End Of An Eva
Did you ever stop to think what NERV’s leaf based logo really means? It bears the quote “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world.” But nothing could be farther from the truth.The quote is from a poem called “Pippa Passes” by Robert Browning, a 19th century English poet. In the poem, Pippa says the phrase because she is happy with the world around her, no matter how mean or cruel the world actually is.
According to GreenField, NERV uses it because, “It’s basically stating the fundamental essence or the show in which God or enlightenment.. is removed from the body. That is, God is in His heaven: He is not here with us.”
NERV’s logo uses more than the quote—the upper-left half is a fig leaf. The fig leaf is a symbol of original sin in Judeo-Christian belief. In the Bible, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat from any tree but the Tree of Knowledge. When they ate from the tree anyway, they gained the wisdom of right and wrong: realizing they were naked, they covered themselves with fig leaves.
The fig leaf represents humanity’s fall from grace, but also its knowledge-perfectly epitomized by NERV, who’s using its knowledge to counteract God.
BET YOUR WIFE
In episode 24, Kaworu calls humans “Lilim,” and that’s not a nice thing to say.
According to apocryphal texts of Judaism and Christianity, Adam had a wife before Eve. Lilith was an independent human, not made from Adam. When she refused to be subservient to him, she was banished from the Garden of Eden. She then went off to have kids with either Lucifer or Cain, depending on which text you choose.
“Kaworu [the 17th Angel] realizes the human race is not descended from Adam, as was thought, but from Lilith,” says Greenfield. “So we’re all Lilim.” As explained in Bulfinch ‘s Mythology, the Lilim were early Christians’ way of explaining monsters from other myths, like the Cyclops and Minotaurs in Greek mythology.
ALPHA AND OMEGA
Ever wonder why Gendo always wears gloves? It’s not because he’s cold: it’s because he’s grafted the embryo of Adam himself in his own hand.
In episode 24, Kaworu says that the Angels and humanity are fighting for a future only one of them can have. To win, all the Angels need is to find Adam. Gendo and NERV used Lilith—Adam’s first wife, and rumored to be the second Angel (Anno has never made it certain] as a decoy to the Angels. That’s also why Gendo leaves Tokyo-3 when the Angels get too close sometimes.
TERROR IN THE NIGHT
Why can’t they just shoot Angels with normal weapons? Because of the Absolute Terror Field, usually called the AT Field. The AT Field is a force field that the Angels use to protect themselves, but can also use as a weapon.
The AT Field wasn’t Anno’s idea, though. It was conceived by the famous 1 9th century psychologist Sigmud Freud, and later developed by his student William Reich, known for studying children traumatized by parental abandonment. In their theory, Absolute Terror is a psychological barrier a child would create around himself if he or she grew up without strong, loving parental figures. This barrier keeps other people at an emotional distance.
In Evangelion, explains Greenfield, “Every human being actually has an AT Field. It is the wall of the soul. But the thing is, most people don’t know how to use this. They simply have it.” But the Angels use their AT Field as boundaries too—as barriers no conventional weapons can pierce. Only the three EVA pilots Rei, Asuka, and Shinji— who were raised without strong parental figures—have strong enough AT Fields to fight the Angels.
EYES HAVE IT
Even more than NERV, the group running the show on Earth is SEELE, a super-secret organization trying to change humanity’s destiny. Using the apocalyptically prophetic Dead Sea Scrolls, they’re changing events to start the Human Complementation Project which will unite all souls into a single consciousness.
This is flying in the face of what God has ordained in the Scrolls. But SEELE clearly has divine aspirations; it can even be seen in their logo—an upside-down triangle covered by seven eyes.
“If you go back to the Old Testament, Yahweh is said to have seven eyes,” says Greenfield. Throughout the New Testament as well, seven is a very divine number in the Bible, often showing up when God manifests His Will, like in this quote:
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelations 5:6)
Since the God in Evanaelion seems to want to do in humanity SEELE is ready to take over God’s plan.
Director Anno must have had brains on his brain, because Evangelion is as full of psychology as it is of religion. One of the most striking examples is the repetitive use of Freud’s id, superego and ego system. Freud put forward the theory that there are three distinct parts of the conscious mind. The “id” is the selfish desire for pure gratification. The “superego” is the analytical, rational thought. Finally there’s the “ego,” the main personality that controls the final decision making process.
