"A Cruel Angel's Edit" : The Lingua Franca of Pop-culture Deconstruction
July 18, 2019 5:31 PM   Subscribe

With the recent arrival of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" to Netflix, the internet was again seized by one of the most squabbled-over animes of all time. But if there is anything about NGE that the internet can agree on, it's that the opening theme song and video, "A Cruel Angel's Thesis", totally kicks ass. Its hyper-paced and heavily-layered editing is at once prototypical AMV eye-candy, while also being a solid narrative deconstruction of a show you'll never really understand. As with other anime fan edits, it quickly became popular to re-cut other anime in the same style. But it was its discursive potential, mixed with the totally over-the-top tunes, that made the "Cruel Angel's Edit" such a powerful meme outside of anime, and has inspired a series of truly high-effort good-posts over the years re-rendering all aspects of culture. Here are some of the internet's best, and below the fold some honorable mentions: Arthur | King of the Hill | Diner's, Drive-ins, and Dives | Regular Show (original) | Super Mario 64 | Marianne Williamson | Drake and Josh | Hey Arnold! | Steam Summer Sale | The Legend of Zelda | Windows 98 | 2018 World Cup

The top tier demonstrate a deep understanding of both media, have edited assets to an impressive degree, and frickin' nail the break-down at 01:07. The honorable mentions are here for having solid openings, proper portraits on the "dream bridge", and giving the break-down their best shot: Simpsons | Lazy Town | My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic | Brexit (remain?)(leave?) | There's more on KnowYourMeme and around the internet. Please shout out any of your favorites that I missed!
posted by grillcover (49 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
This song was the anthem of my summer in 2000 when I was 13 years old at a computer programming camp. We sat around all day burning each other CDs of anime rips we downloaded from Napster and I listened to Cruel Angel's Thesis incessantly until I made the fatal mistake of labellng the front of my CD with a ballpoint pen, which I didn't know was a bad idea until I flipped it over and it was obviously totally fucked.
posted by value of information at 5:50 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


This FPP is worthy of my grace.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:55 PM on July 18 [11 favorites]


I slam the favorites plus sign with the Lance of Longinus
posted by rather be jorting at 5:56 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I'm not even that into NGE but goddamn that tune is good.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:59 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Reading the Fanfare thread posts by first-watchers has been really amazing for me. I watched this as RealMedia fansubs off of IRC DCC servers -- it's pretty incredible to see where it's at now in the cultural awareness.

And yes, Cruel Angel's Thesis is a force unto itself.
posted by curious nu at 5:59 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


grillcover, thanks especially for highlighting the breakdown at the 1:07 mark - it's especially satisfying seeing how the top-tier edits handle that fast-paced montage. Cruel Arthur Thesis is my current fave of the ones linked in the FPP!
posted by rather be jorting at 6:01 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Oh my god, seeing Kyoto Animation's name pop up in the Haruigelion video was a gut punch. Nothing but good thoughts to the survivors and loved ones of KyoAni.
posted by SPrintF at 6:04 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Fly me to the moon.
posted by ardgedee at 6:04 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Propane Genesis Evangelion makes me cry, it's so good. Thank you so much for this, watching them all now.
posted by avocet at 6:17 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Lost it at NAVI in the Legend of Zelda one.

And yes, this is going in the next Fanfare post for sure! :)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:19 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Might as well drop these here:

Cruel Angel's Thesis full track, official version from King Records (English subtitles available).

Utada Hikaru's "Beautiful World" used in the 2007 Evangelion movie, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone.
posted by needled at 6:24 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


It was deeply unnerving to start watching NGE for the first time as an adult in 2019 and realize that I knew all of the theme song's tune and at least part of the words and I hadn't even really realized where it was from. I didn't even know when I'd learned it, but I'd definitely known it at least a decade before I actually saw any anime at all. The internet is such a weird place.
posted by Sequence at 6:35 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


Steamed Hams
posted by RobotHero at 6:49 PM on July 18 [13 favorites]


A Cruel Angle's Thesis, featuring footage from "Journey to the Center of a Triangle".
posted by truex at 7:02 PM on July 18 [20 favorites]


I'm shocked that a reverse version hasn't been made to "ToO MaNy CoOkS".

