Over the past few years, we’ve seen Japan Railways, Japan’s largest rail operator, embark on a spurt of posh train building, with coaches that feature gold leaf accents, split-level suites, and relaxing foot baths. This fall, though, JR West will be launching a train that dials back the luxury while pumping up the awesomeness in the eyes of anime fans with the Evangelion Shinkansen.
It’s been 40 years since the completion of the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, which runs primarily along the southern coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu and connects the cities of Osaka and Fukuoka. Coincidentally, it’s also the 20th anniversary of the initial TV broadcast of landmark anime series Evangelion. Seeing as how they’re both marking milestones this year, JR West and Eva decided to celebrate together by teaming up for the Shinkansen Evangelion Project.
Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno and mechanical designer Ikuto Yamashita put their creative minds together and came up with the 500 Type Eva, a 500 Series Shinkansen train that takes ist styling cues from the anime’s Evangelion Unit-01.
Starting this fall, the 500 Type Eva will be making two runs along the Sanyo Shinkansen Line. In the morning, the Kodama 730 train will depart Hakata at 6:36 and arrive in Shin Osaka at 11:14 a.m. Soon after, the Kodama 741 will pull out of Shin Osaka at 11:32, reaching Hakata at 4:07 in the afternoon.
JR West’s press release also says that an array of Shinkansen Evangelion Project merchandise will be available, and that passengers can look forward to the Evangelion theme extending to the interior of the train as well. No details have been announced as to what exactly that will entail, but excited fan speculation has included such daydreams as the series’ female voice actresses announcing upcoming stops and train personnel dressing in the plug suits Eva’s teen pilots wear when taking the controls of their giant robots.
The exact dates the Eva Shinkansen will be in operation have yet to be decided, but it’s scheduled to be in service through March of 2017. Hopefully Anno will be able to make time in his schedule for a ride during that period, especially since the Sanyo Shinkansen Line goes right through his home prefecture of Yamaguchi.