If you’ve ever been to karaoke with anyone who likes anime, chances are you know ‘A Cruel Angel’s Thesis’, the theme song to Neon Genesis Evangelion – it’s a karaoke classic. Since its original release, singer Yoko Takahashi has re-released the song, which is known as Zankoku na Tenshi no Tēze in Japanese, three times; it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

When Neko Oikawa, who wrote the lyrics to the hit song back in 1995, claimed this week that she only spent two hours on it, some fans weren’t too surprised. After all, history is full of hit songs that were supposedly written in mere minutes, from ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ to ‘Under Pressure’ to ‘My Sharona’.

What’s more impressive – especially when you consider how well ‘A Cruel Angel’s Thesis’ fits the series’ themes – is that the lyricist knew next to nothing about the show itself when she wrote it.

Oikawa was posting on Twitter in reference to Gainax co-founder Toshio Okada, who said in 2012 that he formed the anime studio (which went on to produce Neon Genesis Evangelion) mainly as a way of escaping an awkward workplace situation – Okada had married a coworker, and then had an affair with another woman in the same company.

Writing on January 5, Oikawa suggested that the origins of ‘A Cruel Angel’s Thesis’ were similarly random, making it all sound rather slapdash:

“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!”

Answering further questions from fans on Twitter, Oikawa also went into more detail about the process of writing the song. The lyricist never met with composer Hidetoshi Sato while creating the piece. Instead, Oikawa explained:

“The music was composed first. It was always that way with Evangelion songs. Once Toshiyuki Ōmori had more or less finished the arrangement, [singer] Yōko Takahashi laid down a temporary track singing the melody ‘la la la’, so it was really easy to work on [writing the lyrics].”


Perhaps it was Oikawa’s jokey tone, or the suggestion that her revelations would “burst the bubble” of legions of Evangelion fans, but Japanese netizens seemed unmoved, with comments including:

“It’s not even that good a song!”

“The best songs are always written like that – inspiration strikes and you get it down in a few minutes.”

“Why is she announcing this years and years later? No one cares.”

But we’re seriously impressed that after just one brief meeting and fast-forwarding through two episodes, Oikawa wrote lyrics that fit the show so well and have become an enduring classic. Koichi Sugiyama also famously claimed to have written the Dragon Quest Overture in five minutes – maybe there’s something in the (Japanese) water?

▼ Listen to ‘A Cruel Angel’s Thesis’ in the Neon Genesis Evangelion opening sequence.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Eva Armageddon
Read the lyrics (with English translations) online at Evageeks wiki