Godzilla may have fought mecha before, especially its robot doppelganger Mechagodzilla, but the King of the Monsters has never faced a mecha containing a mother’s soul, piloted by her weepy son, because there’s nothing else quite like Eva Unit-01, of the existential anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. This summer, Evangelion will go head to head with the most recent Toho Pictures incarnation of the famous kaiju, Shin Godzilla . Unfortunately, not everyone will get the chance to see the crossover, since the “4-D” brawl is only coming to Universal Studios Japan.
Godzilla vs. Evangelion: The Real 4-D is one of those half-movie, half-rides, where the seat shakes, paired with other environmental effects, like the strobes, water, soap bubbles, loud sounds, pitch black, 3D effects and scents listed for the attraction Godzilla vs. Evangelion will temporarily supplant: Shrek’s 4-D Adventure. But it’s more than a temporary attraction at a theme park in Osaka, Japan—Godzilla vs. Evangelion is the ultimate Hideaki Anno faceoff.
Anno began work on what would become Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1993. Over 26 episodes and two movies, Evangelion told a mecha story of astounding scope, as the secretive, paramilitary organization Nerv experimented with the foundation of human identity in its war against the monstrous “Angels,” who had already devastated the Earth 15 years earlier. In 2015, Anno teamed up with director Shinji Higuchi for Shin Godzilla, a reboot of the Toho Pictures franchise began by 1954’s Gojira. His reboot of Godzilla includes some striking overlap with Evangelion, which makes Godzilla vs. Evangelion especially intriguing, even if it stays focused on a city-smashing brawl between Godzilla and Eva Unit-01.
According to Crunchyroll, Godzilla vs. Evangelion is set in the Evangelion future, with Osaka-III instead of the series’ Tokyo-III. Viewers (or riders?) will inspect the city from a hovering ship, which gets caught in the middle of a Godzilla rampage. Eva pilots, including Rei, Asuka and the weepy son Shinji will come to their rescue.
In Shin Godzilla, released in the United States in 2016, the King of the Monsters evolves several times over the course of the movie, from a tadpole to a red and gnarled take on the classic kaiju. At the very end, Godzilla begins his transition into a “fifth form,” sprouting skeletal, human-like creatures from its tail. Defeated by humanity, Shin Godzilla is becoming more like it, sprouting off humanoids with Godzilla’s signature dorsal plates.
Similar themes of mutability between a collective population and a singular, god-like aggregation is similarly essential to Evangelion. The plot of Neon Genesis Evangelion is too stuffed with Christian esoterica, ego boundaries and shadowy conspiracies to get too in-depth, but one look at the Second Angel Lilith, from which humanity sprung, will reveal some obvious echoes in Godzilla:
Anyone hoping Godzilla vs. Evangelion: The Real 4-D will dip into the overlap between the two is probably better off confining the fight to their imaginations anyway. Despite its provocative ending, Toho has mostly avoided the fifth form since, instead sticking with the standard Shin Godzilla look.
Godzilla vs. Evangelion: The Real 4-D is part of Universal Studios Japan’s fifth “Universal Cool Japan” event and will screen from May 31 to August 25. Those stuck in the United States have Godzilla: King of the Monsters to look forward to instead—the sequel to the 2014 American Godzilla reboot will be out in theaters on May 31.