[Update 2/26/2021]: Timeline updated to accommodate the previous update, as well as the updates up to today’s news of the March 8 release date.]
[Update 1/14/2021: As of today, Japan’s newly declared state of emergency has delayed Eva 3.0+1.0. The state of emergency ends on February 7th, but as of right now, there is no confirmed new release date.]
[Update 12/28/2020: Timeline updated to reflect production updates and the “final” teaser.]
The Shin Evangelion Gekijo-ban project, or, The Rebuild of Evangelion, has been as divisive as it has been anticipated. As the films have diverged from the original series, the divide between those who loved the original and those who enjoy the new films has grown larger.
Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo was by far the most ambitious of the rebuilds, but also one of the most flawed. Added to the divisiveness is the painfully long wait for the finale. By the time Evangelion 3.0+1.0 comes out on January 23, 2021, it will have been a little more than eight years since the previous film’s release.
For those who were disappointed with the rebuilds up to this point, the wait has only exacerbated the feelings of doubt that the wait will be worth it. Not to mention, each delay sticks the knife a little deeper, begging the question of whether the finale really can make up for the flaws of its predecessors.
But not for me. Watching the third official teaser trailer released earlier in October, I was considerably surprised at the reaction that the trailer got out of me. I was hyped and it’s about time I accepted the fact that I am all in for this new Eva.
Granted, I’m in a rather unique position as an Evangelion fan. It was only last year that I finally watched Eva for the first time when it made its worldwide streaming debut on Netflix. Then, I rewatched it on Blu-ray after nabbing the Gainax 20th anniversary collection just to see how that original dub that everyone talked about held up.
And once I’d taken in Neon Genesis Evangelion, I took a stab at the rebuilds for a weekend and found myself pleasantly surprised despite what I’d been told about their quality from friends over the years.
So for me, the hype train and the anticipation for the sequel will only be about a year and a half. It’s not the same journey as those who have been with the series since the beginning of the rebuilds, much less the original series.
So, to give some perspective as to how long this film has been in the pipeline, here is what I will boldly proclaim to be the definitive Evangelion 3.0+1.0 production timeline.
The Nine Years of Evangelion 3.0+1.0
December 31, 2011
Almost a year before the release of 3.0, Khara announces the release of the unnamed final film, to be released in 2013. In hindsight, it seems as though they were counting their chickens before they hatched. (source)
November 17, 2012
As the third rebuild film premiered, the theatrical pamphlet reveals a tentative title for the final film: Shin Evangelion Gekijo-ban 𝄇. It is interesting to note that “the symbol at the end of the title is used in music to denote repetition after reaching the end of a measure,” according to Lynzee Loveridge of Anime News Network.
For those confused by the Japanese naming conventions of the rebuild films (I know I am), they are all named after classical movements in music). The first three are named Jo, Ha, and Kyu respectively. This translates to Introduction, Exposition, and Climax.
The Kyu at the end of 3.0‘s title is a double meaning, as one of the other names the film goes by in japan is Shin Evangelion Q. The pronunciation is the same, but Q has been cited as being short for Quickening. Anno’s logic for naming the films is multi-layered, as always.
At this same time, the website for Evangelion is updated to account for this title. However, the release date is no longer listed for 2013. (source)
The official website for Evangelion reveals that the current English title for the final film is Evangelion 3.0+1.0. (source)
July 19, 2016
Shortly before the premiere of Anno’s next directorial work, Shin Godzilla, Anno apologizes for the delay of the final Evangelion film. He explains that the third rebuild film was draining and states that he felt relieved to work on something new. With Shin Godzilla finished, he feels reinvigorated and ready to work on the rebuilds again.
April 5, 2017
Khara posts on Twitter to confirm that Eva‘s final rebuild film is still in production. The tweet came along with a photo of a conference room where a “Shin Eva meeting” was taking place.
