Can someone please explain the symbolism in this series?

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Fri Jan 07, 2011 5:42 am

View Original PostOrnette wrote:My point is that on the surface, it's very easy to come away with thinking the symbolism is there to look cool.
If you don't spend your time thinking about something then "it's just there to look cool" is a very easy conclusion to reach about any form of visual fiction. Know all the special effects in 2001? They're all just there to look cool. They have no other purpose or meaning. It's true because I say so and I haven't spent any time thinking about it.

Note: I'm not directing this at you, Ornette, but just this attitude in general and the people that do happen to hold it. It's frustrating that even on this forum, no matter how many times this topic comes up and I address it, everyone seems inclined to repeat these old, unfounded axioms while ignoring anything else to the contrary, no matter how much evidence is presented.
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We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby Allemann » Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:51 am

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:Note: I'm not directing this at you, Ornette, but just this attitude in general and the people that do happen to hold it. It's frustrating that even on this forum, no matter how many times this topic comes up and I address it, everyone seems inclined to repeat these old, unfounded axioms while ignoring anything else to the contrary, no matter how much evidence is presented.


A forum member's subjective opinions against the official word of the makers. Whom should I believe more?

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Postby Xard » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:09 am

View Original PostAllemann wrote:A forum member's subjective opinions against the official word of the makers. Whom should I believe more?


There IS however widely misunderstood point regarding religious symbolism in NGE: Tsurumaki et al denied that they have any religious meaning - they didn't say they have no meaning at all.
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
Eva Yojimbo: You really are the Otaku equivalent of a Catholic and Jew rolled up into one giant dakimakura of guilt.
Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby Allemann » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:11 am

View Original PostXard wrote:There IS however widely misunderstood point regarding religious symbolism in NGE: Tsurumaki et al denied that they have any religious meaning - they didn't say they have no meaning at all.


Tsurumaki wrote:(...) we just thought the visual symbols of Christianity look cool (...)

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:28 am

View Original PostAllemann wrote:A forum member's subjective opinions against the official word of the makers. Whom should I believe more?
Except, how are my opinions "subjective" when I'm creating strong, substantial links between the symbolism and the series' themes? How does the "looks cool" comment account for all the religious symbolism THAT ISN'T EVEN SHOWN? And since when did Tsurumaki become a mouthpiece for Anno's mind? None of these three things can be accounted for with Tsurumaki's comment, not to mention all of my rantings about the fallibility and limitations of artistic intention and whatnot. If we were all hung up on what the creators have said then we'd be looking at NGE as just another cute girl and giant robot anime.

Succinctly put: Tsurumaki's comment doesn't gel with what what we're shown (and, in some cases, NOT shown) in the series itself. Get over it, and learn to address arguments with something more substantial than a one-line, potentially off-hand, out-of-context comment from an assistant director who didn't actually write and direct in the first place. .
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We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby Xard » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:33 am

View Original PostAllemann wrote:


Allemann, you're above selective quoting :(
There is no actual Christian meaning to the show, we just thought the visual symbols of Christianity look cool.
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
Eva Yojimbo: You really are the Otaku equivalent of a Catholic and Jew rolled up into one giant dakimakura of guilt.
Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby Allemann » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:53 am

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:Except, how are my opinions "subjective" when I'm creating strong, substantial links between the symbolism and the series' themes?


You're creating internally consistent but fully subjective interpretations. Just because your speculations are internally consistent doesn't argue for or warrant their reality.

How does the "looks cool" comment account for all the religious symbolism THAT ISN'T EVEN SHOWN?


Such as? It doesn't change anything.

And since when did Tsurumaki become a mouthpiece for Anno's mind?


He's a legitimate member of the production team. Other people have also contributed beside your beloved "auteur". Furthermore, Anno himself said he picked the term Evangelion because it has sounded complex to him. They both confirm each other.

None of these three things can be accounted for with Tsurumaki's comment, not to mention all of my rantings about the fallibility and limitations of artistic intention and whatnot.


Why should we give weight to your rantings?

If we were all hung up on what the creators have said then we'd be looking at NGE as just another cute girl and giant robot anime.


And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. :peace:

Get over it, and learn to address arguments with something more substantial than a one-line, potentially off-hand, out-of-context comment from an assistant director who didn't actually write and direct in the first place.


And you shouldn't fallaciously and feebly dismiss out of hand things that endanger to refute your beliefs.

