Author Archives: Kevin Tian

Neon Genesis Evangelion and the fan legends about its budget control

1995 anime TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion is universally regarded as the greatest anime series ever created. There are many debates on whether it truly deserves that. Regardless, even its harshest critics cannot deny its importance to and influence on anime as an art form.

You might say that with great significance comes a great number of rumors, speculations, and legends. Among these the most popular stories revolve around the series’ supposed “duget control”. Though their reasoning may seem solid, these rumors or legends have not been, and likely won’t ever be, confirmed by Gainax, the production company behind the series, or Hideaki Anno, the creator.

These legends, though their true origins remain unclear, are likely created to explain the controversial artistic decisions throughout the series. Legend has it that Hideaki Anno had decided to create the show in a very impulsive and instinctual manner: there would be no script or even an over-arching outline; production would begin on every episode exactly one week before the episode was scheduled to air. As a result, most of their budget was already spent by the time it came to the last few episodes (there were 26 episodes in total). The legend would claim that this insufficiency in budget is the reason behind scenes such as: a completely static shot of two characters – no dialogue, no movement, no expression – in an elevator that runs for 3 minutes long; an entire scene that, besides the conversation between two characters happening off-screen, shows nothing but a static shot of an apartment bedroom mirror, table, and ashtray. And, of course, the infamously “minimalistic” episodes 25 and 26 that look like unfinished storyboard materials rather than animation.


The informant has just finished his undergraduate studies. He would consider himself to have been an avid fan of Japanese anime, manga, and games for more than 6 years. More than simply watching and consuming, he also actively contributes to the community, in the form of reviews, articles, discussions, and translation works. He told me of this folklore as a part of his collection of interesting facts/tales from the anime community.


When asked why he decided to select this piece of folklore, he replied simply that it was one of the most popular and enduring legends in the anime community.


These legends reflect what happens when a work of art house obscurity is met with extreme mainstream popularity – a phenomenon unique to anime. We see that in such a case where the creator does not want to explain any of his artistic choices, folkloric stories will be created and widely circulated as substitute explanations for these obscurities.

“Excuse me, excuse me, the son of God wants to be pee.” – An Indonesian Tradition

The informant wishes to empathize that despite how ridiculous this tradition may sound to foreigners, it is not only completely valid but also almost universally practiced.

If an Indonesian has to pee in the wilderness, he or she must perform a chant beforehand. The chant goes –

In original Indonesian: Pang numpang numpang anak tuhan mau kencing

English translation: Excuse me, excuse me, the child of God wants to be pee.

The reason behind this ritual, the informant says, is out of a fear for ghosts. Because ghosts are unseen and unseeable, it is possible for a person to unintentionally piss on a ghost when he or she pisses in the wilderness. And the consequence can be dire. There are stories, the informant assures us, of people who were two days later found dead in car accidents as a result of pissing on (and off, I guess you could say) a ghost.


The informant has lived in Indonesia all of his life up until his current studies in the United States. When asked about how he came across this tradition, he points out that everyone in Indonesia does.


It’s very amusing – and telling – seeing people’s reaction to this folklore. The informant is too very amused by how difficult it is to convince anyone that this is a legitimate practice in Indonesia. What one culture finds to be perfectly serious, legitimate, and widely accepted and practiced, other cultures might find it to be completely ludicrous and unbelievable.

A Famous Mark Twain Quote – Which Is In Fact A Misquote

Here’s a famous quote:

“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

It’s often attributed to a famous person, Mark Twain. So if that were true then this is in no way a folklore. But thankfully for me and for the collection it’s false. As far as we know, Mark Twain has never written anything like this quote. The closest he has come to it was in a letter he wrote to a friend in 1871: “you’ll have to excuse my lengthiness – the reason I dread writing letters is because I am so apt to get a slinging wisdom & forget to let up. Thus much precious time is lost.

So the quote is in fact a proverb based on folk legend.

