Anime Meta-Review


Angel's Egg


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Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: weird
  • source: digital
  • form: sub
  • people: Oshii
  • dur: 70
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Fri Aug 17 10:18:57 EST 2001
  • mod: none

It is a wonderful night full of scudding clouds and wind that howls and seems to cut straight to the bone. And, thanks to the kindness of Arsen Azizyan I had just the anime for it. A video infamous for possibly being deep, but definitely being atmospheric and baffling.


This could be quite a challenge. The story is set in a strange world, a world of bones and shadows. The remnants of technology, of once great human civilization, even the remains of long vanished creatures decorate this stage. People exist here, but they seem as much ghosts or remnants as anything else. Clinging to memories of things long gone, to purposes they can't remember or to hopes they can't fully express. It's a weird, brooding and silent place, with just the faintest echo of madness to add spice.

And on this stage comes a young girl, clad in brightly colored cloth but with an impossibly pale skin and cautious, downcast eyes. Under her dress she cradles a large egg which she seems to treasure above all else, perhaps hoping that it contains a future within it. While going about her business she runs into a young soldier, carrying his weapon, who seems to have mysteries of his own and finds they echo with hers.


I really shouldn't even have bothered to try. This movie is one of the most artistic, atmospheric and ambiguous anime titles I've ever seen. If you thought Lain was confusing and obscure then I don't know how you'd even begin to describe this one. It's impossibly calm in it's pacing, there's only about 5-10 lines of dialogue in the entire thing and there is no solid conclusion. Indeed the actual origin and meaning behind any element of the anime is left to be guessed at. If you can't tolerate artistic experimentation then this film is one to be avoided at all costs.

Except for the fact that it's actually rather good. The world, the events and the characters give you the sense that something important is happening without making things explicit. And the mind, in reaction, tries desperately to put the pieces together. And it has lots of material to work with. There's enough symbol and content in this title to keep an entire department of media studies busy for a month. Obviously I have some idea's about what was going on, but it is sufficiently ambiguous that I don't believe anyone will be able to say they have the ultimate understanding or the one true interpretation.

It's also good in that it is really controlled. Whereas some experimental films try to add power by shocking you, surprising you or jolting you with sudden juxtapositions this one simply couldn't care less. It moves at a very calm and measured pace and goes through it's scenes with skill and care. I'd love to know the basis on which this anime was made, it's impressive that enough money was found to do a professional movie length title which will make no concessions to the audience while setting forth the scenes it wants to show.

Of course those who aren't into arty films will see this very differently... and there is some validity in doing so. It's slow moving, overly arty and hopelessly self-indulgent. This leading to it being boring, confusing and ultimately unsatisfying. That's fine, I can even understand it, but if you know your own tastes then you'll know whether or not you should even bother trying this film.

The animation itself is very fitting. It's not too modern, and it doesn't have a lot of time for action or spectacle, but it looks good. It often looks a lot like an animated painting, deep blacks and impossibly solid architecture (the design is excellent) setting the scene. And over the top move the two characters, she more than a little unearthly and he solid and `normal'. The motion animation is not fantastically impressive from a technical viewpoint, but it presents a very strong and coherent vision. Add in lots of atmosphere, wind, water and the effect they have on the environment and it is moody and dreamlike. Back this up with good, but rare, voice work and some ethereal chorale work and it's an unusual but clearly skilled and effective production.

Other Reviews

  • Anime Movie Guide This book has a review that is to be actively avoided. Not only does it fail to give any insight into the film but it also manages to spoil the conclusion and get it wrong. I wish i'd stuck to my normal pattern and only check the entry after i'd watched the movie.
  • THEM review The review is relatively short but perfect for this movie. After all, a synopsis is impossible and analysis far too personal. In any case they respect it in terms of content, animation and direction. Although they admit that some sections of the anime community might be in for a rude shock. In any case, they clearly like the fact this sort of thing exists (5/5).
  • Anime Review review A very short review, probably one of the older ones on this site. The review also states, "they find out what is in the egg" which is possibly a spoiler, or right or wrong (have to love artistic ambiguity). In any case the comments on the film ring true and the rating is very positive (5/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:14 WST 2009