Xard wrote:Allemann, you're above selective quoting :(


The full quote doesn't change the original meaning.

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Postby Jornophelanthas » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:55 am

Yes, the visual symbols look cool. This means the cross-shaped explosions and floating cabbalistic schemata look cool.

However, that does not mean the other religious symbols are meaningless. These are certain names and terminologies (e.g. "Angels", "Evangelion", "Adam", "Lilith") and situations and events that reflect religious narratives (e.g. crucifixion, the connection between Eve and motherhood).

No, I do not believe NGE is making a religious statement with these.

Yes, I do believe the religious symbolism serves a purpose beyond "looking cool". This purpose, in my opinion, is first to emphasize the Freudian and Jungian psycho-analysis. And secondly, to provide an apocalyptic atmosphere. See some examples below.

As for the psycho-analysis:
Evangelion is a metaphor for the mother's womb. Lilith is a metaphor for the (true) mother of humankind. Evangelion (Eve) is created by cloning Adam's tissue (created from Adam's rib). Adam (the biblical father of humanity) is linked closely to Gendo (who is the stereotypical Freudian father figure). I'm sure something meaningful could be said about a psycho-analytical comparison between Rei Ayanami ("the woman who does not bleed") and the Virgin Mary. Shinji is both a Christ figure (suffering for the sins of humanity) and a representation of the Freudian ego.

As for the apocalyptic atmosphere:
The Angels are heralds of the end times. Both Lilith's crucifixion throughout the series and Shinji's/Unit-01's crucifixion in EoE represent their being martyred for the sins of humanity. Second Impact (as the Great Deluge) culled humanity as punishment for their pride (the Katsuragi expedition).

My point here is to merely list these examples as support for the underlined statements above, which is why I do not argue these themes in more detail. (The merits of each of these examples may potentially be discussed in a dedicated discussion thread. Personally, I do not feel the urge to start one at this moment.)

Bottom line: I believe NGE is a story with philosophical - not religious - value. And yes, it also entertains.

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Postby Xard » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:58 am

They chose judeochristian symbolism because it looked cool and mysterious way back in early preproduction, yes. Nothing in that quote indicates anything about how it was used, however. And it requires great deal of selective ignorance to claim the symbolism never ever accounts to anything, particularly in EoE
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
Eva Yojimbo: You really are the Otaku equivalent of a Catholic and Jew rolled up into one giant dakimakura of guilt.
Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby Allemann » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:02 am

View Original PostJornophelanthas wrote:Evangelion is a metaphor for the mother's womb. Lilith is a metaphor for the (true) mother of humankind. Evangelion (Eve) is created by cloning Adam's tissue (created from Adam's rib). Adam (the biblical father of humanity) is linked closely to Gendo (who is the stereotypical Freudian father figure). I'm sure something meaningful could be said about a psycho-analytical comparison between Rei Ayanami ("the woman who does not bleed") and the Virgin Mary. Shinji is both a Christ figure (suffering for the sins of humanity) and a representation of the Freudian ego.

The Angels are heralds of the end times. Both Lilith's crucifixion throughout the series and Shinji's/Unit-01's crucifixion in EoE represent their being martyred for the sins of humanity. Second Impact (as the Great Deluge) culled humanity as punishment for their pride (the Katsuragi expedition).

My point here is to merely list these examples as support for the underlined statements above, which is why I do not argue these themes in more detail. (The merits of each of these examples may potentially be discussed in a dedicated discussion thread. Personally, I do not feel the urge to start one at this moment.)


To an average Japanese - who is knowledgeable about Christianity as much as westerners are about Shinto - these metaphors go over their heads. Don't forget: the series wasn't expected to be aired outside Japan.

Xard wrote:they chose judeochristian symbolism because it looked cool and mysterious way back in early preproduction, yes.


Tsurumaki said this in 2001.

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:31 am

@Allemann  SPOILER: Show
View Original PostAllemann wrote:You're creating internally consistent but fully subjective interpretations.
Did you know that it's also fully subjective that Misato and Kaji had sex? True story. The series never explicitly tells us this. It's also fully subjective that piloting Eva represents returning to the womb, that Instrumentality is a metaphor for death, that Shinji is introverted, that water and the moon is associated with Rei, that Rei is associated with Yui, that Shinji masturbated to Asuka (maybe it WAS just mayo on his hands!), that there's a red/blue motif in the series, etc. Are you going to start denying all of these too?

