Giant Gundam headed for Hong Kong

Unicorn Gundam

RocketNews 24 (by Aleisha Riboldi):

Citizens of Hong Kong, brace yourself. An exciting Gundam exhibition is headed your way. This summer, as part of a month-long exhibition in Hong Kong, a giant  Gundam statue – something not usually seen outside of Japan’s Odaiba Bay in Tokyo – will be on display.

This isn’t the first time that Hong Kong has hosted a Gundam display; two years ago, there was an exhibit featuring a stand-off between an RX-78 Gundam statue and a Char’s Zaku statue. This time around, the exhibition will feature several giant displays including a 1:3 scale statue of an RX-0 Unicorn Gundam suspended Wing Gundam, a three-metre (approx. 10-foot) wide S-06F Zaku II head, and two-metre (6.5 foot) tall Gundam Build Fighters TRY statues.

Gundam build fighters

Gundam suspended

According to the Gundam Global Portal Facebook page, there will also be the chance to meet director Kazuhiro Furuhashi and voice actor Koki Uchiyama from the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam UC. In addition, there will be lots of limited-edition model kits and items as well as a display of Hajime Katoki’s Gundam art which has never been exhibited outside of Japan.

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Occupying Hong Kong’s Time Square, the exhibit will no doubt be hard to miss. The event, titled “Gundam docks at Hong Kong II“, will only be on exhibit for a limited time running from August 1-31.

A simple paint trick to make your anime robot models look extra sexy

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RocketNews 24:

Although the RX-78 Gundam is the most famous mobile suit from the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime TV series, it’s not the only giant robot the Earth Federation has at its disposal. As a matter of fact, debuting in the very same premiere episode as the Gundam is the RX-77 Guncannon.

Still, there’s a reason the series, and franchise, is called Gundam and not Guncannon. Aside from being slower and less powerful, the Guncannon can’t compete in the looks department with the dashing Gundam. Simply put, it’s just not sexy enough…at least not without this subtle variation to its paint job with a hidden significance.

For everyone who hasn’t spent their life acquiring an illustrated encyclopedic knowledge of anime robots, let’s take a look at the Gundam and Guncannon, side by side.

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As we can see, the Gundam, on the left, has longer legs and lithe limbs, giving it a more graceful and athletic figure. When lined up next to each other like this, the Guncannon comes off looking just a little dumpy.

In light of this, Twitter user and model builder Takuya decided to give the Guncannon a makeover. While he didn’t make the mobile suit quite as colorful as the titular Gundam, he decided to mix things up a little on the Guncannon’s legs, which are ordinarily a single shade of crimson.

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But why add two patches of pale paint? The reason lies in the Japanese text in the above photo. It reads zettai ryouiki, which literally means “absolute territory,” but is a Japanese slang term for a strip of exposed skin on a woman’s upper thighs between the top of her socks and the hem of her skirt or shorts.

View image on Twitter

Online commenters had the following to say about Takuya’s risqué creativity:

“That’s awesome. That’s sexy.”
“Looks like a robust woman.”
“Excellent absolute territory.”
“If you’re gonna do this, do it with the [schoolgirl-themed] Nobel Gundam!”

▼ Things got a little weird during 1994’s G Gundam TV series.

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Now we’re wondering if Takuya will do an even more revealing follow-up, using the same-flesh tone to create a sleeveless outfit for the underappreciated Guncannon, or, if he wants to get really daring, a bikini version for summer. Considering the hundreds of different Gundam model kits sold by licensor Bandai, the possibilities really are endless.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s new haircut makes him look like an evil anime mecha

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RocketNews 24:

Whether they’re being called dear, supreme, or great, North Korea takes the image of its top leaders very seriously. After all, this is the same country which claims the late Kim Jong-il, in his first round of golf, finished 38 shots under par (in case you’re not familiar with the technical terms, one under par is a “birdie,” two under is an “eagle,” and 38 under is generally referred to as a “crock”).

