The Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン Shin Seiki Evangerion?) franchise is an umbrella of Japanese media properties generally owned by the anime studio Gainax. It has grossed over 150 billion yen since 1995. The central (and original) works of the franchise feature an apocalyptic mecha action story which revolves around the efforts by the paramilitary organization Nerv to fight hostile beings called Angels. Nerv's primary weapon against the Angels are giant mecha called Evangelions which are piloted by select teenagers, one of whom, Shinji Ikari, is the primary protagonist. Other works deviate from this theme to varying degrees, focusing more on romantic interactions between the characters, side stories which did not appear in the original works, and/or reimaginings of the conflicts from the original works.
The franchise's central works, both titled Neon Genesis Evangelion, are an anime and a manga serial, both of which follow the same storyline, although with numerous minor differences between them. The manga, written by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, debuted in the February 1995 issue of Shonen Ace (published in December 1994) and is still running as of 2010. The manga was intended to raise interest for the anime (directed by Hideaki Anno with character designs by Sadamoto), which was in development at that point and was intended to be Gainax's next major anime release.
The anime consists of 26 television episodes which were first aired on the terrestrial TV Tokyo network from October 4, 1995 to March 27, 1996. It was later aired across Japan by the anime satellite television network, Animax. The series won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1995 and 1996.
The anime succeeded wildly beyond expectation and has spawned countless derivative works and imitators. The series established a number of distinctive features of future works in the franchise: a stock set of distinctive characters such as Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu, Rei Ayanami, Toji Suzuhara, and others such as Misato Katsuragi (for a complete list, see here); a number of philosophical, psychological, and religious themes; and an idiosyncratic vocabulary of symbols and allusions drawing heavily on Christian and Kabbalistic symbolism, Buddhist beliefs, and the Japanese otaku subculture. Similarly, Evangelion properties consistently focus on a number of themes and dilemmas, as discussed by Anno:
Eva is a story that repeats. It is a story where the main character witnesses many horrors with his own eyes, but still tries to stand up again. It is a story of will; a story of moving forward, if only just a little. It is a story of fear, where someone who must face indefinite solitude fears reaching out to others, but still wants to try.
After the series
Gainax launched a project to create a movie ending for the series in 1997. The company first released Death and Rebirth, consisting of a highly condensed character-based recap and re-edit of the TV series episodes 1-24 (Death) and the first half of the new ending (Rebirth, which was originally intended to be the full ending, but couldn´t be finished due to budget and time constraints). The project to complete the final episodes was completed later in the year, and released as The End of Evangelion. The End of Evangelion is an alternate ending of the series and retells episodes 25 and 26. The End of Evangelion replaces the Rebirth portion of the first film Death and Rebirth. The two films were compiled as a single movie (the way they were originally intended to be), called Revival of Evangelion in 1998.
The two endings are similar in plot, but while in the film Shinji rejects Instrumentality, the television series ends after his decision is made but before it is clear which option he chose. In still frames in episodes 25 and 26, Unit 01 is depicted with wings and the corpses of Misato and Ritsuko are shown, hinting that these events had been planned. In the English-language Director's Cut version of episode 24, the preview of the next episode shows concept frames from the fight between Asuka and the mass-produced Evas, and the title of the next episode is presented as "Air", which is the title of the first chapter from The End of Evangelion, rather than showing scenes from the TV series ending as it does in the original cut. There was a sudden shift in tone around episode 16 of the series. This was partly due to scheduling restraints, which drastically reduced the number of frames that could be drawn for each episode, and partly due to the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway on March 20, 1995, which occurred while the series was under production; Anno decided to remove elements of the series plot that he felt were too similar to the real-life attack. Anno stated before production that he did not know how the show would end, nor what would become of the characters. Reaction was decidedly mixed; reception of the latter quarter of the TV series had often been hostile to the point of death threats, and the movies were seen as being even more incomprehensible (such as the ending), bizarre and even disgusting.
In May 1998, Gainax was audited by the National Tax Agency at the urging of the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau: Gainax was suspected of committing tax evasion on the massive profits accruing from various Evangelion properties. Gainax had concealed 1.56 billion yen worth of income (thereby failing to pay 560 million yen due in corporate taxes) which it had earned between the release of Evangelion and July 1997. Gainax would pay companies closely related to it various large fees, ostensibly to pay for animation expenses, but then immediately withdraw 90% of the sums from the other company's accounts as cash and store it in safe deposit boxes (leaving 10% as a reward for the other company's assistance).
