While it’s taken some time to catch on in Japan, crowdfunding is slowly but surely becoming a way for entrepreneurs to find funding for their projects that might be just a little too close to the latter end of the “genius vs. madness” spectrum for ordinary financing routes. As in other countries, it’s most noticeably gaining traction for pop culture endeavors, such as video games or anime-related initiatives, and armchair sociologists may want to shake their heads when they hear the fastest accumulation of crowdfunding money ever in Japan is for something that claims it’s going to recreate a scene from venerated mecha anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Before they start muttering about, “Those stupid otaku,” though, critics might want to bear in mind that while the project’s stellar start is in large part thanks to its tie-in to science fiction, should the project succeed the Evangelion marketing gimmick will be powering an important achievement in real science.
It’s been eight years since Google and the X Prize Foundation drew a line in the sands of time and offered a prize of US$20 million for the first team that can launch a robotic spacecraft, deliver a rover to the surface of the moon, and send a specific set of data back to the earth. No one’s claimed the prize yet, but with the deadline for the Google Lunar X Prize (which would actually be a pretty cool title for an anime itself) set for the end of 2016, it’s crunch time.
Well, actually it’s stabbing time for Japanese team Hakuto. That’s because in a clever stroke of cross-promotional genius, someone noticed the parallels between the scientists’ goal and a sequence in Evangelion where one of the massive Eva combat robots hurls the gigantic Spear of Longinus into the moon.
Seeing as how it’s the 20th anniversary of the smash hit anime’s TV broadcast, Hakuto and Evangelion formed a partnership, and thus was born the Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus, and it’s associated crowdfunding campaign on unorthodoxly named Japanese website READYFOR?
The campaign kicked off on January 30, and as of March 9 has raised 36.28 million yen (US$305,000), making it the fastest growing crowdfunding initiative ever in Japan. It’s achieved this figure on donations from 976 backers, making for a generous per-person contribution of over 37,000 yen.
But while backers will receive anime-themed rewards such as posters and T-shirts made specially for the Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus, Hakuto isn’t actually planning to build a robot to chuck a polearm at Earth’s natural satellite. Instead, a 24-cetimeter (9.4-inch) replica of the anime spear will be piggybacking on the team’s real world lunar lander, which will detach from a rocket launched from a site in the U.S.A. Ostensibly, the miniature spear would give the moon a poke after the craft lands on its surface.
Of course, before any of that happens, Hakuto’s project has to reach its goal of a cool 100 million yen. With a cut-off time of 11 a.m. on April 5, there’s not much time to doddle, which is why the campaign’s organizers have just added a new top tier of rewards to help loosen the purse strings of anyone who loves its three themes of science, anime, or medieval weaponry.
One backer at the 8 million yen level will receive a package including a Japanese sword inspired by Evangelion character Rei, and another supporter who pledges the same amount will receive one based on Kaworu. The four top-of-the-line packages, at 10 million yen, each include either a Shinji, Asuka, or Mari sword, or a replica of the Spear of Longinus itself.
All of the weapons are crafted by artisans involved in the Evangelion and Japanese Sword Exhibition. If you’re ready to pony up for the one of the six weapon-inclusive reward packages, or perhaps to make a less eye-popping donation (reward packages start at 5,000 yen), the Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus READYFOR? Page can be found here. And regardless of what kind of goodies Hakuto hooks you up with, try to resist the urge to toss them up at the night sky.
Related: Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus READYFOR?
Source: Yahoo! Japan News via Hachima Kiko, Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus READYFOR?
Top image: Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus READYFOR?
Insert images: Wikia, Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus READYFOR? (edited by RocketNews24)