So it’s a little surprising that current head of hermit state Kim Jong-un’s fashion consultants have let him rock a hairstyle that seems to perfectly gel with the rest of the world’s image of North Korean dictatorship as cartoonish supervillainry, with a ‘do that makes him look like one of the antagonist mecha from classic anime Mobile Suit Gundam.

Since assuming power in 2012, Kim Jong-un’s been gradually filling into his role as unchallenged ruler of North Korea. While he was always known for his cherubic facial structure, the Supreme Leader seems to have packed on a few more pounds during his first two years in office, and in recent photos has been sweeping back his boyish bangs, perhaps in an effort to adopt a more dignified and commanding persona.

Not everyone is convinced this taller hairstyle is the way to go, though. Combined with, for some reason, much shorter eyebrows, some say it gives the 32-year-old a “creepy” vibe.

View image on Twitter

We have to agree that there’s something just a little sinister about Kim Jong-il’s voluminous flattop in the above photo. Somehow, it’s just a little too precise. As a matter of fact, it’s almost robotic.

Speaking of robots:

View image on Twitter

Pictured on the right is the MSM-08 Zogok, an 18.8-meter (61.7-foot) amphibious warmech used by the Gundam franchise’s recurring villains Zeon in 1986’s Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ TV series, and also in the more recent Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn direct-to-video series.

▼ The Zogok even strikes menacing, dictator-like poses on occasion.

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So did Kim Jong-il walk into his barber, carrying some bootleg Gundam DVDs procured in neighboring China, and tell his hairstylist, “I want that!” while pointing at the Zogok? That seems a bit on the nose, considering the side that builds and operates the mobile suit in the anime is so unabashedly fascist that its battle cry is “Sieg Zeon!”

 

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At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Kim Jong-il doesn’t look exactly as he wants to in the above pictures. After all, if he had so much as a hair out of place, we’re sure North Korea’s crack photo editing team would spring into action and do such a great job that we’d never be able to tell the images were retouched.

Resort in Philippines has literally giant Gundam rip-off, plus Disney and Marvel knockoffs galore

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RocketNews 24:

Although the Philippines have plenty of seaside travel destinations, Jed’s Island Resort isn’t one of them. Being located in the landlocked municipality of Calumpit means that while Jed’s isn’t far from Manila Bay, it doesn’t have any coastline to call its own.

That’s OK, though, because you can still relax in one of the resort’s nine advertised swimming pools. And while you may not be able to enjoy listening to the sound of the waves, you will be able to look up at Jed’s gigantic Gundam statue that’s as tall as the one in Tokyo yet far, far skinnier. Not into anime? Not a problem! Jed’s is also home to beloved characters from Disney, Marvel, and DC…or at least their disturbingly off-model, knockoff doppelgangers.

The facility’s grounds used to be a private estate, but were opened to guests as Jed’s Island Resort in 1995. The resort’s website boasts that “During its five summers of existence, Jed’s has welcomed actors and actresses, singers, and band members from showbiz as its guest.” Ordinarily, we’d write the use of “guest” off as a typo, but considering that the reference to Jed’s five summers of existence is on a web page updated in 2014, nearly 20 years after the resort’s opening, it’s possible the management simply isn’t very good at math.

But hey, who needs statistical accuracy when you’ve got the most iconic giant robot in the history of Japanese animation, the RX-78-2 Gundam!

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Wow…looks like Gundam needs a sandwich. Or, seeing as how he’s in the Philippines, maybe a plate of lechon, the local variety of suckling pig. The robot is looking so skinny that we’re surprised it can still stand, and also so anemic that there’s no way it could survive an attack by the bellicose Zeon forces.

Gundam is so gaunt that at first glance it seems like the photo is the product of a weird camera lens, but the proportions of the woman standing between his feet aren’t warped at all.

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As further proof, here’s the anorexic mobile suit from a different angle that reveals more of its narrow dimensions.

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Still, this is a pretty gutsy move by Jed’s designers. Non-official wonky physique and large letter J on its crotch, that’s clearly and literally a huge Gundam rip-off. We’re sure executives at Bandai, the company which holds the licensing rights to all things Gundam, aren’t happy about it. If it’s any consolation, though, Bandai’s lawyers should bear in mind that Jed’s Island Resort isn’t just ripping off Gundam, they’re ripping off everybody!

