The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Angel’s Egg

Title: Angel’s Egg aka Tenshi no Tamago
Genre: Drama
Company: Tokuma Shoten/Studio DEEN
Format: Movie; 71 minutes.
Dates: 22 Dec 1985

Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world, a young girl freely spends her days and carries around a mysterious egg wherever she goes.  One day, a strange man carrying a cross takes interest in the girl and her egg.  He asks her what is inside the egg. He asks how the girl can be certain if she doesn’t crack open her egg and see the truth for herself.

The Highlights
Atmosphere: Rich and haunting.
Visuals: Any budget restraints fails to hamper its creativity.
Audio: Dark and brooding.
Pacing: Very, very slow.

Angel’s Egg is an anime that will be enjoyed by very few people. It’s a piece where director Oshii Mamoru puts the audience in the back-burners and creates a metaphor rich world that is decipherable only to himself. Throughout the movie, very little is explained, certain scenes tend to drag on and on, and viewers can only really begin to grasp the story after the credits start rolling. However, it is at the same time an aesthetically engaging film that does an exquisite job at creating atmosphere. So long as you can appreciate a movie that takes a sketchy approach to “who, what, when, where, why” but excels at the “how”, Angel’s Egg is an experience that is worth taking.

Those of you who have been exposed to the artwork of the older Final Fantasy games, or have seen the logo artwork of virtually any modern Final Fantasy should quickly see Amano Yoshitaka‘s influence in Angel’s Egg.  Though the colors are not quite as vibrant, the scenery and the characters are stylish, imaginative and detailed.  In a sense, the movie can be enjoyed merely as a visual experience much like a moving art book, but the real power of the film comes from how the imagery combines with the sounds to create an ominous and engrossing world.

Since there is very little dialogue, it is somewhat difficult to gauge the quality of the voice actors, but their dry, monotone voices fit oddly well with the anime’s desolate post-apocalyptic setting. The heavy, somber music enhances the already ominous world. Unlike most other movies, something as simple as clanging glass and pouring water doesn’t meld into obscurity; they shatter the usual silence. There really is no neutral noise in this anime. Every sound has presence.

Where the movie fails is a matter of debate, and the only reason I won’t cheer-lead any one side is because I sympathize with the arguments of both.  Angel’s Egg is an art film, and like many other art films, it can be seen as beautiful or pretentious. Want a compelling plot, likable characters and a concrete understanding of what the hell is going on?  Don’t expect it here; aside from a few biblical quotes and a physically straightforward but psychologically unexplained series of events, the audience is left to ponder what it all means. Want a movie that pushes the boundaries of anime as a visual medium? You may be surprised at what you find here.

Ultimately, I find it hard to not recommend Angel’s Egg to the more seasoned anime viewer since the movie is undeniably immersive and shows what can be done with the animated medium. Just be warned that if you cannot enjoy an anime purely for its aesthetics, the movie will probably bore you out of your mind.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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