It takes a lot to make a stew...
posted by Slackermagee at 7:04 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I’ve been the biggest NGE fan since I first saw it as a 5th grader and I can’t stand the intro. It’s so jarring as you get further into the series, but perhaps that’s the point?
posted by gucci mane at 7:53 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


ABSOLUTE FRIENDSHIP FIELD
posted by gaybobbie at 7:57 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Any media can be elevated by putting it to A Cruel Angel's Thesis. Similarly, any song can be elevated by putting it to NGE, as in this excellently cut AMV. I think I stop breathing occasionally when I watch that video. I do the same thing listening to A Cruel Angel's Thesis.

NGE, man.
posted by brook horse at 7:58 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


The geometry one is just so, so perfect.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:59 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I wish there were more than 20 seconds of this. LMFAO - Cruel Angel's Thesis
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:03 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


When I was teenager I watched Evangelion so much that I had Cruel Angel's Thesis memorized, despite not knowing any Japanese. And apparently, I still remember lots of it, because I've been rewatching and I can still sing along. It's one of the best openings ever, I think.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:20 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Ok, this isn't precisely the topic, but WHAT??
posted by tobascodagama at 8:24 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


I think Evangelion is a mess, but that theme song is top notch.
posted by demiurge at 8:52 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


OMG the Windows one broke me.
posted by Mchelly at 9:10 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


> A Cruel Angle's Thesis , featuring footage from "Journey to the Center of a Triangle".

I LOVED THIS oh my god

when the expanding circles perfectly match up and you get the circumcircle!!!
posted by rather be jorting at 9:23 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Propane Genesis Evangelion

OMG
posted by praemunire at 9:25 PM on July 18


Are there any "reverse" parodies, i.e. where scenes from Evangelion are put to the opening themes from, say, Escaflowne, Kare Kano, or a season of Kimagure Orange Road?

(And yes, I'm still mourning the loss of the KOR Wormhole after all these years)
posted by gtrwolf at 9:54 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


RuPaul's Drag Race: 6.9 You Can (Not) Sashay (including the entire "sugar daddy" speech translated into Japanese)
posted by Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy at 9:56 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


> Propane Genesis Evangelion makes me cry, it's so good.

I rewatched it and also cried b/c POCKET SAND is used so perfectly
posted by rather be jorting at 10:02 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Also not precisely on topic, but ProZD singing as Goofy singing the opening must be heard to be believed. The man is a voice-acting genius.
posted by rather be jorting at 10:14 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


Sing it with me everybody!

Zankoku na tenshi no youni
Shōnen yo shinwa ni nare!

posted by Rash at 10:39 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


... I know someone who used Cruel Angel music and edit for an architectural presentation video. Cool and cringe at the same time
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 10:57 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I’ve been the biggest NGE fan since I first saw it as a 5th grader and I can’t stand the intro. It’s so jarring as you get further into the series, but perhaps that’s the point?

When you kids finish with Eva, you'll be ready to watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which did for magical girl anime what Eva did for giant robot shows. And it also has a perky OP.

Are there any "reverse" parodies

There's an "Attack on [whatever]" video for anything (although IMO the best one was for Berserk)
posted by sukeban at 11:53 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Some searching around the Internet shows that I'm not crazy—or at least, that I'm not the only person crazy enough to think the NGE opening is an homage to Space 1999's first season opening.

This Episode
This Episode
posted by The Tensor at 12:59 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


All this Evangelion music discussion and not a single mention of Komm Süsser Tod? Handclaps, everyone! (Or just sing the Hey Jude chorus at the end)
posted by humuhumu at 4:03 AM on July 19 [8 favorites]


...I'm not the only person crazy enough to think the NGE opening is an homage to Space 1999's first season opening .

I had not seen the opening of NGE before watching the clip, but I was immediately reminded of the opening to another Gerry & Sylvia Anderson show, UFO, which was quite influential in Japan: UFO Opening
posted by jabah at 6:15 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Oh my god thank you so much for sharing, this is delightful.