Well, maybe not everybody, but that only seems to be because there’s not enough space for a project of that magnitude. Still, Jed’s has done an impressive job of filling its property with as many unlicensed likenesses as it can hold. The resort isn’t shy about this, either, at least in the case of these two photos from its Facebook page, which are excitedly touted as “New attraction-One Piece at Jed’s! and Big Hero 6 Robot Baymax!”

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Among Frozen’s many crowd-pleasing aspects, some fans were thrilled to see a Disney movie with two princesses. But apparently the special Jed’s edition of the film features no less than three royal ladies.

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Elsewhere, Jed’s gets the number of siblings just right. Can’t say the same about their facial features, though.

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▼ Elsa must be hitting the gym regularly to have added that much muscle definition to her shoulders. She’s apparently become so addicted to the pump from lifting weights that she’s curling half a head of cabbage.

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Going from Disney’s newest hit characters to their oldest, here’s Mickey and pals Goofy, Donald, and Mickey Clones 1 through 3, plus rival Bugs Bunny, all posing in front of a brachiosaur.

 

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We’re guessing some older, hand-drawn cartoon characters must look down on their nouveau rich CG counterparts. How else could you explain why the heroes of Avatar were left out of the Disney/Warner Bros. group photo?

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Of course, not all classic animated characters are so set in their ways. For example, Snow White has expanded her social circle beyond her seven stout housemates, and is seen here in the company of 1977 anime mecha Voltes V.

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As a matter of fact, Jed’s Island Resort seems to be all about crossovers, like this snapshot of the Sesame Street gang hanging out with Mother Goose.

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Awesome as it is to see Superman and Captain America in the same place, it’d still be cooler if they were fighting.

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Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Wonder Woman seem to have climbed all the way to the top of the water slide tower before losing their nerve to actually go down it.

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Legalities aside, we can at least see why the management of Jed’s Island Resort would want to decorate their pools with these instantly recognizable and hugely popular characters. They may have been a little too zealous in their efforts to copy as much as possible, though. For example, can you imagine any travelers picking where to stay according to which resort has the cast of free mobile game Clash of Clans?

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But even then, Jed’s “creative” team wasn’t done scraping the bottom of the barrel, because you haven’t exhausted every option until you’ve made a knock-off based on the cover 1980’s flight disaster satire Airplane!

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Insanely huge [mecha] robot can be yours for a cool $1 Million on Amazon Japan

exoskeleton

Next Shark: 

If you had a million dollars, what’s the first thing you would buy? If you said, “a 5-ton, 13-foot-tall, 5 mph-capable, wearable robot,” then you’re not only ultra rad, you’re also in luck. On sale on Amazon Japan is the Kuratas, the invention of Kogoro Kurata, a Japanese blacksmith and founder of the robotics firm Suidobashi Heavy Industry.

Kurata has been refining giant, wearable robots for several years (think “Mobile Suit Gundam” or Mechwarrior), and so is now offering his namesake latest and greatest robot on the net for 120,000,000 yen ($1 million).

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In order to operate the robot, the wearer must press a button and then climb inside its cockpit. Perhaps the coolest feature of the Kuratas showcased in years previous is its BB gatling gun, which can shoot 6,000 rounds per minute when triggered by the smile of its pilot — no word yet on whether the Kuratas being sold on Amazon has the feature.

Before you run off and buy the machine, be mindful of some caveats to the Kuratas being sold on Amazon Japan: it doesn’t come with arms, and most importantly, assembly IS required.

Buddha vs Eva, Ultraman, Gundam and Lady Liberty: How the otherworldly measure up

ushikudaibutsu

RocketNews 24:

If you’re a fan of mecha anime, you’ll know all about towering robots and the impressive displays of power they show during large-scale, epic battles. One of the titans of the mecha world, Gundam, is so revered in Japan he’s been recreated to scale and stands looking out over Tokyo Bay, wowing crowds with his strength and height.

