- Alt. Name
- Tenshi no Tamago
- Release Date
- December 1985
- Studio Deen
- 1 hr. 11 min.
When it comes to understanding films, one can use many different ways to conclude the meaning behind a film. One way would be from emotional enlightenment; another would be from the visuals within the film itself. Though there isn’t an incorrect way to understand a movie, I find it quite amusing when the movie’s director doesn’t even know its true meaning. When I learned that a collaboration between the director of Ghost in the Shell and the artist behind every Final Fantasy video game happened, it was evident that curiosity had been overflowing inside my head.
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Angel’s Egg is a 1985 Science Fiction OVA (Original Video Animation) Film that was created by two of the most well-known figures within the artistic entertainment industry, Mamoru Oshii and Yoshitaka Amano. Though the studio behind this film may not ring any bells, fans of the original Fruits Basket series most definitely will. With the critical themes, outstanding use of original music, and most importantly, a film that makes the viewer think means that the viewer has a moderate journey ahead of them. However, don’t let those three aspects fool you; this film is one of the most impressive works that one could see.
The story is an interesting one, though not for the usual reasons. In a dark and primarily abandoned city, a little girl wanders searching for something – beneath her clothing, she carries a mysterious giant egg. As she travels the virtually abandoned streets, she stumbles upon a solitary warrior who has forgotten his past and purpose. Though the girl doesn’t trust him, she realizes that she too doesn’t remember her past or tenacity, which causes her to travel aimlessly. Now they journey together, mistrusting of each other while sharing in the silence within the city. As the story continues, questions start to come to mind of the two, who is the little girl? Who is the warrior? And what precisely inside the giant egg?
The story has an interesting premise, and even calling it a story could be the biggest compliment or biggest insult to the film itself. There are very few actual spoken dialogs within this film, which is astonishing and gives the film a conceivably more profound impact for each viewer. Even with minimal dialog, we still feel an attachment towards the little girl even though the viewer knows very little about it. With films like these – ones that don’t lead the viewer towards an answer, it potentially makes the viewer interested in the film itself due to its multiple options of meaning different things to different people. There are tons of Christian symbolism and allegories within this film, like the giant coelacanth-like fish, Noah’s Ark, and even leviathan from the Hebrew Bible.
Though the story has no set explanation, it was still entertaining to watch. However, this premise is not for everyone, so if one is not interested in slow-moving and cumbersome themes, then they may not enjoy this film. The film itself is rather quite slow, but that isn’t necessarily a negative within this film itself. Inside this film are multiple moving parts, and each moving part has its specific purpose. Though some of the moving parts within the story could have possibly been better, that’s more personal preference than a fault within the film. The main potential negative is that if one isn’t interested in films with dense religious allegories, this won’t be an enjoyable film. However, I recommend branching out and giving it something new a try.
The art style within this film is marvelous, especially when it comes to expressionism. Multiple movies old and new have fallen into self-explaining through dialogue instead of allowing the viewer to figure out the meaning behind something themselves. Angel’s Egg has a very liquid artistic style, easily identifiable within the Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau cityscape. When one watches the film, they may feel entranced by the Salvador Dali inspired backgrounds mixed with the characters’ fluidity. Another aspect of the impressive aesthetic endeavor is that areas, where the viewer may think, would be detailed – like characters – lack itself like she’s not the importance of the film.
While there are minimal bright colors, the film gives slightly ominous ubiquity within the lack of freshness. With the lack of vibrant colors, the film doesn’t draw viewers through cheap gimmicks or even bright and cheerful scenery; it brings viewers in through the attention to detail within the landscapes. It potentially keeps the viewer there through the exquisite attention to detail. The film is hand-drawn and isn’t as clean as say a Studio Ghibli film, which gives it a particular fondness of fabulous human-made creations that are just outside of the mainstream consciousness.
This film’s animation production team is arguably one of the best within any anime film of the 20th century. The lack of lighting and the consistency of fluidity within scenes are mesmerizing, which continued to glorify with the mastering of one thing, silence. Angel’s Egg perfectly captures the raw emotion and perfectly shows it through the calm within the film. Having that emotion and the natural feeling emanating on the characters’ faces is unquestionably what makes emotional vindication towards the viewer genuinely worth the admission price. The lack of dialogue is almost like a piece of art itself, filling the gaps within the story that viewers cannot experience through animation.
The negative side of these two are instead both sides to the same coin, but I cannot let them go by without mention. If one doesn’t like artistic or even densely expressive films, perhaps the viewer may be turned off by this. Another aspect of this film that potential viewers may find troublesome is that this film isn’t a typical anime film, it has layers. The multiple themes within the film include the rise and fall within one’s own beliefs, life, death, religion, and possibly even humanity. It’s no surprise that this film isn’t for everyone, nor is it for the faint of heart. Even the most significant asset within the film can also be the biggest pitfall to some, and that’s it’s heavy use of silence.
If one could describe the characters within this movie on a surface level in a single word, it’d most likely be “duff.” Duff meaning having inferior quality, and though there are only two characters within the film. The film itself doesn’t give much to the characters other than what the viewer picks up. The two characters are named Boy and Girl, which are the easiest and unoriginal placeholder names within any story. Not much will be shared regarding the two characters – even after watching the film a few more times – though, perhaps that’s due to the film’s interpretation.
The Girl, much like the Boy, is alone, and though her most prominent character trait is she is the protector of some large egg. She believes that inside this egg is the baby of a giant angelic bird, which she treasures and guards with her own life until it hatches. The Boy is significantly older than the Girl, and like her also carries an object, a cross-shaped device. Though he doesn’t recall what how or what he is doing here, he recalls a story of Noah’s Ark – though with a much draconian ending. There isn’t much to go on outside of these facts, which could both a positive and negative towards some viewers.
Throughout the entirety of the film, the viewer takes on a ride through this world. Perhaps one will enjoy the ride, while others won’t, but the best part will be when everything comes to an end. Angel’s Egg is one of those masterpieces that has gotten buried by time, and with the beautiful imagery and expressionism within this film, it needs to be given life once again. Though the film is not perfect, it does have drastically more positives than negatives, and potentially few to none. This film has gotten praise for its artistic areas and also for the musical score, and rightfully so due to the wonderfully crafted arrangements.
This dark atmospheric film is enjoyable towards anyone looking for a psychological, and even at times foreboding of suspense. The orchestra within this movie is one of the critical aspects of emotional output Angel’s Egg gives off and is nothing short of amazing. If one is looking for a film that makes one think and doesn’t have a singular meaning, then this is the one for you. I highly support this film due to its creativeness and mastered artistic elements within it, and showcases a timeless and even the epitome of visual art.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.