A Closer Look at the Unicorn Gundam in Odaiba
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Odaiba is no stranger to Gundam. Until earlier this year, the seaside city was home to a life-sized replica of Amuro Ray's iconic Gundam suit. I regret not being able to see it with my own eyes, since it was removed shortly before I was stationed in Tokyo.
But no matter — the original Gundam is now being replaced by a new, equally impressive model. It's still under construction, but the life-sized Unicorn Gundam is open to the public at the Diver City Tokyo Plaza.
It makes sense that Amuro's mech would be replaced by the Unicorn. Gundam Unicorn is not only a popular entry to the franchise but also a sequel set many years after the original series. It offers a fresh look to an old story, examining the legacy of the original characters over many generations. There's no better choice for a Gundam mech to signify the longevity of the franchise and its ability to speak to multiple generations.
As a mech itself, the Unicorn is an interesting twist on a familiar formula. Its main feature is its ability to transform between a "Unicorn Mode" and a "Destroy Mode," which involves moving and lighting up over fifty different parts. Tranforming mechas are uncommon in the Gundam universe, and it's even more uncommon to see them take place on a life-sized statue in real life. The transformation was previewed a few days ago, and although I didn't get to see the full transformation myself, I did see some of the panels move. That in itself was pretty cool.
The Unicorn Gundam may still be under construction, but there's already a photo deck for visitors to have their pictures taken with the statue. The staff will take two pictures of you — a free photo with your own camera as well as a professional photo that you can pay for. The photo deck is already receiving quite a few visitors even before the Gundam Unicorn's official debut.
The arrival of the Unicorn Gundam also signals the opening of a new Gundam-related store in the Diver City Tokyo Plaza itself. The "Gundam Front Tokyo" used to be a miniature theme park, but now it's been revamped into a store called "The Gundam Base," dedicated to all things Gunpla.
If Gundam Unicorn and its ponderous themes on the nature of war is the face of Gundam in Odaiba, the Gundam Front store is dedicated to the other side of Gundam — the toys. This is represented by Gundam Build Fighters, the poster child of cheesy, exuberant fun. The new Gundam Build Fighters kits are on sale right now, so naturally the store is promoting the series quite heavily. When I visited, a large screen was playing the latest OVA, and I even saw life-sized figures of the season 1 protagonists.
Of course, you can find merchandise from most of the well-known Gundam installments, not just Gundam Build Fighters. And not all of the merchandise is Gunpla, either. You can also buy character goods and even some of the outfits from the shows.
No matter what kind of Gundam fan you are — a Gunpla enthusiast, a fan of the stories and characters, or even just a casual viewer — you'll probably find something of interest at Odaiba. The Gundam Café is still around, by the way, so if you want to eat food items like "Haro Foccacia," that's an option too. Put it all down as yet another compelling reason to visit Odaiba when you're ever in Tokyo.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history