The Japanese are forever wondering about Christianity. What is it? Who are we? Crosses – where do you put them? Can you arrange them in a semi-circle in your front lawn? Can they be used as guns? Should a cross belt-buckle be affixed to a large Quaker hat? They felt the answer was yes to all of the above (see:Van Helsing). As a person interested in the topic of Christianity, it’s fascinating to watch anime not really understand what these symbols or religious words mean but ATTEMPTING to respectfully put all the pieces together. Themselves. Without instructions. And then they film it.
Case in point: Angel’s Egg. We have the soaringly dark gothic subversive atmosphere of the early 1800’s hybridized to some futuristic post-apocalyptic space drama. There is no plot to speak of because when you are a mute girl of 10 and must, for reasons unknown, carry around a large egg, it’s all feelings and emotions and atmosphere. It’s the land of Oz, darkened and twisted and no more lollipops. All the people have gone. Are they on the giant space ship housing millions of life-like statues? Are they the zombie like fisherman trying to harpoon giant carp shadows floating through the city? Then a man with no name and talks even less appears and he and the girl begin a marathon game of 20 questions. Except the only question is “Who are you?” As the girl begins to trust him more and more, she shows him her secret cavern where we discover a giant angel now fossilized Han Solo-style into the wall. Can the man contain himself and stop asking questions about who this girl is – and what is in the egg? Can he possibly show a little restraint?
All tongue in cheek aside this film was gorgeous. Just out of this world animation with no computer generated effects that I could detect for the rest of you snobbish purists out there. Practically a silent film, it really delves into each particularly detail and landscape of the urban wasteland and engages the viewer into a hypnotic visual dream feast. You will think about this for days and never be able to answer any of the questions you pose to yourself.
For one of the first times since I began watching anime I think they managed to get some Christian references correct or at least in a recognizable order. References to the birth, re-birth, temptation, ascension are all present. One of the few anime Directors who has been nominated for both a Palme d’Or and Golden Lion, Oshii is famous for his philosophical rhapsodies displayed in his anime and in this day and age of luke-warm watery soup plot for masses era, I find that to be a high intellectual achievement. Cinephiles and anime enthusiasts alike will appreciate this somber romp through a space and time far far away.