The original Gundam statue is no more, but dry your tears, anime fans, because a new mecha is on the way.
Fans of Japanese animation, robots, and awesome sightseeing attraction in general were saddened in December by the sudden news that the life-size statue of anime mecha Gundam would no longer be on display after March 5. Some may have been holding out hope for a last-minute change of heart, the fateful day has now come and gone, and the 18-meter (59-foot) recreation of the RX-78-2 Gundam, the mechanical star of the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam TV series, is no longer greeting guests to the Diver City entertainment complex in Tokyo’s Odaiba neighborhood.
▼ A tweet from the Gundam Front Tokyo museum/amusement park, which opens with “With sadness and joy, today is the last day of the Gundam statue’s display.”
ガンダムフロント東京 (@gundamfront_t) March 05, 2017
What made the decision to take down the statue particularly hard for fans to stomach is that, right up until the end, it remained an extremely popular destination for domestic and overseas travelers alike. On any weekend, crowds would gather to snap photos with the iconic mecha, often buying food and drink from nearby vendors before wandering into the Diver City building to further support the local economy. With Gundam loved by visitors and businesses alike, why take it down?
Apparently to make space for a new giant robot, since it’s now been announced that this coming fall a life-size statue of the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, the titular robot of video/TV series Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, will take up the RX-78-2’s position in front of Diver City.
▼ A concept render of the Unicorn Gundam statue
Gundam Unicorn isn’t the absolute newest animated arm of the Gundam franchise, but it is the most recently made TV series to take place in the Universal Century timeline, of which the original 1979 series is a part. And while old-school fans will still be sad to see the RX-78-2 go, the official height of the Unicorn Gundam is 19.7 meters (65 feet), meaning the new statue should be even larger than the original.
It’s unclear whether the Unicorn Gundam statue will be an entirely new piece, or whether it will make use of parts sourced from the RX-78-2. If the Unicorn is all-new, though, it also opens up the possibility of the two statues someday being displayed side-by-side, but if nothing else, the new statue’s announcement means that while Tokyo is currently without Gundam protector, it’ll have one again soon enough.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he can’t stress enough how relieved he is by all this.