Meep meep everyone! (That’s my new greeting– it’s kind of inside joke between me and some online friends, but now you will all get to witness the meeps.) For today’s Anime Rants post, we have a review and analysis of Ergo Proxy episode nine. It is an important episode with a lot happening and a lot of content to unpack. I’m expecting the synopsis will take up more time than usual to write. After that, we’ll get into some discussion, which will probably also be much longer than usual. There’s so much content. Let’s Rant!
Vincent awakens in a luxurious tower in a huge, mazelike domed city. It’s the land of Asura. A man named Kazkis Hauer greets Vincent and gives him a meal. It was Kazkis who saved Vincent from the collapsing ruin of Charos, but unfortunately, there were no other survivors. Despite Kazkis’ welcoming and generousness, Pino is uncomfortable around him. While exploring on her own, she finds many knight-like Autoreivs not yet active, but in storage waiting to fight. After Pino shares this discovery, Vincent realizes it was Asura that was at war with Charos. Kazkis had been in charge of the Knight Autoreivs, making war on the neighboring dome.
Though Vincent and Kazkis talk about the war and other things, it’s hard to make sense of what Kazkis is saying or thinking, especially when he says he was in love with Senex Proxy. Vincent listens to the tale of the love between Senex and Kazkis, but he still doesn’t understand what Kazkis is getting at: that he is a Proxy. Morever, he is a Proxy who is similar to Vincent, because he had a human form and identity. Although he had loved Senex, Kazkis holds no ill will against her killer (Vincent), because he has also now fallen in love with him. Upon being accused of killing Senex, Vincent objects and begins panicking. He still won’t accept the truth of what he is.
Kazkis realizes that Vincent has lost his memories of being a Proxy. Hatred is born inside of Kazkis because his beloved Senex was killed by someone who did not even know what they were doing or why. Vincent then sees the true nature of Asura: a completely dead city, which was linked to Charos. All the citizens are dead from the war between Autoreiv Knights and Charos soldiers. Kazkis expresses joy that all life has gone from his city, but Vincent doesn’t understand this. He thinks death is terrible (and rightly so), and as the master of the city, Kazkis should care about it too. Tired of talking in circles, Kazkis tells Vincent the truth that he’s pieced together: that Vincent removed his memories, gave them to Monad, and restarted life as a human.
When Vincent still won’t accept the truth, Kazkis changes to his Proxy form: the Proxy of Brilliance. He begins to continuously hurt Vincent in a way that would have killed a normal human several times over. Eventually, Vincent is forced into his Proxy form to survive. He’s in shock as he realizes he is no longer himself, but a Proxy monster. The fighting continues between Kazkis and Ergo even while they talk to each other. Kazkis vows to avenge Senex. Ergo doesn’t want to fight or hurt anyone, but as he is beaten up, he sees a vision of Re-L. This puts him into some kind of berserk mode, and he fights with new strength and fervor. Eventually, Ergo wins, fatally wounding Kazkis while introducing himself as Ergo Proxy, the Proxy of Death. Kazkis allows himself to die in the spreading fire, but not without cursing Vincent and predicting his descent into eternal darkness.
All this time, Pino had been waiting for Vincent in the Centzon ship. She left Asura because she felt uncomfortable with Kazkis. When Vincent returns to the ship, Pino welcomes him. It becomes clear that she knows what happened and isn’t bothered by it. She knows Vincent is a Proxy, but she likes and trusts him. She welcomes him with a hug, and Vincent once again sets the course for Mosk City.
Vincent’s Memories and Monad
In episode 9, we finally learned the truth about what happened to Vincent before the start of the anime. I was slightly wrong in previous posts about what happened, so let me correct myself. I thought Monad turned Ergo into a human at his request. As a result, the new identity of Vincent the human was born. That’s not quite right. Actually, Ergo Proxy already had divided identity and could change into a human form at will. What happened with Monad was that Vincent transferred all his memories so far into her. (I use she/her to refer to Monad, but she really has no gender. Neither do any of the proxies.)
Vincent was trying to forget he was a proxy and become entirely human because he did not want to keep killing people and proxies. Unfortunately, as Kazkis revealed, a proxy can only handle the mind and memories of itself. The memories flooding into Monad were too much, and that’s what caused her madness. In the end, Ergo was forced to kill her to stop her violent rampages in Romdeau and keep her from following him everywhere. Anyway, that’s what actually happened. The identity of Vincent existed before, most likely, but it wasn’t the one in charge. He also has the identity of the Proxy of Death, which is not like the kind Vincent we know. After the memory erasure, Vincent became the dominant consciousness, and tried suppressing his proxy self.
The Role of The Proxy of Death
What we know about proxies so far is that they are powerful, godlike beings, each intimately connected to a dome city. They manage the people there, and likely are responsible for creating the artificial wombs so the population can grow. When a proxy goes mad or dies, its city dies too. According to this episode, it seems that each proxy has an individual quality or theme related to its powers. Senex was the proxy of moonlight. Kazkis was known as the proxy of brilliance, like the shining of the sun. Monad was the proxy of life, and Ergo is the proxy of Death.
Usually, the duty of a proxy is to manage life on earth until the creators (old humanity) return. But what is the duty of a proxy of death? To make room for the return of old humanity, Ergo is supposed to kill other proxies and empty out the dome cities. The anime states this much, though not until later. Wherever Ergo Proxy goes, he is driven to kill other proxies. It’s as if fate is guiding him to kill or lead others toward death– not just proxies, either. Vincent has inadvertently caused the deaths of many humans, including Raul’s family and the members of the commune outside Romdeau. This is the reason Ergo decided to erase his memories and restart life as a human. He could not handle the pain of having to kill everyone around him.