— 株式会社カラー (@khara_inc) April 5, 2017
April 17, 2017
Khara posts listings for “animators, modelers, technical staff, system engineers, and production managers” on their recruitment page. (source)
July 28, 2017
Art Director Tatsuya Kushida reveals an imageboard proclaiming that the final Evangelion film is in full production.
The poster reads “After that and THE END… NOT, and ANTI.” The meaning is unclear, but needless to say, it gets people theorizing.
July 26, 2018
Almost six years after the release of 3.0, Khara releases the first official teaser for the Eva sequel: a 22-second teaser featuring Mari Makinami spinning around in a battle-damaged EVA Unit 08, firing machine guns. Just about as vague as you can get.
- CGI Animation Director: Yusuke Matsui
- CGI Technical Director: Takashi Suzuki
- CGI Modeling Director: Manabu Kobayashi
- CGI Animation: Masanori Iwasato, Ryōichi Nakama
- Rigging: Tsubasa Takabe
- Photography: Nanae Hirabayashi, Hiroaki Yabe, Toyonori Yamada
- Monitor Graphics: Hiroyasu Kobayashi
- Key Animation: Syūichi Iseki
- In-between Animation: Studio Khara
- Color Setting: Kazuko Kikuchi (Wish)
- Background Art: Tatsuya Kushida (Deho Gallery)
March 20, 2019
Khara reveals on Twitter that dialogue recording has begun for Evangelion 3.0+1.0.
— エヴァンゲリオン公式 (@evangelion_co) March 20, 2019
July 6, 2019
The first 10 minutes of Evangelion 3.0+1.0 are screened at Japan Expo in Paris during the Yoko Takahashi x Evangelion stage presentation. The preview is titled “Shin Evangelion Gekijoban AVANT 1 (Beginning 10 Minutes 40 Seconds 00 Frame) 0706 Version.”
The preview shows the members of Wille trying to activate a device so they can get into NERV’s European HQ in Paris. Meanwhile, Mari defends the team from an onslaught of militarized angels sent by Gendo Ikari.
Just two days before, a second poster is revealed, containing the same cryptic tagline from Kushida’s imageboard from two years prior.
July 19, 2019
A new trailer is released. In between cuts, quick title cards can be seen, denoting the scene number of each sequence shown in the trailer. Shortly after the release of this teaser, people begin re-editing the trailer to get an idea of what scenes will be in what order. The teaser confirms a June 2020 release date.
August 8, 2019
A slightly different version of the previous teaser (teaser 2.5) is released with a glance at Mari’s new Eva, Unit-08γ. It feels like an intentional choice to release a trailer with Unit-08 on the eighth day of the eighth month but that’s unconfirmed.
February 26, 2020
Megumi Ogata, the voice actress for Shinji Ikari, states on Twitter that the dialogue recording for the final Evangelion film has finished.
— 緒方恵美@2/27サントリーホール (@Megumi_Ogata) February 25, 2020
April 17, 2020
Over concerns regarding COVID-19, Evangelion 3.0+1.0 is delayed, with no new official release date.
— 株式会社カラー (@khara_inc) April 18, 2020
However, a new poster is revealed, as well as a full English title, breaking from the previous rebuild title conventions.
The film is titled Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time.
May 31, 2020
The same teaser has been released a third time (oh my god, was that intentional or just a coincidence I honestly can’t tell anymore), but this time updated to reflect that the new release date is uncertain as of yet.
September 29, 2020
Animator Takashi Hashimoto posts on Twitter about the struggle of working on a certain animation cut for the upcoming film. He describes it as one that “will remain in history,” and says that the hassle will be worth it.
The statement from Hashimoto leads some, like @otakucalendearjp on Twitter to speculate how there’s more to work on if the film was originally planned to be released in June. The film was officially delayed because of COVID, leading some to believe that Khara is using the delay to touch-up the film before release.
