Big (and Robot Shaped) in JapanOdaiba had never been a place that I had wanted to visit.
Unlike Japan, I had never dreamt of going to Odaiba.
Never looked up pictures of Odaiba on the Internet or read books about the interesting things
I could see or do there, the best places to shop or the most interesting sights to see.
Unlike Japan, I had never tried my hardest to watch every television program on the subject of Odaiba.
Never looked up which was the best way to travel there, the fastest train to catch or the best bus routes to take.
Even when I eventually moved from Matsuyama to Tokyo in 2008,
I didn’t once think of heading in the general direction of Odaiba, maybe because Akihabara was closer.
That all changed on one fateful day when I read three incredible words on an Internet blog.
Life… size… Gundam!
At the time I thought that it had to be a joke.
For many years characters and robots from various anime and manga had been built as life size statues.
I had seen a two ton, four meter tall ‘Scopedog’ from the anime series Votoms (Soko Kihei Botomuzu)
in a modelling magazine years before. I had gazed upon a huge mounted statue of Raoh from the Manga and Anime series
Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) at a model show.
I had wandered past many shops in my favorite place (on Earth) Akihabara that had life size characters
from a whole host of bizarre and unknown series.
However, a life size Gundam built to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series and
bolster Japan’s efforts to capture the 2016 olympics sounded far-fetched, to say the least.
It would be immense and impossible, wouldn’t it?
Rumours flew around the internet and magazines and I even picked up a few snippets of information from some of my students,
but at the back of my mind I still wasn’t totally convinced that the day would ever come when
I would stare in awe and wonder at something I had only seen in miniature.
Then, one day in the middle of August my wife and I journeyed to Odaiba.
It was awesome!
Eighteen meters tall and a wonderful representation of the most iconic machine in the Gundam universe
(maybe even in the history of anime), Amuro Rei’s RX78 mark 2 mobile suit.
It lit up, moved (at least it’s head did) and gushed steam.
My wife said it was cool and I got slightly emotional, especially when the stirring Gundam theme music played in the background
and the suit’s head turned to face the sky, as if take-off was imminent.
It’s no exageration to say that I was entranced, as I’m sure were many of the 4.15 million people who eventually saw it,
and found it hard to leave the park, each step towards the exit being accompanied
by a backward glance as the mighty form of the suit dipped behind the trees that surrounded it.
Needless to say, a trip to Akihabara followed shortly after and one more model kit was added to my collection.
It hasn’t been built yet but I’m sure that I’ll start it some time before the 40th annivesary of Gundam but maybe after
I travel to see the 18 meter tall Tetsujin28 in Kobe.