The famous unmissable mecha robot is certainly one of the most unique and fitting symbols for the futuristic image of Tokyo. Anime lovers’ hearts swell at the sight of the 19.7-meter-tall Gundam Unicorn in Odaiba, Tokyo, but it also wows visitors who are not knowledgeable about the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. The impressive statue lights up at night, transforms to the anime’s soundtrack and is so authentic, it feels as if it’s going to start walking any time now! And it turns out that impression is not too far from the truth.
Gundam Global Challenge and Yokohama city, joined by some of the best engineers and designers, are collaborating under the “Gundam Global Challenge” program to create an 18-meter-tall mecha statue that can also walk and move around. This is (literally) a huge step forward, as previous Gundam statues have all been stationary, save for transformations and movement of some of their parts.
They announced that the unveiling of the new Gundam will be in 2020 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympic Games, although previously 2019 was considered for unveiling because it’s the 40 years anniversary of the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series. The location carries great symbolism as well, as the ports of Yokohama have historically been the ports of opening of Japan to the world and to the future. And a new and moving Gundam is definitely futuristic.
This project also boasts support from the government, as it is bound to impress visitors and further drive tourism.
The motto under which the team creating the Gundam rallies is very poetic: “Challenge the dream. GUNDAM will move. The world will move. ” The dream will come true in 2020.
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On March 20th 2019 Osaka got its very own Gundam cafe, “Gundam Cafe Osaka Dotonbori”. Like the Tokyo cafés it is full of special snacks, drinks and merchandise, plus Osaka-only specials among which merchandise with famous Gundam quotes but written in Osaka dialect!
Moreover, in Osaka EXPOCITY there is Gundam Square – the first Gundam shop out of Tokyo. It contains a café and a store and outside you are greeted by not one, but two mechas clashing – Char’s Zaku versus Amuro’s Gundam. These iconic rivals tower at 5 meters tall and have been built as part of several endeavors to mark Mobile Suit Gundam’s 40th anniversary.
Open from 11 am to 10 pm, according to the business hours of “EXPOCITY”.
Yes, you read that right – there’s a plan to launch Gundam in space, its natural habitat judging from the anime series. This is yet another one of the several amazing feats undertaken in honor of Mobile Suit Gundam 40th anniversary. The two mechas to be launched to orbit Earth are Char’s Zaku versus Amuro’s Gundam, the famous characters from the very first Gundam anime series. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed up with the Tokyo University Graduate School of Engineering’s Aerospace Engineering department to make this dream come true in 2020, in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The project called “G-SATELLITE to Space” is under development, and Gundam and Zaku are being made from special materials. These will not be the size of the Unicorn Gundam in Odaiba, but they won’t be ordinary plastic models either. The G-Satellite containing them will be first launched to the International Space Station and from there launched again to orbit Earth and send messages of support. We can now only wait in excitement for one of the most fascinating anime-related events in history!
Learn more about this project here.
New Gundams popping up is nothing new though. The current Gundam Unicorn in front of DiverCity Tokyo Plaza in Odaiba was put there in September 2017. The previous Gundam Mobile Suit that stood at the same place from April 2012 until March 2017 was the RX-78-2, the titular Gundam piloted by Amuro from the very first Gundam anime series. And even that one was not the first giant Gundam statue ever. Many will be surprised to find out that there was a giant Gundam way before DiverCity existed!
Amuro’s Gundam was first displayed in 2009 for the series’ 30th anniversary. The Original Gundam was displayed in Shiokaze Park in Odaiba only for 2 months. After that it was reassembled and exhibited in Shizuoka in July 2010, where most Gundam plastic models factories are. Sadly, it was dismantled after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but as we now know, it popped up in Odaiba in 2012!
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