If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not a huge giant mech/giant robot fan. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full episode of Patlabor or Gundam–though it’s not out of spite or anything! There are only so many hours in the day, and I rarely seem to have time to watch giant mechs beating the crap out of each other. Though that sentence is making me question some life choices now…
As such, I’ve always been perplexed by the idea that someone has actually gone out of their way to build enormous statues of the suits. The “why” has always left an itch in the back of my mind–it just doesn’t seem worth, does it? Well, that’s what I thought until I actually came face-to-face (face-to-boot?) with an enormous Patlabor statue. Here are some photos of the giant mech emblazoned with a Japanese police badge and why I actually hope they make more!
Obviously the Patlabor statue was made as a movie prop, so I’ve always (slightly begrudgingly) accepted it, but what about the giant, planned-to-eventually-move Gundam statue? Sure, I guess it’s good for advertising and tourism, but it just seems so pointless. It’s a big statue representing…an anime show? At least the samurai statues scattered around Japan are dedicated to real people who did real things!
Or that was my take on things until I was at Lalaport in Toyosu the other night and saw the enormous Ingram from Patlabor. Let’s just say I have a new perspective on things now…
▼The neck-craning perspective.
First, holy crap, Ingram is big–it stretches up 8 meters (26 feet, 3 inches) and standing directly under it (or as close as they’ll let you get) is an exercise in neck strain. And that’s obviously nowhere near as big as Odaiba’s Gundam, which is apparently 18 meters (59 feet) tall. I’m not saying I know what ants feel like now…but I can totally sympathize with chihuahuas!
▼Though, now that I think about it, it wouldn’t be able to see me directly underneath…
In fact, it’s kind of hard to understand exactly what “eight meters tall” means without cloning Shaq (2.16 meters or 7 feet 1 inch) four times, stacking the clones, and then chopping off the bottom clone’s calves. That…might actually be less helpful, so here’s a picture of Ingram chilling with a few fans.
▼Anime idea: Slam Dunk meets Patlabor.
There you go, Abe. Make that and Japan’s economic woes are gone.
It’s just big, you know? But being big in and of itself isn’t necessarily impressive–my student loans are proof of that. There’s something else about Ingram that has given me a new appreciation for giant mech statues and actually made me wish there were a few more of them running (standing?) around.
▼And, no, it wasn’t just because Ingram threatened to step on me.
If you’ll forgive me for getting a bit philosophical for a moment, I honestly believe that creating and appreciating art is one of the most essential parts of being human. And I don’t mean just standing in a museum scratching your chin and talking about Picasso’s blue phase. (Which, apparently, has nothing to do with Viagra. But there’s a new marketing angle for you, Pfizer!) While this might annoy some of the more classically-minded out there, art is what you make it, at least in my view. Obviously, there are a lot of murky areas when it comes to art–but an intersection of craft, technique, skill, and creativity seems be essential to the concept.
My new buddy Ingram was obviously made with a lot of craft, technique, skill, and creativity–it’s certainly not an easy job to make a real, three-dimensional version of something that originated in a 2-D medium! Even more importantly, though, the statue isn’t just an impressive engineering feat–it’s also an artistic expression.
▼Hey, no one ever said art couldn’t be cool! Or shiny.
Even though I haven’t seen Patlabor and probably won’t any time soon, the statue is simply inspiring–and not just in the “I need to get a neck massage” kind of way. While I’m sure the statue means different things to different people, for me it’s a giant chunk of surreal dropped into the middle of my reality. Now, I’m not sure it has the depth of, say, the David, but just as Michelangelo’s statue portrays a hero in the moment between decision and action, Ingram does seem to possess a certain vigilance.
▼Like Santa Claus, he knows whether you’ve been naughty or nice.
That sense of vigilance combined with the mind-bending surreality of seeing something your brain has relegated to the category of 2-D characters is a pleasant shock to the system. Like accidentally walking out of work and bumping into George Clooney. Now, I’m not saying that we need giant robot statues on every street corner–that would probably make getting to work a lot more inconvenient. But I am saying that I’m definitely happy they exist! Even if I didn’t know an Ingram from a Gundam, the little shakes to reality the statues provide are admirable. From an artistic perspective, exactly what they mean is something we could fight about all night, but it seems fair, at the very least, to say that they represent our future–and not just because they’re from science fiction shows! Building a mech is a massive undertaking that requires the combined efforts of dozens, if not hundreds of people. To me, these statues represent the combined efforts of many to make something that is larger than the sum of its parts–a symbol of the power of unity.
And I’m not just happy with these statues because of what (I think) they represent, but also because they help us participate in that essential human activity of appreciating artistry. It may not be the same as studying the contours of a classical granite statue, but it is something that breaks us out of the daily grind and helps give us a new perspective.
▼Good job, buddy! High five!
But what do you guys think? Are these enormous robot statues art? Are they still kind of silly? Do you think Tokyo needs more of these giants hanging out in random places? Share in the comments! And be sure to check out the below photos of the Mercedes truck that hauls Ingram around town. It’s almost as impressive as the giant mech!
All photos by RocketNews24