a pattern. The cards we were shown were a ten, a jack, a king, and an ace– all of the same suit (spades). When Kazkis goes to flip the last card, I think he was expecting to see the Queen of Spades. I don’t know what this combination is called, but five of a suit in a row with all the royalty is quite a combination. The only thing missing was the Queen, but instead, the last card was a joker. I think this signifies that the queen of Charos– Senex– is dead, and that she was killed by a wild card. That wild card or joker is, of course, Ergo Proxy.
(Note: I might be very wrong about the interpretation of this, since I don’t understand the significance of that combo in a card game like poker. Feel free to correct me if you know about card combos.)
-Section for Mythology, History, Language, Etc.-
1) Aztec Mythology References
You may recall that Vincent’s ship is called the Centzon Totochtin meaning the 400 Rabbits. They call the ship “The Rabbit” or “The Centzon” for short. It’s a reference to the Aztec god of drunkenness and parties. Well, the Aztec references continue in this episode. The commander of the Charos soldiers is named Patecatl, which is also the name of an Aztec god of healing and fertility. Patecatl joined with the goddess Mayahuel and they were the parents of the Centzon Totochtin. Additionally, Patecatl’s administrative assistant is named Omacatl, which is the name of the Aztec god of feasts and happiness.
To be honest, I don’t think the use of Aztec mythology is terribly important to Ergo Proxy. But it’s worth noting because each domed city we see in the anime has a theme. And for Charos, the theme is Aztec. (The design of the dome fortress also in some ways looks Aztec.) Other than that, the mythology references are not important. But hey, who doesn’t like learning some free knowledge about the world from an anime?
2) Charos/ Haros in Greek Mythology
Charos or Haros is the modern Greek word for Charon. A character in ancient Greek mythology, Charon is the creature who ferries the souls of the dead across the river styx and into Hades. The name Charos is strongly associated with death. This makes sense for its use in Ergo Proxy. The city of Charos is where Vincent asks himself if he is death incarnate, and where Ergo begins his pattern of killing Proxies. It’s a city associated with death.
3) Latin Word Senex
Senex is actually a word from Latin and it means “old.” In modern English, a senex is an old man used as a stock character. The Senex Archetype is a personality type outline describing a wise, elderly man. Despite these various meanings, senex really only means “old,” and not “old man.” Why is there a Proxy named Senex? I assume it’s because she was one of the first Proxies to ever exist. Senex was old and approaching death anyway. Ergo Proxy finished her off. It symbolizes the death of the old as the world goes on to what is new. I think that’s why this episode’s Proxy is named Senex.
Well, that’s all the discussion I have in me to write about today. I hope you enjoyed this edition of my Ergo Proxy episode reviews. Thanks for reading!