Animator for EVANGELION:3.0+1.0 Takashi Hashimoto
"Struggling to draw a cut of Eva that will remain in history, finally I started. When it is completed, I'll have nothing to regret. Grateful to Anno-san, Tsurumaki-san!"
Good news! But wasn't that film planed to be released June ? pic.twitter.com/6x4C0coGtf
— otakujp (@otakucalendarjp) October 1, 2020
October 4, 2020
Khara posts a screenshot from a footage check of the film’s final part and a timecode reading “05:59:50:00” sent the internet into a frenzy. People begin to speculate that the final film will be six hours long.
— 株式会社カラー (@khara_inc) October 4, 2020
October 7, 2020
Khara officially denies that the film is six hours long, stating that the first number in the timecode doesn’t stand for the hour but the “part” of the film. They explain that this numbering system comes from a time when films were split across multiple film reels. While they admit such a practice seems archaic now in the digital era, they stress that it can still be helpful for films with long runtimes. It can also be useful in sound production and the like.
— 株式会社カラー (@khara_inc) October 7, 2020
So the film will not be six hours long. However, the original post on the fourth did mention that the film’s final part will be 41 minutes and 16 seconds, a fairly long conclusion.
October 15, 2020
A new teaser is released. The release date for Evangelion 3.0+1.0 is confirmed for January 23, 2021. The teaser shows Asuka and Mari getting into matching white plugsuits to prepare for what looks to be the final battle of the movie. Assorted shots of the cast can be seen aboard the Wunder, Wille’s airborne vessel. Most notably, Misato and Ritsuko.
November 19, 2020
Despite dialogue recording having been reportedly finished in February, reports come out from Khara that dialogue has now been truly completed, including retakes. (source)
December 8, 2020
It is announced that Hikaru Utada will perform the theme song for the final Eva film, just as she has for each of the previous Rebuild films. The song is called “One Last Kiss” and is said to release online on the 24th of January. (source)
December 16, 2020
Khara confirms that compositing and editing for the film have concluded and been checked by Director Anno himself.
— (株)カラー 2号機 (@khara_inc2) December 16, 2020
December 24, 2020
On Christmas Eve, the supposedly “final” trailer for 3.0+1.0 releases, showcasing Hikaru Utada’s song for the film, “One Last Kiss.” The trailer shows almost completely new footage, from a battered Gendo to a younger-looking Asuka to even Shinji in EVA Unit 01, facing off against what looks to be a rebuilt EVA Unit 13.
At 90 seconds, it gives plenty to be excited about while leaving plenty more to the imagination. If it truly was to be the last trailer before release, it is certainly a fitting one.
The trailer’s release also comes with one last poster, showing the principal cast in front of a mysteriously not red ocean.
January 14, 2021
Evangelion‘s Twitter announces a second COVID-related delay to Evangelion 3.0+1.0 as Japan declares a state of emergency. This results in a delay of Shiro Sagisu’s “SHIN EVANGELION” album and Hikaru Utada’s single “One Last Kiss.” The new release dates are yet to be confirmed.
The state of emergency is scheduled to end on February 7. (source)
The “Final Teaser” is re-released but without the previous release date.
January 22, 2021
A new 15-second commercial is released, still with no new release date.
February 16, 2021
Japan’s Film Classification and Rating Organization (Eirin) briefly lists the final Eva film, revealing a runtime of 2 hours and 34 minutes long, making it the longest of the Eva Rebuilds. The film is confirmed to be rated G for all audiences. (source)
For western audiences, this rating likely came as a surprise given Evangelion‘s subject matter and content. It is interesting to note that the previous rebuilds were also rated G. Keep in mind the standards for film ratings in Japan are different.
February 26, 2021
After two COVID-related delays, Evangelion 3.0+1.0 is confirmed for a March 8 release date. On Khara’s YouTube channel, the “Final Teaser” was released once more with the new (and hopefully final) release date.
