An Analysis of Evanglion
|I. Circulation of Neon Genesis Evangelion
A. How Gainax distributes its work in the United States.
B. Fan Subculture
C. Any Alterations?
II. Description of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
A. Somewhat Brief Description of the Plot and Characters.
III. Meaning in Evangelion from my perspective.
A. Unitary World of Meaning and Shinto.
1. LCL: Link Connected Liquid.
2. The Red Earth Purification Ceremony.
B. God and the Book of Genesis.
1. The Mark of NERV.
2. The Crosses.
3. Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Sephiroth.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is an amine that started out as a mecha anime, but as
time progressed during the production, it became something much more. It is set
in the year 2015 where Angels are attacking humanity in order to combine with
Adam, the first angel, who with Lilith, bore all the angels and including
mankind. Adam is kept by a UN funded organization called NERV, in an embryonic
state. NERV was created to fight the Angels using the Evangelions and to carry
out the Human Complementation Project, which would “perfect” humanity. When Adam
was reduced to an embryo in Antarctica, an explosion of epic proportions
occurred that melted the continent and wiped out half of the human race. SEELE,
the organization responsible for the catastrophic explosion, dubbed it the
“Second Impact” in reference to the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs four
billion years ago so they could claim that a similar event occurred as a cover
up for what they did.
SEELE is a secret organization that existed before the Second Impact. SEELE means “soul” in German. The organization hid the truth about the Second Impact and the existence of Angels. It uses its power to abuse the UN as well as countries. After the Second Impact, it used the UN as a cover, established the Committee of Human Complementation and the secret agency NERV, and built the EVA series. SEELE’s Human Complementation Plan is mapped out according to what was recorded on the “Secret Dead Sea Scrolls”. The objective of the plan is to move human up to another stage of evolution. (Gainax, Red Cross Book)
Conventional weapons cannot destroy the Angels because an A.T. Field (see footnote 1) protects them. NERV uses giant “organic robots” called Evangelions to defeat the Angels. The destruction of the Angels is so important that all of mankind recourses are being deployed to do so. “This facility [the NERV Geofront] is what has been consuming the total resourses of mankind.” (Gendo Ikari, Episode 21). The Evangelions were designed using Adam as a prototype. Adam is an Angel. Therefore humans are trying to create a god. “This is a prototype of a god!” – (Fuyutsuki, Episode 21). However the Evangelions do not have a soul. This is where the pilots come in. Only children that were born at the time of the Second Impact in the year 2000 could pilot them. The pilots act as the soul of the Eva. They usually can control them, though they go berserk from time to time.
NERV created five Evangelions (00-04). Using the three that it had for the most of the episodes it carried out its mission of destroying the Angels. Shinji Ikari, the main character, goes though severe hardships in the process. In the end, it can be argued that he goes insane. His father does not give him any attention, he is forced to kill one of his best friends against his will (though he later recovers), his friend Asuka insults him 24/7, and he runs away several times. He feels an obligation to pilot Eva, as it gives him some purpose in life. When he was asked “Why do you pilot Eva?” in the final episode he replies “I pilot it because it is all I can do.” This causes him to return each time. Towards the end of the series, he finds out that one of his best friends is a clone. A 14 year old, under all this pressure, finally cracks in the Komm Suesser Tod scene in End of Evangelion where he begins to strangle Asuka. Auska is another pilot for Eva, but she is from Germany. She was also under enormous pressure. She acts tough and in control as a shell, protecting her from everyone. She never knew her father and her mother hanged herself when she was very little. Asuka was the first to see her mother hanging from the ceiling of their house in Germany. Shinji’s mother, Gendo’s wife, also died when Shinji was little. In 2004 she was killed in an accident involving Eva-01. Her soul was left behind in the unit somehow, for the Eva are “living gods”. This is why Shinji has such a great synchronization ratio with his Eva.
Evangelion has two endings. They revolve around one question. Does Shinji engage in the Human Complementation Project? The fate of humanity is left upon his shoulders. In the episodes, he decides that humanity would be better off in a fantasy world, a world that allowed our imaginations to be the only limit as to what we can do for, “It is only the mind which separates reality from truth” (NERV Technician, Episode 26). He decided to allow the Human Complementation Project to come to an end. However, the “true” ending is the one found in the movie "End of Evangelion". Shinji decides not to engage in the Human Complementation Project. When Rei Ayanami tells him “If you want people again, you’ll be separated by a wall in your mind. You’ll be scared of them again.” (Rei Ayanami, End of Evangelion) Shinji replies “It’s okay.” (Shinji, End of Evangelion) When asked by Kaworu Nagisa “Is it okay that the A.T. Field hurts others again?” (Kaworu Nagisa, End of Evangelion) Shinji replies “It’s all right.” (Shinji, End of Evangelion). He wants people to exist, and chooses reality over fantasy. This is a brief version of what went on in Evangelion. It would be impossible to discuss the plot twists and side stories.
