We’ve previously covered the Neon Genesis Evangelion topic, but our past articles on the Japanese anime series involved cars, so what’s with this sneaker rendering? Sure, walking is transportation, but the main reason for which we’re featuring this independent digital artwork involves the Evangelion series itself, since Eva units can be piloted and operate on land, underwater, and even in outer space or inside volcanoes.
With anime having landed on the mainstream radar nowadays and the original 1990s part of the Neon Genesis Evangelion universe now on Netflix, plus a new film release for 2021, Japanese fashion label Undercover came up with an Evangelion collab last year. And this wasn’t your average print-on-a-T-shirt effort, but a collection comprised of 88 unique pieces that bring a proper nod to the various elements of the anime series.
Many of the pieces are outerwear, with some of them even being shaped to resemble the Eva units of the series (more on this below). And, as you’d expect with such a development, the release isn’t easy on one’s pockets, with prices ranging between $270 and $7,150.
However, while the release did include snow boots featuring Vibram soles, the rendering sitting on our screens, which can be seen as a three-piece puzzle (think of the items described above as the first piece) takes the mix to the next level.
As for the second piece of the puzzle, we’ll mention that 2021 brought another, unrelated collaboration, which saw Nike teaming up with German brand Acronym to bring a footwear collection revolving around the former’s Blazer Low sneakers. The resulting shoes feature the latter specialist’s ghillie-patterned branding, while adding removable TPU heel clips and a dog tag to Nike’s retro sneakers.
Piece #3? This is where Munich-based Venezuelan art director/designer Leo Esteves (aka les83machines) comes onto the stage.
Using the Night Maroon version of the sneakers, which seems to pack just the right colors for the job, he pixel-transformed the said heel clips and dog tag into an Evangelion Unit-01 fantasy. Piloted by Shinji Ikari, the main protagonist of the series, this is a key unit and possibly the one most fans think about when the name of the series is mentioned.
Nevertheless, Eva Unit-002, arguably the strongest one, whom fans associate with pilot Asuka Langley Soryu, hasn’t been overlooked, as it enjoys a dedicated makeover, dominant red shade and all.
Judging by the artist’s Instagram posts that showcase the work, this appears to be a mere dream for now, but one can always hope for at least a 3D custom creation that would bring the work to the asphalt or whatever surface you prefer to walk on.
Why Neon Genesis Evangelion sits in a class of its own in the anime world
For starters, Neon Genesis Evangelion is often labeled as mecha anime, but while mechas are giant machines controlled by people, the Eva units can more accurately be described as kaiju (giant monsters) or perhaps cyborgs, based on their origins, which we won’t disclose here.
Then there’s the fact that entering the cockpit is not enough to control these mechanically-augmented sentient beings, as the pilot has to sync via brain waves.
More importantly, once you go past the battles and the spectacular action, the series tackles philosophical themes and by mixing the two delivers immensely profound feelings to the viewer.
While the original 26-episode series ran between 1995 and 1996, creator Hideaki Anno released multiple films that expanded and remastered the story, with the final one (Evangelion 3.0 + 1.01: Thrice Upon A Time) having been launched in 2021.
Update: That 3D printing mentioned above? The dream has come true, with the artist having released the specific files (.STL extension) for the heel clips paying homage to both Eva units (check out the second Insta post below).
PS: While we’re talking fan fiction, the clip at the bottom of the story sees the YouTube DJ simply known as Turbo delivering an Eurobeat remix of Japanese singer Yoko Takahashi’s A Cruel Angel’s Thesis, which is the original Evangelion series’ theme song. Wait, is that Shinji leaning against the Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 from the Initial D manga/anime series? Now we know we’re deep down the rabbit hole.