When Mobile Suit Gundam first aired in 1979, GUNDAM mania exploded into the scene from outer space. The popularity of the series then spawned a franchise that eventually expanded into films, video games, comics, and of course, an entire industry of plastic model kits called ‘Gunpla’.
Whether you’re an otaku or not, everyone is aware of Gundam’s cultural impact on Japanese popular culture. For those planning a trip to Japan, you know it’s not a real Japan trip unless you visit the giant Gundam in Odaiba. And that’s exactly what we did — we went to see the giant Gundam.
Odaiba’s Diver City Tokyo Plaza is a place of pilgrimage for Gundam fans. Diver City is home to the only full-size Gundam statue in the world — a monument in which people come from across the world just to see the figure in the flesh.
Thanks to its size, it is easy to get a good photo with the 1:1 Unicorn Gundam. As expected of Japan, it is not a normal statue. Throughout the day, there are ‘performances’ in which the Gundam moves its head and glares light out from the eyes.
Once you’re done staring at its beauty, you can then visit the portable Gundam shop and Gundam Cafe situated next to the statue. They’re not much but if you have little time in Odaiba, this is a great opportunity to quickly drop by and get some merchandise.
But the real deal is inside the shopping centre — The Gundam Base Tokyo.
For fans of the Gundam universe, this is the ultimate place to geek out over Gundam. Essentially, the Gundam Base is a newly remodelled hub that is the cultural and commercial centre of the franchise.
The Gundam Base doesn’t focus on the TV series and/or movies that fans have fallen in love with — the store is more about the Gunpla models based on these original properties.
At The Gundam Base, you can see a timeline exhibition in which shows how Gunpla has evolved throughout the years. From the original factory design to models designed by celebrities, you can’t help but be in awe of the amazing history behind these models.
In addition to this, you can sit down and build kits with other people; take photos of the various photo backdrops and statues; and of course, buy special exclusive Gunpla model kits to your hearts’ content.
While we’re personally not dedicated fans of the Gundam franchise, we — as an otaku — can appreciate and acknowledge the history and cultural significance that Gundam has brought to popculture. If you’re ever in Odaiba, we highly recommend you to embark on this Gundam adventure!
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