Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise

The "Neon Genesis Evangelion" franchise is a multi-billion dollar umbrella of Japanese media properties generally owned by the anime studio Gainax.

The originating work was a TV series, but a manga serial was being published at the same time. The "Neon Genesis Evangelion" manga serial, written by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, started running in the February 1995 issue of "Shonen Ace" (published in December 1994) and is still running as of 2008. The manga was intended to raise interest for Gainax's next major anime project, a mecha TV series also named "Neon Genesis Evangelion" (directed by Hideaki Anno with character designs by Sadamoto), which was in development at that point.

"Neon Genesis Evangelion" consists of 26 television episodes which were first aired on the terrestrial TV Tokyo network from October 4, 1995 to March 27, 1996. [ With the exception of the first two episodes, which were first shown in a rough form three months before (in July 1995) airing to approximately 200 Gainax fans at the second "GAINA Matsuri" or "GAINAX Festival" (a "camp-style convention" for fans) in Itako, Ibaraki. Pg 162 and 175 of Takeda 2002] 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 TV series succeeded wildly beyond expectation and has spawned countless derivative works and imitators [Takeda 2002, for example, mentions that no one in Gainax was expecting NGE to succeed on the scale it did (beyond anything else Gainax had done); indeed, the stress of just handling all the money made by the franchise caused Gainax's accounting scandal and the 1999 arrest of its president.] . 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 and others such as Misato Katsuragi (for a fuller list, see List of characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion); 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:

"'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." --Anno [ [http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-02-20/hideaki-anno-releases-statement-about-new-evangelion-movies Hideaki Anno Releases Statement About New Evangelion Movies - Anime News Network ] ]

After the series

Gainax launched the project to create a movie ending for the series in 1997. They first released , consisting of a highly condensed character-based recap and re-edit of the TV series ("Death") and the first half of the new ending ("Rebirth"). The project was completed later in the year, and released as "The End of Evangelion"; "The End of Evangelion" is an alternate viewpoint of the series ending, which supplements episodes 25 and 26. The three were compiled as a single movie, the "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,cite web | author = Gainax | url = http://www.evaotaku.com/html/rcb-tsurumaki.html | title = A Story of Communication: The Kazuya Tsurumaki Interview | accessdate = 2006-08-15 | publisher = | work= Red Cross Book | date = 1998-02-20 ] 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.cite web | url = http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-9802/msg00101.html | title = Interview with Azuma Hiroki | accessdate = 2006-08-15 | last = Woznicki | first = Krystian | date = 1998-02-20 ] Anno stated before production that he did not know how the show would end, nor what would become of the characters.cite book | last = Anno | first = Hideaki | authorlink = Hideaki Anno | others = translated by Mari Morimoto, English adaptation by Fred Burke | title = Neon Genesis Evangelion, Vol. 1 | year = 1998 | month = December | origyear = 1995 | origmonth = July | publisher = VIZ Media LLC | location = San Francisco | id = ISBN 1-56931-294-X | pages = 170–171 | chapter = What were we trying to make here?] 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) ["Asahi Shimbun"/ASAHI EVENING NEWS. November 13, 1998. "JAPAN- Animator hit for tax evasion" Pg. News.] .

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. [ [http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/1998-11-12/gainax-company-president-admit-tax-evasion] , [http://www.animenewsservice.com/archives/july99.htm] ] 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." [pg 170, Takeda 2002]

Other movies

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. 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. [cite web | url = http://www.evangelion.co.jp/ | title = Rebuild of Evangelion | accessdate = 2006-09-12 | publisher = Gainax | date = 2006-09-10] The first of the new movies was released in Japan on September 1st, 2007 under the name "".

Live action film

Infobox Film
name = Untitled Evangelion Project


caption =
director =
producer =
writer = Hideaki Anno (creator), Matt Greenfield (screenplay, no writer - producer)
starring =
music =
cinematography =
editing =
distributor =
released = TBD
runtime =
country =
language =
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
amg_id =
imdb_id = 0400911

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 2009 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. [http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/12/12/8363101/index.htm "It's... Profitmón!"] by Daniel Roth,December 12, 2005] It's not completely clear if this money was raised by ADV alone or if part of that amount was contributed by Gainax.