Gundam might not be so happy, however, to learn that a picture doing the rounds on the internet is making him look tiny when compared with his peaceful brother from another otherworldly realm. To be fair though, not much can compete with Ushiku Daibutsu, the tallest Buddha statue in the world, who lives just a 90-minute train ride from Narita Station.

Located in Ushiki, Ibaraki Prefecture, Ushiki Daibutsu was completed in 1993 and stands a total of 120 metres (390 ft) tall. Like Lady Liberty, the statue houses an observation floor, where visitors can enjoy amazing views that stretch far off into the distance.

While the famous daibutsu (giant buddhas) of Nara and Kamakura are known for drawing crowds of visitors, the Ushiki Daibutsu makes up for its lack of centuries-old history with sheer height and impressive body parts.

  • Weight: 4,003 tonnes (8.825 million lb)
  • Length of left hand: 18 m (59.06 ft)
  • Length of face: 20 m (65.62 ft)
  • Length of eye: 2.55 m (8.4 ft)
  • Length of mouth: 4.5 m (15 ft)
  • Length of nose: 1.2 m (3.9 ft)
  • Length of Ear: 10 m (32.81 ft)
  • Length of the first finger: 7 m (22.97 ft)

 

To get a sense of the enormous scale of this statue, the head of this great Buddha could house the entire body of Nara’s daibutsu (seen on the far right of the image above). Thank goodness these are all peace-loving heroes or who knows what kind of mess we’d all be in!

Ushiku Daibutsu Details


Address: 2083 Kunocho, Ushiku, Ibaraki
Phone: 029-889-2931
Hours: Mar–Sep: 9:30 am–5:00 pm (until 5:30 pm Sat, Sun & holidays); Oct–Feb: 9:30 am–4:30 pm
Admission: 800 yen (US$6.80) for adults (Dec–Mar: 700 yen [$5.95]), 400 yen ($3.40) for children

A brief history of Hollywood trying — and mostly failing — to adapt anime

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A weird truth: Even in the midst of the current comic book gold-rush, major studios can’t seem to get a good anime or manga adaptation off the ground—although the influence of those works can be seen everywhere. This weekend’s Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic that’s heavily (perhaps even problematically) inspired by anime and manga. As tangentially connected to the art form as Big Hero 6 is, could it be the harbinger of a sea change in Hollywood’s approach to manga and anime?

Tackling this question can be kind of tricky—after all, “anime” and “manga” are styles rather than the names of genres. While works that fall under those umbrella share a general visual language and similar approaches to storytelling, anime and manga tell all sorts of stories—slice of life, romance, mystery, supernatural thriller, action.

One of the reasons it took so long for American filmmakers to even begin considering adapting manga or anime is because of how long it took for the source material to even become popular stateside. The first anime to find success here weren’t the action-heavy, mind-bending sort that would become prominent in the boom years of the late ’80s and early ’90s, but much lighter fare like Speed Racer and Astro Boy in the ’60s and ’70s. But even during those boom years, anime adaptations usually didn’t fare well. For example:

The GuyverOne of the first notable anime adaptations to be made in the US, this 1991 film starred Mark Hamil and was based off the 1985 manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver, by Yoshiki Takaya. Both the film and manga centered on a young man who discovers The Guyver Unit, an alien device that spawns a sort of biological super-suit that an unwitting young man bonds with in order to fight an evil megacorporation (and also alien monsters). The film was panned both for being B-movie cheese and also for straying from the source material’s far darker, more violent story.

A direct-to-video sequel, Guyver: Dark Hero would stay closer to the manga’s more violent roots, but the rubber-suited aliens still left a lot to be desired when compared to the manga’s anime adaptation.

Street Fighter: While not technically based on an anime or manga, Capcom’s legendary fighting game would go on to inspire plenty of adaptations—including the notorious 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme film. There are many reasons why this did not go well, but at least people saw it—unlike the 2009 reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which you’re probably remembering for the first time right now.

Fist of the North Star: Another hyper-violent action anime received an unfaithful adaptation that doubled as a really bad movie. Here’s clip from that movie. It is very bad. Unless it’s after 2 A.M., and you’re looking for this sort of thing. Then I suppose it’s great.

