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The deployment of anime mecha to Yokohama continues. Earlier this month the Ingram from police story Patlabor made an appearance in the bayside city, and now comes a life-size VF-25 Valkyrie from Macross Frontier.

Along with Gundam and Evangelion, Macross is part of Japan’s holy triumvirate of giant robot series. While every Gundam story has a charismatic masked villain, and Evangelion isn’t really Evangelion until someone suffers an emotional breakdown, three common threads run through all five installments of the Macross franchise: transforming fighter jets, love triangles, and idol singers.

▼ “Hmm…I wonder if they’re offering test drives…”

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The original Macross TV series finished its initial broadcast run in 1983, but had a rough trip crossing the Pacific for American television audiences. With only 36 episodes, Macross was considered too short to air in syndication, so the series was combined with two other originally unrelated properties that featured similar artwork and designs. The resulting program, renamed Robotech, became many English-speaking Japanese animation enthusiasts’ first taste of the medium when it began in 1985. In the years since, much of that gratitude towards Robotech has soured, however, as the resultant legal bickering caused by its US producers’ unflinching claim to be the sole international rights holder to all Macross-related properties has effectively locked the franchise out of any markets outside its native Japan.

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Here in its homeland, however, Macross has gone on to be an evergreen hit, with television and direct to video sequels, five movies, and a plethora of video games, manga comic books, and model kits. The most recent anime installment, the 2007-2009 TV series Macross Frontier, became a breakout hit even with the lofty expectations and hype that surrounded it as the centerpiece of Macross’ 25th anniversary celebration, spawning a two-part theatrical retelling of its 25 episodes.

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While each new iteration of Macross largely sweeps away its principal characters and brings in a new cast, without fail the hero pilots a giant robot known as a Valkyrie. The Valkyries are able to transform from sleek fighter jets (the original series’ were carbon copies of the US Navy’s F-14 Tomcat) into bipedal robots. The machine also has a third, hover-capable half-way mode with arms and legs protruding from its fuselage, which is how it appears now in Yokohama.

The Valkyrie arrived on August 9 as part of an event coordinated by satellite TV station Wowow. To commemorate its 30th anniversary, this month Wowow began rebroadcasting the original Macross series, shown for the first time on television in high definition, and will also be airing its compilation film, the 1984 theatrical feature Do You Remember Love?, on September 14.

The robot can be found just outside the turnstiles of Minato Mirai Station on the Minato Mirai Line, itself an extension of the Toyoko Line that connects Tokyo’s Shibuya and Yokohama Stations. Pass through the gates, head to your right, and soon you’ll see its colossal upturned hand extending towards you.

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Unfortunately, as beckoning as that hand may appear, not just anyone can climb up onto it. The hand is reserved for people who sign up for Wowow at the onsite service desk. This seems a bit like shaking down the fanboys, but given the absolutely huge smile on the face of the guy we saw standing up there, some people seem to feel it’s money well-spent. The Wowow staff was also happy to snap pictures for visitors, and good-naturedly listened as one launched into an in-depth description of his favorite mecha from the Macross franchise.

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▼ Employing trick photography to make it look like you’re asking the Valkyrie to dance, however, is free.

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The full-size Gundam statue found in Tokyo’s Odaiba cuts an undeniably heroic figure in its gleaming showroom quality paint job. The Valkyrie, on the other hand, appears to have just limped back from a dogfight, with singed body panels and exposed wiring. There’s even a toolbox lying on the ground labeled as property of SMS or Strategic Military Services, the private military provider Macross F’s protagonists are attached to.

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▼ The size of the toolkit makes it look more suited to changing the sparkplugs on a Miata than repairing damage sustained fighting giant aliens, though.

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But why Yokohama? Like we said before, every Macross story includes at least one character who’s an idol singer, which ties into one of the franchise’s overarching themes about the power of music and culture in general. Macross’ original songstress was Lynn Minmay, a teenage girl of Chinese ancestry who grew up in Yokohama’s Chinatown.

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Minmay was voiced by Mari Iijima, whom the character’s songs were popular enough to catapult to a recording career that continues to this day. Iijima, fluent in English, has since emigrated to Los Angeles, and closed the loop on her voice acting career by performing Minmay’s English voice in a dubbed version of Macross released in the US in 2006.

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The Valkyrie can be seen from 11am to 7pm weekdays, and 10am to 7pm weekends. The final exhibition date is September 2, at the end of which we fully expect it to just transform back into full fighter jet mode and fly off into the night sky.

Follow Casey on Twitter, where it’s only matter of time until he starts talking about Macross Delta.

Photos: RocketNews24