15th July 2014: Robots and Drums (Madrid, Spain)

A bit over ten years ago, when I was in universe one of my neighbours was paying for a proto-on-demand TV subscription, and it turned out that my TV caught it for some reason. At that time I got to watch a bunch of anime – in Spanish, badly-translated and rather… altered. Among the series I watched was Gainax’s “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, or Shinseiki Evangerion [新世紀エヴァンゲリオン]. Evangelion is a rather confusing series in itself, but the creative translation and censorship made it almost impossible to understand. Evangelion tries to be a giant robot anime with a religious / philosophical background, where humans piloting huge robots (“EVA”) battle monsters called “angels” which apparently seek to destroy humanity. Or something.

The point of this anime-history paragraph is to explain how I ended up at the Museo ABC de Dibujo e Ilustración, the drawing and illustration museum in Madrid. They were running an exhibition about Evangelion and the Japanese katana Evangelion y las katanas japonesas. It was something interesting to see, and the first time I’ve ever seen actual Japanese katana information. The exhibition has three focuses – actual katana, recreations and figures of elements of the series, such as the robots, pilots or weapons, and weapons inspired by the anime.

After the exhibition I took the underground towards the thratre Teatro Circo Price to watch a taiko exhibition: “Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble: Dandan” by Kodo. Taiko are the traditional Japanese drums and there is a whole drumming style for them. It was really, really fun. Due to a fluke of destiny, I had very good seats, so I could enjoy to the fullest – far away from the reverberation and echoes, close enough so I could even sneak in a good picture or two!

The performance was amazing. I think this was the first time I’ve ever seen something so grandeur. Even when I saw a taiko school in Japan, it was just drumming, while Kodo added a lot of acrobatics to the mix. It was really great!

Unfortunately, I could not even check the merchandise after the performance as I had to run for my train, or risk getting stranded overnight in Madrid.