It is a positive certainty that a good number of Honey’s readers around the world would someday like to visit Japan, or some of you (such as the majority of Honey’s staff) may already be in Japan. If your only exposure to Japan is through anime, then figuring out where to visit is pretty much endless in your anime pilgrimage.
For some of the Gundam fans that read Honey, this first edition of Honey’s Anime Hot Spots is the place for you. With the series taking Japan by storm since 1979 and the rest of the world since 2000, it has created one of the most dedicated fan bases, and the franchise has given back to its fans in its native Japan with its own Gundam in Odaiba by Tokyo Bay.
For more information: Gundam Front Tokyo
Gundam Front Tokyo Info
|Location||1-1-10 Koto Ward Tokyo City|
Yurikamome (5 minute walk from Odaiba station); TWR Rinkai Line (3 minute walk from Tokyo Teleport Station)
|Cost of Admission||1000 yen (advanced), 1200 yen (at the gate) for Gundam Front in Diver City|
Free to see the real life Gundam outside of Diver City
|Hours of Operation||Everyday from 10am – 9pm (last entry for admissions is at 6pm)|
|Website||Gundam Front Tokyo|
All Gundam fans around the world are probably aware of the real life size Gundam on display. If you ever come to Japan, this is a must see! It is presently located outside of Diver City Tokyo Plaza in Odaiba, across the Rainbow Bridge from Tokyo Bay. If you want to know how to access it, please refer to www.divercity-tokyo.com/en/access/. In addition to the Gundam, the train ride gives you a very beautiful view of Tokyo Bay and you also get a perfect view of the Wangan freeway for you Wangan Midnight fans.
Viewing and taking pictures and videos of the Gundam are free to the public. At night, it will be wonderfully lit. It is partially guarded and not within arms reach to touch. The details and paint job are very accurate to the Gundam of the original series and despite standing still, the designs in regards to its joints does give a believable sense of articulation as if it was capable of real movement.
As seen in the pictures, it does not include its shield and arsenal of beam rifles, cannons, and ball and chain. Regardless, being up close to it is like a religious pilgrimage to fans of the series, even to its native Japanese fans. When it was first on display to the public in Shizuoka, a couple got married underneath it with Tomino, the original Gundam creator, serving as the minister (just like how Sam Jones was the minister in the Ted movies)!
In the evenings, from 5 to 11, the Gundam will be lit up like Christmas. Between 7:30pm, 8:30pm, and 9:30pm, LED monitors behind the Gundam will display clips throughout the series as the giant Gundam will be flashing lights and steam will come out of the chest grill plates. The video show is called Gundam Stand in Jaburo.
Thanks to the success of this Gundam, China has made their own cheap knock offs with used car parts of both the Gundam and Optimus Prime from Transformers. While in Shizuoka (which serves as Tokyo 3 in Evangelion), there is a 1/1 bust of the EVA Unit 01.
In addition to the main Akihabara location right outside the Electric Town exit of Akihabara station (and next door to the almighty AKB48 café and theatre) right near the entrance to the mall behind the Gundam is another Gundam Café. It serves the same drinks and meals as the Akihabara location.
It serves alcoholic drinks such as the Quebely, the name of Haman’s mech. As a Japanese custom style of souvenir trips, fans can buy special treats such as English style biscuits and chocolate and coffee beans claimed to have been made in Jaburo, the South American base of the Earth Federation.
For more information:Gundam Café Website
Another highlight is the Gundam Front exhibit. If the Gundam franchise is going to have a museum, this is it. However, admission will be around 1000 yen for pre-orders and 1200 yen at the gates (upon publication of this article, 120-125 yen should equal $1USD) and it is worth it!
At the entrance, there will be a monitor to keep you busy whileOne section has paintings of the characters by Y’s, the original character designer as if they were paintings in a European art museum. Another exhibit is a life size model of the core fighter, in its state after Amuro escaped Abao A Qu in the last episode of the series.
Another fun part, is a 1/1 bust of the Strike Freedom from Gundam SEED Destiny, and customers can get a 3D picture of it but with a bit of a price. When getting ready, a voice of Kira in the cockpit will instruct you on the process with some music from the series. I know that SEED is a controversial series for reasons that could warrant its own review, so out of principle, if fans don't want to spend money just to go inside to get a picture, it is still free to take pictures from the outside.
An additional fun feature, is a 3D theater that is like a planetarium. It plays two movies taking from Gundam Unicorn. One movie is about how Full Frontal’s Neo Zeon invades the Odaiba area in his Neo Zeong and how the Gundam statue in the form of the Unicorn Gundam must combat it. It's a nice full 3D experience without the need of 3D goggles but with the screen being put on a dome in the ceiling, looking up at what seems like forever will badly strain your neck, so be prepared for that.
Seeing a full out battle as if it were taking place over your head is rather cool. One last exciting feature is that fans get a chance to take pictures with life size monitor displays of ANY their favorite characters. Staff members are willing to volunteer to take your picture at any time.
Other displays and features will also share with visitors the history of the Gundam franchise and how it evolved to it is now, but Japanese comprehension is rather required. Since many of you are reading most likely don't speak, read, and write Japanese, one possible setback to this is that English services are rather limited other than this pamphlet.
There is a possibility that none of the guides within the exhibit speak English so the language barrier is probably going to the only issue for fans if they want to use the touch screen pictures or understand the posted explanations of the exhibits. If any of you are visually oriented, it is easy to get around this obstacle. If you are a lingual oriented person, then this will not work.
Upon exiting the exhibit, fans will enter the Gundam shop. Many kids of merchandise can be purchased there. If any of you missed some of the stuff you bought at the Gundam Café, some items such as the Jaburo chocolate coffee beans and the biscuits can also be purchased here. If you want any posters, models, pens, t-shirts, mugs, all can be bought at a rather affordable price!
And since Gundam Front and the real life Gundam are located within a mall, there are many things to do to relax and have a good time. The Diver City Plaza even has an English website. For some American readers, you can go to Old Navy for your clothes or Krispy Kreme for your donuts. As shared in this guide, free Wi-Fi and currency exchange services are available.
If any of you are concerned about crowds, it does progressively get busy as the day goes on (most especially on weekends and holidays), but if you arrive early enough before opening, it is rather empty on a weekday (Tuesday and Wednesday are least busy for most businesses in Japan). Weekends are averagely crowded but enough to have time to enjoy what you want to see and do.
The only way this experience could be more complete is if the Gundam has an operable cockpit or simulator like in AGE. If the Gundam had such a feature, the lines for that would exceed the lines to get into SkyTree! However, there is Senjo no Kizuna (or Bonds of the Battlefield) to give fans an immersive Gundam experience at virtually (no pun intended) almost any arcade in Japan.
The cockpit for the Star Wars arcade tie fighter fighter game is actually based on the cockpit of this Gundam game. Even though arcades are almost as dead as video rentals in the U.S., they are still very popular in Japan. Thankfully there is an arcade just right outside the Gundam Front exhibit and you can have a chance to experience piloting a Gundam or any other mech in a simulated cockpit.
So with all of these combined features, any Gundam fan will have the greatest experience of their life.