It wouldn’t be Evangelion if we could guess where it’s going, after all.

When the cast is shown for a live-action adaptation of an anime franchise, usually the photos fall into one of two categories. If the production is still in its early stages, usually there’ll just be some standard headshots of the actors and actresses, or if things are farther along, they might appear in costumes or poses recreating memorable scenes from the anime source material.

So people have been pretty startled to see the latest casting announcement for the upcoming live-action Evangelion stage play accompanied by this promotional photo.

Sure, it says “Evangelion Beyond” (the stage play’s official title) in the green-and-purple color scheme of Evangelion Unit-01, and the Japanese text also looks a little like the iconic Eva font. But for those who were expecting the cast to be dressed in plugsuits or for a giant robot or alien monster to appear on the poster, it’s hard to see a visual Eva connection, as demonstrated by Twitter reactions such as:

“Is this Eva?”
“Not at all what I was envisioning.”
“Who are these people?”
“I get the feeling everyone is going to start doing modern dance all of a sudden.”
“It looks intriguing, but I’m positive I won’t be able to understand it.”

The shock should have been slightly lessened, though, for those who have been following Evangelion Beyond’s development. Last month, the producers revealed that the live-action adaptation won’t feature the anime’s core character trio of Shinji, Rei, and Asuka. Instead, Evangelion Beyond, as the play is titled, is getting a brand-new protagonist named Soshi Tomori, played by actor Masataka Kumada.

Actually, it doesn’t sound like any of the anime’s characters will be part of the story, judging from the newly released preview description of the story. Like the anime, Evangelion Beyond deals with the repercussions of the arrival of alien invaders called Angels. In the play, though, it’s the special organization Mensch, led by supreme commander Saneyuki Kano, which develops the Evangelion units. Assisting Kano in this endeavor is his subordinate Etsuko Sakurai, and Kano’s son Toma is selected as a pilot for one of the four Eva units, along with fellow middle schoolers Hinata, Eri, and Nao, who are given bracelets as markers of their secret mission and assigned to Mensch field commander Iori. Toma then withdraws from the squad and disappears, followed by Iori reuniting with her old college lover Soshi, who becomes a teacher at the school the Eva pilot attend.

In addition to being a lot of ground to cover, all that sounds very different from the story described in last month’s Evangelion Beyond press release, although the new description does still contain the promise that “Soshi witnesses the opening of the door of a new tragedy.”

Let’s see if the play’s new teaser video can help make things clearer.

Nope, not even a little bit.

All that said, though the new cast photo has a lot of people scratching their heads, the overall online reaction seems to be more comically amused intrigue than outright confused outrage. And as any veteran fan can tell you, it’s hard enough figuring out what Eva is trying to say after watching it, so not being able to tell where the play is going right now is par for the course.

Evangelion Beyond opens May 6 at Theater Milano-Za in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood and runs until May 28, with tickets available online here.

Source: Oricon News via Livedoor News via Otakomu, Twitter, Twitter/livedoornews
Images: Bunkamura
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