HISTORY OF THE GUNDAM STATUE IN ODAIBA
If you have visited the island of Odaiba in Tokyo, Japan recently, then I am sure you visited the giant Gundam statue located in front of the DiverCity Tokyo Plaza. But did you know that the mecha model you see today is not the original one? Do you know how this giant robot army came to land in Odaiba?
Well, today I’ll be answering these questions and more, so hop into your Mobile Suit and strap yourself in for a wild ride!
The Original Gundam
The original Gundam Statue in Odaiba was actually first displayed back on July 10, 2009, during Mobile Suit Gundam’s 30th Anniversary, as part of the Green Tokyo Gundam Project. The Green Tokyo Gundam Project was an event that helped raise funds for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s push for a “greener” future, and was part of Tokyo’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics. And though Tokyo didn’t get the 2016 Olympics, they were able to get the 2020 Olympics—-maybe the Gundam had something to do with that?
The Mobile Suit represented was the RX-78-2 Gundam, which debuted in the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam and is considered the signature Mobile Suit of the series. And for those that aren’t Mobile Suit Gundam fans—wait, what!?—in the series it is piloted by Amuro Ray.
The RX-78-2 Gundam was a 1:1 scale model and stood at 18 meters (about 59 feet) tall and weighed 35 tons (about 70,000 lbs.)! It was made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic over a steel frame. It had several points around its body which displayed 50 lights, and also had a moving head. And to add to all of the coolness of this giant robot, it shot smoke from its chest while music blasted around it.
Oh, and unlike the more recent Gundams, it was not displayed in front of DiverCity Tokyo—because DiverCity Tokyo didn’t even exist back then! The Original Gundam was displayed in Shiokaze Park in Odaiba, which is a park you can still visit today. It stood there for only two months, but during that time about 4.15 million people visited the robot.
And here is some additional fun trivia for you. The closing ceremony for the Original Gundam was cancelled back in 2009 due to Typhoon #11 approaching Tokyo, and this also delayed the deconstruction of the mecha.
Gundam Moves to Shizuoka
Gundam fans were sad to see the RX-78-2 Gundam leave Odaiba, but lucky for them, they didn’t have to wait long to see it again. On July 24 2010, the giant robot was brought back to life in Shizuoka, Japan, the city where most of the Gundam plastic models come from.
But the RX-78-2 Gundam erected in Shizuoka was even better than the original as it now held a giant 1:1 scale beam saber in its right hand–and yes it glowed during the night. Also, in honor of it being put in the city where plastic models are made, the paint job was redesigned to look more like a “Gunpla” (Gundam Model).
Unfortunately, on March 11, 2011 Japan experienced the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami, which severely damaged many areas in Japan. As a result, the RX-78-2 was also damaged and had to be deconstructed earlier than people had hoped. But it wouldn’t stay away for long.
Gundam Returns In Pieces
From August 13 to August 21, 2011, mecha fans were called to Odaiba again, but what they found this time was pieces of the previous Gundam statue. Still, the displays allowed people to see the statue in a more up-close environment. And you could even sit on the RX-78-2’s right hand!
A portion of the proceeds received from ticket sales to this display went to the victims of the Tohoku Earthquake.
But once more, the Gundam was gone into space.
Gundam Appears In DiverCity Tokyo
In 2012. DiverCity Tokyo Plaza opened in Odaiba, with the concept of a “theatrical city space.” The new plaza had plenty of stores, which included fashion brands and specialty shops. But it wasn’t until later that year that mecha fans all around the world were truly making pilgrimages here.
On April 19, 2012, “Gundam Front Tokyo” opened in DiverCity Tokyo Plaza. It was a new indoor theme park dedicated to the Mobile Suit Gundam series, and included one very special guest of honor—the RX-78-2! Yes, it stood proudly in front of DiverCity, protecting Odaiba and all of Tokyo from any would-be bad guys.
And this is where the giant robot stayed, and where people thought it would stay forever. But it didn’t. And in March 2017, the RX-78-2 said goodbye to Odaiba. And in a seemingly never-ending cycle, Gundam fans the world over were saddened again.
But like the mecha fans of the Mobile Suit Gundam series, these warriors cannot be so easily defeated.
A New Gundam Rules Odaiba
On September 23, 2017, a special ceremony was held at DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, to unveil the new life-sized RX-0 Unicorn Gundam. And Odaiba and Tokyo were once-more protected by a giant mecha.
The RX-0 stands at an amazing 19.7 meters (almost 65 feet, and 1.7 meters taller than the RX-78-2 Gundam) and weighs a whopping 49 tons (98,000 lbs.)! It is the titular mobile suit of the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn novel, and it is piloted by Banagher Links.
The RX-0 comes with some amazing new features that the RX-78-2 didn’t have. It can actually transform from its “Unicorn” mode to the above “Destroyer” mode, and yes, the armor plates on its head to retract and change. And at night, the RX-0 glows bright in 50 different spots, to show everyone in the galaxy that it means business. And if that wasn’t enough, fans that visit the RX-0 will also be treated to projections of Gundam anime clips on the exterior of DiverCity, as well as awesome Gundam theme songs.
And yes, visiting this giant robot is FREE!
And there you have it, the history of the Gundam statue in Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan. I hope you enjoyed this! And if you are ever in Tokyo you need to experience this amazing mecha in-person. After all, the RX-0 is working hard to protect Tokyo and all of Japan, so you should at least go say thanks!