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In 2007, anime director Hideaki Anno launched the Rebuilt of Evangelion project, an ambitious retelling/reboot/sequel (no one’s really sure exactly which yet) of/to his groundbreaking Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series. Planned for four parts, Rebuild’s second theatrical feature hit theaters in 2009 and the third film in 2012, and since then it’s been eight years of waiting.

To put that in perspective, the absolute newest Evangelion movie is roughly as old as Marvel’s first Avengers film, and older by several years than the entire Star Wars sequel trilogy.

But the wait was finally going to be over, with the fourth and supposedly final Rebuild of Evangelion movie scheduled to open in Japan on June 27, and steady progress being made on the voice recording. In the sort of painful twist that’s become Eva’s calling card, though, things aren’t going as well as planned, and the movie has now been postponed due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

A statement, posted both to the movie’s website and through the official Evangelion Twitter account, says:

“Before anything else, we wish to express our deepest sympathies to all those who have been infected by the new-type coronavirus (COVID-19).

We had been planning to release the Rebuild of Evangelion theatrical feature on June 27. However, after careful and thorough consideration of the unprecedented conditions brought about by the virus, both in Japan and abroad, we have decided to postpone the movie’s opening.

We have been making the utmost effort to deliver the film to audiences by June 27, and apologize sincerely to all those who had looked forward to it.”

The statement doesn’t specify whether the decision is a consequence of Coronavirus countermeasures, such as telecommuting, impeding the progress of the film towards completion, or out of consideration to the public health and financial risks of releasing the film to theatres when not just Tokyo, but all of Japan has been declared by the government to be under an official state of emergency.

In all likelihood, all of those factors contributed to the decision, and the statement ends with Anno’s Studio Khara, Evangelion’s rights holder, saying:

“We look forward to the day when people all over the world can once again enjoy movies, and we will continue working hard to create interesting animation for people around the world, and hope for your understanding.”

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