Why does NGE have so many references to the Bible?

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Why does NGE have so many references to the Bible?

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Postby ReiAyanami25 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:02 am

Anyone got any ideas or opinions?

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Postby Mr. Tines » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:17 am

When asked at Otakon 2001 to explain the symbolism of the cross in NGE, Tsurumaki (assistant director of NGE and director of the Air part of EoE) replied:

There are a lot of giant robot shows in Japan, and we did want our story to have a religious theme to help distinguish us. Because Christianity is an uncommon religion in Japan we thought it would be mysterious. None of the staff who worked on Eva are Christians. There is no actual Christian meaning to the show; we just thought the visual symbols of Christianity look cool. If we had known the show would get distributed in the US and Europe we might have rethought that choice.


Also, the following was posted by bochan_bird on the Eva ML long long ago:

According to a very frank and open 40-minute interview by Anno on the NHK TV program Top Runner (www.nhk.org.jp/tr/) about a week or so ago, all religious and philosophical references, while providing a coherent setting for the story, were used for the specific purpose of looking cool and to make Anno & company appear intelligent.

Anno himself called it “pedantry” (the display/parading of one's intelligence), and this is backed up by comments by Tsurumaki and other staff as well. So get over the religious inferences, because THERE IS NO DEEPER MEANING!!!
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Postby ReiAyanami25 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:20 am

Thank you. I just had a feeling that it had some other significance.

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Pretty straightforward. Bl

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Postby Alaska Slim » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:52 am

View Original PostReiAyanami25 wrote:Thank you. I just had a feeling that it had some other significance.

Admittedly, there are arguments for that. A less nominal answer might be to say Christian imagery and terms, like the Freudian and Jungian ones beside them, were used as a vocabulary to describe certain elements or articulating surreal concepts, but that there is no underlying Christian message to the plot.
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Postby 1731298478 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:33 pm

Regarding the subject of the thread, I made an attempt at translating an excerpt from a roundtable featuring Anno and the very famous science fiction writer Sakyo Komatsu, author of Japan Sinks and other works. This is one of the more detailed discussions concerning Anno's use of Christianity, so it may help to answer your question.

I left the word "kokoro" as is at a certain part; it can be rendered "heart," "spirit" and "mind," and I felt that there was no nonviolent way to render it into English in that sort of a context.

Corrections of the translation are highly appreciated, and apologies in advance for any mistakes!

------

小松 「庵野さんの監督した『新世紀エヴァンゲリオン』の中でね、ちょっと気になったことがあるんだ。「エヴァンゲリオン」って言葉自体、キリスト教の終末思想に出てくる考え方なんだけれども、そんな意味合いのタイトルを自分の作品に付けた理由というのは何だったの。」

Komatsu: There's something that I was a bit curious about in the work Anno-san directed, "Shin Seiki Evangelion." The word "Evangelion" itself [connotes] a way of thinking that appears in Christian eschatology. but what was the reason you appended a title with that sort of connotation to your work?

庵野 「実は、そんなに深い意味はないんです(笑)。こう言うと、怒られそうだけれど。もとの言葉の意味は、「勝利の声」とか、確かそういうものですよね。」

Anno: The truth is, it didn't have such a deep meaning. (laughs) Although I seem to get attacked when I say this. The meaning of the original word, if I'm not mistaken, is something like "the cry of victory."

小松 「そうそう。」

Komatsu: Right.

庵野 「実は、その「勝利の声」を聞くというイメージが先にあって。なんか幸せをもたらしてくださいという漠然とした理由でつけたものなんですよ。」

Anno: The truth is, the image of hearing that "cry of victory" came first. [The title] was appended with a vague reason, something like, "please bring about happiness."

小松 「終末思想みたいなものが出てきたのはどうしてなの?」

Komatsu: For what reason did the "eschatological" elements appear [in the work]?

庵野 「その場での思いつきです(笑)。」

Anno: They were made up as I went. (laughs)

小松 「ひどいな、ほんと(笑)。でも、そんな中からあれだけ重厚な物語を描きあげたというのは確かにすげえや。」

Komastu: That's terrible, really. (laughs) But, it's certainly amazing that you created such a serious story [that way]. [?]

編 「『新世紀エヴァンゲリオン』は、これまでいろいろ言われてきましたけれど、神学なり進化論なり、そういったものを一番正面から扱ったアニメだと言えますよね。」

- Up to this point various things have been said about Evangelion, but you could say that it is the anime which deals with things like "theology or evolutionary theory" in the most up-front manner.

