Have You Watched Ergo Proxy?

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Ergo ProxyI researched Ergo Proxy before watching it and the storyline seemed quite interesting.  It seemed to contain all of the elements that I like in my stories: Utopian/Dystopian society, robots, mystery, moral/social enlightenment, darkness, a strong female character.  However, (can I start a sentence with “however”?) I couldn’t initially catch the thread of the story. I kept saying to myself “I don’t understand what this is about, but I love it.” I couldn’t help it. After about ten episodes I began to catch on, and this made me love EP even more. I read a comment on one blog that said “Ergo is epic! If you didn’t like it, it means you didn’t understand it!”  At the risk of sounding supercilious, I sort of agree.

I won’t give away any of the plot here, but I will urge you to give it a try. EP has an IMDb rating of 8.2.  I’d give it something like 9.  For anime, EP has a surprising lack of sexual innuendo or hyper-sexualization of under-aged girls, which gives it a plus in my book.  I also happen to love the art, which is double plus for me.  I have a hard time watching ugly anime, even when the story is decent.  Code Geass comes to mind.

There are a couple of issues that I have with the story though:

1. I can’t stand whiny people or characters, and Vincent Law is a sappy whiny man who won’t stand up to the main character, Re-L Mayer.  While I like my anime with strong competent women, Re-L is just plain mean!  But, in all honesty, this works for the tale.  She eventually softens (kind of), and we learn that Vincent has an alternate, shall we say “side”?

2. EP takes place in a futuristic domed city called Romdeau.  There is a surprising (I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised) lack of people of color.  Where are we?  Let me repeat, “Where are we?”  I don’t think any future society will ever exist that doesn’t have people of color, so I expect to see them in such tales.  Now, if we were talking about an anime with a story set in a Japanese high school, well then, no black or Hispanic people would make sense.  This doesn’t.

3. I have about three or four episodes of EP left to watch and I am excited to see the conclusion, but I am noticing a trend here that is common in anime.  The story line, which is already a tad on the strange side (I like my stories that way, I do.), is starting to take an odd turn.  Like, really odd.  Multiple personalities, maybe this has all been a dream/your imagination, odd.  I’m not sure how this will affect the way I feel about EP in the end.

Either way, I’ve been enjoying EP immensely, even when I didn’t know what in the world was going on.  Check it out and tell me what you think.

Moribito: An Anime with a Fully Clothed Heroine

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Thanks to my children, I have developed a love for manga and anime.  In comparison to American style animation (cartoons), I enjoy the darker more abstract themes characteristic of Japanese animation (anime).  What I don’t enjoy however, are the sexual undertones and overtones common in much anime, as well as the negative hyper-sexualized portrayals of women.  As you might imagine, much anime is off limits for my family.  Anime that appeal most to me have clean colorful but not too bright aesthetics and a sophisticated storyline.

I know, that’s a lot of qualifiers: nice art, good story, sans weak, giggling, half-naked women.  That pretty much nixes probably 9/10 of all anime, but we love some of the art forms and the deeper stories, so we wait and keep our eyes peeled for the gems.

For my family, one such gem was Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit written by Nahoko Uehashi with illustrations by Kamui Fujiwara.  Moribito is a twenty-six episode production that has everything I love in a story: a strong woman who is fully clothed, purpose, a little magic, character growth, and a satisfactory end.

Balsa is a traveling spear woman who happens upon an accident where Chagum, second prince of the Imperial Family, is thrown into the river when the ox pulling his carriage is spooked.  Balsa saves Chagum and is rewarded with room and board in the royal palace overnight.  While at the royal palace, Balsa is told by the Second Empress, Chagum’s mother, of a plot to kill him. Under duress, Balsa  agrees to spirit him away for his protection.  A deeper conspiracy is at work here, and this unfolds over the course of the series.

There are several interesting characters, not the least of which is Balsa herself.  We eventually learn how she, a woman, comes to learn to wield a spear so well that her name is feared all over the region.  We meet an old sorceress named Torogai, who reminds me a lot of Yoda in both appearance and sage attitude.  Tanda, an herbalist, is a long time friend of Balsa who would with an interest in a more permanent relationship with the wanderer.

We watched the series online at Hulu and enjoyed every minute of it.  Moribito has plenty of action, drama, and even some comic relief.  This series has something for both children and adults.  Check it out and tell me what you think.