Director and voice cast of groundbreaking, long-stalled anime franchise gather for formal ceremony.

The Evangelion anime franchise started with a pretty breakneck pace, with 26-episodes in 1995 and ’96 plus a pair of movies, Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion, in 1997. At the time, everyone thought that the second film was the last we’d see of director Hideaki Anno’s groundbreaking anime (“end of Evangelion is right there in the title, after all), but then in 2007, Eva returned to the big screen with the first installment of Rebuild of Evangelion, a movies series that’s either a reboot, sequel, or some combination of the two.

A second Rebuild film came in 2009, and the wait was just a little longer for the third, which was released in 2012. As for the fourth, and supposedly final, Rebuild of Evangelion movie? Well, fans are still waiting…but at least there’s now photographic evidence that the staff feels it’s entered actual production.

Studio Khara, Evangelion’s current rights-holder, recently tweeted a photo from its company shinnenkai, or start of the new year party. But what’s more important is what comes after the plus sign in that banner, which translates as “New Evangelion Movie:||: Start of Production” (:||, a musical notation mark meaning “repeat,” is currently an official part of the movie’s title, because nothing in Evangelion is ever simple or direct).

Among those in attendance were Anno, sporting a brown blazer, and several members of the anime’s voice cast.

Megumi Ogata, voice of Eva protagonist Shinji, clinks glasses with Anno while standing between the director and legendary voice actress Megumi Hayashibara, who portrays the stoic Rei.

“It’s the beginning of the end,” tweeted Ogata, and if the wait has been excruciating for fans, it hasn’t been easy for her either. “[Evangelion is] a project where I feel, where I have to feel, ‘I want to go on living until I can record my final performance for it,’ and I’m so happy to be involved with such an anime. I will survive, until my final recording, no matter what.”

▼ Anno addresses the attendees and leads a group clap as the party comes to a close.

Other members of the all-star cast who showed up included Sailor Moon herself, Kotono Mitsuishi, who voices Misasto…

…and Fumihiko Tachiki, who, like his character Gendo, sports glasses and some impressive chin hair.

▼ Though it looks like in real-life he’s not as cold and stern as the character he plays, and who’s frequently cited as being the worst dad in all of anime.

However, despite Ogata’s surging enthusiasm to get back in the booth, the voice actress says that vocal recording sessions for the fourth Rebuild of Evangelion movie are still a ways off. “I’ll do my best, and hope it will be a movie everyone will enjoy,” she says, and odds are that she, just like the rest if us, is keeping her fingers crossed that Khara sticks to the 2020 release date it promised in the gorgeous teaser trailer for the long-awaited anime.

Source: Twitter/@Megumi_Ogata via Jin

Follow Casey on Twitter, where you better believe he picked up a couple of Megumi Hayashibara albums when his local CD rental shop went out of business last week.