Yoko Takahashi’s, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” is one of the most well known songs in Japan and is the theme song of the popular 1995 television series called “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. Evangelion is about a 14 year old boy named Shinji Ikari who is recruited by his father to pilot a giant robot in order to combat the violent angels that are trying to take out humanity. This whole song is about the main character, Shinji and his issues with his self-worth. The creator of this series, Hideaki Anno, commissioned the artist so that the theme song could fit the philosophical themes of Evangelion.
Young boy, like a cruel angel,
Live up to be a legend…
One of the most interesting parts of this song is the way it uses oxymorons. It describes angels as “cruel” even though they are perceived as higher beings that exercise knowledge and love in our society today. This description of the angels shows how the people in the show think about the angels, because they constantly destroy and kill. The legend part refers to the battle that Shinji is fighting against the angels, if he defeats them, he will become a legend, and throughout this show, he enjoys this praise since he has abandonment issues.
Too involved in yearning for
Something to hold on
The innocent eyes still know nothing of fate yet.
This part talks about the innocence Shinji still has, foreshadowing the misery that it is fated to come later on in the show and in his life.
A cruel angel’s thesis
Will someday fly high from the window
If memories are betrayed by
The overflowing, burning pathos (emotions).
Holding the sky in your arms,
Young boy, shine like a legend.
This is the chorus of the song, and it serves as a way to encourage Shinji that even in the darkest times of his life, he is destined for greatness. No matter how miserable your memories may be of your past, you still have a chance to prove yourself to others as worthy. The word “Legend” is also repeated again in a maternal like tone, reassuring that although Shinji feels unworthy, he is still worthy of praise and will become known as a hero.
If there is any meaning
In the fate that pulled us together,
Then I am, yes, the Bible
That teaches you of freedom.
Here fate is mentioned once again, and is mentioned with religious references. Shinji is shown to be in the lowest part of his life mentally during the time in which he is recruited to pilot and figth against the angels. However, there is something that keeps him strong when he is at his lowest, and that being his mother. Fate brought him there and his mother will always be there in his mind in order to guide him to be free of the mental challenges he faces and his issues with self worth. No matter what and no matter how terrible he feels, he is encouraged by this maternal voice that will guide him to self-love.
This show is truly great and deals with Freudianism and reminds me a lot of The Stranger and the topics we have discussed in the past weeks. I wish I could re-watch this amazing show again for the first time.
6 thoughts on “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis”
I have never seen this show, but your analysis of the theme song really makes me want to watch it. The oxymoron “cruel angel” really stood out to me as I think it could be a good descriptor of many “heroes” in pop culture. For example, societies fixation on the anti-hero.
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I really appreciate this as it introduces something new to me while giving me an in-depth take on a huge part of the show. It appears as the show put a lot of meaning into this song and it really creates true poetry.
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I love how you took a song that is not familiar to a lot of people but broke it down in such a way that it is digestible by everyone. While I have never seen the show, I feel like I can now understand a little of what it gets at.
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This makes me want to go watch the show! It seems very interesting and philosophical, and I love the way you explained the meaning of the song while also intertwining it with the show. I enjoy the way that the dark side of something commonly known to be good and holy is shown, that is very poetic.
I thought that your analysis gave me just enough relevant information to understand the context without spoiling anything. The definition of poetry as beautiful in its humanity stood out to me in this piece. Struggle with self worth is human, and the song makes you experience that struggle.
hey i know this is from 3 years ago but your take is dogshit and you should really read more philosophy books or at least read up on the philosophical basis of evangelion before u project the literal shit diarrhea inside of your brain onto another person’s creative work. ur interpretation isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just so fucking surface level and obvious that it couldn’t be what the writers intended.