cureclover (cureclover) wrote,

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Ergo Proxy anime explained! (guide for story, plot and episodes) PART 1

Hello there, this is meant to be read after watching everything of Ergo Proxy so beware of spoilers.


Ergo Proxy is a very complex anime, using a different way of storytelling than most animes. It also uses a lot of psychological and philosophical references. Because of the way the story of Ergo Proxy is told, it’s very hard to understand what’s going at times. I too had trouble following what was going on, especially in the second half of the series. But once you understand the plot, you realize what an amazing series this is with a well thought-out story that makes you think.

A lot of people don’t understand the series and some drop it because of this. This is why I made two posts explaining everything of the story of Ergo Proxy. I compiled explanations from various blogs and the Ergo Proxy wiki and brought them together in one place. A lot of sites explain parts of the story, but none were complete, not even the wiki. I also added my own thoughts on some things.

The plot and story guide is meant to be read first. After that you can read the episode guide which expands on some parts of the plot and points out other important things. I hope I can help people appreciate and understand this series and after reading, you might be compelled to watch again to catch what you’ve missed. Because Ergo Proxy is an anime that requires multiple viewings to understand the story, though I hope reading this will help you as well.

I would appreciate it if you would now take the time to read this post even if it’s quite long. I worked hard making this, so thank you if you’re up to reading it.

Plot overview of Ergo Proxy
The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic future of Earth, focusing on the aftermath of a global ecological disaster. The apparent cause of this travesty was rapid climate change due to a string of explosions in methane hydrate reserves. Occurring during the second half of the 21st century, the impromptu detonations succeeded in wiping out 85% of the planet's (human) population.

Some of the humans retreated to a giant spaceship (ark) in orbit called the Boomerang Star. There wasn't room for everybody - it was bad times for the ones that stayed behind.

The retreating humans started Proxy Project (PP). They created 300 Proxies to take care of the place while they were out. The proxies contain an incredible amount of energy, and are capable of impressive feats of strength. They also contain Amrita Cells, which make them immortal. However, very specific, high-energy waves can destroy amrita cells. Proxies themselves can generate such waves, enabling them to kill each other. Proxies have another weakness - natural sunlight kills them. This is normally not a problem, since the world is shrouded in clouds and all the proxies live in domes anyhow.

After being created, each proxy was tasked to build a dome with an artificial womb. With this womb they created humans to live inside of it. So there are 300 domes/towns, one for each Proxy. Each proxy was given creative freedom on how to create their dome societies. This was done to help create diversity among cultures and populations. Everything from idealistic post war 1950s America to Disneyland amusement (Smileland) to a Greek Philosophical City-State (Romdeau) was created. The womb made people, people made Autoreivs, and the combination of the two built some more in the domes and maintained order.

Why create pseudo-humans, domes, proxies, etc at all? The domes were created to help get the eco system back in order and to provide a place where the space faring people could return. Human waste was encouraged in the domes to help start the cycle of the ecosystem again. The domes also were meant for genetic diversity. Both domes and space farers would repopulate the world once the methane gas dissipated and it was liveable again. It just took much longer than they calculated.

Another reason is that should their space vessel fail, the human race would not go completely extinct. There would still be humans living in domes. This is also why the humans made the Cogito virus. If the space vessel fails and the humans in the domes also die out, they wanted some form of human intelligence/life to still exist. If there are no humans anymore, what would remain are human creations with souls of their own, if not entirely human on their own living in the domes (=infected Autoreivs). It would at least leave some form of life behind. Pino was pretty human at the end, and a cogito infected Autoreiv probably gets more and more human-like, the longer they survive.

It is possible that the Cogito Virus is distributed and/or controlled by Proxies: AutoReivs of all kinds exhibit odd behaviour (prayerful postures, attacks on humans) in the presence of both Monad and Ergo Proxy. Indeed, following a close encounter with Monad Proxy in the Romdeau Shopping Mall, Pino appeared suddenly stricken by the same prayerful pose that afflicted other Autoreivs throughout the series. The praying position is most likely connected to humanity's singular desire to create/find a faith in a higher deity - unique among the animal kingdom and very distinctly human.

