A picture showing the unnamed 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)
Angel's Egg (天使のたまご Tenshi no Tamago?) is a Japanese original video animation 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".
||This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (April 2015)|
Angel's Egg follows the life of an unnamed young girl living alone in an abandoned city. She cares for a large egg which she hides under her dress, protecting it while scavenging the decrepit Neo-Gothic/Art Nouveau cityscape for water and food. In a prologue, an unnamed soldier watches as an orb-shaped vessel, decorated with thousands of goddess-like sculptures, descends from the sky. Awakened by the orb's alarm, the girl begins her day of scavenging, but soon crosses paths with the soldier on a wide street traveled only by roving tanks. Frightened by the soldier, who carries a threatening cross-shaped device over his shoulder, the girl runs off down an alley. When she returns to investigate, the soldier has left. She resumes searching for food and glass bottles, avoiding the ominous figures of men clutching harpoons which scatter the cobbled streets.
After a moment of respite to eat her findings, the girl spots the soldier and approaches him. He turns and surprisingly produces her egg from underneath his cape; she had unthinkingly abandoned it on the plaza where she was eating. He instructs the girl to "Keep precious things inside you or you will lose them," and returns the egg. When asked what she believes is inside the egg, the girl asserts that she can't tell him. The soldier then suggests breaking the egg to find out, which incenses the girl and drives her storming away, only to be diligently pursued by the soldier.
Eventually the chase gives way to the pair bonding, as the stoic fishermen figures spring to life and frighten the girl. The fishermen race after enormous shadows of coelacanth-like fish that swim across the surfaces of streets and buildings, lobbing their harpoons at the brick and stone. As the shadows swim away, the girl explains that while the fish are gone, the men persist in hunting. The pair wait out the commotion within a vast, church-like theatre decorated with stained windows of fish.
Leaving the city and heading towards the girl's settlement, the pair stop within a massive structure which appears to be the carcass of a beached leviathan. Noticing an engraving of a tree on a pillar, the soldier describes his memory of a similar tree which grew to hold a giant egg containing a sleeping bird - an image shown at the start of the film. When the girl inquires as to what the bird dreams of, the soldier flatly asks if the girl still won't tell him what's inside her egg. The pair ascend a staircase arrayed with bottles of water, like those the girl collects, on each step. Adding her newest tribute to the line of bottles, the girl and soldier reflect on their amnesia as to their identity and purpose. The soldier begins to recount the biblical tale of Noah's Ark, describing the flood, its survivors, and their search for land by awaiting the return of a dove. The tale deviates down a fatalistic turn when the soldier claims that the dove never returned to the ark, and thusly its passengers forgot why they were sailing, forgot about the civilization drowned below, and lost all connection with who they were.
The soldier pensively asks the girl if they themselves or any of the strange world they live in really exists, or if it is merely a memory like his image of the sleeping bird. The girl suddenly insists that the bird does exist, and leads the soldier down corridors of ancient fossils to arrive at a chapel-like alcove. The soldier looks on aghast; against the far wall is the fossilized skeleton of an angel. The girl explains her intent to hatch the egg and return it to the "bird" she'd found. The soldier solemnly explains this was what he had suspected all along.
Later, the pair warm themselves within the girl's settlement, which is revealed to be a large ship propped up by pylons. As the girl drifts off to sleep, she speaks to the creature inside her egg of their future together. Outside, the heavy rain consumes the city and floods the streets. While the girl is turned away from the egg in her sleep, the soldier takes it and raises his cross-shaped weapon high to smash it. Awaking the next day, the girl discovers the broken shell of her egg and shrieks out, utterly heartbroken. Intent on confronting the soldier, she runs from the ship and pursues him through the woods, but suddenly plunges into a deep ravine and drowns. Beneath the water, the girl transforms into an adult woman before releasing a final breath, which rises to the surface as a multitude of bobbing eggs.
As the rain suddenly abates, trees holding eggs like those described by the soldier are shown to be scattered throughout the landscape. The soldier stands on a vast shore, littered with white feathers, as the orb-like vessel rises from the ocean. Among the thousands of statues adorning the orb is a new feature: a figure of the girl, sitting serenely on a throne and caressing the egg in her lap. The screen slowly pans out to reveal that the land of the beach, the forest, and the city is part of a small and lonely island within a vast sea, appearing not unlike the hull of an overturned ship.
Angel's Egg did not do well with 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 has been speculated 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. Berkeley, 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.
- McCarthy, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Harper Design, 2009. p. 39. 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
- Unofficial interpretation regarding the symbolism
- J-pop.com review
- THEM Anime review