庵野 「ただのペダンティズムですよ。」

Anno: [It was] just pedantry.

小松 「じゃあ、特にキリスト教に興味があったというわけじゃあ……。」

Komatsu: So, it's not as if you had a particular interest in Christianity......

庵野 「ないんです。まあ、物語を構築するための便利な素材ですかね。日本には、原則的に宗教はそぐわないと思うんですね。土着感みたいなもの、アニミズムみたいなものしか育たない。生活の中には一見、仏教がベースになっているように見える部分がありますけど、実は葬式の時くらいしか役に立たない。」

Anno: No. I guess it was convenient material for structuring the story. I think that, generally, religion is out of place in Japan. Nothing has grown [in Japan] but "indigenous-feeling" or animistic religions. At first glance, there are parts of daily life that seem to be rooted in Buddhism, but in actuality Buddhism is not useful for much more than funerals.

小松 「日本固有の宗教は、一種のアニミズムだと言われるけど、これは単純な汎アニミズムじゃなくて、山には山の神がいて、川には川の神様がいてという風にね、この世の全てが信仰の対象になってしまうという特徴があるんだ。最初のうちは、こんなものは原始的で恥ずかしいからやめろという意見が、明治時代、それから戦争直後に出てくるんだな。」

Komatsu: It's said that the native religion in Japan is a kind of animism, but it's not just a simple "pan-animism." It's like this: in the mountain there is a god of the mountain, in the river there is a god of the river. Its characteristic is that everything in the world becomes an object of religion. The opinion that this was something primitive and embarrassing that we should stop first emerged in the Meiji Era, and then again just after the war.

編 「庵野さんは、便利な素材とおっしゃいましたけれども、その構造についてはどう思われますか。ニーチェが「神は死んだ」といっても、なら「神を造ろう」というのがSF的な発想じゃないですか。『エヴァンゲリオン』でも、そういった部分がありますよね。」

- Anno-san, you say that it was just convenient material [for structuring the story], but what do you think about that structure? Although Nietzsche said "God is dead," if that's the case, isn't the "SF-like" way of thinking "Let's create a God"? There are parts like this in Evangelion as well.

庵野 「もともと神様は人が造るもんですからね。超越者というのは、いるとは思うんですけど、そのイメージは造られたものにすぎない。人それぞれの神様がいて僕はかまわないと思うんです。ようは宗教を否定するつもりは全然ないんですよ。ただ、みんなが共通の神を持つ必要はないと思ってますね。」

Anno: Because originally God is something created by human beings. I think that there is a transcendent being, but that image was only something fabricated. I don't think it matters that each person has their own God. In short, I do not at all intend to repudiate religion. Only, I don't think it's necessary for everyone to have the same God.

小松 「それからね、ダーウィンの進化論。あれは近代科学の大元になっているけども、最後のところで一番進化しているのは、やはり人間だという部分がある。でも、どうも人間というのは、それほど偉くはないんじゃないかと思ったわけ。だから私は、他にもっと偉いやつがいるかもと考えて、宇宙人がでてくるような設定の物語をSFとして書くようになった訳だ。「勝利の声」ってさっきでたけど、庵野くんは救済についてはどう考えているの?」

Komatsu: And then there is Darwin's evolutionary theory. It's the foundation of modern science; however, there's a sense in which the most evolved [lifeform] in the end is of course the human being. But I wondered if human beings were really that great. Because of that, and thinking that there may be something greater besides [human beings], I ended up writing "science fiction" stories where alien beings appeared. [The phrase] "cry of victory" came up previously; what does Anno-kun think about salvation?

庵野 「『エヴァンゲリオン』にも救済っぽい話は、盛り込んであるんですが、真の救済にはなってないんですよ。あれは人類の行く先はなんだろうということを考えながら、キリスト教的なものを借りてスタートした作品なんです。人の進化とか存在理由について考えながら、人間の行く先について、何かを創ってみようとした感じでしょうか。」

Anno: Evangelion also includes a "salvation-like" story, but it's not true salvation. It was a work where, thinking about the destination of mankind, I began by borrowing elements from Christianity. It's like, thinking about something like the evolution of mankind or the meaning of existence, I tried to make something concerning the destination of mankind.

編 「庵野さんの作品に出てくるのは、人間とはコンタクトしづらいタイプの宇宙人や生命体ですよね。」

- In Anno-san's work, a type of alien or lifeform appears which is painful for human beings to come in contact with.

