I've noticed references to the Kabbalah in a couple of anime I've watched. One of them is Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Neon Genesis Evangelion has it in the sky in both the opening credits and in the series itself:

In the sky In the credits

I also remember it was on the ceiling at NERV, but the best screencap I could find of that was too tiny to be visible.

So, my question is, Is there any deeper meaning to the use of the Kabbalistic tree of life, or is it just used because it looks cool?

  • 1
    I don't understand this question. It seems like you have 2 examples which could be using this for very different reasons. Furthermore, I don't think [tropes] applies as this isn't referenced particularly often in anime, at least not in comparison to other media. IMO it would be much better if you just split it into two separate questions, one about FMA and another about NGE, and were more specific with the question. Right now, it seems to be more about the Kabbalistic tree of life than anime.
    – Logan M
    Aug 13, 2013 at 0:20
  • Split into this and anime.stackexchange.com/questions/4798/…
    – Danalog
    Aug 13, 2013 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


As far as Evangelion goes, there's several statements from the staff concerning their placement and usage within the show (emphasis is mine):

From the Hiroyuki Yamaga: May 1998 issue of "Evangelion":

On the reasons for use of Judeo-Christian symbology in Eva

YAMAGA: I don’t know exactly why. I suspect that Mr. Anno may have read some book on it, and there was some thoughts he wanted to express on it. I personally am glad that, rather than Christianity, he didn’t express some obscure Buddhist theme, because then it would have been linked more with Aum Shinri Kyo. [LAUGHS]

From the Kazuya Tsurumaki: Q&A from "Amusing Himself to Death":

Can you explain the symbolism of the cross in Evangelion?

Kazuya Tsurumaki: There are a lot of giant robot shows in Japan, and we did want our story to have a religious theme to help distinguish us. Because Christianity is an uncommon religion in Japan we thought it would be mysterious. None of the staff who worked on Eva are Christians. There is no actual Christian meaning to the show, we just thought the visual symbols of Christianity look cool. If we had known the show would get distributed in the US and Europe we might have rethought that choice.

And from an NHK special "Extra Curricular Lesson with Hideaki Anno", a student asks:

"Why is that robot-looking thing called an Evangelion"?

Anno: "It is a Christian word meaning Fukuin or Gospel and it's supposed to bring blessings. Actually, it's a Greek word. I used it because it sounds complicated"

So in the case of Evangelion, it's used mostly to look cool. It's more or less an internally consistent window dressing that doesn't contain any actual religious meaning. That is not to say that the symbology doesn't have other meaning within itself, especially in the context of the fictional show.

  • or else Tsurumaki-sensei and Anno-sensei were saying these things to try to pre-emptively deflect any objections arising from offended Westerners, after the show became (unexpectedly) popular in US and Europe... Aug 25, 2015 at 1:12

yes it was in Gendo's office, therefore he believes in what it represents.

The whole nerv project was 1) to defend humanity against the angels and 2) the instrumentality project.

the tree of life probably relates to 2). The end goal was for humanity to become one so everyone can be 'happy'. I don't know the details of kabbalah but I imagine it relates to this.

Judaism/Christianity is a deep topic and probably does not directly relate to what evangelion was about. But there does seem to be a connection in terms of judaism/Christianity being about salvation of humanity, filling in that flawed nature we as humans have. which is what the instrumentality project was about.

Anno seems to have a focus on the question of how one solves lifes problems. The evangelion characters egos badly handling their life's difficulties. Religion tries to address this very question, placing importance on ones relationship with God to solve the question of how to live life("God is in his heaven, all is right with the world").

There is the connection that religion is a form of therapy and transformation. Jesus healed the demons that people suffered from. Life is about confronting our demons and living life the best we can. In M scott Peck's book: 'the road less travelled' He brings together God and psychotherapy. It is well worth reading to see the connection with religion(spirituality) and psychological problems, two big themes in evangelion.

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    Firstly, possession does not equate to belief. Just because I have a picture of Madoka doesn't mean i believe in witches. Secondly, other than this contentious link, you don't answer the question at all. Third, if you dont know the details of the Kabbalah, how can you even begin to answer this question? Fourth, that you imagine a link is in no way an answer at all. I can "imagine" the relation to some kind of other construed reasoning and we'd be no closer to an answer.
    – Tyhja
    Feb 16, 2017 at 1:46
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    I don't attempt to give a final answer, and never stated so. Using inductive logic, possession would indicate belief, if you had a nazi flag in your bedroom, It would lead me to believe that you have some beliefs supporting nazis. This is not 100% certain, but what in life is? You don't need to know the details of kabbalah to know about it.. All human spirituality is connected, if you are connected to your own emotions and life, religious texts have relevant answers, just like the book of genesis. If your looking for 100% go read scientology, the closed minded fool that you are.
    – w.canavan
    Sep 10, 2017 at 19:18

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