Eventually Takeshi Sawamura and tax accountant Yoshikatsu Iwasaki were arrested on 13 July 1999 for concealing income of 1.5 billion yen failing to pay corporate taxes of 580 million yen. Yasuhiro Takeda defends Sawamura's actions as being a reaction to Gainax's perpetually precarious finances and the shaky accounting procedures internally:
"Sawamura understood our financial situation better than anyone, so when Evangelion took off and the money really started rolling in, he saw it as possibly our one and only opportunity to set something aside for the future. I guess he was vulnerable to temptation at that point, because no one knew how long the Evangelion goose would keep laying golden eggs. I don't think he purposely set out with the goal of evading taxes. It was more that our level of accounting knowledge wasn't up to the task of dealing with revenues on such a large scale."
Rebuild of Evangelion series
On September 9, 2006, Gainax confirmed a new animated film series called Rebuild of Evangelion, consisting of four movies to be released in 2007 and 2008 originally. However, only the first film was released in 2007, and the second in 2009. The first three movies will be an alternate retelling of the TV series (including new scenes, settings, backgrounds, characters), and the fourth movie will be a completely new conclusion to the story. The first of the new movies was released in Japan on September 1, 2007 under the name Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. The second, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance debuted in theaters on June 27, 2009.
The franchise has spread beyond the anime into a number of different media.
Script error A number of manga series based on the anime have been released. Neon Genesis Evangelion, by series character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, has been serialized since February 1995, eight months previous to the official premiere of the series. Evangelion was originally conceived as an anime series, and the early publication of the manga appears to be a way of promoting the anime even before its actual release. Two other manga based on non-canonical video games have been created: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, by Fumino Hayashi, Shinji Ikari Raising Project by Takahashi Osamu and Gakuen Datenroku by Min Min. Evangelion has also inspired various doujinshi, like RE-TAKE. Even famous mangaka have contributed their own NGE manga: "Birth of Evangelion" was drawn by Yun Kōga, the mangaka who designed Earthian and Loveless.
Several video games have been released around the franchise for Windows, Mac OS, and several home game systems, including the Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2. Many of the games are RPGs and dating simulators, while others are more combat-oriented.
Asides from the many releases and forms of the TV series and movies, merchandise for Evangelion appears in many media; one catalog of only officially licensed merchandise as of 1997 fills a book of 144 pages. The book is described as covering:
"...cards, posters, toys, models (fifty different figurines of Rei alone--plug suit Reis; school uniform [standard and Episode 26] Reis; swimsuit Reis; not to forget the inevitable hospital gurney Rei and summer-fireworks-festival-yukata Rei), videos, CD-ROMs, games, books, manga, "official" fan comics (doujinshi) collections, T-shirts, bags, caps, ties (Kaji's), gloves (Misato's), wearable plug suits (Rei's; wouldn't Asuka's have been more appropriate?), keychains, pins, watches, bookmarks, stationery, pens, pencils, rubber stamps, a Prog Knife-shaped, knife, binders, wallets, floppy disks, mice, lighters, mugs, coasters, a Spear of Longinus-shaped fork, SEELE "Sound Only" speakers, washtubs and soap, towels, umbrellas, fans, postcards, laminated cards, playing cards, phone cards... None of this, by the way, covers the rare Evangelion items--they get their own, 13-page section.
As of 2007, NGE merchandise is estimated at over 6000 distinct items. Action figures of the Evas, the Angels, and the pilots have been created. Asuka and Rei in particular are popular subjects for garage kits and models. There have been two Pinky:St figure sets based on the show. Overall sales of the merchandise are tremendous; Evangelion music and OSTs sold more than 6.3 million CDs as of 1999.
Some of the merchandise is tenuously connected to the series, such as an Evangelion humidifiers, Doritosbuckets, bentos, operating system utility, calendars, or Spandex biking shorts; the merchandise is sometimes very expensive, such as a "$900 laser engraved Rei (EVANGELION) crystal cube" (limited edition of 10,000 for 98,000¥). Perennially popular are the NGE-themed pachinko machines.
A great deal of the merchandise is otaku-oriented (such as headphones, cosplay-accurate Mari & Gendo glasses or Misato's sunglasses, iPhone battery-packs, or dakimakura body pillows) and has a much lighter tone than the series, something for which Anno has expressed considerable discontent, although he has not been involved in production for any of the merchandise. Two dolls featuring Pullip by Junplaning were released in February and March 2008. The Rei Ayanami Pullip was released in February 2008, while the Asuka Langley Soryu Pullip was released in March 2008.
