Eva Virtual/Real-Life Makeover of Neighborhood Halted
posted on by Egan Loo
Not-So-Daily Link of the Day: The Lawson convenience store chain has announced on Sunday that it is immediately canceling its promotional campaigns in a neighborhood of Hakone City, the inspiration for the fictional Tokyo-III setting of the Evangelion anime franchise. The campaigns were intended to promote the May 26 release of the Evangelion: 2.22 You Can Not Advance (Evangelion Shin Gekijōban: Ha) film on Blu-ray/DVD.
In the first campaign, Lawson released an augmented-reality (AR) app for Apple's iPhone which gave visitors a 360-degree, three-dimensional Evangelion unit against the real-life landscape of Hakone. In the second campaign, the existing Lawson convenience store branch at Hagone's Sengokuhara neighborhood was "hijacked" with storewide Evangelion signage and exclusive character goods.
The nearby Sengokuhara Junior High School served as the inspiration for Evangelion's fictional First Municipal Middle School and the "site" of the virtual AR Evangelion unit. Also, the Lawson branch seen in the Evangelion films is based on the real-life Sengokuhara Lawson branch. The Gigazine website posted images from the branch after its Evangelion "hijacking" on Friday.
Both of these campaigns launched on Friday, and were intended to last until the middle of May. However, the official Evangelion website issued a warning on Saturday night to fans coming to Hakone. With the growing number of visitors, many were improperly parking their vehicles throughout the area — even on private property — and were creating a lot of hassles, as well as disturbing the local residents and shops. The Evangelion site issued two more urgent warnings in the early hours of Sunday as the situation worsened. Finally, the website announced on late Sunday morning that the two campaigns were cancelled, effective immediately.
According to Lawson's announcement on the Hakone project cancellations, its separate nationwide Evangelion campaign will still launch as planned on April 27.
Update: According to the notice on the official website, the May 8 and 9 advance screenings for the updated Blu-ray/DVD version of the Evangelion: 2.22 film will still take place as scheduled. The gymnasium of Sengokuhara Junior High School is slated to host the screenings.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history