庵野 「宇宙人は訳の判らないもののほうがリアルでしょう。テレビで見られる宇宙人って、初めて来たはずの地球で、それも日本語を喋ってみせるわけでしょう。こんなのは宇宙人じゃないと思っているから(笑)。」

Anno: It's more real that the aliens be incomprehensible. The aliens you see on television even show that they can speak Japanese on an earth that they are supposed to have come to for the first time. I don't think that something like that is an alien. (laughs)

編 「エヴァとかリリスは知的生命体だったんですかね。」

- I wonder if Eva and Lilith were intelligent life-forms.

庵野 「僕が気にしていたのは、知性の部分というよりも、心があるかないか、そういう部分なんですね。要は魂の問題。心と身体は二元論で語られることが多いけど、僕は表裏一体だと思っているんで。」

Anno: What concerned me more than [them having] intelligence was whether they had a kokoro or not. In short: the problem of the soul [tamashii]. Regarding the kokoro and the body, there are many things that have been said by dualism, but I think that they are two faces of the same thing.

編 「小松さん、魂というか、心の問題についてはどうお考えでしょうか?」

- Komatsu-san, what do you think about the problem of the soul [tamashii] or the kokoro?

小松 「心というのはね、哺乳類ぐらいならば意外に共有できると思っているんだ。でもこれが異星種族となると話は別だろう。知性には、人間とコンタクトできない知性というのもありえる。そういうものを突き詰めていくのがSFの面白さじゃないかな。『宇宙大作戦』みたいな、あんな都合のいい世界だったらいいけど。」

Komatsu: The kokoro, I think, is something that mammals are surprisingly able to share. However, in the case of an alien race, then things are different. Regarding intelligence, it's possible that there are intelligences incapable of contacting human beings. Thinking this through is the appeal of science fiction. It would be nice if the world was convenient in the manner of Star Trek; however...

庵野 「実際に突き詰めるとそうなると思います。『スタートレック』は嫌いじゃないですけど、そんなにはまってはいないんです。なんかアメリカ人の傲慢さが見えててね。行く先の星々の原住民を感化していくというか啓蒙していく話や、最前線の基地では、そこの一番偉い女性とロマンスがある。もう、アメリカの帝国主義そのものという気がしてね。」

Anno: When I really think it through I think that's how it is. I don't hate Star Trek, but I'm not that into it. You can see something of the arrogance of America [in it]. There is a story of influencing or enlightening the native people of the destination planets, or there is a romance with their most admirable woman in a front-line base. I feel like this is American imperialism itself.

小松 「帝国主義というよりも、キリスト教的な正義感の押しつけなんだ。」

Komatsu: More than imperialism, it's the imposition of a Christian sense of justice.

庵野 「なんかこうマルクス主義の人たちが、原始的なものとして描かれてますよね。ああいうアメリカ的な世界観というのには、どうもなじめなくて。エンタープライズ号は、カッコいいと思うんですけどね。」

Anno: It's like Marxists are portrayed as being primitives. I can't get used to that kind of American worldview. I think the Enterprise is cool, but...
Last edited by 1731298478 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:37 am, edited 19 times in total.

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Postby Azathoth » Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:45 pm

lol'd hard at Anno's views on Captain Kirk's mansluttery. I don't know if it's so much "the arrogance of America" as much as it is Gene Roddenberry being a nutbar futurist hippie, but whatever, we'll let the man have his grudge.

Thanks for translating. This is a hell of a lot more useful than Tsurumaki's "durr it looks cool"
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Postby gatotsu911 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:07 pm

So there you have it: Evangelion does contain themes relating to religion, but the significance of the Judeo-Christian imagery only extends as far as illustrating those themes. In attempting to decipher them, it makes more sense to look at the themes of the show and see how the symbols fit into them than to look at the symbols and try to derive the themes of the show.

@Numbers: When was this interview conducted? The site says 2007, but was it made then or merely published then? The reason I ask is because there seems to be some evidence that Anno's outlook on the show (and the explanations he gives for it) has changed over the years, so I'd be curious to know from what point in his career these statements were taken.
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Postby ReiAyanami25 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:16 pm

I didn't actually think that anyone would reply to my very first post. Are all the names of the angels Hebrew? I know who Adam is but none of the other names are familiar from anywhere else but Evangelion.

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Postby CJD » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:15 pm

View Original PostReiAyanami25 wrote:I didn't actually think that anyone would reply to my very first post. Are all the names of the angels Hebrew? I know who Adam is but none of the other names are familiar from anywhere else but Evangelion.