Development of a live-action movie version of Neon Genesis Evangelion was announced in May 2003 by the Houston-based anime distributor ADV Films, who holds worldwide rights to the series outside of Asia and Australia, and Universal Studios would be the American distributor. The film will be made by ADV, Gainax, and Weta Workshop Ltd.. Its release is currently projected to occur at any time ranging from as early as 2010 to as late as 2015. In December 2005, Fortune Magazine reported in an article about ADV Films that it had raised "about half of the $100 million to $120 million" needed to produce the film. It is not completely clear if this money was raised by ADV alone or if part of that amount was contributed by Gainax.
As of 2009[update], the project is considered to be in "development hell", as a director has yet to become available or announced officially. In a panel discussion at Tekkoshocon on April 2, 2006 featuring Matt Greenfield and wife Tiffany Grant, many aspects of the project were revealed. Greenfield recalled that Weta approached ADV about a live-action Eva movie after completing work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, but work was delayed by King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia. It was revealed that three described "A-list" directors and several celebrities had approached the project, rather than the other way around, and the slug script was written by a writer of several other well-known science fiction movies (though this is subject to be rewritten and tailored to the director's vision). Greenfield also reiterated his belief that they did not want to make the movie for profit, but because they wanted to do it and have it done right (as with the Lord of the Rings trilogy), and promised effort toward a trilogy of Evangelion films (as opposed to trying to condense the story into one film and lose vast amounts of material), similar again to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Beyond these official announcements and some concept art produced by Weta Workshop, little or no more information about the film(s) has been made available. At Anime Expo 2008, ADV founders Matt Greenfield and John Ledford, in response to a question over the progress of the live-action film, revealed they had hired the producer for Appleseed Ex Machina, John Wu, and pitched the idea to other producers such as Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg. They went on to say that interest in the project had been boosted by the success of the 2007 film Transformers.
At Ohayocon 2009, ADV director Matt Greenfield announced that several U.S. studios are competing for final rights to the project, meaning that actual production should begin soon. Matt Greenfield estimates that an official announcement, including naming the studio, the director, and perhaps casting information, would be made within the next 9 months. During the opening ceremonies when ADV head Matt Greenfield was introduced, someone in the crowd shouted a question about whether or not fans would ever see the long-promised live-action Neon Genesis Evangelion movie. "Soon, and I'm not kidding" was Mr. Greenfield's response. He clarified a bit later that evening during an Evangelion panel, saying that the closer he gets to sealing the deal, the less he can say anything about it.
The current status of the film is unknown following the sudden collapse and asset sale of A.D. Vision on September 1, 2009; producer Joseph Chou said in February 2010 that the project was still active, and delays owed more to the general deterioration of the US anime market than to ADV's internal issues. John Ledford. a co-founder of ADV Films is still attached to the film.
No cast has yet been announced for the film, as several parties have stated that one of the goals of the production is to cast children of ages appropriate to their roles and then cast adults who will be able to work well with them.
One point worth noting is that in the earliest days of disclosure, Tiffany Grant stated through interviews and self-published articles, that the film would feature a cast "mostly of European descent," as well as mentioning ADV Films toying with the idea of giving the English dub actors cameos in the film. Not long after Grant's statements, concept art produced by Weta Workshop was released featuring character slug names such as "Kate Rose" (in lieu of Asuka Langley), "Ray Ayanami" (Rei Ayanami), and "Susan Whitnall" (assumed by some to be Misato Katsuragi). The art was later changed to reflect the original, Japanese names, but caused a great deal of controversy among NGE fans.
The Keroro Gunso (Sgt. Frog) anime features many aspects of the Evangelion series, when Saburo first appears in the Hinata's House it is shown his A.T. field. Later he descends to their underground Base like Kaworu Nagisa (the final angel) and with the same Handel's Messiah playing in the background. Episode 48 is almost seen as a tribute or parody to the series when Keron March Energy gains a human like form that resembles Rei Ayanami and threatens to destroy the planet with the March Impact.
British Post-hardcore band Fightstar's album Grand Unification is a concept album based upon the anime franchise. Grindcore band Discordance Axis also referenced it in some of the song titles of their album The Inalienable Dreamless.
The long-running Super Robot Wars video game franchise features Evangelion characters in Super Robot Wars F, Super Robot Wars Alpha, 3rd Super Robot Wars Alpha, and Super Robot Wars MX. In the video game KOF: Maximum Impact 2, the character Leona Heidern has alternate costumes based on Asuka and Rei's plug suits.
