EVANGELION AND THE JAPANESE SWORDS
04 JUL — 28 SEP 2014
Evangelion started as an anime and then it also became a best-selling manga and various successful feature films, gaining worldwide success both formats. Their legendary characters introduce us to the world of the Japanese swords. Evangelion and the Japanese swords’ makes a journey through the contemporary swords which inspired the famous animated films, but also through classic ones dating from the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries. The exhibition is an initiative of Fundación Japón and Museo ABC.
Current Japan is identified by the accentuated counterpoint between tradition and modernity. Therefore, in Museo ABC we have wanted to capture that duality combining in the same space past and present.
Traditionally, associating Evangelion (contemporary anime) to the Japanese swords (symbol of classic craft) would be questioned. However, these historical swords appear frequently in the Japanese anime, with the means of transmitting ancient warriors’ culture and philosophy: when robots or heroes sacrifice themselves for peace, we perceive the presence of the samurais’ knowledge. So, providing Japanese swords to the modern characters is, probably, a natural consequence of this parallelism. Praised as one of the most emblematic anime, Evangelion is no exception to the rule. In the novel Shin Seiki Evangelion ANIMA, which has a different story to the series, we can appreciate weapons inspired in Japanese swords: Bizen Osafune or Magoroku Sword.
In addition to the classic swords, we can find modern katanas made by smith masters (artists who are strongly attached to traditions). These reproductions of Evangelion’s swords show us how the heritage of the past times is perpetuated in the anime. Gathered around this idea, artisans and entertainers have teamed up on a big challenge: forging life-size replicas of the weapons that appear in the series as if they were modern era Japanese swords. The result is the expression of a typical Japanese sensibility and aesthetic that constitutes the spirit of traditional craftsmanship.
Along with Bizen Osafune and Magoroku Sword replicas, the gigantic Lance of Longinus is undoubtedly one of the top pieces of this project. This weapon is an emblem of Evangelion’s universe and has been manufactured using traditional techniques. The smiths have managed to endorse the spirit of the anime without losing the essence of traditional crafts; as reflected in the magnificent work done in the jigane (the edge of the blade). The meeting point between smiths and animators that immersed them into this project had its germ when the Evangelion robots armed themselves with Japanese swords. Modern and traditional cultures blend together and explore new pathways for the future.
—Tomokazu Hirai, European design and adaptation of the exhibition
Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum; All Japan Swordsmith Association Operation Department GroundWorks: Co., Ltd.
We would like to offer a heartfelt thank you to all those who made it posible for us to create this unforgettable exhibition. To all the museums, organizations and private collectors (by alphabetical order): Hayashibara Museum of Art TV SETOUCHI BROADCASTING CO., LTD Asao Morioka; Hiroyasu Andô; Masao Sugiyama; Masataka Hirai; Mitsuhiro Oda; Mitsuyasu Sakai; Naomi Asari; Saburo Ishizaki; Satoru Koike; Shinichi Fukutake; Shuji Mitani; Tetsu Kariya; Tetsuya Tsubouchi; Tetsuya Ueno; Tomo Hirai; Toshiki Fujii; Tsuneyoshi Ohmori; Yasuhiro Kamimura; Yukinori Hashimoto.