One of the most cerebral and beloved anime of all time, Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion, arrived Friday on Netflix. But diehard fans are up in arms because the new English dub is missing an important element of the show that’s beloved by its fans.
In the U.S., Netflix cut out the show’s famous, flowing, wonderful cover of the song, “Fly Me to the Moon,” performed by Claire Littley. It plays at the end of every episode. Instead, Netflix viewers see a segment of a theme for one of its characters, Rei Ayanami. For many of the series’ more hardcore fans, this is upsetting.
Neon Genesis Evangelion’s premise is protoypical mecha anime with some big twists: Violent monsters called Angels descend upon Earth and threaten to destroy humanity, and it’s up to a host of young heroes to pilot machines to fight them. So, why does a romantic song made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1964 matter so much to this anime?
“Fly Me to the Moon” is essentially a space-themed love song. The central refrain goes like this: “Fly me to the moon / Let me play among the stars / Let me see what spring is like / On Jupiter and Mars.” Every episode has its own cover of this song, and the lyrics foreshadow moments from the series.
Aaron-Stewart Ahn, a writer whose credits include the Nicholas Cage thriller Mandy and Marvel’s new Thor comic book series, referred to the song’s “iconic karaoke style” and found it “dismaying” that Netflix would tamper with the series. Another fan even likened Neon Genesis Evangelion not having “Fly Me to the Moon” to The Breakfast Club losing “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
Neon Genesis Evangelion is riddled with death and trauma, but the emotional core of the series is one of love, not fear or anger. After viewers watch horrible, disconcerting things happen on-screen during these episodes, listening to the pleasant “Fly Me to the Moon” is an emotional reset.
This memorable analysis of the song’s use in the series observes: “In Japan, it was once common for someone to say ‘the moon is beautiful tonight’ instead of ‘I love you,’ and the reply to this was ‘I would die for you.’”
With characters that can only express love through violence, “Fly Me to the Moon” is bigger part of the story than just the tune that plays near the end-credits.
Here’s a montage of every ending credits from the series, so you know what’s missing:
While Netflix’s version encourages viewers to skip the intro and end credits (like the services does for every show), all in the effort of making binge-watching easier. Many Neon Genesis Evangelion fans, however, argue that nobody should ever binge-watch the show. Credits sequences are where anime audiences will find some of the best music. In the case of Neon Genesis Evangelion, “Fly Me to the Moon” is essential.
An individual with knowledge of the production told TheWrap that Netflix worked with the Japanese studio that made the original anime series when licensing the 26-episode show for a new English-language voice cast version. “Fly Me to the Moon” was among a “few select” assets the streaming service was unable to obtain for all regions, due to the way the song was priced for global rights.
Before Netflix, Neon Genesis Evangelion was famously difficult to legally enjoy. Fans’ only options were to purchase out-of-print, very expensive DVD box sets and bootlegs. So having it available to stream on one of the most powerful and popular platforms should be a great thing. But losing “Fly Me to the Moon” is maybe too big a cost for fans.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is now available to stream on Netflix.