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Angel's Egg Review

November 2, 2009

story 10/10

Angel

After reading some recommendations of Angel’s Egg, then scanning the previous site review and still not grasping what the show is supposed to be about, I figured the only way to find out was to watch it. In short, Angel’s Egg’s biggest attraction is that nobody has a fucking clue what it means. And having just completed it, I still don’t.

I can describe the string of dreamlike sequences, if you will, the waves of creepy sounds like bizarre new age music that accompany it, and I can announce that it’s a work by Mamoru Oshii who directed Ghost in the Shell. Heck, I can at least say that I liked it. But I could never define it for you. Ever seen Cat Soup? Try defining the plot of what is purposefully a plot-less creation.

At the heart of the narrative is a small, spectrally white girl who wanders the alleys of a nightmarish city crammed with deep looming shadows and tall imposing buildings. She appears unafraid and is seemingly used to her bereft surroundings. What really catches the eye, however, is that giant egg she keeps protected beneath her dress, making her look disturbingly pregnant. Maybe she stole it from somewhere; maybe she’s taking it someplace. At a crucial point she meets a warrior whose dead eyes (which he promptly fixes on the egg) hint at a soullessness that contrasts with her glowing innocence. Their relationship is understandably antagonistic at first and full of mistrust, and the anime leaves the viewer to decide what keeps them travelling together. Interwoven through this highly abstracted narrative are overt themes from the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark, with the warrior quoting Genesis 6: 6-7, 7: 4 and fragments of chapter 8.

Being a singular show of immense creative wealth, I can only judge Angel’s Egg against itself. Either the story deserves a rating of 1 because there is no coherent plot or it deserves 10 for being captivating and original in the fullest sense. It is perfect and whole as it is but I cannot recommend it to everyone. Moreover, at over an hour of running time, this is a lot of ‘nothing’ to digest – most arty titles (Comedy, Cat Soup) keep things brief and frivolous whereas Angel’s Egg insists on slow and sombre development. This will no doubt put some – nay, most – people off, but for patient viewers with fringe tastes it will prove a rewarding sojourn for the senses.

animation 9/10

Actions speak louder than words, which explains why Angel’s Egg is so expressive. To know what the characters feel, watch their faces; to understand their discourse, read their body language. Moreover, stylistically memorable, emotive and eerily beautiful, Amano Yoshitaka’s (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D) designs offer incredible sequences of challenging scope.

sound 8.5/10

Voice acting? What voice acting? A full twenty-five minutes pass before anyone utters a word, and afterwards the characters are defined predominantly by oppressive SILENCE. What little dialogue there is, though competent, merely fills necessary gaps in the story that cannot be told through animation. That is all.

Nonetheless, the wealth of other noises in this show is incredible. Be it water dripping creepily into a beaker or rich orchestral themes, each sound leads to a more powerful emotional experience than the spoken word ever could.

characters 2/10

The protagonists are nobodies. The girl with the egg is simply a girl with an egg. The warrior with the sword is simply a warrior with a sword. They talk to further the plot, their faces express appropriate emotions at the appropriate time, but beyond that they have no relevance. Asking what they want and where they are going is a fruitless exercise. Moreover, it’s irrelevant; even the characters themselves proclaim not to know their identities. Their lack of purpose doesn’t seem to bother them, however, and in light of the numerous fascinating questions the story throws up to compensate, me neither.

overall 8/10

Essentially senseless, Angel’s Egg spurns ordinary analysis in favour of subjective interpretation. It is far more interested in prompting questions within its audience’s mind than offering a rational external plot. As such, any attempts to define it will necessarily fail. Still, having absorbed every detail of the movie and finding its overt existentialism thought-provoking, what do I actually think it means? Well, my guess is rebirth. What’s yours?

Anime Info

  • Movie (1 ep x 75 min)
  • 1985

In a dark and largely abandoned city a little girl wanders in search of something – beneath the folds of her dress she carries a mysterious giant egg. While living on the streets, she encounters a lonesome warrior who has forgotten his past and his purpose and, like the girl, travels aimlessly. Now they journey together, mistrustful of each other whilst sharing in the silence of the city. But who is the little girl? Who is the warrior? And what form of creature lies sleeping inside the egg?


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About the Author

VivisQueen's avatar

VivisQueen

I'll review anything as long as there are words in the dictionary to describe it. Disagree with me? Want to leave feedback? Please do, but take a look at my personal rating scale first.

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comments

Lairess avatar Lairess
Jun 27, 2013

Thanks for this fantastic review. I watched the movie and I really liked it but I wasn't pretty sure of what it was about. I'm going to watch more Mamoru's movies from now on.

valocis avatar valocis
Sep 18, 2011

Wow, this sounds like some Deep Stuff! I have to watch it now......

snipes avatar snipes
Apr 18, 2011

someone even found a Zigmund Fraid's interpretation. Egg - girl's innocence. Man broke it, and he didn't found nothing interesting there) and he gone away - after that girl became a woman (giving new life - "little eggs"). )

snipes avatar snipes
Jan 20, 2011

 

Fish symbol of Christianity. But fishes are shadows in strange world. People trying to cacth them. But they not resist, even when the new flood starting.

man looks like Christ. We see the bandages on his hands and sword in the form of a cross.

The girl's death - a metaphor for canonization. She died (and she became a woman?) giving new life from the last breath. Then she flies away in the form of statue.

Egg is the simbol of new life. Maby Angel's egg - simbol of salvation. But man crushed it - because people dont want the salvation.

After that we can see strange eggs on trees. Tree is simbol too. Man taking about this.

In the end of the movie we can see the whole world from above - it looks very small and this world not a "real" world (fuss people are nothing now).  This is not about religion, but there are allusions. It is not difficult to notice. And this is not real philosophy - this is great anime with many interpretations.

ps sorry for my english /_\

 

default avatar kagemusha
Nov 3, 2009

I'm so glad you reviewed this film.  I've been a fan of it for years.  I love pretty much everything Oshii has done, but his work from the 80's really resonates with me, especially this one.  Your review was really well-written, too, and totally nailed the important aspects of the film such as the atmosphere and experimental storytelling.  I've read in Brian Ruh's book Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii that even Oshii himself doesn't know what this film is about. 

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