Anime: Angel's Egg

aka: Tenshi No Tamago

"This is what would happen if Tarkovsky made an anime."
YouTube commentator

Angel's Egg (Tenshi No Tamago in Japanese) is a surreal 1985 animated film which was directed by Mamoru Oshii and featured art designs by Yoshitaka Amano. The film centers around a young girl protecting an egg in an abandoned gothic city who meets a mysterious man with a cross-shaped rifle. The rest is... a bit harder to describe, but it's extremely beautiful nonetheless.

This film contains examples of:

  • Bad Future: According to the man, Noah's Ark didn't end well in this universe. The ending, which reveals them to be on an ark, seems to confirm it.
  • Beautiful Void: The setting is completely deserted, dark and worn out, but damn if it isn't lovingly designed.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The dove as represented in art around the city looks more like some horrifying winged humanoid.
  • Crapsack World: While it's not clear on whatever's going on, it's clear that the world isn't an inviting place to live.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: The man has a cross-shaped... gun? Staff? Something?
  • Downer Ending: The girl breaks down crying because the man destroys her egg, then she runs off, drowns and turns into a statue. It's further implied that the ark will continue to be gradually submerged until all life is definitively eradicated from the world.
  • Egg McGuffin: The titular egg which is carried around by the girl and the man wants to open. It's empty... or is it?
  • Faceless Masses: The fishermen.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Giant flying coelacanth shadows, to be exact.
  • Gainax Ending: The girl apparently dies after losing her egg and becomes part of a spaceship (?) as the man looks on. But with her death, lots of eggs emerge from the water. The camera backs away, revealing that they were in an ark all along. The end.
  • Ghost City: The city is completely deserted, save for the two main characters, and the fishermen which may or may not be alive.
  • Have You Seen My God?: It has forsaken the world and left all remaining life to die in Noah's Ark.
  • Importation Expansion: When it was brought to the US, 45 minutes of live action footage was added in an attempt to release it as a post-apocalyptic thriller. This version, called In The Aftermath: Angels Never Sleep has since been almost completely forgotten.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The scene just before the man breaks the egg has the girl asleep and the man sitting beside her bed while the fire burns. This lasts for about 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
    • The ending consists of very long takes as the camera "flies" away from the ground.
  • Mind Screw: When even the goddamn creator throws up his hands and admits he has no idea what the film is supposed to say, you know you're in bizarro-land.
  • Minimalism: It has only two characters, neither of which have names, and less than a page of dialogue, most of which is contained in a single scene. The anime focuses more on the girl's devotion to her egg than anything else.
  • Minimalist Cast: The only people we ever see is the little girl with the egg and the young warrior with the cross-shaped riffle. Apart from them and couple of ghostly fishermen who can't really be considered characters, the highly-detailed world the two live in is completely deserted.
  • Mystical White Hair: Both the girl and the man, which hints at them possibly being God-sent.
  • No Name Given: The girl and the man aren't named.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Apparently, they lay eggs. Or destroy them, or something.
  • Rapunzel Hair: The girl. It could probably envelope her whole.
  • The Reveal: At the end of the movie, the camera pulls out slowly to show that the city is built on the capsized hull of Noah's Ark.
  • Scenery Porn: This is Yoshitaka Amano's and Mamoru Oshii's visual poem. With only about five minutes of dialog in its seventy minute run time the absolutely gorgeous visuals carry the film's elegant, surreal and poignant "narrative".
  • Silence Is Golden: There's less than a page of dialogue, and most of it is in one scene. The second line of dialogue is said a full 24 minutes into a 71 minute film.
  • Taken for Granite: The man says that everyone in Noah's Ark, which they are on, turned to stone. The fishermen might be part of it.

Alternative Title(s):

Tenshi No Tamago