The ancient Japanese beleived in the concept of the "unitary world of meaning" (see footnote 2). Evangelion clearly demonstrates this concept though LCL, or Link Connected Liquid, it is the “soup of life.” In the unitary world of meaning the Japanese saw the world as it was, they did not look for another world of meaning beyond their world. They believed all mankind was connected. Consider the “Angel” concept from Evangelion. There are eighteen Angels ranging from bacteria to a giant orbiting bomb. In the beginning, Adam and Lilith created the Angels, they were all prototypes of what could be the dominant race. Mankind is the eighteenth Angel. We are one Angel, the eighteenth. However, how can there be around six billion separate humans, yet be one Angel? This is because the series Evangelion proposes the consept that all humanity is one. Our own A.T. Fields separates us. That is what keeps us apart. The Human Complementation Project broke down our A.T. Fields. This turned all of humanity into one big soup. “According to the words spoken by Fuyutsuki in Episode 26, the opening of the Chamber of Gaf is synonymous with the opening of the door to the world’s beginning and end. When this door opened, the surface of the Earth turned to L.C.L, and people were also no longer able to maintain their individual life forms and were reduced to L.C.L.” (Red Cross Book). Also, a phrase spoken by the members of SEELE in Episode 26 when the Geo Front reverts into the Egg of Lilith - the “Black Moon” was the Red Earth Purification Ceremony. “Misogi” is a religious ceremony in which the body is purified by bathing in water -- and thus by extension refers to any means used to purify or sanctify a certain object. While there are theories that the etymology of “Adam”, the progenitor of the human race, is “red” or “earth”, its connection with “Red Earth” is for the most parts, unclear.
One concept that makes Evangelion interesting that it has unquestionably a Shinto theme yet has a Christian/European “skin”. Another thing that adds to the impressive intricacies of the story line is the undeniable references to Christian beliefs, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Genesis story, etc.. Consider this poem:
from Pippa Passes
THE year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!
“God’s in His heaven – All’s right with the world!” may not seem like something that would be on a logo from Japanese anime for it is referring to monotheism. Moreover, the poet, Robert Browning, was a mid-nineteenth century Englishman, not Japanese. However, it is on the NERV logo in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Neon Genesis Evangelion is an anime that has a European style skin but its substance is very Japanese.
When Shinji Ikari destroyed the first Angel, . It’s explosion clearly showed a cross, in the exact proportions as the traditional cross that Jesus is on. It may be somewhat startling at first when you see the bright blue explosion in that perfect shape. This is another aspect on how they mixed the Shinto and Christian aspects.
Evangelion also makes a reference to the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge, and the Tree of Sephiroth. In the beginning, all the Angels had a choice of eating from the Tree of Life or the Tree of Wisdom. The eighteenth Angel, us, is the only ones to eat from the Tree of Wisdom.
A symbolic figure in Kabbalism (A esoteric sect of Judaism centering around mystical interpretations of the Torah) representing in essence a 3-dimensional image of the spiritual realm in the form of a diagram. This same diagram is also drawn in Gendou Ikari’s office. The figure is comprised of ten spheres linked by 22 paths, and shows the route for humans to attain the highest possible spiritual level. It is said that this figure can be interpreted in various ways: as a step-by-step diagram for meditation, a map leading to wisdom, or a prediction of humankind's future, etc. In End of Evangelion EVA Unit 01 and the mass production Eva series form a giant Tree of Sephiroth in the sky.
1) A.T. Field: “Abbreviation of ‘Absolute Terror Field’. An absolute domain deployed by the Angels and Eva that forms a physical barrier. This field boasts enormous defensive power, and is able to greatly diminish the power of all weapons. The Eva’s ability to neutralize A.T. Fields is a major reason why they were viewed as the only weapon capable of countering the Angels. However, not only Angels and Eva, but also humans possess A.T. Fields, and it is these A.T. Fields that separate humans from each other and give them their physical forms. Nagisa Kaworu described A.T. Fields as ‘the barrier of the heart that everybody has.’” (Red Cross Book)
The following is original text by myself, creator of the Omni Strain website. It was used for my term paper in a Japanese Culture class at UF. Please do not post this text anywhere.
2) Unitary World of Meaning: The ancient Japanese saw the natural world as the only world. They did not look for another "order of meaning" (Kitagawa, Joseph) behind the natural world. They viewed the natural world as a one-dimensional meaning structure, or kami. Kami refers to both good and evil beings that are worthy of reverence. The unitary world of meaning in ancient Japan is also evident in their primeval myths concerning a three-dimensional cosmos. They believed in the Yakama-no-hara, the Utsu-shio, and the Yomotsu-kuni, or the high heaven, the manifest world, and the nether world, respectively. This may seem to conflict with their one-dimensional meaning structure of nature, but it actually complements it. The reams of being are interchangeable. Certain kami and heroes could move back and forth between the realms interchangeably. People could reach between the realms of the spirits and their own realm though channels of communication such as oracles and fortune telling.
When Buddhism was introduced to the Japanese their unitary meaning structure was greatly enriched. It brought into their beliefs different realms of existence and different concepts previously unimagined by the Japanese. However, the spirit of Japan’s unitary meaning structure was never destroyed. It has made it to the present day though various doctrines and “new” religions.
There are countless other references to the Judeo-Christian tradition in Evanelion that I do not have the time nor space to go into more detail about, such as the Spear of Longinus and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Kitagawa, Joseph: On Understanding Japanese Religion, Princeton University Press exerpted from Japanese Culture: Primary Sources compiled by Dr. J. Murphy, the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The Red Cross Book: (c) Gainex pamplet with terminology pertaining to Neon Genesis Evangelion that was distributed upon the release of the movie End of Evagelion.
Evangelion Charactes: Quotes from the Neon Genesis Evangelion series and movies.