There’s a unique challenge for anime professionals working on a franchise with as long a history as Gundam, which aired its first episode 35 years ago. Since each new series does away with the war mechs of its predecessors, designers are always under pressure to come up with giant robots that look more powerful, technologically advanced, and, in the case of the villains’ machines, sinister than what fans have seen before.
With Gundam Unicorn’s NZ-999 Neo Zeong, piloted by baffling-named antagonist (and Toyota owner) Full Frontal, we think the animators did a pretty good job. From its sharp, angular lines, blood-red paint job, and the crevices in the sheet metal produce murky shadows, the mobile armor appears immediately menacing and dangerous.
Unless that is, you remove the head unit and replace it with a cute anime girl or kitty cat.
As a reference point, here’s how the Neo Zeong appears in the anime.
Since the only three things in life that are absolutely certain are death, taxes, and Gundam merchandising, toymaker Bandai has naturally released multiple model kits of the robot. The newest is this super-deformed version, which gives the Neo Zeong a chubbier build and shorter limbs.
Fans weren’t quite finished squeezing all the potential cuteness out of the kit, though. For example, the stock head unit is still pretty intimidating. Why not replace it with one from a friendlier looking super-deformed Gundam?
Among anime fans, there’s a pretty solid consensus that the gritty Gundam franchise falls into the “real robot” category, as opposed to the more over-the-top stylings of “super robot” anime. But what happens to that argument when you have a real robot with Super Mario at the controls?
Of course, if you’re so into anime that you buy, build, and then customize Gundam models, you probably have a few cute anime girl figurines sitting around your apartment, so why not put them to use?
▼ We know Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Sayaka has the ability to recover from any injury, but wouldn’t it still be better to avoid said injuries in the first place with the help of thick armor plating?
▼ We’re sure we’d feel every bit as coolly confident as Steins;Gate’s Kurisu if this was our mode of daily transportation.
▼ Digital diva Hatsune Miku looks very much at home inside the Neo Zeong.
Some tinkerers took a look at the mecha’s spec sheet and found it most lacking not in cuteness, but in practicality. So instead of filling that empty space with girls, one fan filled it with tools.
Still, our personal favorite is this creation.
We’re not sure whether this feline can actually read the book’s text, but either way, he’s more than adequately equipped to become the reigning warlord of Cat Island.