Turns out Shinji will not be getting on the damn stage after all.

Almost as soon as Evangelion became a hit in the late ‘90s, rumors began swirling that a live-action Hollywood movie was on the way. That never materialized, but last autumn came the announcement that there is indeed a live-action adaptation in the works in Japan, in the form of a stage play scheduled to open in Tokyo this spring.

Even with 2021’s Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time anime movie closing the book on the series’ storyline, fans were still intrigued by the prospect of seeing Shinji, Rei, Asuka, and the rest of the Eva cast portrayed by human actors and actresses. It turns out, though, that that’s not something the play will be delivering, though, as it’s going to be an entirely original story with a new cast of characters.

Titled Evangelion Beyond, the play is the centerpiece of the Evangelion celebration dubbed Evangelion Kabukicho Impact that will take place at the new Tokyu Kabukicho Tower in Tokyo’s Kabukicho neighborhood (sorry, just one more “Kabukicho” after this one in this article). Instead of Shinji, the story will focus on a man named Soshi Tomori, played by actor Masataka Kumada.

Story details are still scarce, but Evangelion Beyond is set on a devastated Earth where 14-year-old boys and girls pilot Evangelions in connection to efforts to restore humanity to its previous stability. Soshi, who never knew his parents and is seen as a leader of his community, witnesses the beginning of a tragedy, and together with Yu Mizuho, a member of the mysterious agency Mensch involved in Evangelion operations and energy sourcing, seeks to uncover the truth.

Yu will be played by actress Shizuka Ishibashi (pictured above). Also announces as members of the cast are Nijiro Murakami as Tan Hasumi, a reluctant new-recruit Eva pilot, and Tetsushi Tanaka as Masatsugu Sogo, commander of Mensch who is seeking a new energy that will save mankind.

▼ Nijiro Murakami (left) and Tetsushi Tanaka (right)

Jettisoning the entire character cast of one the most popular anime franchises ever is a bold move, as is casting the 25-year-old Murakami, and ostensibly the 34-year-old Kumada as well, to play 14-year-olds. Then again, Evangelion has never been a franchise that gives fans exactly what they expect or say they want, and it’ll be interesting to see how audiences respond.

Evangelion Beyond will be the first production held at the new Theater Milano-Za, housed within the Tokyu Kabukicho Tower building, and will run from May 6 to 28, with tickets going on sale April 2. The play then moves to Nagano on June 3 and 4, then to Osaka from June 10 to 19.

Source, images: Press release
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