Adam and Lilith Duality

Evangelion ScreenshotOften when translating something from one language to another no literal translation is possible. While some Anime purists loathe the idea of making any changes during translation, this article is not about changes made for aesthetic reasons.

This article is about one specific translation error that goes far to alter the intended relationship between Adam and Lilith, the two Progenitors of Life. One of the most revealing conversations in the saga takes place in the feature films Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion, both of which were dubbed and released in North America by Manga Entertainment, Inc. It is the conversation between Misato Katsuragi and Shinji Ikari as they drive through the graveyard of failed Evangelion prototypes, just prior to the Third Impact.

Original Japanese (Script Book Page 583):
Misato: "Shinji-kun, watashi-tachi ningen mo ne, Adam to onaji Lillith to yobareru seimei-tai no minamoto kara umareta, 18 ban-me no shito na no yo."

Literal (Correct) Translation:
Misato: "Shinji, we humans were born from a being called Lilith, who is the source of life just like Adam. We are the 18th Angel."

Manga Entertainment (Incorrect) Translation:
Misato: "You see Shinji, mankind was spawned from a being called Lilith, just like Adam was. We are the 18th Angel."

Grammatical Explanation: Notice that there is no comma after 'Adam to onaji.' This means that the adjective phrase 'just like Adam' applies to 'Lillith' instead of 'we humans'. If you listen to the original voiceover however, there is a distinct pause after 'Adam to onaji' that sounds like a comma, which is what caused the mistake. For 'just like Adam' to apply to 'we humans,' it would have to read: 'Adam to onaji (you ni).'

Although the translations are similar, they are clearly different at how they describe the relationship between Adam and Lilith. While the literal translation correctly states that they are both equal sources of life, the other one claims that Adam was born of Lilith, which is simply not the case. This is further strengthened when one considers that the myth of Adam and Lilith is based on the fact that they are equal (see Adam and Lilith Mythology).

This explanation is based on an article by Brendan Jamieson and translations provided by Bochan Bird. The equality of Adam and Lilith's relationship has since been confirmed by deputy director Kazuya Tsurumaki.

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Last Updated
July 11, 2014
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