Transcendence: Anime Musical Perfection

Each week, we’ll look at another example of what I call a “moment of transcendence” – a scene from a show, a passage from a book, or anything else, that I find soul-piercingly resonant: joyful, sad, awe-inspiring, terrifying, or whatever. These moments are highly subjective, so you may not feel the same way I do, but nevertheless I’ll try to convey why I find the fragment so powerful. I hope we can enjoy it together.

I admit it: I’m a sucker for perfection.

Most moments of transcendence – for me, anyway – are about powerful emotion or profound truth, or both. But there’s another side of me, call it the twelve-year-old boy in me, that’s more in love with technical perfection, something complex done precisely and beautifully right. It’s the side of me that loves Chris Bliss’s crazy juggling skills and the Millennium Falcon flying inside the Death Star. Something about it just feels exactly perfect.

There’s a particular scene in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion that gives me that complex, perfect, “exactly right” feeling. I’ve loved it for a long time, and I happened to watch it again with Ben on Saturday. Basically, it’s two kids in giant mech suits fighting an equally giant monster, synced to music. Don’t worry too much about the details or the logic. Just watch and listen.

(Link here in case you can’t see the embedded video.)

I have a feeling that many people will watch that scene and see no appeal at all. Like Monty Python, it either scratches your itch or it doesn’t, and not everyone has that particular itch. But for those who do, it’s perfection.

By the way, I also love the technique of removing voices and sound effects and playing only the “background” music. Gandalf’s death scene in Fellowship does the same thing, and a lot of my other favorite scenes do, too. I guess I love it because it implies transcendence in an audio sense: for a brief moment, we’ve moved beyond the need for voices and into the purified realm of music alone. Something like that, anyway.

Hell, or maybe I just like giant robots. I wouldn’t rule that out.


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