LIFE-SIZED GUNDAM STATUE in Odaiba, Tokyo DISMANTLED

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Back in 2012 Japanese toy and videogame company Bandai Namco erected in the town of Odaiba, Minato ward of Tokyo, a direct 1/1 scale model of the titular  and centerpiece machine of the long-running sci-fi anime series they have sponsored since nearly its creation in 1979: “Mobile Suit Gundam”. Ever since that humble genesis, the animation studio that produces Gundam, Sunrise, has become a Bandai Namco subsidiary, creating new re-imaginings of the basic concept of wars fought between armies using giant humanoid machines, with Gundam being some powerful prototype that is the “main character” of the stories. The semi-animatronic Gundam statue in Odaiba stood for several years as a tribute for one of the greatest anime and toy franchises ever conceived. And as the line from “Game of Thrones” goes, now its watch has ended.

According to hobby news site Gizmodo, the life-sized RX-78-2 Gundam statue that stood in front of Diver City Tokyo Plaza at Odaiba was dismantled last March, in preparation for a new mobile suit statue to be erected in its place. In line with the sheer fandom that drew numerous tourists at home and abroad to see it, the Gundam statue was partially taken apart by work crews – removing only the head and left arm – to give homage to the final episode of the original anime series.

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The partial deconstruction called to fans’ minds the iconic “Last Shooting” sequence from the 1979 series finale. In the climactic portion of the last battle between the Earth Federation and the Nazi-esque Principality of Zeon within the latter’s final asteroid base, Amuro Ray who piloted the Federation’s prototype Gundam mobile suit, faces off against his arch-enemy Char Aznable, a Zeon ace pilot using his own (unfinished) prototype mobile suit the Zeong. Their ultimate death-match sees the Gundam losing its head and left arm to battle damage, eventually having the headless Gundam shoot its beam rifle upward in an iconic scene, seconds before a final attack by Char destroys it beyond repair. After briefly fighting Char on foot with their respective machines trashed, Amuro returns to the Gundam’s wreckage and ejects its still-intact torso cockpit, which can transform into a fighter craft, in order to escape the Zeon asteroid base at the end of the in-series war.

Once the original Gundam statue is take down, in its place will rise a 1/1 scale replica of the RX-0 mobile suit Unicorn, the star machine of “Mobile Suite Gundam Unicorn”, which was a light novel series and an anime OVA series (which was recut into a TV series retitled “Unicorn RE:96”). There’s no word yet as to whether the RX-78-2 will be rebuilt elsewhere; and only time will tell if the replacement will remain standing as long as the old one did.

Photo courtesy of sakurahostel.co.jp

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