For the last few days, I have been trying with all my might to understand Angel’s Egg. Do I understand it? Of course not! Do I have a better understanding of it? Absolutely!
kzekedaurus is a(n IRL) friend of mine. Our common ground is a passion for artistic films, particularly animation. I tend to focus in on anime exclusively, however.
So, for the last few days, we have been talking about Angel’s Egg. I want to know what the hell it is about. He is a good source of brainstorming, because he is usually already familiar with stuff I want to write about. Here is our conversation that lasted for the past few days. I am posting this, because I honestly think it is pretty interesting and hopefully it will interest anyone that has seen Angel’s Egg and wants to know what is up.
I am nowhere near finishing a write-up for Angel’s Egg, so you will have to wait for now. I am in a much better spot now, fortunately. Writing about Mamoru Oshii is a challenge. That is probably why I like him.
By the way, sometimes I wonder if I am that guy from Flower of Evil. You know, pretentious and shallow. (it dawned on me that I am spending my youth writing about cartoons – fortunately, I do other things, such as work, school, volunteer, etc.)
OptimalExplosion = OE
kzekedaurus = K
Context for April 21: I watched the entirety of Angel’s Egg again.
April 21, 2014
OE: I watched Angel’s Egg again. I still don’t get it completely.
K: I don’t want to go to the whole “he steals her virginity” or her dreams or whatever, because that interpretation seems so lame and small-minded.
Context for April 22: I watched certain scenes again, because this movie is pretty damn good.
April 22, 2014
OE: Oh, I know! It’s a pro-life movie.
OE: Or, how about this. The egg represents rape culture and the PoC liberates the girl from her internalized misogyny.
OE: I’ll write about that one day: “Is Angel’s Egg pro-life or pro-feminist?”
K: If that’s your interpretation, sure. I’d have to re-watch it to start firing off ideas.
OE: I was… kinda joking.
K: I figured.
OE: I was kinda pointing out that the movie is so vague that it could mean anything.
K: Hrmmm. Conception of an idea, perhaps?
OE: What do you mean? That’s basically my opinion of it, although there are enough implications to get something out of it.
K: I’m in agreement. First, that the movie is vague enough that it could be about anything, and second, that there are enough defined details that something could be made of it.
OE: If only Derrida could watch this movie.
K: I was bagging on the dreams/virginity metaphor earlier, but that’s not a bad interpretation.
OE: You might have to elaborate, because if anything he aborted her.
OE: You might as well watch it again and write an essay about it. That would be nice.
K: Mm. Well, it feels distinctly religious in certain areas. Particularly the need to keep those things you treasure safe. She also does not understand what the egg is to her, only that she has it. There’s the world in a state of ruin and decay, and this emphasis on loss and value expressed both physically and other wise.
K: That came out more muddled than I wanted.
OE: I except a thousand word essay.
K: oh ffs.
K: Perhaps there’s a social commentary in there as well.
K: Damn it, I gotta stop thinking.
OE: You know, watch it and think about it.
OE: Most of the shit I come up with is noticing things while I watch it.
K: I actually am right now. Maybe I’m like the girl, and I can’t perceive enough meaning in the gift of the movie I’m watching.
K: And all I see is something vague and beautiful to cloister away…
OE: I’m writing a review on it. In sum, it’s a movie with awesome production, but it feels like an interestingly written short story with zero substance.
OE: Still, I do consider it a good example of how anime is auteur-driven.
K: It really is. If I were to try and describe this movie in one sentence it would be “The best Yoshitaka Amano piece in motion.”
K: Ohhhhhh, that movie was a slogfest to get through. A beautiful slogfest, but a slogfest all the same.
OE: Typical for Mamoru Oshii.
K: It establishes a certain kind of atmosphere, and it’s really patient about its details. That said, I don’t think it needed to even be that long. There were parts, like with fisherman being shown twice for some reason, and the long-ass shot of the two characters at the fireplace that’s just “Why?”. Also the fact that we never physically see the girl once she becomes a woman (in body at least), we never see her again is telling. The fact that her child-self is sort of deified as a statue is even more telling, and really sad. Otaku culture.
K: Well, look culture.
K: Fuck, loli culture.
OE: …Oshii is not a lolicon.
OE: Damn it, this was debated with the whole Anakin ghost thing in RoTJ.
K: No, I don’t think so either. But there’s a societal view of women and youth in there that you could extract.
OE: It depends on what a person looks like in the after-life. Their true self, or what they looked like when they died?
K: I suppose, but that makes it even more sad. As if her becoming anything but a little girl is death. And I’m not saying the movie supports that idea either. Hell, the movie doesn’t support anything. It just presents it.
OE: All to be discussed in due time.
Context for April 23: I spend several hours writing a review, but I become frustrated at my lack of understanding.
April 23, 2014
OE: As true as I think it is, I don’t like arguing that “this film is bad because I don’t understand it.” Not that I necessarily think it’s bad, I just don’t feel like arguing that I don’t understand it.
K: Angel’s Egg? Oh sure. But it all depends on what kind of standards you base a work on, and why. There are many objective standards you can judge a work on, but they are a lot broader than what’s often presented in reviews.
Context: while writing the review, I realize that I got a lot wrong; my review becomes redundant and it begins to argue a lack of meaning in Angel’s Egg. I become frustrated by the futility of arguing that something does not exist.
Later that day…
OE: You know Angel’s Egg is really complicated. Unfortunately you gotta be a freaking theologian scholar to get it.
K: I’m sure there’s a lot of literary, textual influences, yadda yadda, but what I learned in AP Writing was that you pick one thing and spend the rest of the paper, introduce it, and just spend the rest of the paper reinstating that view. It’s not fancy, but it’s clear. Concise.
K: I know from interviews, Oshii will often construct whole scenes from and around literary passages or works that affect him, because he wants to imbue the setting/characters with the feeling that it means ‘something’ even if you don’t understand the reference. Like you look at everything like it’s a box in a box. I find that quite obnoxious at times.
K: Good luck with squaring those boxes away.
OE: There is one theory that the man is Noah. From that monologue of his I can kinda see it.
K: Yeah, I thought of that. I actually like the way they change the Noah’s Ark into some unsettling sense of loss and hoping for ethereal things that are sealed away. But it’s sooooo mopey.
OE: Interestingly the humans have all turned to stone. Which matches his story. Even more interesting is that all the men are left in the village and all the women are on that sphere thing.
K: Uh. Spheres and phallic symbols. Mind you fishermen could be a reference to missionaries “the fishers of men”, but they have no idea what they’re even fishing for.
K: Or at the very least it’s futile.
OE: one person pointed out that they are searching vainly for Jesus. You know, the whole Jesus fish. While interesting, I’m not sure the implication is consistent.
OE: I can understand how a fishing rod is phallic, but how is a sphere vaginal? Hah, can’t believe I said that.
K: They’re the working class! They labor and labor away for a dream that is held in the hands of the rich, forever out of their grasp.
OE: No it’s a metaphor for third wave feminism! The egg is rape culture!
K: A sphere isn’t quite vaginal so much as it is evocative of a womb, or more obviously, an egg.
K: And though I seriously doubt Angel’s Egg is a feminist movie, that doesn’t mean it defies a feminist critique. Her egg being coveted and then shattered is very evocative of some kind of violation.