They're all from Judeo Christian mythology I believe yes. I'm not sure if their all from the Kabbalah, but they all are mentioned in one way or another. For example, Ramiel is from the Book of Enoch, and her name means "thunder of god". A few of the names, like Ramiel, correspond with the angels they're assigned too, so they did do some research somehow, but to what extent we'll never know (and, as they said, there's no deeper meaning to the names). Another, more obvious, example is Gaghiel, who's named after the "Angel of Fish".

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Postby 1731298478 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:28 am

View Original Postgatotsu911 wrote:@Numbers: When was this interview conducted? The site says 2007, but was it made then or merely published then? The reason I ask is because there seems to be some evidence that Anno's outlook on the show (and the explanations he gives for it) has changed over the years, so I'd be curious to know from what point in his career these statements were taken.


The 2007 in the URL and at the bottom is actually the date it was added to the site. On the main interviews page (here) it's listed as being from 2000. It seems to have been transcribed from this book, published in April 2000. So, the interview was probably from early 2000 or some time in 1999, maybe two and a half years after EoE.

Another general thing regarding the thread's topic question: I think the main inspiration for Anno's usage of Christianity was almost certainly Nagai's Devilman. A great deal of Evangelion, especially where the use of religious elements are concerned, seems to be modeled upon ideas and themes raised in Devilman, so it's possible that the meaning of some of those elements might become clearer by going back to that work.

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Postby gatotsu911 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:29 am

View Original PostReiAyanami25 wrote:I didn't actually think that anyone would reply to my very first post. Are all the names of the angels Hebrew? I know who Adam is but none of the other names are familiar from anywhere else but Evangelion.

Yes, they're all Hebrew, except maybe Israfel, whose name is possibly Arabic (which is a very similar language to Hebrew anyway). We had a thread about this (specifically, how the Angels' names are pronounced) a while back, which I'll try and link if I have the chance later.

@Numbers: Thanks for the clarification. I'd be interested in comparing Anno's statements about the series over time, since I recall reading a review from 1996 in which his tune seemed slightly different.

Also, it's worth mentioning that regardless of how Eva used its Judeo-Christian references, there's no denying that the material itself was well-researched. There are Christians and Jews who don't know the story of Adam and Lilith, for example, never mind Japanese.
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Postby Allemann » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:34 am

View Original Postgatotsu911 wrote:Also, it's worth mentioning that regardless of how Eva used its Judeo-Christian references, there's no denying that the material itself was well-researched.


I have the opposite impression.

There are Christians and Jews who don't know the story of Adam and Lilith, for example, never mind Japanese.


If you're not a specialist on medieval Judaism why should you?

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Postby CJD » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:58 am

View Original PostAllemann wrote:

If you're not a specialist on medieval Judaism why should you?


Personally, I think a key part of assigning yourself a religion is to understand it's mythology. To me, it's the same as when people vote without knowing anything about the candidates. The story of Adam and Lilith is a pretty important one in Christian mythology, even if the Bible doesn't mention it (it doesn't mention a lot of things).
Ah, but if I continue I'm just going to rant.

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Postby Fireand'chutes77 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:46 pm

View Original Postgatotsu911 wrote:Yes, they're all Hebrew, except maybe Israfel, whose name is possibly Arabic (which is a very similar language to Hebrew anyway). We had a thread about this (specifically, how the Angels' names are pronounced) a while back, which I'll try and link if I have the chance later.

Here you go. :)

http://forum.evageeks.org/viewtopic.php?t=11701
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Postby gatotsu911 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:46 pm

View Original PostAllemann wrote:If you're not a specialist on medieval Judaism why should you?

That's... kind of my entire point. Anno didn't just throw together all the standard common-knowledge facts about Jewish and Christian mythology; he obviously read up on them. I'm not suggesting he can go toe-to-toe with a theologian or anthropologist when it comes to knowledge of these religions, but he's still a few steps ahead of most writers who decide to draw on Judeo-Christian symbolism to make a point.

@F&C: Thanks!
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Postby Mystere9 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:16 pm

View Original PostCJD wrote:Personally, I think a key part of assigning yourself a religion is to understand it's mythology. To me, it's the same as when people vote without knowing anything about the candidates. The story of Adam and Lilith is a pretty important one in Christian mythology, even if the Bible doesn't mention it (it doesn't mention a lot of things).
Ah, but if I continue I'm just going to rant.

Personally, I grew up being taught that the bible was the sole source of knowledge about christianity. In that sense, I guess you could say what I grew up calling "christianity" was in fact a different religion, and an offshoot of what you consider "christianity".

