The classic anime mecha-action-cross-psychological-terror Neon Genesis Evangelion it has a reputation for being a weird show, and it’s hard to argue that the reputation isn’t fully deserved. While it starts out as what looks like a fairly conventional anime mecha, it quickly shows its true colors as a surreal dive into the nature of being and belonging itself.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any monsters to fight. Known as “Angels” by the cast of the anime, these mysterious and malevolent beings come from an unknown place and pursue unknown objectives; it is only known that if they succeed in their ambitions, it would spell disaster for humanity. Appropriately for Evangelion, the physical appearance of many of these Angels is as strange as the show itself.
As the second angel to appear in Evangelion, Shamshel does not give the same impression as his previous counterpart, Sachiel. However, there are certainly some elements to appreciate here, particularly in regards to Shamshel’s main method of attack; two deadly whip-like appendages that seem to be able to penetrate even an Eva’s armor.
However, it has a nice color scheme. Since most angels are black, white, or bright immaterial masses, it’s good to see that Shamshel chose purple as the color that he was going to appear in when trying to annihilate the human race, and it complements Eva Unit 01’s purple very well.
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They’re happening quite a bit with Matarael, all of which makes the design quite attractive. It retains the rigid geometry that made Ramiel so memorable, but this time it has a much more organic touch. Matarael walks on creepy, skinny spider legs and also sports a prominent orange eyeball that oozes tears of acid.
This is definitely one of the creepiest angels to appear on Evangelion. Even if a viewer has a high tolerance for spiders, it’s hard not to feel nervous once this thing starts spurting highly corrosive sludge from its eyeball onto the heads of Eva’s pilots.
Gaghiel leans a bit more toward the “mainstream” monster designs that may be familiar to anyone who spends a lot of time watching monster movies or anime mecha; it is a fearsome water beast with gaping jaws bordered by hundreds and hundreds of ugly-looking teeth.
Gaghiel gives the impression of being the only fully aquatic angel Eva’s pilots have to engage with throughout the series, and audiences can really feel the threat emanating from this thing when its contour is broken underwater. Seemingly capable of attacking from any direction, Gaghiel’s design can easily be filed under the “things one does not want to see while swimming” tab.
Lilith stands out primarily for reasons of history and lore – she doesn’t involve the protagonists in combat and is instead kept in a kind of captivity on a giant cross in one of the lower levels of NERV HQ. Lilith plays a decisive role in the plot later on, being a critical component of the many competing agendas that the show’s characters constantly pursue through subversive means.
However, when it comes to design, Lilith is just plain creepy. This huge immobile blob crucified on a cross hidden deep within the Earth suggests some pretty sinister things about what exactly is going on behind the scenes with the Eva project and with NERV, in general.
Undoubtedly one of the largest and strangest Angels in the series, Sahaquiel is essentially a huge living bomb dropped from orbit with the intention of flattening Tokyo-3 and the members of NERV along with it. Resembling something like a colorful eyeball, Sahaquiel once again upsets the audience’s expectations regarding how an angel can and cannot be seen.
Sahaquiel is also interesting because he doesn’t seem to have much more game plan outside of “falling on top of Tokyo-3”, making his choice of attack refreshingly straightforward after so many attempts by the other Angels to pierce, melt, or covertly. slip into the Geofront to achieve your nefarious goals.
Having already set the precedent for the floating giant forms of death in episode five, Evangelion returns with another iteration on that theme in the form of Leliel, a massive sphere with no attack options but with the ability to lure an unsuspecting Eva pilot into an alternate dimension like quicksand.
However, the projection of the striped sphere is not Leliel’s true form. In fact, the actual matter that makes up the Angel is a disembodied substance found in the shadow of the orb, revealing that the orb itself is a simple decoy designed to lure pilots to their doom.
Zeruel is one of the most fearsome Angels in the series due to his razor-sharp retractable toilet paper arms and his ranged deadly bolt attack. Zeruel is able to easily neutralize both Unit 00 and Unit 02 without suffering a scratch, so it’s up to Shinji to rank in Unit 01 to finish the fight, though things don’t go exactly as planned.
The audience sees Zeruel up close and personal during the battle scene at the end of episode 19, so it’s easy to fully understand what makes this angel feel so threatening. Zeruel’s size is incredible in itself and, when combined with his strange face and deadly arms, he becomes one of the creepiest Angels in the series.
Arael is one of the most terrifying Angels in the series, and not just because of the fact that he is an indistinct being of light that lives in space. While most angels prefer to use physical attacks and abilities to defeat Evas and gain access to NERV headquarters, Arael opts for a handy psychological torture beam that he can use to traumatize geosynchronous orbit pilots.
Arael appears later in the series, episode 22 to be precise, and by this point the audience will generally have learned that all bets are off when it comes to the physical appearance of the invading Angels. Still, Arael’s demeanor and appearance are so different from what the audience is used to that she will surely be remembered.
Like the first angel to appear in Evangelion In the first episode, poor Sachiel doesn’t fight much against Shinji in Unit 01 after he goes into a crazy state. Still, he’s the first angel audiences meet, and he makes quite an impression in that regard.
Sachiel’s iconic face (or mask?) Has become something of an abbreviated symbol for Angels, in general, and for some, it’s the design that comes to mind when Angels are raised. The angel itself is an attractive combination of familiar giant monster design elements, but with just enough surreal flair to give it an otherworldly vibe.
Ramiel is a fan favorite in Evangelion circles, and for good reason. The design is elegant and simple, while being otherworldly and menacing at the same time. Part of the reason Ramiel makes such an impression in episodes five and six is because, prior to his arrival, the Angels that audiences have encountered thus far wouldn’t look too out of place in the average kaiju media.
A giant diamond screaming and shooting death rays is a dramatic subversion of the design philosophy that seemed to rule the first two angels involved in the anime and signals to viewers that Angels are far stranger and more threatening than mere alien invaders. .
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