We recently talked about how the opening theme of anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” is almost painfully ubiquitous in Japan. Overseas, though, the more famous tune is the series’ ending theme, the English-language jazz standard “Fly Me to the Moon.”

The song’s sweet sentimentalism takes on an ironic atmosphere coming after an episode of Evangelion’s painfully subversive depiction of the horrors that could unfold if 14-year-olds were actually tasked with fighting giant invading aliens. And now, “Fly Me to the Moon” will probably take on even more of a bittersweet tone for Eva fans, as the crowdfunding project to send the anime’s Spear of Longinus to the moon has fallen short of its goal.

As we discussed last month, the Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus started off strong. Hosted on Japanese crowdfunding site READYFOR, the initiative was more than just otaku exuberance writ large. It was actually part of a larger effort by Hakuto, a team of scientists competing to claim the Google Lunar X Prize by successfully sending a robotic probe to the moon.

▼ The proposed 24-centimeter (9.4-inch) replica of the weapon, marked in yellow

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January 30 was the first day that backers could pledge money to the anime-themed endeavor, which was seeking 100 million yen (roughly US$840,000). It got off to a strong start, and 38 days later 35.38 million yen had already been raised, making it the fastest-growing and largest crowdfunding project ever in Japan.

Unfortunately, the pace of contributions dropped off shortly after hitting those historic milestones. Minimal progress was made through the second half of March, and with the deadline looming on April 5, as of April 2 only about 40 million yen had been raised.

Ultimately, even expanding the project’s scope to allow for donations from international backers wasn’t enough. The campaign came to a close at 11 p.m. on April 5, and while the final tally of 54,695,000 yen is an impressive sum, it’s still just barely over half of what the organizers were seeking.

Thankfully, this isn’t necessarily the end of the road for Hakuto. The Google Lunar X Prize is still up for grabs, waiting to be awarded to the first team that can fulfill the contest criteria by the end of 2016. But whether it’s Hakuto or some other organization that wins the race, it seems unlikely that any anime memorabilia will be going along for the ride, leaving left-out Eva fans to weep quietly into their glass of Tang.

Or Misato’s favorite brand of sake, if they need something stronger to help them cope with the disappointment.

Source: Livedoor News via Jin
Insert image: Project to Pierce the Moon With the Spear of Longinus READYFOR