View Original PostAllemann wrote:Such as? It doesn't change anything.
Genesis, Fruit of Life/Knowledge, God... pretty much any religious reference that's thrown out but never shown. How do things we're never shown LOOK cool?

View Original PostAllemann wrote:He's a legitimate member of the production team.
So is a VA. It doesn't mean their interpretations of all the series' elements are actually accurate.

View Original PostAllemann wrote:Anno himself said he picked the term Evangelion because it has sounded complex to him.
And I wouldn't argue that "Evangelion" has any significance (though "Neon Genesis" certainly does).

View Original PostAllemann wrote:Why should we give weight to your rantings?
Why should we give weight to any interpretation? Maybe because some seem to fit with the facts of the series?

View Original PostAllemann wrote:And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Your idea of "the truth" is turning off your brain and believing what someone else tells you even though you've taken that something completely out of context and there's a mountain of evidence for an alternate interpretation. Gee, why does that scenario sound familiar?

View Original PostAllemann wrote:And you shouldn't fallaciously and feebly dismiss out of hand things that endanger to refute your beliefs.
What have I fallaciously and feebly dismissed? Even your partner in crime, Xard, is calling you out for "selective ignorance".

View Original PostAllemann wrote:The full quote doesn't change the original meaning.
Picking symbolism because "it looks cool" and saying "it doesn't have any religious meaning" does not equate to "it has absolutely no meaning or purpose". Any idiot could see that, even on a superficial level, the symbolism connects with aspects of the narrative. In which case it would act as symbolic reinforcement which, again, is doing more than "looking cool". The stone-cold FACTS of the series contradict the quote. Are you telling me that all of the connections people like myself, Carl Horn, Jornophelanthas and others have pointed out are mere coincidence?

View Original PostAllemann wrote:To an average Japanese - who is knowledgeable about Christianity as much as westerners are about Shinto - these metaphors go over their heads..
So? The majority of the allusions in The Waste Land and Ulysses go over people's heads, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. And you (or anybody, actually) still haven't presented a single argument as to why any interpretation of the symbolism that's been given is actually fallacious, invalid, untrue, or wrong-headed on any level. By YOUR argument, I could write a poem about flowers and say it wasn't about flowers and that would be enough to convince you.
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^ Writing as Jonathan Henderson ^
We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby Xard » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:34 am

View Original PostAllemann wrote:To an average Japanese - who is knowledgeable about Christianity as much as westerners are about Shinto - these metaphors go over their heads. Don't forget: the series wasn't expected to be aired outside Japan.


Otakus are obsessive information sponges. All the religious haberdashery in the show is largerly baiting them and acted as "eastern eggs" for true fanatics who went on to study the details. I think it really is a trap for otakus to large extent and people like Jimbo have gleefully walked straight into it which would propably make Anno just frustrated at fan stupidity.

Stuff about Adam and Eve etc. are well known in Japan too, though. They're references so often even in anime much older than NGE too.


View Original PostAllemann wrote:Tsurumaki said this in 2001.


I don't see how that is relevant. The inclusion of lolkabbalah et al happened really early on in the development cycle.
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
Eva Yojimbo: You really are the Otaku equivalent of a Catholic and Jew rolled up into one giant dakimakura of guilt.
Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby A.T. Fish » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:43 am

EvaYojimbo wrote:And I wouldn't argue that "Evangelion" has any significance (though "Neon Genesis" certainly does).


Really? I've always been curious about this, since in any Latin derived language speaking country the word Evangelion would be considered to have religious meaning. Is it different for english speakers? Or do you get the meaning of this word?

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:42 am

View Original PostA.T. Fish wrote:Really? I've always been curious about this, since in any Latin derived language speaking country the word Evangelion would be considered to have religious meaning. Is it different for english speakers? Or do you get the meaning of this word?
Well, yes, Evangelion has the same root as "Evangelical" which means "gospel" or "good news", but there's very little of either in NGE. My point was that I don't think the name has any greater significance in the series itself other than to tie itself in with the other religious allusions.
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We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby A.T. Fish » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:17 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Well, yes, Evangelion has the same root as "Evangelical" which means "gospel" or "good news", but there's very little of either in NGE. My point was that I don't think the name has any greater significance in the series itself other than to tie itself in with the other religious allusions.


