Reviewby Theron Martin,
DVD 3 - Cytotropism
Vincent Law's continued quest for truth in the wastelands beyond Romdo City takes some strange twists as encounters with further Proxies unleash some startling revelations, ones which cause Vincent to begin to question his own identity, memory (or lack thereof), and sanity. Is he truly the man he thought he was? A trip to an odd bookstore may or may not help him sort things out, but at least the childlike AutoReiv Pino still accompanies him and a surprise encounter awaits him. Also awaiting him in the wasteland is the enigma that is Ergo Proxy.
Back in the dome, Raul and the newly-unemployed Daedalus both work their own private schemes as they agree to combine their efforts to combat Romdo's gradual descent into chaos. And under cover of death, Re-l has her own soul-searching to do as she forges onward with her pursuit of, and investigation into, the Proxy.
Yes, Re-l is still alive, and no, that doesn't count as a spoiler; who honestly believed after episode 7 that the series would actually kill off one of its two main characters (and biggest advertising point) less than a third of the way through the series run and keep her dead? Although his story has become quite interesting, Vincent Law just doesn't have the charisma, personality, or sex appeal to carry the plot weight on his own, which is probably the real reason why the irresistibly darling little AutoReiv Pino accompanies him on his journey. Thus Re-l is back, and who is actually disappointed about that, anyway?
After establishing several key mysteries in its first two volumes, the third wastes little time in delivering major revelations to at least partly answer some of those mysteries. By the end of the pivotal episode 9 we know what makes Vincent special and where the name of the series comes from, and those revelations not only spin off whole new lists of unanswered questions but cast scenes as far back as episode 1 in an entirely new light. Episode 10 gives us insight into the complex schemes of both Raul and, in his own way, the equally ruthless Daedalus. Episode 11, by comparison, quickly turns into nothing more than the symbolic, introspective mind trip episode which seems to have become obligatory in all of the more classy sci-fi series these days, and contrary to the steady plot development so far it merely reiterates and reinforces revelations we've already had. To call it a filler episode would not be a major stretch. The plot gets back on track at the end of the episode, however, and the events of episode 12 set the direction the main characters will follow in the second half of the series.
The plot alone provides enough interesting twists and developments to hold interest, but for those not content with just that the series continues to ooze style and atmosphere out of every pore. The dour tone, gloomy color schemes, stark wastelands, and grotesquely inhuman AutoReiv and Proxy designs (even the cute Pino is a distorted doll if looked at closely) so heavily enforce the impression of a wasted civilization on its last legs that the content could fairly be regarded as pretentious, but it does all work wonderfully at setting the mood. A further promotion of the central “dying world” conceit can be seen in the automated but uninhabited town which appears in episode 10, which borrows from Ray Bradbury's classic Martian Chronicles - a tribute that may be intentional, given the biting themes of self-destruction running through that one. Pino offers the float necessary to keep a viewer from drowning in the moroseness of it all, a lesson apparently wisely learned from the overwhelmingly dreary Texhnolyze, and Re-l offers the fresh, attractive human spark the character designs need. When necessary, the content can also deliver quite well on its sometimes-unnerving action scenes.
Unfortunately the glimmer of quality control problems first seen in volume 2 becomes a full-blown issue in volume 3, as episode 10 in particular shows a decidedly lower level of consistency and quality in the rendering of characters, especially in scenes involving Re-l. These problems occur intermittently throughout the other three episodes, too, but far less frequently. That's a shame, because otherwise the detailed backgrounds and appealing designs are quite good. CG effects continue to be well-used, while tricks with the animation lend to the unsettling speed of the Proxy-related action scenes. And watch the inscriptions on the gravestones carefully for a not-so-hidden homage.
Repeating viewings reinforce that the opener “kiri” stands among the better openers for recent series, while the closer “Paranoid Android” achieves its full and proper meaning with this volume. The soundtrack continues to do a generally excellent job of reinforcing the mood and setting. The English dub work gives Daedalus an older-sounding voice than he has in Japanese, and Pino sounds even cuter and more genuinely childlike in English, but overall the dub is a fair match for the original in casting and performance quality. The English script retools the dialogue a bit so it doesn't sound quite as clunky as the subtitles read, but it stays close enough in meaning that there should be no major complaints. Regrettably it doesn't correct the overuse of the phrase “raison d'etre” in the original script for episode 10.
As with the previous volume, the only Extras offered are bonus interior and liner art and a foil card insert, which duplicates the front cover.
Despite its artistic quality control issues, episodes 9-12 provides plenty enough reasons to keep watching: good pacing, intriguing plot developments, a strong soundtrack, and lead characters that are finally showing some real personality. It is a solid addition to an already-solid series.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : A-
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ Soundtrack, intriguing revelations, Pino's presence.
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