Like the anime it’s promoting, the Evangelion bullet train’s end has been pushed back.
Before Evangelion became the most lasting popular and influential anime of the last 20 years, it was just some TV project from the upstart fans-turned-pros at animation studio Gainax, who at that point hadn’t even released an animated work of their own in four years. In similar fashion, the Evangelion Shinkansen project has grown into something bigger than it originally was.
Since entering service last November, the team-up with Japan’s high-speed bullet train has given birth to a themed cafe and souvenir shop. Now, with franchise creator Hideaki Anno riding a wave of goodwill following the critical and commercial success of his latest live-action directorial effort, Shin Godzilla, comes news that the Evangelion Shinkansen is going to be sticking around far longer than it was originally expected to.
Last October, roughly a month before the train’s first passenger voyage, operator West Japan Railway Company had said that the 500 Type Eva (as the train is officially called) would be running until the spring of 2017. The company has just announced an extension, though, and now the special Shinkansen is scheduled to be zipping back and forth between Osaka and Fukuoka until the spring of 2018.
As an added bonus, starting October 17 major stops along the route will be announced in-train by mysterious Evangelion latecomer Kaworu, as voice actor Akira Ishida will be greeting and alerting passengers as the train approaches or departs from Shin Osaka, Shin Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Fukuyama, Hiroshima, Tokuyama, Shin Yamaguchi, Kokura, and Hakata Stations.
So now the question remains, with another year of life, which will come first: the final run for the Evangelion bullet train, or the final film in the Evangelion theatrical series?
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s got mixed feelings about Shin Iwakuni Station being left off the list of stations announced by Kaworu.