For six months, something felt just a little off in Tokyo. After years of drawing travelers to the capital’s Odaiba neighborhood, last March the full-scale statue of iconic anime robot Gundam was disassembled, and while the dismantling was handled in an awesome way, for half a year there’s been a mecha-sized hole in fans’ hearts.
But now things are OK again. Actually, they’re better than OK, because on Sunday, Tokyo’s new Gundam statue made its official debut, and it’s even bigger than the old one!
Based on the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (from "Gundam Unicorn," the most recent Gundam anime set within the franchise’s original Universal Century timeline), the 1:1-scale replica is 19.7 meters tall, 1.7 meters taller than its predecessor statue of the old-school RX-78-2 Gundam.
While the previous statue was also staggeringly huge, if you’ve seen both in person the extra size of the Unicorn is definitely noticeable.
The Unicorn also feels bigger thanks to the chunkier armor plating on its arms, shoulders, and legs. As mentioned above, the RX-78-2 was designed for the very first Gundam TV series from the late 1970s, which meant it had to be animated entirely by hand and thus needed to keep its lines simple. "Gundam Unicorn," on the other hand, was a lavish production that began in 2010, and having computer graphics as a visual option lets the RX-0 have a much more complex form.
The statue is an incredibly faithful reproduction, and includes the pulsating pink lights that are visible when the mecha is in its Destroy Mode. Around back, the robot’s thruster units are also illuminated.
However, as fans know, Destroy Mode is only one of the Unicorn Gundam’s configurations. The other is Unicorn Mode (which features a single horn-like protrusion from the robot’ head), and so multiple times a day the statue transforms between the two modes.
The transformation happens daily at 11 in the morning and 1, 3, and 5 in the afternoon, with the statue starting and ending the day in Destroy Mode. While the transformation is a cool moment to see, that’s really all it is: a moment, as the armor plates quickly slide around to complete the change in about 10 seconds.
Still, both modes have their own special visual appeal, so the thing to do is show up, snap some pictures, than go grab a bit to eat at the adjacent Diver City entertainment complex (or check out its brand new Gundam Base Tokyo model showroom and shop inside), then come back and get some more snapshots following the transformation.
Wait around until after the sun goes down, and you’ll be rewarded once again, as the Destroy Mode’s panels glow extra-bright at night.
The nocturnal festivities also include music and video accompaniment at 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, and 9:30, when clips from the anime are projected onto the exterior of Diver City and Gundam theme songs are played from speakers. During these brief shows, the statue also transforms to Unicorn Mode and back, and this is also your only chance to spot the Destroy Mode in its crowd-pleasing green “Awakened” version.
But whether you make a day out of it or simply stop by to say a quick hi to Tokyo’s new robotic resident, the Unicorn Gundam is an awesome sight to behold, and definitely worth a visit when you’re in Tokyo.
The Life-Sized Unicorn Gundam Statue / 実物大ユニコーンガンダム立像
Located at: Diver City / ダイバーシティ
Address: Tokyo-to, Koto-ku, Aomi 1-1-10
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