The Proxies (hence the name) were created to care for and nurture the human population in the domes. The proxies realized after a while that their creations were imperfect: their humans couldn’t reproduce and were sterile. They were pseudo-humans and they could only produce via the artificial womb which draws its power from the Proxy. The Proxies realized that they had failed in their main objective: to keep the population safe. Since the humans lost the ability to breed, they were no longer useful (why Kazkis and many other Proxies destroyed their humans). This is the caged animal syndrome.

What the Proxies didn’t realize was that the space-humans had done this on purpose. They had no plan whatsoever to breed with the humans in the domes once they returned from space. This is the final stage of Proxy Project. The humans in space want to make sure there's nothing on the ground when they finally come back to rebuild their civilization. Just nice, empty and useable domes ready for them to move in and live in. To such ends, they built a couple of flaws into the Proxies.

1) Proxies have souls/hearts. As a result over a very long time they start to get lonely, since each proxy lives by itself in a dome and has no real peers. Also realize when the story takes place, the Proxies have been living for at least 5000 years and some of them have long gone mad from living that long. These two things can cause a couple of different psychological problems:

a. Aggressiveness: Proxies become either self-destructive, or homicidal. Either way, the dome that depends on them is in trouble.

b. Proxies can become escapist: - they flee their domes and try to forget. This will also result in the dome dying because: No proxy -> no working artificial womb -> no more psuedo-humans.

c. Proxies may seek out other proxies to feel less lonely.

2) Proxies are possibly programmed to kill other proxies. In addition to killing off potential resistance for when the space-humans return, this forces Proxies to always remain in isolation, adding to the loneliness factor. Each Proxy has its own dome which is its own territory or dominion, so if they encounter one another Proxies mostly act hostile and try to kill each other.

3) Proxies die in sunlight. Once the planet recovers and the sun shines again, the proxies will no longer be able to live on it.

In conclusion the space-humans deliberately made the Proxies imperfect beings which means their creations will be imperfect as well, the sterile pseudo-humans. The space humans don’t want the domes to be full of pseudo-humans when they come back because there won’t be any room for them. They also don’t want super powered Proxies running around who could cause them problems. So they have a plan for both the pseudo-humans and the Proxies.

Think of them as colonization of an otherwise uninhabitable planet, just like the moon. Those people were created as a slave/servant class to the "real" humans. These pseudo-people will die almost immediately from exposure to "outside" air, they can't procreate, etc. The reason for their entire existence was to maintain the domes. They were created to make these habitable colonies, maintain them, and then die off when "real humans" returned, leaving the "real humans" with places to live.

Basically, the idea is to never have to go through the struggle of rebuilding towns and living with practically nothing. That's why, beyond the necessary minimal number of citizens needed to maintain order, all those "empty towns" were being maintained by robots constantly mowing and watering lawns, etc on the outskirts of Romdeau.

We know that the species of humans put in the domes was already winding down through the fact that they had massive graveyards and almost no population to speak of, which gives further credence to the idea that it was all orchestrated and timed so that few to none would still be alive when "real humans" returned, but that they would "go out" peacefully.

This is where the final stage of PP sets into motion. When the planet has recovered enough to become liveable again, the ‘Pulse of the Awakening’ starts for the Proxies. As a result the carefully programmed proxies are beginning to self-destruct. It's unclear whether the ‘Pulse of the Awakening’ is something started in the proxies automatically in response to environmental factors, or if it's being broadcast from the ark in space, though the specific source is not important. Eventually the Proxies will die one by one and without them powering the artificial wombs the population of the pseudo-humans will decrease and eventually die out. The remaining Proxies will die in the sunlight. No Proxies and no pseudo-humans anymore. Problem solved for the space humans.

The Main Story part 1
The story takes place during the stage when the ‘Pulse of the Awakening’ has just been activated. Five thousand years later in 7207, the story follows Re-l Mayer, Vincent Law, and Pino as they journey to find the truth that has been lost about their world and themselves. By this time, Earth has only worsened; a plague called the Cogito Virus spreads amongst the Autoreiv populations, the remaining Dome Cities are steadily failing, and Romdeau's regent, Donov Mayer, is naught but an ersatz ruler.

