18.03-meter (59.2-foot) statue will be the first outside of Japan.

Once upon a time, there was one, and only one, Gundam in all of anime, since the RX-78-2 was the only giant robot to bear the “Gundam” designation in the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam TV series. That’s obviously no longer the case, though, as 40 years of sequels, spin-offs, and side projects mean there are now dozens of different Gundams.

In a case of life imitating art, this is happening in the real world too. First Tokyo got a life-size statue of the RX-78-2, which has now moved to the city of Yokohama for retrofitting that will allow it to move. The RX-78’s previous Tokyo territory is now held by an RX-0 Unicorn Gunda, statue which was completed in 2017. And now comes the announcement that a third life-size Gundam will begin construction. However, this new 1:1-scale Mobile Suit monument won’t be found in Osaka, Kyoto, or any other major Japanese city, but in Shanghai.

The Gundam China Project, announced by the Chinese division of toymaker Bandai through Chinese video streaming service Bilibili, will be the first life-size Gundam statue outside of Japan. Within the Gundam anime franchise, there are no fewer than three Chinese-made Gundam models, all which appear in Mobile Fighter G Gundam representing the nation of New China: the GF13-011NC Dragon Gundam, GF7-010NC Kouga Gundam, and GF4-005NC Feilong Gundam. Certain elements of Gundam Wing’s XXXG-01S Shenlong Gundam are also influenced by traditional Chinese armor/imagery.

▼ Dragon Gundam

However, the Gundam Shanghai is getting isn’t any of those models, but rather the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam, the “hero mecha” of 2002’s Mobile Suit Gundam Seed.

▼ As seen in this model kit, the Freedom’s flashy angelic design is particularly distinctive.

The Freedom was likely chosen since Seed was the first truly big hit for the Gundam franchise among the current global generation of anime fans, with previous installments often not making their way into widespread overseas distribution until years after their Japanese release.

With an official height of 18.03 meters (59.2 feet), the Freedom is just three centimeters (1.2 inches) taller than the original RX-78-2 Gundam, and 1.7 meters shorter than the Unicorn. The Freedom Gundam will also be the first life-size Gundam statue of a robot that is not part of the franchise’s Universal Century timeline (which includes the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam ). The Freedom statue is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2021.

While ordinarily anime fans’ attitude towards giant robots is “the mote the merrier,” the online reaction to the announcement hasn’t been 100-percent positive, with some snickering at a robot named “Freedom” being based in a nation with a less-than-sterling track record regarding protection of individual liberties. Others are simply disappointed about the Freedom statue not being in Gundam’s country of origin, but at least they can take consolation in knowing that Japan is getting a life-size Evangelion statue this summer.

Sources: Gundam Info via Twitter/@gundam_info via Otakomu, Hobby Watch
Top image: Gundam Info
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