A picture showing the unamed girl.
|Directed by||Mamoru Oshii|
|Produced by||Hiroshi Hasegawa
|Screenplay by||Mamoru Oshii|
|Story by||Yoshitaka Amano
|Music by||Yoshihiro Kanno
|Edited by||Seiji Morita|
|Distributed by||Animage Video (VHS)
|December 15, 1985|
Angel's Egg (天使のたまご Tenshi no Tamago?) is a Japanese animated film produced by Tokuma Shoten in 1985. It was a collaboration between popular artist Yoshitaka Amano and director Mamoru Oshii. It features very little spoken dialogue, and its sparse plot and visual style have led to it being described as an "animated painting".
Parts of the film were used in the 1988 SF movie In the Aftermath.
Angel's Egg follows the daily life of an unnamed young girl (Mako Hyōdō) living in an seemingly abandoned, Gothic influenced city. She lives alone, and cares for a large egg which she carries with her under her dress as she explores the city and gathers water and food. She has a fondness for using clear glass globe bottles as drinking vessels and likes to spend long moments looking at pools of water. In a prologue, a soldier (Jinpachi Nezu) watches as an orb shaped vessel descends from above, carrying rows of Greek-influenced female statues with hands held in prayer, large egg shapes embedded in their collarbones and at their navels. The girl encounters the soldier on one of the city streets after he climbs from one of a series of strange mechanical vehicles that journey down it; he carries a cross-like weapon on his shoulder, though whether it is a sword or a gun or even a weapon at all is never made clear. Afraid of him, she runs away and hides in an alley. After taking a moment to gather her courage, she goes back to the street, only to discover that he is no longer there. She runs away in another direction to a lake and eats something from a jar she found that day. Leaving the egg behind, she leaves to explore the area and stumbles across the soldier as he sits in the ruins around the lake. Realizing she doesn't have the egg with her, she grows alarmed and backs away to go, only to see the soldier pull the egg out from under his cloak. He tells her to "keep precious things inside you or you will lose them" and holds out the egg to her. The girl takes it back only after a long moment of uncertainty. He asks her what she thinks is inside the egg and she replies that she can't tell him things like that and that she doesn't even know who he is. The soldier tells her that you have to break an egg to find out what's inside, to which she replies with a hasty retreat and a shouted "who are you?".
The two travel together for a time through the city and though she is at first reluctant to have him following her around, something he refuses to stop, she is grateful for the company when they encounter solid enough looking, muted colored men with blank faces and shadows of their own running down the street with large, deadly looking spears. The girl is afraid of the strange looking men and hides underneath the soldier's cloak; the pair are ignored by the men. It soon becomes clear that the men are chasing enormous shadows of coelacanth-type fish that swim across the surfaces of the buildings and along the ground. They do so in droves down the streets and across the roofs, and attack the phantom fish with their spears, catching nothing and causing massive amounts of structural damage to the city. The girl says that even though there aren't anymore fish, the men still hunt them. It begins to rain heavily.
The girl takes the soldier through a huge building on the way to her home, where the soldier sees carvings of a strange looking tree on the wall. He goes on to say that he's seen one like it before, so long ago that he can't remember where; he describes something that sounds very much like the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb, but says that it's an egg with a giant sleeping bird in it. The girl asks him what the bird dreams about and where it is and he says that it's still sleeping there, then asks her what's in the egg. The girl doesn't reply. The two walk up a large spiral stair lined on both sides with the same sort of glass drinking globe bottles that the girl favors, all of them filled with varying levels of water. When they reach the top and travel down a long corridor for a while, the girl adds her bottle from that day to the line. The soldier can see that there are hundreds, potentially thousands, of the bottles, and asks her if she's been there for as many days as there are bottles. She shakes her head "no". They sit in the shadow of one of the many skeletons they have passed of enormous creatures and he tells her the story of Noah's Arc, with a different ending as it relates to him and his memory of his past. He says that he wonders if they even exist, if they are perhaps memories that belong to someone else. She says that they do and takes him to see one of the fossils in the wall of the building that she has found: it is of an angel skeleton.
The girl takes him to her home, which appears to be in the shape of a large boat and the two talk until the girl falls asleep. It begins to rain even harder and the city begins to flood. The strange fishermen stand in the deepening water as still as statues. After the girl is asleep the soldier takes the egg and uses his weapon to break it, then leaves. The girl awakens to find the soldier gone and the empty shell of the egg on the floor. Distraught, she runs out and sees the departing soldier in the distance. She tries to follow him, but falls into a ravine and drowns. Through some means she seems to age into an adult woman. Her final breath rises to the surface of the water and breaks it in the form of many white egg shapes that bob in the water. The rain has stopped. From the ruins of the city and around it, it is shown that there are many giant eggs lifted into the sky by tangled root or tree-like structures, one of which is shown to have a large bird fetus in it. The story ends with the soldier standing on the beach, surrounded by white feathers, watching as the vessel from the prologue rises from the ocean, this time with a statue of the girl and her egg added to the ranks of statues. Unlike the other statues, she sits in an elaborate seat, the egg in her lap. Shortly after, the screen slowly pans out, revealing the land to be the hull of an ark on the sea.
Angel's Egg did not do well with audiences or critics on its release, and Oshii has reportedly said that its failure "kept him from getting work for years." However, it is better regarded today,  and currently has an audience rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has been speculated[according to whom?] that the thematic overtones represented in the movie are related to some of those found in Christianity. Jinpachi Nezu worked with Oshii once again in Patlabor 2: The Movie and Mako Hyōdō played a supporting role in The Sky Crawlers. Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies called it "an early masterpiece of symbolic film-making", stating that "its surreal beauty and slow pace created a Zen-like atmosphere, unlike any other anime".
- Patten, Fred (2011). Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Berkley, CA: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 978-1-61172-510-0.
- Ruh, Brian (2004). Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-6334-5.
- "Tenshi no tamago (Angel's Egg)(Egg of God) (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- McCarthy, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. — Harper Design, 2009. — P. 39. — 528 p. — ISBN 978-0061474507
- Angel's Egg at the Internet Movie Database
- Angel's Egg (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Mamoru Oshii's Angel's Egg
- Yoshitaka Amano's Artwork for Angel's Egg
- Unofficial interpretation regarding the symbolism
- J-pop.com review