A Cruel Angel's Thesis

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A Cruel Angel's Thesis is the opening theme song for the series Neon Genesis Evangelion, composed by Hidetoshi Sato and sung by Yoko Takahashi. The lyrics are by Neko Oikawa while the arrangement is by Toshiyuki Omori. The song also has the distinction of taking first place in the JASRAC Awards.[1]

This song was written with relatively limited involvement from Hideaki Anno and the production staff, being handled by producer Toshimichi Otsuki .[2] Anno originally wanted to use an excerpt from Borodin's Polovtsian Dances in the opening, but the producers did not approve of this and instead decided to use a J-Pop song, which eventually resulted in the creation of this song by Neko Oikawa.

Oikawa apparently had very little knowledge of the show, which was under production at the time with the episodes not having been colored. According to tweets and interviews, Oikawa went through a proposal of the show (possibly Neon Genesis Evangelion Proposal) and watched two unfinished episodes on fast-forward, only serving to broadly "fit" the anime after the fact [3][4] The writing process for Episode 01 took as long as six months,[5] and the opening sequence was not yet finished.[6][7] The original song included a male chorus, which was cut at director Hideaki Anno's request in order to "emphasize maternal affection".[8]

01 C156 big.jpg

"You mean you couldn't read the questions in Japanese?" "Right, I haven't learned all the Chinese characters yet. We didn't study it in college over there."
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Oikawa states that she took inspiration for the title from the manga A Cruel God Reigns.[9] Among other statements, Oikawa said the lyrics "become a legend" were originally "become a weapon" and that she decided to make the song about the perspective of a mother when her child "leaves the nest."[10]


Original Japanese Lyrics: Neko Oikawa

『残酷な天使のテーゼ』 Zankoku na tenshi no teeze English Translation1 Sing-Along English Translation2

少年よ 神話になれ


だけどいつか気付くでしょう その背中には
遥か未来 めざすための 羽根があること

少年よ 神話になれ

Instrumental section

あなただけが 夢の使者に

もしもふたり逢えたことに 意味があるなら
私はそう 自由を知る ためのバイブル

少年よ 神話になれ

人は愛をつむぎながら 歴史をつくる
女神なんてなれないまま 私は生きる

少年よ 神話になれ

Zankoku na tenshi no yō ni
Shōnen yo, shinwa ni nare...

Aoi kaze ga ima mune no doa wo tataitemo
Watashi dake wo tada mitsumete
Hohoenderu anata
Sotto fureru mono
Motomeru koto ni muchū de
Unmei sae mada shiranai itaikena hitomi

Dakedo itsuka kizuku deshō
Sono senaka ni wa
Haruka mirai mezasu tame no
Hane ga aru koto...

Zankoku na tenshi no teeze
Madobe kara yagate tobitatsu
Hotobashiru atsui patosu de
Omoide wo uragiru nara
Kono sora wo daite kagayaku
Shōnen yo, shinwa ni nare

Instrumental section

Zutto nemutteru watashi no ai no yurikago
Anata dake ga yume no shisha ni
Yobareru asa ga kuru
Hosoi kubisuji wo tsukiakari ga utsushiteru
Sekai'jū no toki wo tomete
Tojikometai kedo...

Moshi mo futari aeta koto ni imi ga aru nara
Watashi wa, sō, jiyū wo shiru
Tame no baiburu

Zankoku na tenshi no teeze
Kanashimi ga soshite hajimaru
Dakishimeta inochi no katachi
Sono yume ni mezameta toki
Dare yori mo hikari wo hanatsu
Shōnen yo, shinwa ni nare

Hito wa ai wo tsumugi nagara rekishi wo tsukuru
Megami nante narenai mama
Watashi wa ikiru...

Zankoku na tenshi no teeze
Madobe kara yagate tobitatsu
Hotobashiru atsui patosu de
Omoide wo uragiru nara
Kono sora wo daite kagayaku
Shōnen yo, shinwa ni nare

Like a cruel angel,
young boy, become the legend!

A blue wind is now
knocking at the door to your heart, and yet
you are merely gazing at me
and smiling.

Something gently touching--
you're so intent on seeking it out,
that you can't even see your fate yet,
with such innocent eyes.

But someday I think you'll find out
that what's on your back
are wings that are for
heading for the far-off future.

The cruel angel's thesis
will soon take flight through the window,
with surging, hot pathos,
if you betray your memories.
Embracing this sky [universe] and shining,
young boy, become the legend!

Instrumental section

Sleeping for a long time
in the cradle of my love
The morning is coming when you alone will be called
by a messenger of dreams.

Moonlight reflects off
the nape of your slender neck.
Stopping time all throughout the world
I want to confine them, but...

So if two people being brought together by fate
has any meaning,
I think that it is a "bible"
for learning freedom.

The cruel angel's thesis.
The sorrow then begins.
You held tight to the form of life
when you woke up from that dream.
You shine brighter than anyone else.
Young boy, become the legend!