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Postby CJD » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:25 pm

View Original PostMystere9 wrote:Personally, I grew up being taught that the bible was the sole source of knowledge about christianity. In that sense, I guess you could say what I grew up calling "christianity" was in fact a different religion, and an offshoot of what you consider "christianity".


Hey now, I meant no offense, no reason to get angry.

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Postby Fireand'chutes77 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:46 pm

I grew up as a (fairly unenthusiastic) Presbyterian, so I mostly only ever heard the standard Sunday School versions of events, which I have come to mostly discount now that I am aware of engineering and SCIENCE. (:))
And aside from the most common Saints, I don't know much about Catholicism's layers and layers of important people, and even less about Judaism beyond the fact that the Tora stops before the New Testament.

So when I got around to watching "Evangelion" and trying to figure out what in the heck all the names meant, the sum of my reaction after tunneling through a dozen or so Wikipedia pages was, "Wait. What." XD

If they'd told the story of the Bible more as an epic literary thrill ride of blood, sex, war, and politics, as opposed to a dry lecture on shall-and-shall-nots, maybe I would've been more enthusiastic!


EDIT, after doing more Wikipedia hyperlinking: While this is Norse mythology, not Christianity's, and while I doubt the production crew looked into it much, the Norse have double "Adam and Eve" figures... One set for the beginning of the world - and one for after the End.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%ADf_and_L%C3%ADf%C3%BErasir

In Norse mythology, Líf and Lífþrasir ("life" and "the one striving after life"/"thriving remnant"), female and male respectively, are two humans who are foretold to survive the events of Ragnarök, and, after the flames have sated, to repopulate the newly risen and fertile world.
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1731298478
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Postby 1731298478 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:55 pm

View Original Postgatotsu911 wrote:@Numbers: Thanks for the clarification. I'd be interested in comparing Anno's statements about the series over time, since I recall reading a review from 1996 in which his tune seemed slightly different.

It would be interesting to try and work out how his views changed. Well, there are obviously some very noticeable changes: the shift from his early attitude towards Eva to his late attitude ("anti-otaku"), and the shift from that to his attitude now. Aside from that, however, it seems like Anno will rarely give the exact same answers in two different interviews, and even if the answers are completely consistent they will often emphasize different things.

Regarding the topic, here's an attempt at translating a short but relevant excerpt from a 1996 conversation with SF critic and translator Nozomi Omori:

--

大森 ただ、光瀬さんの方はもっと、東洋的な無常観とかが支配的だけれど、エヴァンゲリオン世界っていうのはもっと西洋文明的な・・・・・・。

Omori: However, [Ryu] Mitsuse-san is more governed by something like an Eastern sense of the transience of things, but the world of Evangelion is more along the lines of Western civilization......

庵野 西洋文明ってきらいなんですよ。あまり信用してないんですね、西洋文明を。

Anno: I dislike Western civilization. I don't place much trust in Western civilization.

大森 それは、否定すべきものとして、ですか?ポジティブではなくて――。

Omori: That is, [you consider it] as something one must repudiate? Not positive-

庵野 いや、あんまり気にならないから、利用できるっていうか。ぼくがキリスト教徒だったらあんなにキリスト教的なものを入れらんないですよ、怖くて。

Anno: No, it's something like, because I don't care that much about it, I can make use of it. If I were a Christian believer I couldn't have inserted Christian elements [into Eva] in that way. I would have been scared to.

大森 確かに。愛着がないから、平気で天使の名前を使えるわけですね。あ、この名前、語感がいいからとかいって、適当に。

Omori: No question. Because you have no attachment to [Christianity], you can make use of the names of the angels without being concerned. Ah, [you can use] these names because the word makes a strong impression, for example. [You can use them] as you think appropriate.

庵野 使徒と天使を同じにするなんて西欧人から見たら、文句言われてもしょうがないぐらいだと思いますけどね。いや、社内にもアメリカ人がひとりいるんですけど、色々と叱られましたよ。これはいけないって。やっぱり、そうなんすよね。でも、そういうの、気にしないんでやったんだと思いますよ。

Anno: Even if I received complaints from the perspective of Westerners about the equation of [the terms] "apostle" and "angel," I don't think it would make any difference. Well, there is a single American in our company, and he scolded me about various things. "You can't do this." As I had expected. But I did those things [anyway], I think, without taking any notice of that.
Last edited by 1731298478 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:27 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby chaosakita » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:24 pm

In short, because it looks cool.
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