Gundam’s 20-meter replacement statue unveiled in Odaiba

by

Staff Writer

Gundam’s upgrade was unveiled in Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront district on Sunday, giving hope to its corporate sponsors that the giant robot statue will become a new tourist attraction ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The towering, full-scale 19.7-meter Unicorn Gundam replaces the previous model, which was removed in March.

“I know that many people were waiting so long for this day to arrive. I was one of them,” Toshinobu Maeda, managing director of Tokyo Port Terminal Corp., which is in charge of the project, said at the media preview Saturday evening.

“The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are coming up in three years, and the waterfront area has been chosen as one of the sites for the games,” he said. “I expect this Unicorn Gundam . . . to become the source of further revitalization for the waterfront area.”

In August, at DiverCity Tokyo, Bandai Inc. opened a shop dedicated to selling, assembling and painting plastic models of the main character from the popular animation series.

Yoshitaka Tao, chief Gundam officer at Bandai, said the company hopes more tourists come to see the statue and the Gundam Cafe nearby.

“By offering products, services and events, the Bandai Namco Group hopes to continue sharing excitement and surprises with the fans. I’d like the world to know about the concept and history behind the ‘Gundam’ series,” Tao said.

After the ceremony, an event was held to show how the Unicorn Gundam transforms from “unicorn mode” to “destroy mode,” as seen in the TV shows.

Although details of the ceremony were not made public, some lucky fans who were passing by at the time were able to see a demonstration of the Unicorn Gundam’s transformation the day before it was shown to the public on Sunday.

“It’s incredible. It’s perfectly modeled,” said Takei, a 19-year-old Gundam fan who was visiting with his friend Hayashi, also 19. Both declined to give their first names.

“It’s absolutely something that Japan should be proud of,” Takei said, adding that he prefers Unicorn Gundam over the previous statue because the new one lights up.

Hayashi said he can’t wait to take a closer look.

“I’ll consider coming back here again,” he said.