PHOTOS: Evangelion Crossing Expo Uncovers Series' Merch History

We discover the weirdest, and oddest, goods from Evangelion’s past

Evangelion Crossing

 

Copying from the playbook of Star Wars, Evangelion’s history is rich full of merchandising collaborations. If there’s a product in Japan, you can slap a NERV logo on it. But with over 25 years of merchandise under its belt, the history of Evangelion goods is quite vast.

 

Held from July 15 to August 26 on the ninth floor of Shibuya Hikarie, the Evangelion Crossing Expo looked back at what was most likely the entire merchandising history of the franchise, with over 4,000 unique pieces on display – there were a lot of canned coffee and pachinko machines.

 

Crossing Over to the Evangelion Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

There have been very few times I’ve walked into a department store in central Tokyo and been instantly calmed, but the journey from the ever-busy Shibuya Station to the Hikarie felt more Evangelion as I got closer. Advertising for the exhibition grew intense as I walked through the underground path, but nothing could prepare me for Shiro Sagisu’s iconic music blaring through the speakers as I walked into the Hikarie area, instantly transporting me into the world of Evangelion.

 

Which is ironic: It felt like I had walked straight into Tokyo-3, but was headed straight into a giant warehouse of goods for the series from a third-party perspective. It’d be pretty messed up to think that people in the Eva universe would create plush toys of literally angels of destruction. I digress though…

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Before walking into the Evangelion Crossing Expo, I was greeted by the original prints of Neon Genesis Evangelion from the 1990s. I’m talking about the laserdisc version of the series and films - basically, the best version until the remastered Blu-rays released in 2015.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

The first room of the exhibition was a wall of just clear files from Evangelion history. Sadly, the idea of a promotional clear file for anime is a relatively new concept, so they’re all based on visuals from the Rebuild film series. Still though, there are a lot there and likely the majority that was released. 

 

Past the wall of clear files was an actual life-sized moving Unit 01 head that went berserk during its loop, and surprisingly, this was only the first moving Evangelion head.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

In a corridor before the main expo hall, the wall was lined with miscellaneous figures from both the retro Eva era to the newest figures. Just to add that spice of authenticity, there were UFO catcher machines set up holding goods that presumably were only available through those arcade games. As you can see from the AT Field “No Touching” sign, they were, unfortunately, not able to be played.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

The above Unit 01 was guarding the huge expo hall. On the left was another, quite large figure of the same Eva for scale. 

 

The Wonders of Evangelion’s Merchandising History

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Once I strolled by the likely very expensive Unit 01 figure, the Evangelion Crossing Expo opened up and was awash by all the merchandise on display. I was told there were over 4,000 items and it looked like it, with each display crammed full of Eva goods. I knew the series had been thrust into many different areas, including disaster management and, as you can see in the image above, a car.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Not wanting to be limited to the floor space, the designer for the exhibition opted to use the roof as well, showcasing a bunch of collaboration visuals in hexagons hanging from the ceiling. This included one of my favorites, the Schick collaboration with a smiling Gendo and weirdly red-faced and happy Rebuild girls. Why are they so happy? Is Gendo now super attractive after saving? Have they saved their legs for the first time? It’s odd!

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Collectables aren’t uncommon for anime goods, but for Evangelion, which now spans four different decades, there are some retro campaigns including the above card collection from a magazine. These days cards for Digimon or Yu-Gi-Oh! are still given out at events and sometimes in magazines, but you’re more likely to get a clear file with a printed anime magazine rather than just cards.

 

RELATED: REPORT: Celebrating Digimon's 25-Year History at the Digital Monster Art Museum

 

And then were the coins. Evangelion is by far one of the biggest anime franchises in Japan and is as close to a heritage series as Gundam or any film by Hayao Miyazaki. This is why the Japanese government through the Japan Mint printed not one set of coins, but the second set in 2020. 

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Speaking of magazines, being able to see original copies of Newsweek with the original designs of Rei and Shinji was a fantastic look into the past. The E-Mono magazine by Newtype, which was published in 1997, is like the Evangelion Crossing Expo but in book form, with information on merch, promotions and just random information on the franchise up until 1997. I’d love to read it, if it wasn’t behind a bunch of glass.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

As previously mentioned, Evangelion is one of the only anime series that I can find that has a line of disaster-related goods. 

