Tenshi no Tamago - Mania.com

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment, Japan
  • MSRP: ¥5800
  • Running time: 71
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tenshi no Tamago

Tenshi no Tamago


Tenshi no Tamago
© Geneon Entertainment, Japan

What They Say
Mamoru Oshii, the filmmaker extraordinaire, created one of the most dreamy and ethereal anime films ever made, with characters designed by Yoshitaka Amano. The style is minimalistic in terms of dialogue and characters, and Oshii centers the film on visual imagery and hypnotic music.

The Review!
A surreal, existentialist work, Tenshi no Tamago is a haunting and thought-provoking film by Mamoru Oshii. Eschewing traditional narrative and dialogue, and brimming with religious and philosophical metaphor, this is a rich and complex movie that rewards careful examination with uncounted revelations. The impatient viewer, however, will be stymied by the slow pacing and the deliberately mysterious nature of the show.

Technical review:

The transfer quality of the video is amazing. It is hard to believe this film was made in 1985 ? the sharpness of the image and the subtlety of the colouration are impeccable. There are only a very few film defects discernible. Reference quality stuff.

The audio side of things fare slightly worse. The original mono soundtrack is fine, but the remastered stereo track suffers from a slight reduction in dialogue volume. As there are less than 30 lines of dialogue in this film, this is not usually a problem. Both tracks faithfully reproduce the haunting and beautiful musical score.

It is also worth noting that there are no English subtitles available. While this would normally be a major consideration, the fact that there is so little dialogue in the film makes it a trifling matter to download an English script. An unexpected bonus is that the menus are in English, making navigation a breeze.

Content Review.

Tenshi no Tamago is a surreal and dreamlike film that explains little to the viewer. Instead, it provides haunting and beautiful sequences that will challenge the viewer to achieve insight and understanding. However, its rich, complex layers offer many rewards for careful inspection.

The visual style of the film is breathtaking. Made in collaboration with Yoshitaka Amano, the visuals are rich and detailed, with a dramatic use of shadows. Befitting the surreal nature of the film, the majority of the palette is comprised mainly of muted blues that more closely resemble grey. The clever use of this colour scheme conveys a bleakness of the world that recalls Kafka?s works.

The sole exception to the sombre colouring is in the heroine of the film, who breathes a spark of life into the film in her dress of pale rose and pink. Yet it is a fragile vibrancy, one that seems constantly threatened by the overwhelming bleakness of the world around her, a bleakness emphasised by the hero?s own drab colouration.

Amano?s influence is enormous in the visual style of this film. All of his hallmarks are present: delicate, feminine facial features, richly detailed clothes and wispy strands of hair that seem impossible to animate by hand. In fact, this film more closely resembles Amano?s art books than any other film or project he has been involved in to date. The animation, likewise, is amazingly detailed and lifelike. Subtle but powerful use of special effects and beautiful parallax and multi-plane camera work will enthrall you. I sometimes have to remind myself that it was all hand-animated, that?s how amazing it is.

The story itself defies simple description. Rather than explaining anything to the viewer, the actions of the characters and indeed the world itself is presented to the viewer for speculation. In fact, it is the constant speculation of the viewer that creates and interprets the narrative of the film. The film is full of religious symbolism and metaphors, and the identification of these hidden facets brings new understanding to the film. As such, it is a film that rewards multiple viewings and much introspection. Because it is interpreted rather than experienced, the film will be different for every viewer, and may even be different to the same viewer on repeated viewings.

The film opens with a set of hands. Seemingly empty, they circumscribe a motion over the surface of some invisible object. One hand recedes, leaving the other facing palm up. As it closes into a fist, we hear a sharp cracking noise of something breaking.

Next, we see a young man bearing a cross over his shoulder, a cross which eerily resembles some sort of weapon. He is standing in a surreal landscape against a blood-red sky. From that sky, a gigantic sphere descends, festooned with human statues and steam pipes resembling gothic cathedrals. In the centre of the sphere is a large, eye-like structure. We hear a young girl?s voice saying, ?Dare? Dare desu-ka?? (Who? Who are you?).

We move on to a young girl, who has just woken up from bed. In the bed with her is a large, white egg the size of her head. She stores the egg in the front of her dress, and leaves her home, which resembles a giant Ark on a hill.

She heads into a deserted-looking town where she meets the young man. There, they encounter the grey, mournful forms of fishermen, who hunt the shadows of giant fish that roam the town. They are always unsuccessful, with their harpoons failing to affect the shadows that swim across the streets and buildings, yet they toil endlessly without seeming to realise the futility of the task. As the film progresses, the film becomes even more metaphorical in nature, with the silent relationship between the girl, the egg and the young man being a central feature.

For anyone who enjoys thought-provoking works and is not afraid to be stimulated into thinking and thinking until their brain turns inside out, I heartily recommend this film. Action junkies or people who cannot live without clear-cut plots should steer clear, however. As for me, this disc is definitely one of the best pieces of work in any medium that I have seen.

Original Japanese Mono soundtrack,Remastered Japanese Stereo soundtrack,Promotional Trailer,Yoshitaka Amano Illustration Gallery,Yoshitaka Amano Character sketch gallery

Review Equipment
Kenwood DVF-3030 DVD Player, Grundig Xentia 82cm 16:9 TV, Sony HTK-215 5.1 Surround system


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