People create history
while weaving love.
Even knowing I'll never be a goddess or anything like that,
I live on.

The cruel angel's thesis
will soon take flight through the window,
with surging, hot pathos,
if you betray your memories.
Embracing this sky and shining,
young boy, become the legend!

Young boy, like a cruel angel's thesis,
Live up to be a legend...

Even though clear blue winds
Beat on the door of my heart,
You just smile, looking straight at me
Too involved in yearning for
Something to hold on
The innocent eyes still know nothing of fate yet.

But someday you will notice
On those shoulders of yours
There are strong wings
To guide you to the far future.

A cruel angel's thesis
Will someday fly high from the window
If memories are betrayed by
The overflowing, burning pathos.
Young boy, shine like a legend,
Holding the sky in your arms.

Instrumental section

The cradle of love that sleeps within me
There will be a morning that
A servant of dreams will come for you.
The moonlight shines on your thin neckline.
I'd stop time in this world
And lock it away for myself, but...

If there is any meaning
In the fate that pulled us together,
Then I am, yes, the Bible
That teaches you of freedom.

A cruel angel's thesis
And then sorrow comes forth
When the shapes of the dreams you hold in your arms
Come to life within you.
Young boy, who shines brighter than anyone else,
Rise to become a legend.

People weave together love to create history
And so I live on,
Unable to become a goddess...

A cruel angel's thesis
Will someday fly high from the window
If memories are betrayed by
The overflowing, burning pathos.
Young boy, shine like a legend,
Holding the sky in your arms.

Translation Notes

1This was translated by Takayama Miyuki and these are the translator's notes:

  • young boy, become the legend!: The word "shinwa" actually means "myth" ("legend" would be "densetsu"), but I think it sounds better as "legend."
  • with surging, hot pathos: "Atsui" (hot) can also mean "intense, passionate." "Pathos" is "the quality or power in life or art of evoking a feeling of pity or compassion; pity; suffering; sorrow."
  • Embracing this sky [universe] and shining: "Sora" (sky) is the reading given for the kanji for "uchuu" (universe).
  • has any meaning: The kanji used for the "a" in "aeta" is not the normal kanji used in "au" (to meet). It's the first kanji in "ouse" (encounter, tryst) and has more of a connotation of meeting by fate or being brought together by fate, not just meeting. (Interestingly, a dictionary I have gives the meaning of "au," when written with this kanji, as "to meet (with drama or pathos)")
  • for learning freedom: The "watashi wa sou" is probably "watashi wa sou omou." And "bible" in this case isn't referring to *the* Bible. "Bible" can also mean "guide book, how-to book, a book valued for its use as a reference," like in "a handyman's bible," or "a bird-watcher's bible."

2This is the translation found on the U.S. release of Evangelion by ADV.

3The instrumental section contains chanted non-Japanese lyrics in Yoko Takahashi's version and a few others, while other versions of the song have a purely instrumental section. The January 1996 issue of Newtype magazine transcribed Takahashi's lyrics in this section as "Fariya. Seta(or sepa) messo. Fariya. Tuse." which they speculate is from the fictional language of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Alternatively, an EvaGeeks forum discussion suggests that the lyrics may be "Faria? Será mesmo? Faria? Eu sei!" which is in the Portuguese language. Since the word "Faria" is usually used in a similar way as the English word "would", those lines could be interpreted as someone doubting something or someone else. There has never been any official information on the actual lyrics or their meaning, if any.


  1. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2011-05-25/songs-from-evangelion-other-anime-win-jasrac-awards
  2. From the animania blog report on the March 28, 2005 NHK Anime Yawa talk show (translation by animania) - Otsuki said he allowed Anno to do whatever he wanted in the anime except for the theme music. Otsuki was particular about the theme and handled the music staff by himself, going as far as to claim that no anime staff, even Anno, met the music staff (apparently contradicted by Oikawa's statements). - Yuko Miyamura, BS AnimeYAWA
  3. “My manager got the job, we had a quick meeting lasting about 30 minutes, skim-read the proposal and watched two episodes on fast-forward. And with that I was told ‘so, yeah, just write whatever you want!’, and finished the song [lyrics] in about two hours. Sorry to burst your bubble, guys!” http://soranews24.com/2015/01/08/a-cruel-angels-thesis-took-just-two-hours-to-write-says-evangelion-lyricist-neko-oikawa
  4. "It wasn't even colored. I wrote the song, and my job was done. I wrote it in about two hours." Anime News Network interview with Neko Oikawa
  5. 2nd JUNE interview
  6. Notenki Memoirs
  7. According to Hidenori Matsubara during the Animazement 2015 convention, "the song was created before they even got done with animation for the opening theme. Strangely enough, the song manage to go along with the opening animation."
  8. Refrain of Evangelion OST Booklet, 2003.
  9. https://web.archive.org/web/20160830224921/http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/11939169
  10. https://www.sankei.com/west/news/161228/wst1612280011-n1.html

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