 

The top collaboration is the NERV Disaster Prevention App which is a must-have for anyone in Japan. What started as a fan project in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 has evolved to be a crucial source of information for residents and tourists on current weather as well as impending or currently occurring disasters. The application tracks earthquakes in real-time to warn you at your location how badly they’ll affect you. The app has personally helped me in preparing my family for more intense quakes that have occurred while living in Japan. The company and NERV branding have official permission from khara to run and was cross promoted during the theatrical screenings of Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon a Time.

 

In the image under the NERV app is an officially sanctioned Japan Defense Force ration kit that can be used in case of an earthquake or disaster. As someone who actually has this box and hopefully never has to use it, the meals in the units are probably still okay to eat if they weren’t behind glass.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

One of the most intriguing things in the exhibition with the above DVDs of an Asuka cosplayer making a travel program. The cosplayer in question is a talento named Sakura-Saki Inagaki who was part of the Rokemitsu variety program that traveled around Japan showcasing various wonders while completing various tasks in a kind of Amazing Race-styled setup, and, according to the DVD in the above picture, went to Italy to do the same thing. Each host wore a different outfit, with Inagaki wearing Asuka’s plugsuit.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Food: You Can (Not) Eat

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

One of the most famous collaborations for Evangelion is with UCC Coffee, which actually features in series at multiple points. 

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

UCC Coffee has been around since 1933 and as such has collaborated with Evangelion since the original series. This gives the collaboration a unique flavor that not only emanates from the now 25-year-old coffee, but seeing the designs of the cans evolve alongside the characters on the cans. 

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

I would only hope that the Yamazaki bread in the plastic is fake, like a lot of display food in Japan, because even if they were around for the latest film, I wouldn’t want to smell them.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Various plates and cups from over the years, including a drink holder from the Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 theatrical screenings.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Pino ice cream collab, which included a Spear of Longinus toothpick to eat with

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Evangelion 2.0 tissues

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

The above image is of a collaboration between Nissan Cup Noodles, which sees the mascot Demae Issho (a character introduced in 1968 and completely fallen out of favor) dressed up as Eva units. The mascots, as far as I can find, have not been used for commercial purposes for the last decade or so, making these extremely rare items.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

What is love but giving your Valentine a box of Evangelion chocolates? Or if you’re not celebrating the day, why not try some Evangelion-branded Maple Pecan? You’d be nuts not to.

 

The Biggest Evangelion Collabs

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

The early 2010s brought Evangelion into motorsports, with the franchise not only collaborating with local race tracks but even selling a Unit 01-themed motorbike. Both the bike and the cars are seen on tracks across Japan under the banner of Evangelion Racing with models – dubbed “racing queens,” obviously – following the Super GT tours. This collaboration is still ongoing with the latest event being held on August 11 at the Suzuka 8-hour endurance race.

 

Footage of the car, bike and woman at the track was shown next to the racing girl outfits, showing the collaboration through the years and the bonkers amount of cars that have been under the banner of Evangelion Racing. I’m honestly surprised there wasn’t a whole car show at the Evangelion Crossing Expo but I suppose hoisting up one car nine floors into a skyscraper in the middle of Shibuya was enough.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

One of the biggest, at least in size, collaborations Evangelion has done is with Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower. For Evangelion 3.0, the tower was lit up in various colors representing each Children. A collaboration shop was also held in the tower selling merch, such as NERV command watching over the tower.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Another staple of the Evangelion franchise and one many would be familiar with if they’ve ever hung around Akihabara station is the series’ connection to pachinko machines. While my knowledge of the machines amounts to 5 minutes of playing a Yakuza mini-game, seeing the machines in person makes me understand why they’re so addictive.

 

The colors, the music, the machine literally going berserk from the series. These games look fun to play. That seems like an issue.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Guinness World Records awarded the series for having the largest Evangelion in Shanghai, China in January 2017 

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

In August and September 2021, the train station Tenryu-Futamata in Shizuoka prefecture changed its name to “Daisanmura” to mimic the name of the village seen in Evangelion 3.0+1.0. The train station and surrounding area were heavily featured in the film as Village-3. The collaboration was actually spearheaded by a fan that worked at the train company and sought permission from khara to have fun. The above sign comes straight from the station. 