We have Proxy One who discovers the truth behind Proxy Project and is enraged at the Creators. The Creator(s) is the name the Proxies call the original humans up in space, the ones who made them. Proxies think of them as god(s) and in turn the pseudo-humans think of the Proxies as gods or creators. Anyway the fact was that the Proxies including Proxy One loved their creations. However their human creations were merely a back-up copy of original humans in the event the Boomerang Project was unsuccessful. Aka Plan B. In the end it is clear that the Boomerang Project was a success, thus negating the need for the back-up copy of humans.

This is what angered Proxy One: his creations were going to be wiped out and the Proxies killed once they’d fulfilled their purpose. He decided to punish the Creators and have vengeance. He planned the destruction of the liveable habitats (the domes), so the humans from space would have nothing to live in when they came back. Proxy One launched some rocket missiles and destroyed several domes.

Another part of his plan was the creation of another Proxy, an Agent of Death to punish the creators for all the pain they had caused. This was Ergo Proxy of course, him being proxy 301. This was done by Proxy One combining his Amrita Cells with Monad Proxy, a female proxy who apparently fell in love with Proxy One. Instead of pregnancy occurring, the resulting Proxy was a perfect duplicate of Proxy One but instead he was given a mask to hide his face. This Proxy was also given the memories that tormented Proxy One when he learned of the true meaning of the Proxies existence and what their true roles were.

It seems Ergo Proxy then reigned over Romdeau in place of Proxy One, but after some point Ergo Proxy saw himself as a failure, because he created imperfect humans but he still loved them. He renounces his dome ownership and appoints Donov Mayer to be Regent in his absence. He gives back Proxy One his pendant and travels to Mosk, the dome of Monad. Monad loves Ergo too, considering him a kind of son or perhaps another Proxy One. Ergo loves Monad as well, him being a near copy of Proxy One.

Ergo doesn’t want to carry out his duty of death anymore and wants to live as a human. In Mosk, Monad and Ergo Proxy made an agreement to remove Ergo Proxy's memories so he could become human. Monad, because she loved Ergo Proxy, sacrificed herself in the process of removing Ergo's memories and creating the Vincent Law alter ego - putting her into a coma and destroying her mind. The memories were given to an Autoreiv, Amnesia, who was locked up in a special chamber that could only be opened by a Proxy pendant. Monad (Proxy 13) gives her own pendant to Ergo so he could one day open the chamber if he decided he wanted his memories back.

Proxy One wasn’t pleased with Monad, having his Agent of Death snatched away and memory wiped. Meanwhile Donov Mayer, who loved Ergo Proxy, was sad and angered because Ergo Proxy abandoned him and the dome. Out of a sense of melancholy and revenge he decided to attack Mosk because he knew that was where Ergo had fled. Also since Proxies sustained the artificial womb, Donov decided to take Monad as a replacement because Ergo had left. Donov probably thought Ergo and Proxy One were the same person and never realized there were two of them and that Proxy One was still in Romdeau. So actually, Donov didn’t need to capture Monad for the womb because Proxy One was there.

Anyway, the forces of Romdeau attack Mosk, destroying it. Proxy One does nothing to stop them, probably still angry at Monad. Monad is attacked on her throne. In her comatose condition, she was no longer able to protect the Mosk dome or herself. Monad’s body was retrieved from Mosk and brought back and locked up to replace Ergo. Daedalus reports that he was given charge of Monad Proxy when he was given the job of the Chief of the Health and Welfare Bureau; having the job of making sure that Monad remained unconscious and comatose.

Meanwhile Vincent Law, the Ergo Proxy alter ego, survives the bombings and is ushered back to Romdeau as an immigrant together with other Mosk citizens (unbeknownst to anyone in Romdeau except Proxy One).

During the time that Monad is locked up, she is experimented on by the scientists of Romdeau which disfigures her greatly. You can see how Monad looks afterwards; she has a collar around her neck and is sewn up in various places on her body. It is unknown how Monad looked like before she was taken to Romdeau and experimented on.

During this time, under the orders of Donov Mayer, Daedalus is created and once he is old enough, given the task to create a clone from Monad and look after it and evaluate its growth. This clone was supposed to draw Ergo Proxy back to Romdeau. The clone is given the name Re-l Mayer. But Re-l was an imperfect or partial clone of Monad. A combination of Donov’s DNA and Monad’s cells was probably used, thus giving Re-l a family connection to Donov Mayer. Re-l was told that Donov was her grandfather and grew up not knowing anything.