This triumvirate can be seen constantly through the anime, with the three EVA pilots as the best examples. Asuka, with her selfishness and egotism can easily be labeled the id. Rei, with her cold unemotional demeanor suits the superego. And finally Shinji, always questioning and trying to figure out what he’s supposed to do, is the ego.
Greenfield thinks there’s even stronger imagery involved: “Look at the way they’re dressed. You have Rei in the white and Asuka in the red, and if you notice, Asuka has red horns. So it’s very easy to say one represents the more primal, whether you call it the Devil or call it the id, and the other is more the noble, self-sacrificing, whether you call it the Angel or the superego.”
SEND ME AN ANGEL
The Angels in Evangelion don’t come with harps or halos. Instead they’re a motley assortment, ranging from the vaguely humanoid to the utterly bizarre.
This isn’t as sacrilegious as you might think. Anqels have been historicallv described all sorts of ways. Some had animal wings, some had multiple heads, some were even shaped like chariots. In the Book of Enoch—a scripture that used to be in the Bible until the early Christian church banned it—many angels match the same bizarre descriptions of Evangelion’s monsters. They were described as crystalline (Ramiel, the fifth Angel), as a soft red coal glow (Ireul, the I Ith Angel), and as having many sets of wings, like Lilith develops in End of Evangelion. In the Bible itself, the prophet Isaiah described an angel he saw as a giant flying serpent made of lightning, which isn’t a little like the DNA-strand looking Armisael, the 16th Angel
CARRY A BIG STICK
Fans may know the Lance of Longinus—the weapon EVA-00 uses to defeat the 15th Angel—can pierce AT Fields, but did you know it used to be stuck in Jesus’ ribcage?
According of Christianity, as Jesus was crucified upon the cross, a Roman soldier named Longinus stabbed him with a spear which became a holy relic. In Evangelion. the Lance is kept buried in Lilith’s chest, and is a necessary ritual object for SEELE’s Human Complementation Project.
As a side note, the Vatican claims to have the real Lance in its antiquities collection!
Ever wonder about that complex image in the opening credits? Explaining it is even more complicated than the design looks!
It’s called the Tree of Life, a map that can be used to chart all aspects of the soul, life and the universe, according to an ancient Judaic philosophy known as Kabbalism. The Tree of Life is a map with 10.5 spheres (called sephiroths] and 32 paths that connect them. Since God made man in his image, the human soul can be seen as a microcosm of the larger universal forces, and a part of God. According to Kabbalism, the more you move through the sephiroths, the closer to God you get.
The Tree of Life shows up at other times in Evangelion. It’s in Gendo’s office where he has the tree painted on his ceiling. Gendo sits underneath Kether, the highest sephiroth known as the Crown of God. His ego truly knows no bounds!
Another time is when Shinji and the nine Mass-Production EVAs sent by SEELE to stop NERV form a giant Tree of Life in the sky. Shinji sits in the sephiroth Tiphereth, the center of the tree, where God begins to manifest—and also where the ritual of crucifixion begins.
“What they’re actually saying is that science is sort of the Tree of Life, in my interpretation,” says Greenfield. “And that everything that NERV is doing is an attempt to use science to achieve enlightenment. In a big way, part of the joke of Evangelion is the fact that [for] a ‘giant robot anime’ that it is actually about how science is not necessarily the answer!”
In March 1995, 10 members of a religious sect called Aum Shinrikyo released deadly sarin poison gas on the subways of Tokyo during rush hour. Twelve people died; thousands were injured. The attack drew worldwide attention.
Elements from the Aum cult’s violent and shocking worldview later turned up in the unlikeliest of places: Neon Genesis Evangelion. Or perhaps it isn’t so unlikely; Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno drew from a wide range of religions and philosophies when creating his masterpiece.
Explains ADV co-founder Matt Greenfield, currently hard at work adapting the Evangelion director’s cut for English-speaking audiences, the parallels between Aum and Evanqelion are prominent. “The objective of the Aum cult was that they were going to cause a massive disaster which they would not claim responsibility for,” Greenfield says. The motive was that countries would blame each other, leading to conflict. “Basically (Aum) was trying to start World War III, the idea being to wipe out all human life so everything could he started over.. with them, of course, being the survivors. This is actually basically what Evangelion is! Ultimately, it’s about restarting the human race.”
Was Anno himself an Aum cultist? “There’s a space in his life that he doesn’t talk about,” Greenfield says, “but I can’t say ‘Yes, he was in a cult’ or not.”
However, Greenfield does say that the Russian-language broadcasts that Rum produced to promote its beliefs were titled Evanqelion. Spooky...
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