National

Evangelion fan bid to re-create lunar 'spear' scene held up by controversy

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

A group of volunteers has launched a project to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Neon Genesis Evangelion by re-creating a scene from the popular anime series on the moon.

Only a week after the announcement, however, they are considering whether to cancel the project due to criticism it might offend Muslims and Christians.

About 30 people launched the crowdfunded project on Jan. 30 to send a landing craft to the moon and stick a 24-cm “spear” into the surface.

In the TV and movie series, teenage characters clamber onto Evangelion robots to fight enemies. In one scene, the Evangelion Unit 0 robot throws a weapon called the Spear of Longinus from Earth at an enemy in outer space. The spear destroys the opponent, but then goes into orbit. One scene from the movie series shows the spear after it landed on the moon’s surface.

Since it is impossible to re-create the scene exactly, the group is trying to collect ¥100 million by April 5 to fire a rocket from the U.S. It will carry a moon-landing craft that would shoot a tiny 24-cm-long spear into the surface of the moon and take pictures.

As of Friday afternoon, the crowdfunding campaign had collected ¥34.1 million.

But some people have opposed the project online, saying it is environmentally unwise and lacks consideration for religions that give the moon a special spiritual meaning.

The Spear of Longinus is also mentioned in the Gospel of John. Planting a device with that name on the moon risks sending an offending message to people of other religions, according to one blogger who was critical of the project.

An expert on Islam also said the project could be considered controversial by some followers of that faith.

“I think it might offend some Muslim people. There’s an aspect of the Muslim religion that regards the moon as sacred,” said Osamu Miyata, chairman of the Center for Contemporary Islamic Studies in Japan.

For instance, Miyata pointed out the moon is emblazoned with the flags of many Muslim countries, including Turkey, Tunisia and Pakistan. Also, since the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the holy month of Ramadan begins and ends with the sighting of a new moon, he said.

Thus, Miyata said, it isn’t a good idea to place something on the moon, as some people may regard it as harmful.

Meanwhile, some Internet users made supportive comments on the project’s web site, saying it is exciting.

A project spokesman said the group is taking all criticism seriously and thinking of the best way forward.

According to the plan, if the group is able to collect ¥100 million, an engineering team called Team Hakuto will be charged with sending the spear to the moon. Hakuto is one of 18 teams participating in the Google Lunar Xprize, a competition to land unmanned probes on the moon, make them traverse over 500 meters of its surface, and transmit photographs to Earth.

The Hakuto team plans to fire the rocket between the end of 2015 and the end of 2016.

For more information about the project, visit https://readyfor.jp/projects/evangelion (in Japanese only)

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