Ergo Proxy Episode 18: Sign of The End (Life After God)
Welcome to all guys, gals, and enby pals. Today we're continuing my episode-by-episode analysis of the 2006 sci-fi anime Ergo Proxy. Links are provided below for the previous episode analyses. As usual for this series, the article is divided into episode synopsis, discussion, and then a section for references to real-like topics like language and literature.
Vincent and company finally reach Mosk and find it in ruins. Meanwhile, Raul is captured and interviewed by the authorities in Romdeau for his crime. He explains that to fight the rest of the world and resist their slow death is the only way to proceed. Much to Raul's surprise, after he explains this motive, the Collective allows him to live. They are willing to try his chaotic way of doing things, although they have a defeatist attitude about it.
While Re-L and Pino explore the throne room where Monad once ruled, Vincent spends some time alone. He went back to the rabbit ship and passed out. Re-L briefly activates the computers in the throne room, and Pino memorizes the information. Then the scene switches to the dim room where an Autoreiv named Amnesia lives. It's his job to take care of Ergo Proxy's memories, and restore them when he returns to Mosk. Someone who looks similar to Ergo Proxy appears, and Amnesia prepares to return his memories. However, it's not Ergo Proxy who entered; it's Proxy One. Whilst shedding tears, Proxy One destroys the memories and nearly kills Amnesia.
Back in Romdeau, Raul instructs Daedalus to invent a way to change people so they no longer need proxies to survive. Presumably, Daedalus will also be in charge of biological weapons in the wars Raul is planning. On his way out, Raul sees a young girl who looks like Re-L as a child. This is Daedalus' project. The scientist says that the child is not a replacement for Re-L, but rather, "the real thing."
Vincent, Pino, and Re-L find the room with the memories encoded on the wall. They used Vincent's pendant to unlock the entry. Inside, Amnesia is broken but still trying to talk. All he manages to say is "that which was parted must return to being whole," and something about "going to Romdeau." There is a pendant around Amnesia's neck that looks identical to Vincent's. Much to Re-L's surprise, the message "awakening" appears on the wall in the same way it did for her back in Romdeau in the first episode. This is confirmation that they need to return to Romdeau to solve the mystery. They suspect it had something to do with Monad Proxy. Re-L wonders if Vincent and Ergo are the two things that must return to being whole, but it doesn't quite seem to fit. She doesn't know about Proxy One.
While Daedalus cares for the new child Re-l, Raul beholds the sight of Romdeau at night. He is happy to be back in power. A hallucination of a smirking Vincent again appears before him, but this time, Raul says he isn't afraid of it. He views the hallucination as a symbol for what he must fight against. That wraps up the episode.
As Ergo Proxy episodes go, this was easy to follow and doesn't warrant a huge amount of discussion. But the things I want to touch on are: 1) the nature of the child Re-L and her meeting with Raul; 2) How much the adult Re-L has changed, and 3) what Proxy One was up to. Oh, in addition, let me just say that Pino was super adorable in this episode. I love her. However, she doesn't seem excited to return to Romdeau. She's probably not looking forward to facing Raul, who used to be her "Papa." Anyway, let's get to the main points.
What is up with this child Re-L? She's the project that Daedalus has been working on, his creation. Little Re-L is made with genetic material from adult Re-L as well as material from Monad Proxy. She will have greatly accelerated growth and reach young adulthood in a matter of months. Some fans, including myself, theorize that the Re-L we know also grew up in this way. This essentially means that, despite having the body and mental capacity of a young adult, Re-L only has a small collection of life experiences. That's probably part of why she is typically childish and impatient. On a related vote, fans also theorize that Re-L was created with some of Monad's genetic material, too. Proxy DNA could be the reason for her rapid growth and quick healing.
Speaking of Re-L, I'm sure you all remember what a royal bitch she used to be. But look how she is now. Throughout this episode, Re-L supported Vincent emotionally and practically, as well as looking out for Pino. In the last episode too, she made a point to say that she couldn't actually be ok with leaving Pino behind. I thought it was really cute when Re-L and Pino were walking up the stairs to the throne room and Re-L warned, "Don't fall." The old Re-L would never have even thought of worrying about Pino. She's come a long way.
Now, why did Proxy one steal the memories meant to be returned to Vincent? Why did he cry? To be honest, I don't yet understand or recall Proxy One's endgame. It has something to do with stirring up conflict among the humans. I also remember that Proxy One exists in the shadows of Vincent, but is a separate identity from Vincent and Ergo. Clearly, Proxy One has something to gain by keeping Vincent away from his memories. But what exactly he stands to gain is unclear to me at this point.
~References to Literature~
Part of the title of this episode is "Life without God," which some people believe is a reference to the works of Douglas Coupland. This Canadian author wrote a number of influential books, one of which was a complication of short stories called Life without God. The stories were about a hypothetical generation of people raised without religion, who now seek some kind of spirituality on their own. Personally, I think it's a stretch to say this anime episode was a reference to Coupland's book, because the concepts that are explored don't seem related to the themes of Ergo Proxy.
This episode, and the series in general, does deal with a theme of a godless society; but in this context, the "gods" are the Proxies. It has nothing to do with religion. Romdeau is dying without a Proxy, and humans like Raul have decided they need to change in a way to no longer require Proxies. As Raul says, "We need no gods." The people of he city of Romdeau are facing issues of their continued survival. In Coupland's book, the characters are simply looking for personal meaning in the absence of being raised without a faith. So I don't know if this episode title is necessarily a reference to Life without God.
That being said, I can personally appreciate the theme of living without belief in gods. I've been an atheist for nine years. Early on, I also went through a time of searching for meaning and feeling lost or abandoned. It's normal to feel this way, at least for a time, when something significant in one's life changes. I think there is a parallel you can draw from deconversion experiences and the situation in Ergo Proxy. A portion of humanity finds itself suddenly without a god. Of course, that's not a direct parallel, either-- the "gods" in Ergo Proxy are real and demonstrable, whereas the gods of religions are not.
I rambled a lot there, but the point is that Ergo Proxy deals on some level with the idea of godless humans seeking survival and/or sense of purpose. It really doesn't matter whether or not it was a certain novel reference. Anyway, that's it for today. Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful day.