The 11th of July has come and gone, and along with it, the official opening of the giant Gundam statue in Odaiba, Tokyo. Here’s a look at what the scene was like just over a week later, flashing lights and all…
This is the third and final part of a three part series. Click here for Part 1, which looks at an early stage in the construction process, and click here for Part 2 which shows the completed statue before the official opening.
We visited on a sticky summer Sunday afternoon to catch the day/night transition, and we were certainly not alone. What was once a lush, green park has now been thoroughly trampled into a giant dust field by thousands of delighted visitors… which is ironic, given that not only is the statue the centrepiece of the Gundam series’ 30th anniversary celebrations, but also that of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s “Green Tokyo” project, aimed at promoting a greener, more ecologically aware and sound future for the city.
But never mind that. Look, it moves!
See for yourself.
The statue puts on a show once every hour involving flashing lights, sprays of mist and a moving head all choreographed to music and timed with various robotic sound effects. The whole spectacle lasts for only a few minutes, but it from all the intermittent ooh’s and aah’s and approving applause from the onlookers at the end, it certainly succeeds as a crowd pleaser nonetheless.
And, although I say this everytime I upload a video from my camera, apologies for the very un-2009 quality of the videos in this article. My old camera can only take 30 seconds of low-resolution video at a time, which is especially unfortunate here as it was typically longer than 30 seconds between each separate display (turning its head, lifting its head, spraying mist, etc.), making it difficult to capture everything in one clip. Anyhow, moving on…
The construction barrier that once hid the Gundam’s lower legs has finally been removed, revealing its very hefty pair of red shoes.
I’d say that each foot was roughly equivalent in size to that of a small to medium sized car. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – this thing is huge.
And you get to walk between its legs!
Not surprisingly, there was a sizeable queue, but thankfully the staff on hand managed to efficiently muster the herd through at a reasonable pace so I didn’t have to wait more than about 10 minutes to pass between the Gundam’s mighty feet…
… take the obligatory crotch shot…
… and TOUCH it. Yes, that is my gangly hand right there, next to some decals that demonstrate that random numbers and acronyms are all you really need to sound “technical”.
And now, for some pictures featuring people who aren’t me, posing around the right ankle joint. One thing I appreciate about Japan is that people from all walks of life get into this kind of stuff, not just the nerdy otaku types, and it’s completely normal and accepted. For example:
B) Men who look like they like this stuff.
C) Men who look like they beat up on men who like this stuff.
Wouldn’t want to be here if that booster back pack turned on!
Gawking at a giant robot and capturing the spectacle from every possible angle is bound to take a physical toll on the body. Or so thought the organisers of the event, who kindly set up an array of food stalls along the outskirts of the field. Looks like they were right.
Gawking at a giant robot and capturing the spectacle from every possible angle is also bound to make you want a giant robot of your own. Those who feel frustrated at not being able to take away the real thing can find small relief at a Gundam merchandise stall like the one above.
An event as big as this based on a character from an anime series wouldn’t be complete without cosplayers! Here are two official-looking characters moments after being interviewed by the press…
… and what would have been a very sweaty fan inside a very cute Zaku (?) costume. Somehow I don’t think this little guy would have stood much of a chance against Mr. RX78-2 across the field.
But that didn’t stop him from getting an interview! Being smaller makes him all the more approachable, you see. And that claw? Adorable!
A cosplaying couple. By this stage, it was approaching sunset.
But the crowds saw no sign of relenting.
And who could blame them? This was undoubtedly the most breathtaking time to see the statue.
For once, the Gundam had to share the limelight.
The dramatically-scored “powering up” sequence.
The fleeting, very pretty colours at twilight.
And before we knew it, it was night.
Gazing skyward gives the impression of the Gundam placed where it belongs – in space, and in the future.
Please don’t go.
It’s difficult to imagine how they’re going to top this once (and if) the Gundam’s 50th anniversary rolls around. What could they possibly add to it? Moving arms? Working legs for a truly “mobile” Mobile Suit Gundam? A booster back pack that spits fire? An internal elevator that goes up through its body and into an observatory deck in its head? With a restaurant inside? I suppose it’s all possible, if they rake in an absurd amount of money over the next 20 years and the cost of public liability insurance plummets by a similar amount. But for now, consider this the coolest tribute that any pop-culture robot could, in this day and age, possibly hope for.