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Netflix’s Evangelion Is Missing ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ – in America, At Least

It’s safe to assume Netflix paid a reasonable fortune for the rights to Neon Genesis Evangelion, which remains an almost unmatched cultural phenomenon in Japan, and it’s almost certainly one of the most expensive series to license internationally. There’s a reason no other licensor had rescued the anime since Sentai Filmworks lost the rights in 2008. While Netflix paid to license the series and its first two films (Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion), even the streaming giant’s spending had its limits: It didn’t pay for the international rights for the show’s ending credits theme.

In its original Japanese airing, and its various U.S. home video releases in the 1990s and ’00s, each episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion ends with a different cover of “Fly Me to the Moon,” the 1954 Bart Howard song made famous by Frank Sinatra’s 1964 recording. Enough effort went into making 26 different versions of the song for Evangelion that you can even purchase CDs of all of them in Japan. Netflix, however, must have not wanted to pay the licensing fee in most territories.

The big exception, it seems, is in Japan, where all of the uses of “Fly Me to the Moon” have been preserved.

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This isn’t the first time the U.S. release of an anime removed popular but costly music. FUNimation’s release of Eden of the East included Oasis’ “Falling Down” on the first episode, but used a replacement for following episodes. Hulu’s stream of Ergo Proxy removes Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android,” and Netflix’s stream of Gunslinger Girl removes The Delgados’ “The Light Before We Land.” Curiously, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s U.S. releases keep all the popular music on the soundtrack, but both the dub and sub translations remove pop music references in the script (“Killer Queen” becomes “Deadly Queen,” “Aerosmith” becomes “Little Bomber,” etc.).

To some degree, it makes sense that Netflix would decide an ending theme is an area that it could cut licensing costs. Netflix’s format encourages people to skip ending credits anyway, the better for getting people to binge through to the next episode — and when they reach the final episode, to watch the new Adam Sandler movie, as some people finishing Evangelion are already inexplicably seeing.

Yet the Evangelion case is noteworthy because “Fly Me to the Moon” wasn’t merely a credits song, but a leitmotif used in the show’s background music. Not only is the use in the credits removed, but the use of the tune in the show itself is gone, which changes the emotional impact of the original scenes.

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It’s great that more people get to experience Evangelion, but it would be wonderful if Netflix could go in and add back in the missing background music at the very least, even if the ending themes are unfeasible. If not, let’s hope Evangelion becomes one of the rare Netflix licenses to receive a full unedited Blu-ray set to be seen as originally intended.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is streaming now on Netflix. This article was originally published at