Actually, if I may fanwank a bit on the religious meaning it has to the series, I'd say the entire title of the show kind of resumes one of it's key aspects. "Neon Genesis Evangelion" can roughly be translated as "Gospel of the new beginning", meaning it would be a story depicting how this new beginning happened, which is pretty much what the show covers (3rd impact, instrumentality and the "reset" of life in the entire planet).

Also, IIRC, in the end o EoE it is said Eva-01 will remain as evidence that humanity existed, thus making him a Gospel (Evangelium) of the story of humanity.

However, I'm part of the team that doesn't lend much significance to the religious stuff in Evangelion. I think it is probably the result of Anno's attempt to use the religious references consistently (he certainly did his research) which ended up making them feel authentic and deeper.

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Postby Carl Horn » Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:30 pm

Tsurumaki has also said that the extra footage in the Director's Cut isn't all that important, and was mainly put in to apologize to the fans who waited for the video release--yet there are still plenty of fans who use that footage to help them understand the series. Tsurumaki also said that fans shouldn't "drag the past around" and become fixated on Evangelion, and that we should "find the next thing that interests you." And yet, in 2011 here we are--and for that matter, here is Tsurumaki, still making new Evangelion.

I've also wondered about Tsurumaki saying if Gainax had known Eva would be released in the West, they might have thought twice about using these religious elements. After all, at the time Evangelion entered production, all of the previous professional works of Gainax had already been licensed in English; Gunbuster by U.S. Renditions in 1990; Nadia by Streamline Pictures in 1992; Otaku no Video by AnimEigo in 1993; The Wings of Honneamise by Manga Entertainment in 1994. Gainax had been guests of honor at AnimeCon '91 (the ancestor of today's AnimeExpo), and for several years operated a U.S. company, General Products, that made active efforts to reach U.S. fans. The idea that Westerners would never see or license their long-awaited return to anime, Evangelion, seems like a strange one. Moreover, ADV Films licensed Eva even before the TV show had finished airing in Japan. So you would think that once it was clear these religious elements were going to be seen by Westerners, Gainax would scale them back or lay off them in The End of Evangelion; instead, they upped the ante--not just cross-shaped explosions; now it turns out that everyone's soul just happens to look like a cross!

I'm not trying to jump on Tsurumaki; sometimes I think FLCL was the best anime of the 2000s. Things change, and Evangelion is the creation of more than one person--Anno said from the beginning that where it would go would depend on the feelings of the staff, not just his own feelings. That's how Gainax has worked, traditionally, with a collective element to its creativity, instead of one person's master plan that has to be carried out exactly. But that's one of the reasons I think it's better to judge Evangelion for what it actually contains--the actual dialogue, the actual visuals.

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:50 am

View Original PostCarl Horn wrote:But that's one of the reasons I think it's better to judge Evangelion for what it actually contains--the actual dialogue, the actual visuals.
No kidding. Not to start beating a perhaps-soon-to-be-dead-horse, but Xard hit the nail on the head when he said that it would take some real selective ignorance to argue that the religious symbolism doesn't have any meaning in EoE, especially. I'd argue it has meaning all throughout the series, but it merely doesn't become clear until EoE.

View Original PostA.T. Fish wrote:"Neon Genesis Evangelion" can roughly be translated as "Gospel of the new beginning", meaning it would be a story depicting how this new beginning happened, which is pretty much what the show covers
Well, I think the "New Beginning/Origins/Genesis" part is much more significant than the "Gospel" part of the equation. The thing about the Gospel part is that there's not much preaching or "good news" delivering in the series. I guess we can think of it as an allegorical/metaphoric gospel in the "book/fiction/narrative" sense, but the word "gospel" just has all kinds of connotations that don't really fit in with what NGE is doing in any significant way. Same can't be said for many of the other religious symbols/allusions.

View Original PostA.T. Fish wrote:I'm part of the team that doesn't lend much significance to the religious stuff in Evangelion.
Have you read my interpretations?
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^ Writing as Jonathan Henderson ^
We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby A.T. Fish » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:27 am

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Have you read my interpretations?


Not really, are they in the wiki?

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Postby Allemann » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:38 am

Eva Yojimbo
SPOILER: Show
View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:Did you know that it's also fully subjective that Misato and Kaji had sex? True story. The series never explicitly tells us this. It's also fully subjective that piloting Eva represents returning to the womb, that Instrumentality is a metaphor for death, that Shinji is introverted, that water and the moon is associated with Rei, that Rei is associated with Yui, that Shinji masturbated to Asuka (maybe it WAS just mayo on his hands!), that there's a red/blue motif in the series, etc. Are you going to start denying all of these too?