The MatrixWhile, again, not technically based on an anime or manga, The Matrix represents a watershed moment in how Hollywood looked at anime. According to producer Joel Silver, the Wachowskis pitched him the film by showing him an anime film (according to Wikipedia, it was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 classic Ghost in the Shell), saying “We want to do that for real.” The 1999 film, with its mix of philosophical science fiction and stunning action scenes, is the closest a major Hollywood release had ever gotten to faithfully depicting the medium of anime. Incidentally, while a large number of anime adaptations would enter development in the intervening years, none would make it to the big screen until the Wachowskis’ next directorial effort, five years after 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions.

The debt that the film franchise owed to anime would be acknowledged in the direct-to-video release The Animatrix, an anime anthology of short stories set in the film’s world.

Stronger: Kanye West’s music video for his hit 2007 single heavily references Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark 1980s anime film/manga series Akira. Let’s talk a little bit about Akira. Both the manga and the film adaptation are pinnacles of their respective mediums, cyberpunk masterworks that use their dystopian futures to explore deep philosophical and societal quandaries. Critically acclaimed in the U.S., Akira is largely responsible for popularizing anime and manga stateside. A Hollywood film adaptation has been in development hell since at least 2002—the last update came in February of 2014—but don’t hold your breath for it. It’s quite likely that Kanye’s music video is the closest we’ll get to an American adaptation—and maybe that’s a good thing.

Speed Racer: While it was poorly received at the time, the Wachowski’s Speed Racer succeeds by being exactly what it set out to be—a bright, colorful adventure for kids. Which, in turn, makes it exactly like its source material. Unfortunately, the film’s poor critical reception and box office performance very likely served to further stigmatize anime adaptations to big studios.

Dragon Ball: Evolution: Akira Toriyama’s seminal manga Dragon Ball and the anime it inspired, was, along with Sailor Moon, an entire generation’s introduction to the medium. As such, the series is pretty sacrosanct in the eyes of fans—and even if it doesn’t hold up all that well, it retained a certain heart and charm that never really gets old. The film that came out in 2009 had none of these things.

Pacific Rim: Like The Matrix, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster isn’t an adaptation of any particular manga or anime. Instead, it’s a Western take on giant mecha-action epics like Gundam. While it’s a pretty straightforward bit of sci-fi action, it is very, very good at what it does—and perhaps clears the way for the genre’s stranger, more complex fare like Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Oldboy: Spike Lee’s 2013 revenge thriller is an unfortunate case of Hollywood’s inability to leave well enough alone. Originally a 1996 manga by Goron Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the story already received an acclaimed film adaptation in 2003 by South Korean director Park Chan-wook—one that’s far preferable to the American version. Which is a shame, because the U.S. cast is pretty stellar.

Edge of Tomorrow: Although it received really good reviews, Edge of Tomorrow didn’t perform so well in the box office. Perhaps if it kept the name of the manga it was based on — Hiroshi Sakurazaka and Yoshitoshi Abe’s All You Need Is Kill—it would’ve been more more memorable to those watching the trailers. But as the latest Hollywood effort in manga/anime adaptation, it’s quite the hopeful note to end on.

[UPDATE — As some readers have pointed out, All You Need Is Kill was originally a novel. The manga adaptation, by Ryusuke Takeuchi and Takeshi Obata, came out roughly at the same time as the film.]

While this list is pretty spare, it doesn’t include the wealth of optioned material languishing in development hell or shelved for any number of years. James Cameron’sBattle Angel Alita is a great example—the director has the rights to make a movie, but won’t even start thinking about that until he’s done with the next ten Avatar films.

But if you’re not too jaded by the number of non-starters, it’s quite possible that we’re now on the cusp of a new wave of quality Hollywood films based on anime and manga. With the previously-noted critical success of Edge of Tomorrow and reports of Scarlett Johanssen signing up for the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, it looks like Hollywood is finally ready to start looking at comic books that weren’t made in America for inspiration. If they do, then movie theaters will doubtless become a stranger—and more interesting—place.