I’m always on the lookout for images to reference the things I’m building. In the case of Rebuild of Evangelion–a cartoon–it’s a lot more helpful to have something three-dimensional to work with rather than 2D stills from the movies.
Last year, Evangelion and the Bizen-Ozafune Japanese Sword Museum from Okayama collaborated to produce real tamahagane blades to exhibit as part of the marketing effort for the release of Rebuild of Evangelion’s third installment, You Can (Not) Redo 3.0. The exhibit ran for a quarter of a year last year.
Over 50 different swordmakers were commissioned to create around 20 different blades inspired by the Evangelion franchise, which includes an array of Evangelion-themed katanas, wakishazi and tanto’s as well as actual swords and progressive knives. Last but not the least among these is a Lance of Longinus over 10 feet long and weighing 22.2 kilograms forged by master smith Sadanao Mikami and his successor Shoichi Hashimoto.
As a huge fan of both bushido culture and Rebuild, I’m really blown away and inspired by the output of the collaboration (check out the photos here). These guys really pushed the boundaries of traditional craftsmanship by translating objects from a fictional anime into reality. This is a level of skill and creativity that I personally aspire for.
Actually, I’m even more amazed by the level of collaboration that transpired in this project. Cooperation between highly revered old-world artisans and a group promoting a pop-culture anime is not the easiest of partnerships to imagine. Strict traditionalism would’ve made the sword smiths turn up their noses on the project, while the Evangelion group would have been highly intimidated by impracticality of the costs and (seemingly) limited payoff of creating museum pieces for the anime. Still its terrific that both sides saw the opportunities of the project; it’s an awesome promotion for the Evangelion franchise, great way to rejuvenate the relevance of traditional Japanese sword making in the public. If all Japanese collaborate and create this way, then I’m not buying what everyone is saying about how Japan is getting “left” behind in the international scene.
According to this post (which also has tons of images), the exhibit has been re-opened to the public a couple of days ago at the Osaka Museum of History. Man, I would love to be there and actually hold those pieces in my hand!