Why should I? And what does this have to do with religious symbolism? I'm discussing that subject in particular. Tagging me as someone who denies any meaning in Evangelion above the literal is fallacious and dishonest.

Genesis, Fruit of Life/Knowledge, God... pretty much any religious reference that's thrown out but never shown. How do things we're never shown LOOK cool?


They SOUND cool.

So is a VA. It doesn't mean their interpretations of all the series' elements are actually accurate.


Only in Jimbo's world are an assistant director and a voice actor equivocated in terms of contribution to the film. The man was there and interacted with Anno and the rest of the working staff on a daily and personal level. He even talks in third person, alluding that those decision were made on a collective level whose legitimate member he was.

Tell me, Jimbo, will you now start denying Anno's explanations of various decisions in making NGE-erm, I mean "interpretations" when it doesn't suit your ideology?

And I wouldn't argue that "Evangelion" has any significance (though "Neon Genesis" certainly does).


Just another evasion from your side.

Why should we give weight to any interpretation? Maybe because some seem to fit with the facts of the series?


We're aren't (at least not I) talking about any interpretation. We're talking here about your intepretation. And you don't give any reason why we should give weight to your intrepretations, especially when it explicitly contradicts official statements regarding some aspect of NGE. Why listen to Jimbo over to the original staff? Why?

Your idea of "the truth" is turning off your brain and believing what someone else tells you even though you've taken that something completely out of context


I just list official statements on the matter and let them speak for themselves. I try my best not to project me into it, and I contain myself from adding anything over or above it.

and there's a mountain of evidence for an alternate interpretation.


Are you such a postmodernist that even the author's ideas behind his works are only interpretations and on equal footing with an interpretation of some fan? With that kind of attitude you make yourself outside critical appraisal and a possible refutation.

What have I fallaciously and feebly dismissed? Even your partner in crime, Xard, is calling you out for "selective ignorance".


Using adjectives as "one-line", "potentially off-hand", "out-of-context" shows you can't refute the quote, so you resort to unwarranted dismissal and snarky tone.

Picking symbolism because "it looks cool" and saying "it doesn't have any religious meaning" does not equate to "it has absolutely no meaning or purpose".


You're attacking a straw man, Jimbo. Of course it does serve a purpose. The development staff wanted that their show stands out from other mecha shows by using idiosyncratic names and symbols from a minority religion in their homeland. But beyond that it doesn't have any additional function.

Any idiot could see that, even on a superficial level, the symbolism connects with aspects of the narrative. In which case it would act as symbolic reinforcement which, again, is doing more than "looking cool".


None of this can be right. Reinforcement implies prior familiarity with the content, which barely any Japanese has when it comes to Christianity (not to mention Kabbalah and apocryphal documents, which are knowable only to specialists even in the West). There's no reinforcement taking place. And religious symbols can reinforce only religious themes because that is what symbols do by definition. As NGE isn't a show about religion, those religious references aren't symbols and can't be treated as such.

Your problem is that you're confusing signs and symbols. Let me explain this to you from a structuralist perspective. Following de Saussure's ideas, there's a crucial difference between a symbol and a sign. They both consist of a signifier and the signified, but the difference is that in the latter, the link between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary, and by that I mean that there is nothing in the signifier itself that leads to the signified. Symbols, on the other hand, do have a minimal link between the two elements. When Anno is using religious references, he's using them as signifiers in sings, not symbols. The relation between Adam (signifier) and a glowing giant (signified) is an arbitrary relation. Adam isn't supposed to reinforce the notion of the first man according to Genesis, but to lead solely to a giant, extraterrestrial being. The same can be said of true symbols regarding the mecha genre and the Otaku subculture, but which we interpret only as signs because we don't live in Japan.

Once again, Anno used signifiers from religious symbols for creating his signs. Those signs don't summon any additional ideas like the virgin birth, sin, or martyrdom. They only direct towards onscreen extraterrestrial beings, with any summoning of religious ideas in peoples' minds as incidental, since Anno or anybody else from Gainax didn't expect Westerners would someday watch Evangelion.

