Snapshot from the recording booth shows the beginning of the end of one of anime’s most important franchises ever.

There have been a lot of anime series about giant robots with teen pilots, but Evangelion set itself apart by seriously considering the question “How badly would it screw 15-year-olds up psychologically to make them hop into building-sized war machines and fight aliens?” Answering that question, though, has taken longer than its characters’ in-anime lives.

Eva premiered as a 1995 TV series, and with the fourth and final movie in the Rebuild of Evangelion arc, meant to cap the franchise, scheduled for release this summer, in total it’s going to take 25 years to get to the end of the Eva road. Of course, that’s assuming the fourth Rebuild film actually comes out on the promised date. It’s been eight years since the third Rebuild movie, which is basically an eternity in today’s pump-out-new-content-or-be-forgotten anime environment, and with Eva being very much a personal passion project for creator/director Hideaki Anno, there’s always the chance that he’ll say, “You know what? On second thought, I need another decade or so to work on this.”

But if you’re hoping to see the end of Evangelion (by which I mean the fourth Rebuild movie, not the retroactively incredibly ironic End of Evangelion theatrical feature from 1997), you’re in luck. Voice actress Megumi Ogata, who plays protagonist Shinji, has given everyone a concrete sign of progress by tweeting a photo of her personal copy of the fourth movie’s script and announcing that she’s begun recording Shinji’s dialogue for the second half of the film, implying that she’s already done with his lines for the first half.

“Yesterday, I finally started recording my lines for the second half of the Rebuild movie,” Ogata posted on February 3. In the Japanese animation industry, it’s customary for the visuals to be created first and the dialogue recorded after, so Ogata’s update is an encouraging sign that the movie is making steady progress. Even more reassuring is the fact that she mentions she’s starting as late as she is because Shinji’s dialogue is being recorded last, after all the other character’s dialogue has been laid down. “’We’re doing Shinji’s lines after everyone else’s are finished (except for the Eva robots themselves)’, they told me,” revealed Ogata.

▼ Ogata says that her return to the role of Shinji had her as fired up as the part always does, and that after a solid hour of sweating while performing her lines, it was time for a coffee break.

Since the Eva Units can only growl, not talk, all the other characters being done talking would also seem to indicate that the movie’s script is finished. Though there’s been no official word on why the gap between the third and fourth Rebuild movies has been eight long years, Anno has long had a reputation for being a director whose mental and emotional state greatly affects his work. With the third Rebuild movie considered by many to be a disappointing misstep in terms of story and characterization, it’s been widely speculated that the wait has been a result of Anno grappling with how to put the finishing touch on what will almost certainly be the defining franchise of his career in animation, as well as one of the most influential anime series of all time.

But if Anno has finally produced a script that he’s happy with, the odds are looking good that the final Rebuild of Evangelion movie really will be in theaters on June 27.

Source: Twitter/@Megumi_Ogata via Otakomu
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