Anime Rewind: Tenshi no Tamago (Angel's Egg)

A Symbology

  • Episodes : 1
  • Genre : Fantasy, Dementia, Drama
  • Airing Date : December 22, 1985
  • Studios : Studio Deen

Contains Spoilers

Tenshi no Tamago Introduction

Tenshi no Tamago takes place in an unspecified timeline where time has stopped and the world seems devoid of any form of life. The film starts with a giant egg held by a branch and inside the egg is a developing chick of a giant bird. Then the scene shifts to a location with the sky tinted red and a man carrying a mechanical device that is shaped like a cross looking at a gigantic eye-shaped structure descending from the red sky to the ocean. Countless statues can be seen on the structure’s surface, a tell-tale sign that the structure is not of alien origin.

Tenshi no Tamago then transitions to a new scene with a young girl with long blonde hair waking up from her sleep. She carries with her an egg, tucked inside in front of her abdomen, and wanders to the woods for water. The girl then travels to an abandoned town for supplies and collects jars of water. The silence was broken when a fleet of giant tanks moved across the street and there the girl meets the man from the beginning of the film. Both characters have little recollection of their past and the man was looking for meaning in his existence. The two then take a glimpse of reanimated statues of fishermen running across the desolate town, causing destruction as they try to throw fishing spears to ghost-like silhouettes of giant fish. Later in the film, the man has taken an interest with the girl’s egg and questions her about what kind of creature grows inside and her devotion in raising and protecting the egg. The girl takes the man, travels to a gigantic building filled with fossilized remains of gigantic creatures, and there, the man sees the remains of a massive flying creature. The man soon realized his purpose and it has something to do with the girl’s egg.

Why You Should Watch Tenshi no Tamago

1. A hypnotic audio-visual spectacle

Tenshi no Tamago boasts excellent art and animation that uses dark colors to bring out the lonesome and otherworld atmosphere of the world, and an almost all-orchestral musical score to effectively accentuate key moments like the descent of the eye-like structure to the sea, the mystifying scene with reanimated fishermen statues hunting shadows of giant fish, and the climatic ending telling that shows the world in Tenshi no Tamago is very insignificant. Tenshi no Tamago is focused more on the visuals and music over dialogue, so the majority of the film consists of scenes with no words uttered. The way Tenshi no Tamago is presented is similar to Stanley Kubrick’s space epic the 2001: Space Odyssey with lengthy vista scenes with orchestral musical score.

2. The film has religious symbolism and can be interpreted differently

Tenshi no Tamago, at first glance, can be seen as an art film with no story to tell, but if you dig deeper and understand its subtleties, then you’ll notice the film is all about religion—specifically Christianity—and the consequences of blind faith. The man with the cross tells the girl the story of Noah’s Ark, but the story ends with the white dove not returning to the Ark and the people and animals in the ship has lost their meaning and eventually turn to stone (they were fossilized). The man can be interpreted as the embodiment of Jesus Christ testing the girl’s faith, the structure that descended from the sky can be interpreted as the Eye of God looking over at the flooded world, and the little girl guarding the egg can be interpreted as a believer of God and her belief in the egg hatching is a symbol of her unwavering faith. And at the end of the movie, the Eye of God ascends back to the heavens and then we see the world is still covered by vast expanse of water, indicating the Genesis Flood hasn’t subsided.

Why You Should Skip Tenshi no Tamago

1. Tenshi no Tamago is more art than film

Merchandise like art books, official soundtrack and other supplementary books never made it outside Japan when the film came out, resulting in a film that was misinterpreted as a pretentious art film rather than a film. The plot is very hard to follow and while this was intentional, or to encourage viewers to find the hidden meaning behind every scene, supplementary material offered notes from the director and production staff regarding insights of Tenshi no Tamago were not translated. Fortunately, there are a few videos and articles in social media that offers explanations and different interpretations of Tenshi no Tamago.

Final Thoughts

The director for Tenshi no Tamago was done none other than Oshii Mamoru, the Japanese filmmaker best known for his philosophical-ridden animated films like the Patlabor films, Sky Crawlers and the 1995 film Ghost in the Shell that earned him international acclaim. Tenshi no Tamago or Angel’s Egg is a film you often brought up during anime conversations, but never bothered checking it out. It’s an obscure yet beautiful film that will either blow you away with its artistic or symbolic value, or be left confused because the film didn’t make sense. The beautifully hand drawn scenes, the soothing yet sometimes ominous orchestral score, and its religious symbolism is an experience you won’t find anywhere, and it’s definitely an experience any anime fan should take.

Tenshi-no-Tamago-dvd-367x500 Anime Rewind: Tenshi no Tamago (Angel's Egg)


Author: Antoine Rizal

I've been an anime fan for as long as I can remember. Actually, anime is very much a part of me now for I have extended my reach beyond just watching them. I am a fansubber for more than 8 years now and contributed a lot to the anime community. Me and my group has translated shows, manga, drama CDs and doujinshi. Right now I'm learning Japanese so I can better serve the community and read interesting stuff about the Japanese culture as well.

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