The mistake you're making is that you treat signs as symbols instead of the intended opposite due to the reinforcement the religious signifiers have on you as a person raised in a Judeo-Christian culture. If Gainax knew what conundrum would the usage of those signifiers cause, as Tsurumaki informs, they would use other groups of signifiers to make wholes that would be interpreted only as signs over both sides of the Pacific.

Are you telling me that all of the connections people like myself, Carl Horn, Jornophelanthas and others have pointed out are mere coincidence?


Yes. Evangelion is a sufficiently vague show, and with not having plenty of official things that were never shown outside of Japan, our desire to have some meaning (humans are meaning machines) lets our creative faculty run rampantly.

So? The majority of the allusions in The Waste Land and Ulysses go over people's heads, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.


And just because you discover an alleged allusion it doesn't mean it's there.

The point is that Jornophelantas's claims of martyrdom for humanity's sin, the Virgin Mary, Shinji as a Christ figure, etc. are false. There are no allusions to them. Anno and co. are not interested in transmitting those ideas or connecting them with the pure S.F. plot that Evangelion only is. The religious symbols are embroidery around a secular story. You, people, repeatedly forget to put off your western-centric glasses and position yourself in the perspective of native Japanese watching the show on TV.

And you (or anybody, actually) still haven't presented a single argument as to why any interpretation of the symbolism that's been given is actually fallacious, invalid, untrue, or wrong-headed on any level.


I did. Tsurumaki's statement.

By YOUR argument, I could write a poem about flowers and say it wasn't about flowers and that would be enough to convince you.


It would. You're the author.

Xard wrote:Otakus are obsessive information sponges. All the religious haberdashery in the show is largerly baiting them and acted as "eastern eggs" for true fanatics who went on to study the details.


Could you give us, then, link to Japanese sites which analyse the religious haberdashery?

Stuff about Adam and Eve etc. are well known in Japan too, though. They're references so often even in anime much older than NGE too.


I know that, Xard, I've watched other anime next to NGE. But the question is if NGE usage of religious references is different from prior usage, which was, in most cases, as embroidery and nothing more.

I don't see how that is relevant. The inclusion of lolkabbalah et al happened really early on in the development cycle.


The rest of your post implies that later on they changed their mind and used those references for some deeper meaning, but the year of that quote reveals those references were used only for the desire to stand out from others and be hip.

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Postby Xard » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:31 pm

View Original PostAllemann wrote:Could you give us, then, link to Japanese sites which analyse the religious haberdashery?


Can't into moonrunes well enough for that :(

And I doubt one would find such sites anymore and my knowledge of Japanese anime sites circa 1995 is next to nil

It is however a fact Japanese fandom transcends us in sheer batshit insanity by far. And if the current levels of fanwank and speculation going on for Star Driver on 2chan are any indication NGE fanwank must be downright frightening. Japanese fans are after all the people who managed to freak Anno out with their theory that Misato shot Kaji - based solely on the way scenes were edited next to each other.

What kind of havoc they created before Anno told in interviews after series it was all in there for kewlness I can't even begin to imagine.

Well, at the very least we have this SZS sketch that well defined effect eva could have on its viewers

View Original PostAllemann wrote:I know that, Xard, I've watched other anime next to NGE. But the question is if NGE usage of religious references is different from prior usage, which was, in most cases, as embroidery and nothing more.


I was responding to claim they'd fly straight over their heads (something that doesn't exactly trouble Anno in NGE in general, to be honest).

View Original PostAllemann wrote:The rest of your post implies that later on they changed their mind and used those references for some deeper meaning, but the year of that quote reveals those references were used only for the desire to stand out from others and be hip.


No, not "later". The religious elements are used purposefully from the start. Even if we'd exclude the possibility of any thematic meaning being conveyed via the symbols what Carl Horn said would stand undeniably true.

There's great deal of internal logic and consistency in usage of religious symbolism in NGE. It's not asspulling and throwing shit at the wall and hoping something will stick to it.

It's worth pointing out that Yamaga once expressed relief once that Anno had decided to go with Christian instead of Buddhist symbolism in general because latter option would've been far too dangerous in Aum Shinrikyo'd atmosphere. Given that there are many of more Buddhist concerns and thought in eva under the western surface it's not like religious aspects are entirely "just there". Practical concerns in choice of symbols must also be considered
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
Eva Yojimbo: You really are the Otaku equivalent of a Catholic and Jew rolled up into one giant dakimakura of guilt.
Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.


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