In volume three we begin to get a clear picture of what Romdeau has been for and how the Proxies figure in affairs. For starters we find that there are lots of proxies out there but they are all agents for something. Kazkis is the agent of Light, Ergo the agent of Death and Sennex was the agent of Moonlight. Althought exactly what that means isn't wildly clear beyond Ergo being very very good at destroying things. But most interestingly each is strongly tied to a city - making the speculation I had earlier seem to be right. The cities themselves are more for the proxies than the citizens living within them. Or is it more like a stewardship? Are they are supposed to watch over the cities and help protect the populace till the current ecological crisis passes? That seems to be the case with Kazkis who has taken the AutoReiv population and used them to slaughter the humans of Asura. The tail end of that struggle is what we saw at the close of volume two of the series.
It seems Kazkis went a little mad and as a result lost hope entirely in the worth of those he was charged with caring for. But why did he go mad? We get some direct clues from the conversation Vincent/Ergo has with Kazkis. In particular it seems the human 'form' that a Proxy occupies has a distinct personality seperate and unaware of its nature as a Proxy vessel. As the Proxy emerges and it's personality starts expressing itself more and more the potential is definitely there for the human mind to lose it. Especially if the Proxy itself has a malicious streak to it as most of the proxies we have seen do. Each proxy has been wildly destructive and it seems that they can choose to hide what they have been doing when 'out' from the host personality. Vincent wasn't aware, except perhaps dimly, of what he had been doing inside Romdeau. It seems however that Ergo is wanting Vincent to become more aware. I must admit I read the way he has been doing it as somewhat hostile and intended to make Vincent unstable and pliable to his (its perhaps? Daedelus seemed pretty sure that proxies don't have gender in the human sense of it yet they certainly behave as though they do.) will.
If the Proxies are what humanity has placed it's faith in then this is something of a worry. They all seem at least mildly sadistic and quite dismissive of regular humanity. But is that because they know the 'regular' people are all vat grown and thus not entirely a part of the circle of life? Ergo, in one of his monologues about the pulse of awakening, alludes to the circle of life and it's importance. Indeed Ergo directly alludes to the Proxies initimate connection to that circle which might go a long way to explaining why it is easy for a Proxy to begin to despise humanity. Certainly Sennex and Kazkis had complete contempt for the vat grown people and Ergo shows little concern for the number of deaths it has created. Ergo even has contempt for the current 'vessel' it is inhabiting. Which brings us nicely to the most crucial episode of this volume - 'Anamnesis'.
First off the title is a nice clue, anamnesis is 'a recalling to mind, or reminiscence' and this fits with what the episode shows us - Ergo Proxy forcing Vincent to recall events in his life all with a unique Ergo spin on them. Not only does the title reference Socrates with his theory that learning was actually the immortal soul recalling what it already knew but we have an episode philosophy majors should enjoy as a visual exploration of the principles of subjectivism. The whole sense of playfulness is suffused throughout the episode with the whole repeating line of 'This is not a dream, Vincent Law' being given to various characters to say always with a different undertone of intent to it. We also have the observation by the bookstore owner that the whole affair is happening in the theatre of the mind, so to speak, so strictly speaking the entire episode is a dream from Vincent's perspective.
And what we see is a Proxy trying to shape his current human incarnation and finding it trickier then it would like. It doesn't help that for some reason Ergo has chosen to forget a lot, something Kazkis consider anathema, somehow gifting his memories for safekeeping with another Proxy. Is this why Ergo finds his human form so hard to control? Both are equally blank slates without a lot of history to draw from effectively forcing both to learn how to deal with each other and the world. It is this long history that I have to wonder if it is what drove Kazkis and Sennex mad. After all the only vaguely 'sane' Proxy that we have seen we now know deliberately chose to forget. But it isn't just Ergo that taken such a course.
In Cytotropism, definitionaly the movement of cells or groups of cells toward or away from each other, we see Re-l undergoing a not entirely disimilar dream experience as Vincent. Given that she has been treated with Amrita cells as part of her rehabilitation when returned to Romdeau the question has to be asked, is she a clone of a Proxy? That her name is a corruption of real with a serial number hints strongly at it and would go a long way towards explaining Daedelus' obessesive interest in her. He being the foremost researcher on Proxies in Romdeau. Is she the Romdeau Proxy? After all we know Vincent relocated from the Mosk dome so presumably he is Mosk's Proxy and it also handily explains Ergo's interest in Re-l in the first episode of the series. That and Ergo's quick vision of a Re-l like figure that motivates him to fight Kazkis. Although there is something odd about that as Monad was also recovered from Mosk. So currently I dont have enough information to understand that.
Back to Cytotropism and Re-l it is a nice bit of character development as she dreams of her doubts and motives for continuing the search for the Vincent as a Proxy. She worries that she will freeze up again if confronted by the Proxy. But her resolve to know the truth drives her on. We get the best glimpse yet that Re-l merely uses the indifferent princess routine more as a cover because it lets her go places and do things she simply couldn't otherwise. This isn't to say it is entirely a cover and that a warm friendly heart beats beneath the frosty exterior but more that we have a clearer sense of what is most important to her. The town, Arc, also seems to be a prototype of Romdeau. What bemuses me a little is that if Romdeau is meant to be a far flung London of the future then why is the architecture in the Arc more of classic American mid-west design? It is probably just an artistic choice but it is very clearly not european architecture.
Final details to round up. I enjoyed the little touch of the butterfly logo on the books in the bookstore. Vincent is definitely coming out of his crysalis. Also the City Lights Bookstore is a real place, there is a nice Wikipedia entry on this San Francisco institution. Doesn't quite look like the place in the episode but who know how many times the store has been remodeled over the years... ;)