“Self and (M)other: Apocalypse as Return to the Womb in Neon Genesis Evangelion

Christine Hoff Kraemer, Boston University

Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Group

American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Antonio, 22 Nov 2004


The science fiction anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion is soaked in Western philosophy, psychoanalysis, and religion, particularly Judeo-Christian eschatological imagery. In this paper, I will argue that against the tendency of Western apocalyptic belief, which tends to be politically and theologically regressive, Evangelion’s psychological apocalypse has liberative potential. Through the adolescent Shinji’s desire to return to the womb of his absent mother, a series of apocalyptic, world-shattering events occur, initiating him into an adult sense of identity, responsibility, and relationship. The resulting change in consciousness has implications for societies struggling with issues of nuclear proliferation and destruction in the apparent absence of a transcendent, law-giving God.