Today, Twitter user @VoltySquirrel directed their followers to check out the opening titles to a 2018 hockey documentary called The Nagano Tapes on the official Olympics website, promising that “you’re not ready for what’s coming.” That’s a big sell for today’s jaded internet users, but—holy cow—it really is hard to imagine anyone being ready for the opening sequence of this film. The Nagano Tapes is about the Czech Republic’s surprise victory over Russia in the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, but that story isn’t what makes this intro so incredible (and it very much is). To say more would spoil it more than we already have, so just click this link and watch the thing for yourself. Here’s another exciting hockey shot so you have a chance to click the link up above.
So yeah, that’s the god damn Neon Genesis Evangelion intro, one of the all-time great TV openings, but recut to be about the tumultuous decades of Czech history from Soviet rule to this big hockey win. It has “A Cruel Angels Thesis,” it has big flashing white text, and it’s all thrillingly cut together just like on Evangelion. It’s incredible, not just because of how thorough the reference is, but because it basically comes out of nowhere. Evangelion is about a whiny kid who really doesn’t want to get in a big robot and fight monsters, with some complicated religious imagery (that is mostly a red herring) thrown in. The Nagano Tapes is about hockey, with the only apparent connection being that Evangelion was made in Japan and the Nagano Olympics happened in Japan.
But, perhaps even more interestingly, director Ondřej Hudeček doesn’t seem to have ever bothered hiding the fact that he lifted the Evangelion into for The Nagano Tapes. It’s a conscious—if somewhat inexplicable—homage, not an attempt to pull one over on people, as evidenced by the fact that he semi-regularly tweets about the Evangelion reference in the film (even playfully asking “who’s the nerd behind this?” when somebody uncovered the clip in 2019). Hudeček’s reference went viral today, though, giving him a chance to celebrate the fact that he was finally able to make anime Twitter “go nuts” after three years of sitting on this incredible Easter egg. As they say on Evangelion: “Congratulations!”