Archive for February, 2013

Anime Review: Ergo Proxy

ergo proxyGenre: Cyberpunk/Suspense

Studio: Manglobe

Distributor: FUNimation

No of episodes: 23

Suggested Age: 17+

My Rating: 9/10

Summary: In the dystopian city of Romdo, humans and androids called Autoreivs coexist.  But when an investigator named Re-L Mayer and her Autoreiv partner Iggy investigate murders connected to androids infected to the “Cogito virus”, a program that causes androids to become self-aware, they discover a conspiracy between a being known only as the Proxy.  COuld this completely destroy Romdo’s order?

Review: Have I mentioned already how much I love dystopias? Because I do.  They’re an excellent way to explore concepts that make us human.

The art and animation are excellent. The story has a feel that invokes Blade Runner, which is one of my all-time favorite movies.  It also brings to mind Isaac Asimov’s trilogy of novels involving a human detective named Elijah Baley and his android partner, R. Daneel Olivaw (Caves of Steel, The Robots of Dawn, and The Naked Sun) Romdo is a gritty city that is perfect for all inside its dome, but those outside live in slums.

Re-L is a great heroine. She’s a dead ringer for Amy Lee, the lead singer for goth rock band Evanesence. She has a no-nonsense personality and is fearless and inquisitive. She doesn’t care that the evidence she is uncovering about the Cogito Virus is jeopardizing her status, she just wants justice.

Iggy is a dedicated partner. in Romdo, everyone, both humans and Autoreivs alike, is created to fulfill a predetermined purpose. No one is born anymore, instead they’re grown in artificial wombs, much like in Brave New World. When the case threatens their partnership, he is unable to function.

Vincent is an enigma.  Although he was not created in Romdo, he is still subject to their methods of assimilation.  He’s a great exploration of a classic theme: should we stand out or conform?

Pino is a child-like Autoreiv who originally stood in for a child. But when its “mother” actually does conceive, Pino is no longer necessary. She is completely dependent on others, and desires humanity. And of course, her name is a derivative of Pinocchio.  She is a pure show-stealer, and I enjoyed her every moment.

The pacing is slow enough to understand, but not to the point of boredom. The 23 episodes just flew by. While the story is complex, it’s not entirely void of understanding. I highly recommend it.

Sub/Dub: I was only able to watch the sub.

Music/Score: The music gives the story an eerie feel. I especially like the droning chorus of “kyrie eleison” and the opening theme. Radiohead fans will obviously recognize the closing theme, “Paranoid Android” from their Kid A CD.

Violence: 8/10 the murders are very graphic.

Language: 2/10

Nudity: 1/10

Sexuality: 0/10

Religion: There is a character named Daedelus, (yes, like the Greek mythological figure who made his own wings) who SPOILER! creates an angelic clone of Re-L and claims godhood.

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Anime Review: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

madoka

 

Genre: Fantasy

Studio: Shaft

DistributorAniplex, also streams on Hulu.
No of Episodes: 12

Suggested Age: 13+

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: A group of girls are met by a strange cat-like being called Kyubey.  It tells them that it can grant them their hearts’ desires and transforms them into magical girls in order to hunt witches.  But something sinister is afoot. What are Kyubey’s true intentions?

Review: When I decide to review an anime, I do not look up info on it because I prefer not to be spoiled.  So I had no knowledge of what to expect for this title.

When I heard the premise from a former friend of mine, I expected something along the line of Cardcaptors or Sailor Moon. Boy, was I wrong!  This is really what you call a deconstruction. It takes what is usually established and destroys it.

The art style is chaotic. The enemies the girls fight create their own environments, almost looking like an animated Salvador Dali painting.

The characters are interesting.  Our heroine, Madoka, is actually the weakest of the heroines. But in the end, she proves to be the one who is underestimated by Kyubey.

Kyubey operates similarly to Mephistophilis, a demon in Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus. In the play, a man named Faust meets a demon who offers divine knowledge, in exchange for his soul.  The same premise is made here.  Each girl is offered a contract that eventually transforms the girls.  They then become dependent on the “soul gems” that are created when they defeat a witch. If they do not allow Kyubey to “purify” the soul gems so that they can use them to heal from battles, they receive the full brunt of the injuries they received.

Kyubey is a great adversary. Because it is demonic, it does not understand the value humanity places on life and compassion.  This is a classic model: dark cannot comprehend light.

The overall story had very interesting twists I didn’t see coming.  The ending alone is quite the payoff.

I highly recommend this program.  If you can handle dark stories, the payoff will be worth it.

Sub/Dub: I was only able to watch the sub.

Music/Score: Beautiful and epic.  I like the closing theme best.

Violence: (5/10) The girls magic and there are a few death scenes. We also see what happens when someone tries to back out on a contract, and it’s pretty painful.

Nudity: (3/10) There is silhouetted nudity in the final episode.

Language: (1/10)

Sexuality: (0/10)

Religion: (5/10) OK, time for the spoilers for the ending.  Kyubey is a demon and it is harvesting the girls’ souls to create entropy.  As I stated in the review, they are essentially contracting with the devil.  In the final episode, Madoka outsmarts Kyubey by taking all the suffering of those who made deals with it upon herself, somewhat like Jesus did for us.  This not only thwarts Kyubey’s plans, but it also remakes the whole universe.

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