There are in fact many quotes that match more closely the quote above. But of course none of them is from Mark Twain. Pascal in 1657 has apparently written that “I have made this longer than usual because I have not time to make it shorter.” John Locke too – “I am now too lazy, or too busy to make it shorter.” Other names that can be tied to it include Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Cicero, Woodrow Wilson…


The internet. If we were to ever confront the informant on how it came across this piece, it might respond that it’s simply because it knows almost everything.


It fascinates me how much supposedly authored literature is in fact folklore. But it is perhaps not surprising at all, since we seem to be afraid of our own wisdom and cannot put stock into wisdom if an authority figure were not attached to it.

Hemingway and the frozen Daiquiri

Famous cocktails are almost never about the drinks, but the stories behind them. Perhaps the most of all variations of Daiquiri, the Hemingway Daiquiri, or Papa Daiquiri, is associated with a tale of revival about Ernest Hemingway.

Amongst Hemingway’s bibliography there is a noticeable 10 year gap between For Whom the Bell in 1940 and The Old Man and the Sea in 1952. The legend has it that while in Cuba Hemingway was in despair from the second world war, and was unable to write anything.

Then he came across the frozen daiquiri in a bar called El Florida. The slightly murky clearness beneath the ice reminds him of the sea, and the shaved ice in the drink brings to his mind the image of the layer of frozen ice covering the sea, broken by only a lone sail. Then it came to his mind that “man is not made for defeat.” “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” So he wrote a story about a sail and a sea, an old man and a sea, The Old Man and the Sea.


This folklore may be categorized as cyberlore. I discovered it while researching about famous cocktails. It’s a recurring legend with varied details that comes up in many forums and articles. No authoritative origin can be traced.


The saddening aspect about legends associated with commercial products is that they might very well have been nothing more than advertisements. But alas, what does it matter? We want stories to believe in. We want to believe that these everyday objects in our lives have meanings beyond their own limited, trivial physicality. Perhaps the same can be said about ourselves.

“Ka le” or “Kale” in the DOTA 2 community

As of recently, when encountering a period of lag spikes during a match (especially if a professionally competitive one), players would often type in all-chat “ka le”, or more popularly, “kale”, instead of simply typing “lag”.


The community revolving around the e-sports game DOTA 2 is an incredibly international one. The game, which has as of now more than 12 million unique users every month, is immensely popular in not only North America and Europe, but also Brazil, Russia and China.

The Chinese teams play an especially important role in professional DOTA 2 tournaments. A nation that has had arguably the most endearing interest in the game’s predecessor, DOTA 1, its professional DOTA 2 teams are unsurprisingly amongst the world’s best. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly common for western tournaments to contain matches that are essentially “Chinese derbies” – matches where both teams were Chinese. This also, of course, incites in the western audience as well as the media an interest in Chinese DOTA 2 tournaments.

It’s not surprising then, to see Chinese DOTA 2 phrases adopted into the western scene. “Ka le” are the pinyin expressions of the Chinese characters “卡了”. The first character, “卡”(ka) means lag, while the second character “了”(le) is a modifying character that indicates past tense. Therefore a translation of “ka le” would be “there was a lag”.

As the Chinese DOTA 2 scene became ever-so-increasingly popular, this expression became known as well. However, the expression would never have become truly popular in the west, particularly North America, were it not for the coincidence that “ka le” bears such a striking resemblance to an infamous/famous word in our language (especially nowadays), “kale”.

So it happened. Many western players now, professionals and amateurs alike, type in all-chat: “kale” instead of “lag”.


The informant is currently a student in university. We were teammates together on our DOTA 2 team. As of now he has been a player and an active participant in the community for 3 years.

He learnt of this folkspeech through in-game experience; he was watching a live-stream of a tournament match, during which the players on the western team used this phrase during a pause. Later in one our team’s matches he told us about this experience.


This is an intriguing example of how one culture’s folklore or joke can come from a translation and its subsequent misinterpretation o2f another culture’s common phrase.