I suppose this is as good a place as any to ask: Is it worth watching Evangelion? I have a generally low tolerance for some anime tropes (mainly the gender dynamics) but if the content is good enough, I'm willing to give it a shot.
posted by scruffy-looking nerfherder at 8:24 AM on July 19


> Is it worth watching Evangelion? I have a generally low tolerance for some anime tropes (mainly the gender dynamics) but if the content is good enough, I'm willing to give it a shot.

There is no one answer to this. It's one of the most moving pieces of content I've ever seen but I was more than ready to give up on the series at about episode ten first time round.

The series starts as a fairly traditional mecha anime with kids piloting robots and many typical anime tropes but ascends over time into a complex meditation on the sins of parents, on depression, on self esteem. These days I tend to skip to the last five or six episodes and then watch End of but then I've already invested a lot of time in the characters and the series. Do that as a first-timer and you will be lost and not care. Even now, it can be tough to follow the plot near the end but best to watch it for the people: for Shinji, Asuka, Misato, and Ritsuko especially. Asuka's character arc is remarkable and will reach places you could not imagine when she's trying to learn to dance in time with Shinji in episode nine.

Gender dynamics aren't the greatest at times - this is a 90s Japanese anime, after all - but there are strong female leads. Indeed, the women are probably the bravest characters in the show. Everyone is damaged.

The only rule is to watch it subbed, not dubbed (ESPECIALLY not the new netflix dub). The Japanese voice actors are so much better than the English dubs. Oh, and do not treat the last two episodes of the tv series as the finale of the show. End of Evangelion (a film that is effectively two episodes) is the only way to end the show. Memail me if you want to know more. I can talk about NGE for many hours.
posted by humuhumu at 8:38 AM on July 19 [9 favorites]


This may be heretical but I only watched the rebuild (film series remake) because my brain cannot handle choppy 90s animation, it literally gives me headaches. So, if you find yourself not liking the show, try the rebuild. My partner watched both and prefers the rebuild, they thought the writing improved as much as the animation quality. Though they concede there was more Unknowable Cosmic Horror in the original, if you're looking for more nightmares.
posted by brook horse at 8:49 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


> So, if you find yourself not liking the show, try the rebuild.

This is a really good idea. The first rebuild film is almost a repeat, sometimes shot-by-shot, of major events from the series (with lovely animation quality). The plot is tighter and you're spared some of the worst of the tv show. The second film starts to diverge from the tv plot in areas and who knows wtf happened with the third.
posted by humuhumu at 8:52 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


General note, if anyone's watching NGE for the first time (or is rewatching/feels nostalgic), feel free to join us over in Fanfare! Here's a link to the first episode thread.
posted by rather be jorting at 9:35 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


> this excellently cut AMV

AMV.org source, YouTube mirror.
posted by genpfault at 1:15 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I have only ever seen two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion. (I studied in university instead of what I should have been doing: watching anime).

But I have been obsessed with "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" for over 20 years. It is, hands down, the finest and most exciting theme music I have ever heard.

now it will be running through my head for the rest of the day. I didn't even listen to it - just the title makes that happen.
posted by jb at 1:20 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


humuhumu, I know we've let you down.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:45 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


This comment on "Propane Genesis Evangelion" literally murdered me:
That’s (my) purse

I (do not) know you
posted by tobascodagama at 6:04 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


y'all I'm losing it at this Thomas the Tank Engine one

Neon Genesis TankEngelion - A Cruel Engine's Thesis

SODOR
posted by rather be jorting at 9:38 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


The pupils in the various trains' eyes moving in time to the chimes before the 1:07 breakdown utterly slayed me
posted by rather be jorting at 9:44 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


The audio on the Netflix version of Cruel Angel's Thesis is so good. I strongly recommend watching the intro on Netflix if possible, also having a nice audio setup helps too.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:01 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


"When I was teenager I watched Evangelion so much that I had Cruel Angel's Thesis memorized, despite not knowing any Japanese. And apparently, I still remember lots of it, because I've been rewatching and I can still sing along. It's one of the best openings ever, I think."

Cruel Angel's Thesis and the 2008 Beijing Olympics song "Beijing welcomes you" are two songs I can sing along to better than most English songs, at least in that I sing English/not-English the same, just musical vocal sounds independent from meaning of language.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XbIZqg4v7w
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:18 AM on July 22


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