As of June 2008, 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. [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4303537030524950783&q=10+years+of+Death&hl=en "10 Years of Death and Rebirth" (Google video)] , Tekkoshocon 2006] 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 "". 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 it right (as with Lord of the Rings), 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.

Cast

No cast has yet been announced for the movie, 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's toying with the idea of giving the English dub actors (herself being perhaps the most well-known of these) cameos in the film. [http://www.modusproductions.com/eva-r/tiff/essays/ "Notes About the Live Action Evangelion Movie"] by Tiffany Grant] . 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" (Rei Ayanami), and "Susan Whitnall" (Misato Katsuragi).

In 2005, Weta Workshop updated its official website, adding a section which featured all of its previously released Evangelion concept art labeled with the original Japanese character names as well as several references to Tokyo 3, cited as "New Tokyo". [http://www.wetaworkshop.co.nz/projects/filmography/film/neon_genesis Featured Project - Neon Genesis Evangelion] , Official Site of Weta Workshop] Richard Taylor, head of Effects and Creatures at Weta Workshop, publicly expressed his belief at the 2006 Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Brisbane that the film should have a predominantly Asian cast in order to work effectively in the international market. [http://supanova.joffrestreetproductions.com/2006/08/17/richard-taylor-podcast-2/ Richard Tayor Podcast] , Supernova Pop Culture Expo 2006]

Other media

The franchise has spread beyond the anime into a number of different media.

Manga

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.Fact|date=March 2008 Two other manga based on non-canonical video games have been created: ', by Fumino Hayashi and "Shinji Ikari Raising Project" by Takahashi Osamu . "Evangelion" has also inspired various doujinshi, like '. Even famous mangaka are seduced by the NGE story : "Birth of Evangelion" was drawn by Kouga Yun, the mangaka who designed "Earthian" and "Loveless".

Video games

A large range of video games have been released around the franchise for the PC, Mac, 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. 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 "", the character Leona Heidern has alternate costumes based on Asuka and Rei's plug suits.

Merchandising

Merchandise for "Evangelion" appears in a large number of media; one catalog of only officially licensed merchandise as of 1997 fills a book of 144 pages [The book is "E-Mono: Neon Genesis Evangelion All Goods Catalog", as described by Carl Horn: http://www.evamonkey.com/writings_horn13.php] . 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 (ahem), "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, stationary, pens, pencils, rubber stamps, a Prog Knife-shaped, er, knife (just the thing for an "Evangelion made me do it" murder defense), binders, wallets, floppy disks, mice, lighters, mugs, coasters, a Spear of Longinus-shaped fork (in case you missed that, I'll repeat: a Spear of Longinus-shaped fork) SEELE "Sound Only" speakers, washtubs and soap (don't bend over to pick it up, Shinji), 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.

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 figure sets based on the show. Overall sales of the merchandise are tremendous; Evangelion music and OSTs have racked up more than 6.3 million sold CDs as of 1999 ["Starchild, a division of Japan's King Record Co Ltd, 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] .

A great deal of the merchandise is otaku oriented 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.Fact|date=February 2007 Two dolls featuring Pullip by Junplaning will be released in February and March 2008. Rei Ayanami Pullip comes out in February 2008 while Asuka Langley Soryu Pullip comes out in March 2008.Fact|date=February 2008

References

*

External links

* [http://evangelion.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page "Neon Genesis Evangelion" Wikia]
* [http://eva.trivialbeing.net/ eva.trivialbeing.net] — Fan site collecting data on the live movie.
* [http://www.wetaworkshop.co.nz/projects/filmography/film/neon_genesis The project page for the movie] on Weta Workshop's website (only conceptual art is shown so far).
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0400911/ "Untitled Evangelion Project" profile] at the Internet Movie Database


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