Evangelion, known to its fans simply as Eva, has already earned itself a spot in history as one of Japan’s most popular anime ever. The franchise has such wide appeal that its characters have been used to promote everything from lingerie to cheeseburgers.
Now, Eva’s cast of teenage protagonists is helping to drum up interest in something a little more traditional than the high-tech robots they usually pilot with their newest promotional crossover, the Evangelion and Japanese Sword Exhibition.
The traveling display has been making the rounds of museums nationwide, with previous events in Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Osaka, Sapporo, and a number of smaller cities, including the historic sword making center of Seki in Gifu Prefecture. Next month, the exhibit finally comes to Tokyo at the Ueno Royal Museum (also known as the Ueno no Mori Art Museum).
At the event, which opens on November 23, the works of over 50 Japanese swordsmiths are scheduled to be shown, with three pieces being displayed for the first time. The item with the most direct connection to Eva is the Lance of Longinus, which has been reproduced in its latest form from the Eva theatrical installments.
Of course, with most of Eva’s main characters having their own giant warmech, the series isn’t exactly packed with traditional weaponry. The majority of the swords on display were created in the image of the series’ protagonists. These modern-looking blades adopting the character’s signature color patterns and take inspiration from Eva’s unique mix of technological and biological designs.
Audio guides are available, and while the event’s homepage makes no mention of any English version, anime fans might still want to grab an earpiece. Handling narration duties is Kotono Mitsuishi, voice actress for Eva’s Misato, as well as Sailor Moon.
Aside from the swords themselves, the exhibition will include displays on the history and evolution of Japanese swordsmithing, plus a large-scale figure of main character Shinji’s robot and statues of his more photogenic female teammates Rei and Asuka.
As could be expected, there is also a gift shop, although with interesting items like DVDs showing how Japanese swords and the Lance of Longinus were created, plus over 500 different types of Eva merchandise (some exclusive to the event), we doubt fans will be complaining much. Guests who come on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays also have the option of purchasing a commemorative plate engraved by a swordsmith on-site.
Being held concurrently is the Kaiyodo Evaangelion Figure World, a collection of over 50 dioramas recreating famous scenes from the anime using figures from manufacturer Kaiyodo.
The Evangelion and Japanese Sword Exhibition runs until December 23. Advance tickets are available now, and can be purchased at Lawson and 7-11 convenience stores, as well as through ticketing services such as Ticket Pia.
Evangelion and Japanese Sword Exhibition
Event site: Ueno Royal Museum
Tokyo, Taito-ku, Ueno Koen 1-2
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (entry until 4:30 p.m.)
Admission: 800 yen (US $8) for advance tickets, 1,000 yen at the door