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Aomori City in August 2019 was feeling the Evangelion love, with the city hosting a then-touring Evangelion exhibition. August also happens to be the month of festivals in the country with Aomori famous for its Nebuta Festival, which sees giant floats called ‘nebuta’ paraded around. Due to the two events happening at the same time, the above Unit 01 Nebuta was commissioned as one of the ‘Mae Nebuta’ or front nebuta that was paraded around ahead of the main floats.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

As one of the biggest franchises in Japanese history, Evangelion once had its own section of Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park near the base of Mt. Fuji. While the area has closed now, it seems that the life-sized entry plug seat that was on display there still lives on. The papers and such were also used inside the area with games and giveaways related to the series.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

The biggest exhibition at the Crossing Expo wasn’t the car, it was two rooms decked out in Evangelion merchandise, showing off how the series can take over your life, and honestly, I would probably love to live in one of these rooms. It was interesting how they were gendered with the female room being pink and full of plush dolls, while the male room had the guitar, sexier figures (mostly of Asuka) and more video games. I’d hazard a guess that if an Evangelion fan was to deck out a room in just Evangelion gear, it’d be a mix of both.

 

I also love the subtle touch of a Shin Godzilla and Ultraman figure in the guy’s room. Gotta wonder if it came from Anno’s personal collection or the curator of the expo just took one of the many off Anno’s desk while he was away.

 

Tech From Tokyo-3

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Technology and Evangelion go hand in giant mecha hand. One of the most notable examples of this is the phone collaborations the series has had over the years, such as the above flip phone that was released in 2009 with the NERV branding.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Officially licensed phone cases

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Wireless chargers, batteries and a calculator

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

But for a blast from the past, it wasn’t just mobile phones Evangelion had collaborated with, but also home phones. By the look of the Asuka character design it seems this was an earlier collaboration with the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series, and the fact the phone is wireless just shows that even in the 1990s, Hideaki Anno made sure his creation was only on the most innovative of technology. 

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

It seemed that continued into the 2000s with an officially engraved iPod from 2004 as well as working with Sony for NERV-branded Walkman music players that are dated around 2013. I do wonder how official on Apple’s side that iPod is though? Did Steve Jobs personally approve it? I would like to think so.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

An Evangelion laptop featuring me wearing an Evangelion UNIQLO UT shirt

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

A Wi-Fi router, computer DVD drives and hard-disc drives

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

The Evangelion trash cans come surprisingly with none girls on them. They must have known what wars would have been fought if they had put any of them on the cans themselves. And a fake gun with GAINAX written on the box.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

What else would you want than a Tile tracking block branded with a NERV logo? Cause you can get them and they actually look pretty good. Though, I could imagine if you randomly find one with NERV on it on the street or yard you’d be worried the government was onto you. I wonder if I could get the NERV logo branded on an AirTag…

 

Wearing Out Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Clothes are another important part of the history of the Evangelion merchandising history, with so many different fashion collaborations with the franchise that the t-shirts alone cover a massive wall. And, that’s not even all of them.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

The RADIO EVA brand began in 2008 as a way to bring Evangelion into everyday life, by not only getting into fashion but also bags, shoes, phone cases and even just plain art. The brand has evolved past Evangelion now to become its own streetwear and lifestyle brand outside of the franchise while still holding to the design essence that makes Evangelion so appealing.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

An Asuka Zippo lighter

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Evangelion-branded scents and skincare products

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Kimono and Yutaka with Evangelion 3.0 designs

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Various Evanglion jewelry

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Evangelion x UNIQLO collaboration shirts, including the one seen earlier in this article

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

Different types of Evangelion shoes

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Seeing Unit 01 bursting out of a shirt wasn’t the weirdest thing I’d seen all day, but it made me wonder if the shirt was sold like this, or if this was specially made for the expo. That is three-dimensional after all. Walking around with a giant figure bursting out of your stomach like Aliens just doesn’t feel practical.

 


 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

And this was only the tip of the Evangelion Crossing Expo. There were so many little details throughout the hall that just one walkthrough didn’t do it justice. Having the freedom to wander around and soak in all the wonder that is Evangelion’s past and see collectibles from the franchise’s past was a great day out.

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Walking out of the giant expo hall was a corridor leading to a shop full of some of the goods on display. But the corridor was a history lesson in itself, with one side being a timeline from the series’ inception to now with all the little details about Evangelion’s production and huge moments laid out next to real-world events. The timeline ended with the release of Evangelion 3.0+1.0 on the production side and COVID-19 as its real-world companion event.

 

The other wall was an area for attendees to write notes on, with the phrase “Kimi to Eva to Mono to Koto” on the top, the tagline for Evangelion Crossing Expo which roughly translates to “You and Eva and Stuff and Things.”

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo

 

Evangelion Crossing Expo was held on the 9th floor of Shibuya Hikarie from July 15 to August 26, 2022. The event will be held Osaka from December 27, 2022 to January 16, 2023.

 

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Daryl Harding is a Senior Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram. He has actually gotten into the robot at Fuji-Q. 

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