Saturday, June 26, 2010


"Neon Genesis Evangelion" is claimed by many to be the most brilliant animated series to ever come out of Japan. It's also claimed by many to be smarmy, overblown and nonsensical. I could really take it or leave it, but I do deeply appreciate the otherwordly designs of the series monstrous antagonists, the Angels; beings presumably sent by God to bring about the end of the world. NERV is an organization on Earth devoted to stopping this event at all costs, fighting off the angels with the cybernetic giants known as EVAs. I felt like doing a quick little review of my favorite angels, since they seem overshadowed in the series fandom by the humans and machines.

Sachiel is the first Angel we see, and packs a really weird anatomy into a simple humanoid shape. I always liked those cute little eyes on his beaked, platelike face. He later grows a second head as he repairs damage to his body, and we also catch a glimpse of him eerily drifting face-down underwater, giant gill slits pumping on his sides.

Sandalphon is my personal favorite angel, with one of the most "natural" looking designs. It begins its existence as an oddly humanoid embryo floating in magma, but is forced to speed up its own birth when NERV attacks it preemptively. It transforms into what curiously resembles a cross between a flounder and the prehistoric invertebrate, Anomalocaris.

Gaghiel is another very animal-like angel, an aquatic monster resembling an exaggerated whale. There isn't a great deal to say, really, but it does have a tiny little Sachiel-like mask on top, which I always thought was really cool.

Shamshel, my second favorite, always reminded me of a giant fishing lure. This supposedly female creature flies in a vertical, squid-like arrangement, but takes an upright stationary position to attack with its luminous whips, which can slice cleanly through any solid matter. In the original anime, some insect-like limbs could be seen curled beneath its head, but in the recent remastering, it's been given a beautifully disturbing ribcage with bony legs that constantly squirm. I've always loved its giant, fishy eye-spots most of all. Without them, I'm not so sure I'd like it half as much.

Finally, Leliel is one of the later, more abstract angels, and one of my favorites for its truly mindbending concept; the angel itself is a black, crawling pool of blackness, while the gigantic, striped sphere is supposedly its shadow. It really calls to mind such Lovecraftian beings as Azathoth, Yog-sothoth or the colour out of space.