Released alongside the trailer is a new preview that was previously screened at the end of January 8’s IMAX re-release of Evangelion 3.33, titled “3.333”
How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Get Excited About The End
In the days since the release of the new trailer that inspired me to write about the rebuilds once more, I started questioning why I cared so much. I was highly critical of 3.0 and its bold divergence from the past entries. I think it’s hands down the biggest offender when discussing the flaws of the rebuilds. Yet, I still love them.
Last year, I wrote a piece on the rebuilds soon after finishing 3.0. In that essay, I posed the question of what they did better than the original series. To those who want a tl;dr, I’ll say this: the rebuilds propelled Evangelion as a brand, pumping more money into the animation industry, and creating technical and cinematic marvels aimed at sparking imagination in today’s youth.
The rebuilds lack as much of the slow-burn, psychological pathos of NGE. They are grander and more explosive, without being able to accomplish everything the TV series could to contextualize the action. Instead, the films diverge, creating a new context that shifts priorities to tell an exciting story on film.
I thought Rei wasn’t that interesting in NGE, but I love her in 2.22. In that same film, Asuka felt less complex and layered than in the TV series, though still just as sassy and entertaining on a surface level. Whether or not you subscribe to the theory that the rebuilds are a sequel to The End of Evangelion, some characters are just flat-out different.
I don’t mind, because inherently the message of Eva never really changed. It was a story about human perseverance. The original pursued that idea through quiet melancholic character studies. The new films strive towards the same end with theatrical, operatic drama. Both versions have great world-building that thrive on inventive, thought-out, and occasionally grounded sci-fi concepts.
However, the meaning of Eva has never just been within the story itself. It is also in the process of making it. Eva is produced by people with a burning passion for making cool stuff that resonates with people emotionally. Creative teams like these are built off of a drive to experiment and try new things to connect with audiences.
I see the rebuilds less as a product of Hideaki Anno and more so as a work by Kazuya Tsurumaki. Tsurumaki was Anno’s protege and the man responsible for FLCL as well as Diebuster, the sequel to Hideaki Anno’s Gunbuster.
Having watched both FLCL and Diebuster, I will say that Tsurumaki is a director whose talent is creating works of pure emotion. I consider Diebuster to be a masterpiece and one of the most well-constructed sequels of all time. Its conclusion alone is spectacular, with an emphasis on dramatic buildup and musical accompaniment for the sake of creating an unforgettable experience.
FLCL is famous for its zany tale of adolescence and growing up, but the story of how the show was made is just as important. It is important to remember that stories are more than just the words on the page or the images on a screen. Stories are interesting for how they were made. Typically we’re used to that being a bonus; something for the Blu-ray extras. But if anime has taught me anything, the making of the art goes hand-in-hand with the finished piece.
Evangelion 3.33 was a gorgeous film with great aesthetics and music. It was also quite mediocre. It didn’t spend enough time with characters who had changed considerably and who I desperately wanted to learn more about. The film asked more questions than any other film in the series while offering fewer answers than any other either. And that is what people waited eight years to see a sequel to. No wonder people are skeptical.
Hell, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical, either. The thing is, I was skeptical going into the original series too. I got halfway through it in 2018 and then stopped watching. I only got around to finishing it after it came out on Netflix. It can be a hard show to get into. Then I was skeptical about the rebuilds after everything I heard and ended up falling in love with the first two. Even with how flawed the third was, I still have a lot of respect for its action and imagery.
So I think I can take whatever the next film throws at me. If it’s anything like Tsurumaki’s other works, it will end with a bang. I think it’s as simple as this…
Evangelion is just kinda awesome and I shouldn’t overthink it.
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The Rebuild of Evangelion films 1-3 are available on Blu-ray through Funimation. Neon Genesis Evangelion is available for legal streaming through Netflix. Neon Genesis Evangelion is also coming out on Blu-ray in America in 2021 through GKids.
Thank you for reading and keep an eye on Anime Quarterly for the latest news and reviews!