Edgar Cochran’s review published on Letterboxd:
Oshii's most ambitious and metaphysical masterpiece has become, in my book, the best anime feature ever conceived and brought to life. Playing a haunting Gothic and postapocalyptic scenery, we see Bible allegories being interpreted through confused minds so that these entities can construct a coherent meaning to their environment. Shadows hunting (fish) shadows (Luke 5:10), angels being reborn and humanity contemplating its doomed destiny perhaps from eternal flames of darkness, waiting for an impossible, new Genesis, the intoxicating world that Tenshi no tamago creates goes beyond any reasonable description. A tremendous piece of art.
BELOW YOU WILL FIND A SPOILER-INFESTED, PERSONAL INTERPRETATION OF THE FILM.
I have a strong bias towards this film. It appeals to me in many ways:
-It has Christian allegories
-It has Biblical references
-My mind correlates it strongly with Tarkovsky and Kubrick at the same time, making it one of the most visually impressive, contemplative animation films of all times
For anyone willing/interested, my interpretation will be found below. My interpretation is as valid as any, and I came up with it alone, just like it spoke to my heart personally. I haven't delved into any other interpretation (even Oshii's) to keep it as authentic as possible.
1) The descending eye orb is God. The perpetual statues are God's sons, those that have been saved through Christ. The world is in a post-apocalyptic state, one totally devoid of God, but God keeps "descending" to Earth to find followers that can bring Salvation to the world. The statues, for me, who are his saved children (saved souls as in John 1:12; John 3:16) are in a position of honor and go with God wherever He goes.
2) The little girl is any human being, portrayed as such for the purpose of reflecting innocence.
3) Her egg represents her faith, and sharing her egg represents spreading God's Word, which entails faith.
4) The man, contrary to popular belief, is not a believer. He is a sort of Antichrist (I have to make the clarification that an Antichrist, biblically, is not a person that will oppose Christ, but one that will want to pose as Christ and supplant Christ in people's hearts). That is why he carries an object that is cross-shaped, but it is not an authentic cross. He is an individual approved by God to test the little girl's faith, who pretty much could be the only faith left in the earth.
5) The film plays with the hypothetical idea that the world has left God, as I have said, and therefore willingly distorts the stories of the Bible. Noah's ark, for example, has a little variation: the dove never comes back. That means that the man thinks God abandoned humanity in the flood and never rescued it. There are no reasons to believe his stories as true, because he is the girl's test of faith, and she never gives up.
6) Water is the substance of life, and in many Bible passages, God's Word is compared with water (John 15:3; Hebrews 10:22; John 7:38; Revelations 21:6; 22: 1-2,17). That is why she collects jars of water, as in an intention to give them to others.
7) "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Therefore, it is intangible. For the girl, however, it isn't, and that's the lesson she must learn. Her faith is correct in the sense that she still believes in Salvation; however, her faith is materialized into something tangible. The lesson she was entrusted to learn was that her faith should not be materialized into anything, even an egg (the egg is intentional, as we see people being born as birds inside tree-like structures, but from the ground, as God created Adam from dust, and not from eggs).
8) Once she learns this lesson, she is devastated by this epiphany, but after making a personal sacrifice in the name of faith, she reaches spiritual maturity as she is now a woman, again, in the water after she falls from the cliff. The woman, very suggestively, takes her hands to her belly (birth), breasts (feeding) and to her throat, releasing dozens of eggs. Her faith produced fruits like never before, and from eggs, new people finally begin to be born.
9) I make a lot of references to birth because Jesus said that, in order to be saved, it is necessary to be born again, not by flesh, but by water (again) and by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). John 3:16 explains how one can be born again: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
10) Everlasting life indeed she acquires, as she reappears with God (the orb) amidts all the other statues (believer souls - God's children) and in a position of honor, holding the egg that represented her unbreakable faith, even if it was physically broken, but not spiritually. The man, thinking about this, stands contemplating the spectacle of rebirth: of being born again.
-When the girl protects the egg from others, she hides it under her little dress in her belly, giving an appearance that she is pregnant, like if it was a source of life (God's Word is)
-The flood did stop, and we learn this after a panoramic, wide shot reveals us half-way through that they have been in an ark the whole time. It has several spaces for animals, and it is full of skeletons. Everything was in vain according to the man.
-And yet, the man sees suddenly an angelical/fish skeleton that brings memories back to him.
-BOTH characters are memory-wiped. This point and my previous one made me belief that it is actually the faith of BOTH being tested.
-There seems to be a comment of Oshii against the human acts made in the name of religion, but not against religion itself. Tanks are seen as sources of destruction, and so are the fishers hunting fish shadows in a futile attempt to conquer souls through force, destroying everything in their path. That, however, is oppression, imposition and fear, and not the way to convert people to Christ. It is a personal decision.
-I love how Oshii pulls the rug beneath our feet with the final shot slowly tracking back: the Earth has the shape of the lower part of an ark as seen from under the water. God is still taking care of the situation, and God's will was fulfilled with these two souls, and with the new ones that would be born again thanks to the faith of this child, in order to restore the world to a more peaceful balance.
This is a freaking poetic masterpiece. As I said, my favorite anime film. If the amazing Ghost in the Shell (2): Innocence got a Palme d'Or nomination, this should have won one. And I quite know the releases of that year. Unfortunately, however, my mind says that we witnessed Come and See the same year and it is the marginally better film. Ah, the internal struggle!