The Main Story part 2
Now we’re back in the present where the show begins. Because of the ‘Pulse of the Awakening’ being activated, Monad woke up from her coma and she escaped from the Health and Welfare Bureau in an instinctive need to reunite with her beloved Ergo Proxy. Most of her mental capacities were destroyed when the Vincent Law persona was created - but clearly some of Monad remained, even in her diminished mental capacity.

Along with many other Mosk citizens, Vincent applied for and received an immigration permit. While he was waiting in line for this, he saw Re-l Mayer for the first time and fell in love with her. Unknown to him, this was because she was a partial clone of Monad. She was present during his interview to enter Romdeau, and he later ran into her several times during her investigation of the Autoreivs infected by the Cogito Virus.

Vincent meanwhile now works as an immigrant hoping to become a fellow citizen. His Disposal Unit job requires him to hunt down Cogito-infected AutoReivs in order to keep Fellow Citizens safe. In episode 1 Vincent drives back to where Re-l lives, because he unconsciously feels Monad closing in on him. Ergo wants to confront Monad personally, but is instead lured to Re-l who is another form of Monad. Vincent transforms into Ergo Proxy, who crashes into Re-l’s bathroom.

Ergo seems fascinated by Re-l, not knowing that she is what Ergo wanted to become: a human without the Proxy side. Also Vincent is in love with her. Re-l feels fear but also a certain pull towards Ergo, which she later finds out is because she’s Monad’s clone. Monad meanwhile finds Ergo and Ergo defends himself and Re-l. Monad flees and Vincent is found unconscious near Re-l’s house, unable to remember what happened.

In episode 2, Monad once again attempts to get to Vincent. Vincent is terrified and flees from her in the mall. Monad desperately follows, causing many deaths of citizens which were just collateral damage of her escape and single minded pursuit of Ergo Proxy/Vincent. At last she manages to corner Vincent who turns into Ergo Proxy and kills her, not remembering who she is. Monad dies with tears running down one side of her face.

Raul Creed watched his wife and son get killed by Monad before his eyes. It is then that that Raul's sanity begins to crumble. He responds emotionlessly to the events. When Kristeva freezes the camera on Vincent, it becomes understood why Raul becomes almost illogically obsessed with Vincent Law. He will place the blame and emotion on Vincent for the events of the day of the mall massacre. His Autoreiv Pino also becomes infected with the Cogito virus, and flees the dome with Vincent.

During all this, Proxy One realizes with the ‘Pulse of the Awakening’ that he had run out of time to get his revenge on the Creators by destroying everything they left on Earth. He needed Ergo Proxy back as well. Vincent, Re-l and Pino make a journey to Mosk where Vincent believes the answers to his questions are. They encounter various domes and Proxies until they reach Mosk. (More details found in the episode guide post).

Proxy One eventually leaves Romdeau and manipulates the whole journey, trying to make Vincent accept he is a Proxy and make the Ergo side of him come back and forget about his humanness (Episode 11 and episode 20 for example). He also wants Re-l out of the way because she reminds Vincent of being human. An example of this is shown in episode 20.

When Vincent, Re-l and Pino arrive in Mosk, Proxy One goes to the chamber where Amnesia is with Vincent’s memories. Proxy One doesn’t want Vincent regaining his memories just yet, because if he did at this point he wouldn’t want to cooperate with Proxy One and punish the creators as the Agent of Death. Amnesia thinks Proxy One is Ergo and offers to give him his memories, but Proxy One kills Amnesia and leaves his pendant around Amnesia’s neck.

Later, Vincent and the others find the chamber and the second pendant with Amnesia telling them to go back to Romdeau. ‘Awakening’ is scrawled on the wall (by Proxy One to lure them back to Romdeau). They decide to go back to Romdeau to find out the truth once and for all.

During the whole journey to and from Mosk, Daedalus is shown to have been obsessed with Re-l. He wanted her to himself and couldn’t take it when Re-l showed more interest in Vincent and followed him instead of coming back to Romdeau. He then created a fake Re-l as a replacement for the real Re-l. It is a true clone of Monad that includes Amrita cells and is growth-accelerated. The second clone is called Real Mayer who also gains Monad’s love for Ergo Proxy/Vincent Law. Real Mayer also has all of Monad’s memories.