- ↑ As of 2006, by one count, there have been over 14 distinct releases; this count is incomplete. See http://eva.onegeek.org/pipermail/evangelion/2006-May/003288.html
- ↑ E-Mono: Neon Genesis Evangelion All Goods Catalog, as described by Carl Horn: http://www.evamonkey.com/writings_horn13.php
- ↑ In 2010, both Rei & Asuka plugsuits were released by Cospatio for ¥553,350; ANN coverage
- ↑ スポニチ Sponichi Annex ニュース 芸能
- ↑ guNjap: Neon Genesis Evangelion PORTRAITS 3 Released
- ↑ "Starchild, a division of Japan's King Records, said it has sold a total of 3.5 million Evangelion CD albums and 2.8 million singles, with sales of video software and laser discs reaching a combined 3.5 million volumes." AAP NEWSFEED, January 29, 1999, Friday "Japanese animated cartoon stirring quiet boom in Australia" By Naoya Hayashi
- ↑ Evangelion Pet Bottle Type Humidifier Nerv
- ↑ Picasa Web Albums - kyok - junk_bought
- ↑ Evangelion Store
- ↑ This Evangelion Lunch Box Is Pricey
- ↑ "Eugene Moon: EVANGELION character utility (Windows 95). A neat little utility that sits a character from Eva on top of your active window. Sure, they don't do anything but sit there and blink, and your graphics may glitch slightly while playing CIVILIZATION II, but it's just cool. So get Misato to cheer you up while you do programming drudgery in Borland, or have Asuka give you the glare as you type up that EX article that was due last week..." http://www.ex.org/1.x/08-xmas_misc.html
- ↑ http://www.ex.org/2.1/39-calendars.html http://www.ex.org/2.8/42-release_calendars.html
- ↑ Evangelion Spandex Bicycle Shorts for Sale - Anime News Network
- ↑ http://www.ex.org/3.7/08-feature_holiday5.html cf. "Still more prototypes of future merchandise were displayed, such as a full 3-D etching of Gundam carved not on, but inside a crystal block (a la the EVANGELION Ayanami Rei Crystal Art)." http://www.ex.org/3.5/12-event_gundam1.html
- ↑ see pg 227, December NewType 1997
- ↑ 第１２８回 ビスティ「新世紀エヴァンゲリオン～魂の軌跡」展示会＆小冊子＆スペック｜たかちゃんのブログ
- ↑ みんなのエヴァンゲリオン(ヱヴァ)ファン 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン〜魂の軌跡〜展示会に行ってきた
- ↑ Strapya World : Neon Genesis Evangelion Stereo Headphones (EVA-1 Type)
- ↑ GAINAX OFFICIAL SHOP SIDE-EVA | 真希波・マリ・イラストリアス フレーム TYPE-MARI
- ↑ Gainax Official Shop Side-Eva | 碇ゲンドウ サングラス Type-Gendo
- ↑ GAINAX OFFICIAL SHOP SIDE-EVA | 葛城ミサト サングラス TYPE-3310 Version-Black
- ↑ See http://www.evageeks.org/2010/01/eva-iphone-case-and-battery/
- ↑ http://nebs66.livejournal.com/1053526.html covering http://www.evastore.jp/index.cgi
- ↑ http://www.hlj.com/product/JNPF-579 http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Evangelion-Ayanami-Pullip-Fashion/dp/B001U9IW78
- ↑ Neon Genesis Evangelion Rei & Asuka Langley Pullip Fashion Dolls | Toy Retard
- ↑ Lawson Opens Tokyo-3 Evangelion Convenience Store | Sankaku Complex
- ↑ Otaku Horde Dooms Evangelion Conbini | Sankaku Complex
- ↑ Life-Sized Evangelion Unit-01 Completed - EvaGeeks.org
- ↑ http://afufu.net/freewill/2010/07/life-size-evangelion-final-video-and-images/
- ↑ "It's... Profitmón!" by Daniel Roth, December 12, 2005
- ↑ "10 Years of Death and Rebirth" (Google video), Tekkoshocon 2006
- ↑ CGSociety link to Weta NGE concept art; http://neon-genesis-evangelion.moviechronicles.com/2006-05/new-weta-workshop-concept-art/
- ↑ 411mania.com: Movies - The Vile One's Dungeon 8.07.08: San Diego Comic Con 2008 - Jane And The Dragon Interview with Richard Taylor and Martin Baynton
- ↑ ADV Films - Anime Expo 2008 - Anime News Network
- ↑ Evangelion Live Action Movie - Movie Chronicles
- ↑ Producer: Live-Action Evangelion Project Still Active - Anime News Network
- ↑ "Notes About the Live Action Evangelion Movie" by Tiffany Grant
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- "Untitled Evangelion Project" profile at the Internet Movie Database
- Evangelion – It's Japan by asianbeat
- "Evangelion Motorcycle to Compete"
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