Master katana craftsmen and anime mecha designer team up to will Evangelion to life in katana form.

Aside from its intricate elements and densely complex plot, the Evangelion anime franchise also has an extremely developed aesthetic language. The color palate and unique mix of mechanical and organic lines ensure that Evangleion looks like no other anime production, and those design cues transition beautifully into katana and other traditional Japanese weaponry.

After a six-year absence from Tokyo, the traveling Evangelion and Katana exhibit has returned to the capital, bringing with it a number of new pieces since the last time it was here. We grabbed our tickets and headed to the event’s venue in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, just a short walk from SoraNews24 headquarters.

The most dynamic addition to the display is the completed Natayanagi, which was originally envisioned by Evangleion mecha designer Ikuto Yamashita in an illustration in which it’s being held by Evangelion Unit-01.

The preconception-shattering construction takes the basic building block of a sword and rearranges them in a way unlike anything ever seen before. However, in bringing the Natayanagi into the real world, master swordsmith Yukihira Miyairi Kozaemon has still managed to connect the sword with Japan’s cultural history.

As we’ve mentioned before, an artistic appreciation of katana includes a careful examination of the hamon, or temper patterns, and the Natayanagi also displays elegant yet strong hada (folding patterns).

Hada is also the Japanese word for “skin,” yet another biometalic connection between katana and Evangelion robots.

▼ The cloud-like rippling pattern is referred to as the sword’s nioi, or “scent.”

▼ The grip and swordstand are carved from wood, and accented with gold leaf.

Also making their Tokyo debut are a set of five tosu, compact utility knives, based on each of the five Eva units and their pilots.

Their blades are identical, meant to evoke the mobile Entry Plug cockpits that get inserted into the Evas before tactical operations. Each tosu has a unique scabbard, though. For example, the Unit-01 version has a set of subtly chilling teeth, a reminder of the robot’s ability to literally devour its adversaries when overcome with rage.

The decorative mountings for the Unit-00, 02, and 08 daggers match the number and colors of their respective robot’s eyes.

But greatest volume of symbolism shows up on the Evangelion Mark.06 tosu, which includes a snake like the one found in the insignia of its shadowy manufacturer, Seele…

…and a cratered pattern at its tip, resembling the surface of the moon, where the robot was constructed.

There’s even a polearm included in the exhibit, in the form of the Spear of Longinus.

Measuring over three meters (9.8 feet), this is a massive piece that you’ll need to take a few steps back in order view in its entirety. After that, though, a closer look is also in order.

Unlike the Eva swords and knives, which, in accordance with katana custom, are made using only sand-rich tamahagane iron ore, the Spear of Longinus also incorporates cobalt and nickel alloys, for a finish similar to Damascus steel.

▼ However, since it’s not a sword, the katana craftsmen involved aren’t authorized to sharpen its tips to actual piercing points.

Other highlights of the exhibition include a series of swords from the alternate-ending Evangelion Anima serialized novels, which are written by, and have cover illustrations from, Yamashita.

▼ Eva Unit-01’s Maglock Sword was forged by swordsmith Kanekuni Ogawa, who also created the real-life reverse-edged Rurouni Kenshin sakabato we admired earlier this summer.

▼ The Counter Sword, also from Evangelion Anima

▼ Blades saluting Shinji

▼ …Rei

▼ …Kaworu

▼ …Mari

▼ …and, most creatively of all, Asuka.

As a special treat, on the day we stopped by Yoko Takahashi, singer of Evangelion’s instantly recognizable opening theme song “Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” was also in attendance, and dressed up for the occasion.

The Evangelion and Katana exhibition (which is a combination exhibition included as a set with the Evangelion Artwork Selection) is taking place at the Shinjuku branch of department store Takashimaya until September 9.

Event information
Evangelion and Katana+Evangelion Artwork Selection / ヱヴァンゲリヲンと日本刀展+EVANGELION ARTWORK SELECTION
Venue: Takashimaya (Shinjuku branch)
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-24-2
Until September 9
Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Admission: 1,000 yen (US$9.25)

Photos ©SoraNews24
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