Raul also goes off the deep end, bent on killing Vincent. With Proxy One gone from the dome because he was manipulating Vincent’s journey, Romdeau dome begins to fail. Raul says that humans shouldn’t depend on Proxies and don’t need them. Raul wants to change the body of humans so they don’t need Proxies and starts with the ADW-project which Daedalus is in charge of. Daedalus has long since cracked-up and goes through with the project even though he knows it won’t succeed. Because of the project 90% of the population of the dome is killed. But Daedalus only cares about Re-l.

Vincent, Re-l and Pino arrive at Romdeau. Vincent transforms into Ergo Proxy with Re-l searching for him in the crumbling city. Ergo Proxy sees Monad’s dead body in the lab and regrets killing her. He also meets Real. Meanwhile Proxy One goes to the throne room and strangles Donov Mayer in front of Re-l. Donov dies with tears running down his face, thinking he has been betrayed by Ergo Proxy. Proxy One is shot by Raul with an FP bullet but manages to live by tearing off his arm and growing a new one. He then leaves. Re-l also thinks Proxy One is Vincent at first, but realizes the truth when Ergo walks into the throne room and is surprised at seeing Donov dead. She realizes someone has been manipulating them in the shadows all along. Ergo has most of his memories back by now. Proxy One congratulates Re-l on figuring it out and lets Ergo and Re-l come to him.

Re-l tries to stop Daedalus from destroying the dome while Ergo Proxy and Proxy One confront another and fight. Monad fully awakens in Real Mayer, her hair turning white and her eyes gold, just like Monad in Proxy form. She grows wings either made by Daedalus or because of her own power, and goes to Ergo Proxy. Real says that Ergo doesn’t need to carry out his mission and can come with her. Proxy One tries to stop her, but Ergo leaves with Monad.

Real/Monad, says they can both leave the world behind and fly towards the sunlight. But Ergo realizes he’s run away long enough. He wants to face what comes and he wants to live for Re-l. Monad is sad to hear this and Ergo returns her pendant to her and leaves. Monad knows Ergo has probably decided to carry out his mission and he might do horrible things to the creators. She doesn’t want to witness this. Monad also sees that Ergo has chosen Re-l and her other love, Proxy One, is close to dying because of the wounds Ergo inflicted. She realizes she is not necessary anymore and chooses death, flying toward the sunlight and disintegrating.

Proxy One is pleased Vincent has returned. He dies due to his wounds and the sunlight. Proxy One had explained that the ‘Pulse of the Awakening’ changes their form, making them vulnerable to dying under blue skies. Vincent kills Proxy 1, stopping his own pulse, making him immune to the ‘Pulse of the Awakening’. Ergo and Proxy 1 share the same pulse----"I am you, and you are me"----so by killing Proxy 1, he stopped the pulse, quoting Proxy 1 "You stopped the pulse...dead." This is how Vincent is immune to sunlight unlike the other Proxies and able to confront the Creators. This was all Proxy One's plan: he dies, knowing Vincent will confront the Creators like he had wanted him to.

Meanwhile Re-l and Pino come to pick him up with the ship. Vincent stands on top of Romdeau looking at the spaceships from the Creators returning. Vincent has no split-personality anymore; he and Ergo have merged together into one person. Vincent looks at the ships with blue eyes stating he is Ergo Proxy, the Agent of Death. And that’s how the story ends.

Who knows what Vincent will do? The ending is left up to the interpretation of the viewer. The space-humans will be in for a big surprise when they realize there’s still a Proxy around and most of the domes have been decimated. Will he attack the space-humans or will Re-l and Pino be able to stop him? Vincent’s normally not a violent person so he might not attack immediately but I’m sure even he would like to ‘have a word’ with the Creators for everything they did. He might attack only if he is provoked by them. Luckily Re-l and Pino will be there to help him. I believe Vincent has also finally found his true self, who he is. He also wants to heal the world and live to experience life with Pino and Re-l (another reason he chose not to fly into the sunlight with Monad/Real.)

Tags: anime, ergo proxy, explanation

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