The Persistence of Life
Proxies tend to have a lack of respect for human life and even the lives of other proxies, sometimes. If Kazkis is any example, death is viewed lightly because it is inevitable, and because deaths are fated to happen a certain way. It’s a toxic form of fatalism. Kazkis also said there is beauty and meaning in destruction. But Vincent, now having lived as human for a while, disagrees with this philosophy. He says something to Kazkis that’s simple to understand and yet somehow profound. “They were alive. Living things have no choice but to keep trying to live.”
Let’s unpack this. It’s a simple concept, but important to understanding the character of Vincent. At first, this man seems nonconfrontational out of fear or lack of motivation. Actually, however, his desire for peace comes from his strong, idealistic personal system of morals. What he’s saying is that death is tragic even if you are not personally connected or invested in the beings who die. Because living things want to live, stopping their persistent efforts forever is incredibly sad. Or at least that’s what we think as relatively altruistic and social humans. Autoreivs in this fictional universe are the same, if they have been awakened by the Cogito Virus. They want to keep existing and will fight for that right.
It seems like Proxies are less social and empathetic than humans, but they are capable of great love, too. Vincent and Kazkis are proof of that. As for Kazkis’ indifference to death, it’s probably because he’s bored with life and the way the world works. We don’t know how long the proxies have lived, but they are immortal unless killed by Ergo. So Kazkis might be very sick of the world indeed. He also seems to view other beings as inferior to proxies, which is probably just his selfish personality. It’s quite possible that he doesn’t understand just how persistent life is.
Later on in the battle, Kazkis asks why Vincent is still alive. He’s lost his memories and turned away from his proxy purpose. He’s lost Monad, his proxy lover, and he kills or causes death to others wherever he goes. So why is Ergo/Vincent still fighting to live? Like he said earlier, living things have no choice but to try to keep living. Even those who are suicidal must battle a survival instinct that gets in the way (I know from experience). Living things want to live. That’s reason enough if you ask me, but Vincent also has something else in particular motivating him: his fondness for Re-L. Having someone you hope to see again someday can be a great motivator to keep fighting. It’s just one more example of the persistence of life.
Kazkis’ Life and Love
I may be repeating myself a little or stretching the discussion a little much here, but I really wanted to include a bit more content about Kazkis. Personally, I found this character intriguing. For one thing, there’s his aesthetic of an 1800s European nobleman. His castle tower, character design, and furniture are all so well done. I also appreciated his interest in wine, since I love myself a little wine too. The way Kazkis throws and breaks his bottles and glasses was supposed to be a serious sign of mental health decline. But despite myself, I found it kind of humorous.
Aside from random things I found amusing or artistically pleasing, there’s a few more serious notes I wanted to make about Kazkis. I mentioned earlier that he probably has a selfish personality and is probably not particularly altruistic. Although he is hospitable and generous, as well as a bit of a romantic, there is a certain distance he maintains. I think it’s safe to say that Senex is the only being Kaskiz ever loved in a true sense. Although he tried at first to dress up her death a noble thing fate designed, his true feelings eventually surfaced. He’s devastated. Kazkis is a proxy with a broken heart and there’s something beautiful about that to me. I think the episode is called “shards of brilliance” because Kazkis is the proxy of brilliance and he is metaphorically broken into pieces.
Upon a third watch of this episode. I noticed something that made me realize just how broken Kazkis is. It really puts his whole character into perspective. Why was that gun in the bed? When Kazkis is describing his pain to Vincent, there are a few quick frames shown where Kazkis gestures as if holding a gun. That’s when I put it together. He was probably suicidal. It’s questionable whether or not a proxy can kill itself, but the temptation toward shooting himself still shows the profound depression he experiences. I’m guessing that, after realizing it was useless to shoot himself, Kazkis put the gun in Vincent’s bed, as a signal that he wanted to be killed by Ergo Proxy.
Kazkis is a thoroughly tragic character. We can also see this from his desperation for meaning and love. He talks condescendingly about the humans of the city who needed to find meaning, but he needed it, too. Look how infuriated he was when he realized Senex was killed without purpose– without a beautiful meaning. But before realizing that, Kazkis initially felt no hatred toward Vincent. In fact, he told Vincent that he thought he could grow to love him the same way he loved Senex. Why did he say that? Kazkis believed he and Vincent were the the same, proxies suffering under the weight of being immortal monsters. He was desperate for understanding, so he fell in love with the idea of Vincent (though only until he realized Vincent’s memories were erased). Kazkis is truly a broken character.
The Curse of Truth
Figuring out the truth and then dealing with the weight of that truth has been a consistent theme in Ergo Proxy. We also see it in episode 9. Things are not what they seem. Vincent thinks Asura/Haros is a beautiful and thriving city due to the illusion Kazkis set up. In reality, the city is destroyed and lifeless. Vincent must deal with the truth that there are no survivors besides him. There are other difficult truths for him to come to terms with as well, like how he is a proxy and not a human. This fact neary breaks Vincent, and will continue to haunt him.
Truth can feel like a curse sometimes, and Kazkis truly intended to curse Vincent with his last words. “May you suffer. All those who wander the darkness seek the light. But when you reach the light, you avert your eyes from the brilliance. It even makes you feel pain. It is the same with truth. One day, your eyes will be scorched by the light that is truth, and you will know eternal darkness.” Vincent does not yet know or remember yet that his task as the proxy of death is to kill the other proxies. What will he do when he uncovers that truth? We’ll see if Kazkis’ curse comes true.
That wraps up things for this episode, finally. Thanks so much for reading!