Goodbye, Gundam.

When it was first announced that the city of Yokohama would be getting not only a life-sized statue of Gundam, but a life-size statue of the giant anime mecha that could move, it was almost hard to believe. Within the anime, the original Gundam stands 18 meters (59 feet) tall, and awesome as it looks on-screen, it was tough to picture something so huge moving in our world.

But the dreamers, designers, and engineers delivered on their promise. In December of 2020, Gundam Factory Yokohama opened in the bayside city half an hour south of Tokyo. In addition to the moving Gundam, the facility also contained a museum chronicling its construction, themed cafe, and, of course, gift shop with exclusive merch. Over the next few years, Gundam Factory Yokohama became a pilgrimage point for fans of the franchise from around the world, but sadly, last Sunday was its final day.

But if Yokohama was going to have to say goodbye to Gundam, it was going to say goodbye in style.

At 7 p.m., the Gundam Factory Yokohama Grand Finale-To the New Stage farewell celebration began, with guests including the designers of the statue and series creator Yoshiyuki Tomino.

▼ Tomino, all dressed up for the event

Ordinarily, Gundam Factory Yokohama’s Gundam has a variety of short programs throughout the day, in which the robot’s movements are accompanied by light and voice performances. For this very last show, there was an extended program featuring a number of Gundam franchise theme songs, plus a drone show crating art of the anime’s robots and characters in the night sky.

▼ The start of the final show

In addition to drone renderings of the original RX-78-2 Gundam (like the one above in which it’s performing its iconic “last shooting” pose), there were musical and visual nods to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury (the newest Gundam anime TV series) and Gundam Seed/Seed Destiny, the most recent segment of the franchise to receive a theatrical feature).

It wasn’t all technological flash and pyrotechnic spectacle, though. While there’s no denying Gundam’s visceral “Whoa, cool robot!” appeal, the franchise also likes to ponder the continuing evolution of human society, and so before the final shutdown, Toru Furuya, Yokohama native and voice actor for original Gundam protagonist Amuro Ray, had some inspiring words to say.

With Gundam Factory Yokohama now closed, it’s currently unclear what’s going to happen to the moving Gundam. However, you don’t go to the trouble and expense of designing something this massive, and massively cool, and then just set it outon the curb at trash day, so hopefully Yokohama saying goodbye to Gundam will mean that some other town will get to say hello to it as the mecha’s next home.

Images: YouTube/ガンダムチャンネル
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