Being a fan of all things anime mecha based, there was one must visit spot in Tokyo I had to check out to get my robo-fandom on. Gundam Front Tokyo is one of Tokyo’s newest attractions and a centerpiece of the Gundam franchise. Located in Odaiba, a man-made island situated in Tokyo Bay, Gundam Front Tokyo is the mainstay of one of Tokyo’s newest shopping and entertainment complexes, DiverCity Tokyo Plaza.
The original Gundam anime series, Mobile Suit Gundam, was introduced in 1979 and has since spawned off a multitude of related anime series, movies, manga, toys, and other merchandise. Steeped in its own mythology, Gundam is so popular that it is now part of Japan’s pop-cultural DNA much like how Star Wars is in the United States.
Located at the plaza’s entrance is a life-sized, 1:1 scale Gundam, model RX-78-2. Standing at 59 feet (18m) tall, this towering mecha blends reality with the anime world by bringing the classic anime to life. Aside from looking cool, the RX-78-2 has a nice little light, sound, and smoke show that happens at seemingly unpredictable times. (A schedule of its shows can be found on its website here.)
As with many places of interest in Japan, photos are not allowed for most the exhibit within the Front. Naturally that didn’t deter me from getting GEEK Exchange readers glimpses of what’s inside anyway. Please pardon the blurry pics!
There is a large room that holds over 1,000 model-kits that Bandai has produced for the series and its offshoots. Naturally, many of these kits, also known as “Gunpla” (Gundam Plastic), are available for purchase on site.
At the center of the Front, there is a 50-foot diameter dome called the DOME-G that houses six digital projectors and 13 speakers. In it, a video is played in a sky viewing format that chronicles highlights from the various Gundam series as well as crane views of the 1:1-scale Gundam. All of the presentation is in Japanese.
Exiting the DOME-G takes you into another exhibit area that houses yet another life-size Gundam. Yes, that’s right folks, Gundam Front Tokyo has two 1:1-scale Gundams! What’s even better is that you get to climb into the pilot’s seat of this one. You are invited to take a photo posing as the pilot of the ZGMF-X20A Strike Freedom Gundam Ver. GFT, which is free to do.
If you plan to visit Tokyo, we recommend a quick visit to Gundam Front Tokyo and the DiverCity Tokyo Plaza. It’s a fun little romp into the world of one of Japan’s most popular series. Admission is ¥1000 for adults, college and high school students, ¥800 for middle and elementary school students. They do recommend buying tickets ahead of time on weekends. Be warned, there are no English translations available for the exhibits and when I visited the Front, the venue only accepted cash.