Lyricist Neko Oikawa Shares How She Was Scammed Out of Her Evangelion Royalty Money
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Evangelion theme song lyricist Neko Oikawa appeared on the Geki Rare-san wo Tsuretekita variety show on Monday to share the story of how her ex-husband leeched her of hundreds of millions of yen of the royalty money she made from "Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis" ("Cruel Angel's Thesis"). Although the program establishes that Oikawa has made over 600 million yen (approximately US$5.7 million) in total of royalties from "Cruel Angel's Thesis" alone, after the divorce she was 70 million yen (approximately US$666,000) in debt and had only 32,000 yen (approximately US$304) in her bank account.
Her ex-husband was a Turkish man 18 years her junior. (Oikawa is currently 60 years old.) She met the man 20 years ago when she visited Turkey as a solo tourist. There, she met a handsome carpet store owner next to the hotel she was staying at.
Oikawa's first impression of the man (referred to by the pseudonym of "Ian") was that he was basically a child, given that he was only 22 years old at the time. He didn't speak English back then, so she did not understand what he was saying. They did not develop a deep relationship at the time, but she took a liking to Turkey, so she made another visit to the country a year later. During that visit, Ian made a surprising confession of love to Oikawa. Over two weeks, as he continued making advances, their relationship changed.
"It was so detached from my regular life in Japan, so I thought I'd try out a different meal," she explained.
The two fell in love and began a long-distance relationship. Ian would call Oikawa almost every day saying that he wanted to see her. Because she was busy with her work as a lyricist, she asked him to come to Japan instead. He asked for her to pay 600,000 yen (approximately US$5,700) so that he could get a passport. Although she had her suspicions about whether it actually cost that much, she accepted his claim that it was part of Turkey's system and paid the money.
After that, he increasingly made various other demands for money, including rent for his shop, hospital fees, a place for them to live together, and so on. He asked Oikawa to pay for things not just related to himself but for his entire family. These various demands added up 10 million yen (approximately US$95,000). Oikawa said that she paid for these things willingly, but that it ended up chipping away at her wealth.
When people around her voiced their concerns that she was being scammed, she would simply shrug and replied, "So what? Even if I am being scammed, all I'm losing is money." Ian was always insisting that he would make her happy in return someday, so she thought of it as a speculative investment. "But, you know," she said, "gambling doesn't work."
Their relationship continued for five years with them going back and forth between Japan and Turkey, and it culminated in them getting married. At this point, his demands escalated even further. He wanted an expensive car (6 million yen, or US$57,000). He wanted to start a traveling company (10 million yen, or US$95,000). He wanted to establish an office (15 million yen, or US$142,000).
Ian would always promise to pay her back whenever he asked for money, although he never actually did so. At this point, Oikawa found herself thinking that at some point it ought to stop, but she had spent so much money already that she had no idea where to draw the line.
A turning point came when he said that he wanted to build a hotel in a cave in Cappadocia (a region in Turkey known for its cave dwellings) for about 74 million yen (approximately US$70,400). She acquiesced and paid that amount, but the hotel itself never got built because in the meantime Ian asked for a divorce.
In general, Oikawa described him as a "vain sort of person who gets happy whenever people make a fuss over him." He would get carried away, and at those times a woman was always involved. "I wouldn't even say he was 'cheating' because he was completely serious," Oikawa said. With her money, he would buy those woman Porsches, expensive watches, houses, and other costly gifts. In fact, he bought as many as seven houses as gifts.
Even after the divorce, Ian would keep pestering Oikawa for money. "He seemed to be under the impression that I would keep helping him. But after we divorced, his problems weren't my business. When I told him so, he called me a traitor."
It has now been six years since the divorce, so Oikawa doesn't have hard feelings about what happened anymore. At the time, she was angry, and then it turned to sadness, but eventually even that feeling passed, and now she looks back on it as a fun time. "He was an interesting guy," she commented. She says that she still gets a message from him once a year that bafflingly professes love for her while also threatening to take her to court.
In 2015, Oikawa revealed that she makes about one yen (0.8 cent) each time "Cruel Angel's Thesis" is sung in karaoke and that pachinko royalties were more lucrative — "at least 30 million yen (US$250,000)" a year and at times 100 million (US$951,000).
She also professed that she didn't know much about Neon Genesis Evangelion when she first wrote the song, and she still hasn't watched the series. "It's a finished job, so [I'm] not really [interested]," she said. When she wrote the song, the anime hadn't been finished yet and she only had the proposal and the first two or three minutes to go by. "It wasn't even colored. I wrote the song, and my job was done. I wrote it in about two hours."
Photo via TV Asahi.
Source: Geki Rare-san wo Tsuretekita February 1 Episode