Whereupon my childhood fantasy gland explodes

I don’t like to drop The Science on you too much, but scientifically speaking, the only way this could possibly be cooler is if this was wailing a power chord on a Stratocaster on top of a windswept cliff in a circa 1987 music video:

Gundam

That’s right: Japan has finally built a giant robot.  This is the long-awaited 1:1 scale model of one of the robots from the extremely popular Gundam cartoon series. How big is it? Plenty big enough to crush me and the other 400 puny humans taking photos on this particular afternoon:

Gundam observes puny humans

As you’ll see, it’s not quite open yet.  The structure has been complete for about a week or so, but won’t be fully open until next month.  Actually, it gives me an excellent excuse to go back for a second look because each night it will light up, move, spew smoke and kill everyone in a one kilometer radius (probably).

Gundam

The attention to detail is incredible – check out the decals on the arms and legs.

Gundam

Gundam

Honestly?  If civilisation has to end, I think I’ve made my choice about how that should happen.

Gundam

You can find some shots of the Gundam all lit up during a test run too, which I’m deeply enviously about since I’ll have to wait until I go back again next month – me and half of Tokyo, most likely.

If you happen to be in Tokyo and want to see Gundam, go to Daiba Station on the Yurikamome line then walk to nearby Shiokaze Park. When your gob has been smacked, you’ll know you’re there.

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The distant future, the year 2000

Have you ever seen the delightful romantic comedy Serendipity, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale (and described as “sheer romantic entertainment!” by Jeanne Aufmuth of the Palo Alto Weekly)? Neither have I, but the title of that film happens to be a nice way to describe an event that happened to me last week.

I received this:

“The Great Robot Exhibition”!? That’s right – after searching Japan in vain for some months for traces of robotic civilisation, here they were, hiding under one conveniently packaged roof! Barely able to contain my excitement, I tore down my posters at home of my favourite robot, the one from Lost in Space whose name I can’t remember, and prepared to submerge myself in a better, brighter future.

This is the first thing you see upon entering. “Robotto ga suki!?”. This means either “do you like robots?”, or “I like robots!”. To that, I would have to answer a mighty “hai” (instead of “hai”, we say “affirmative“). This could only be good.

More pictures and robotic tales of intrigue after the link!

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Robots are awesome part seven and the Ghibli Museum

In spite of my sumptuous visions of Japan as some sort of robotic wonderland, I have yet to be served a drink by anything resembling Dexter from Perfect Match. Until the weekend:

Yeah! Actually, he didn’t serve me any drinks. And since he’s a statue, he doesn’t actually do much at all. But I find all of this encouraging progress.

You can see him at the Ghibli Museum at Mitaka in Tokyo. It’s run by Studio Ghibli who make famous anime such as Spirited Away (which won an Oscar), Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke. As a bonus, it’s in the middle of a forest, and the views in autumn are quite spectacular.

The museum itself is very enjoyable, even if you don’t know too much about the movies. Watch out though – because of the popularity, you have to buy tickets in advance. It gives a lot of detail about the animation process, with a recreation of Hayao Miyazaki‘s cluttered animation studio and his extremely eclectic taste in books. The standout is the 3d zoetrope, which uses carefully designed, sequentially-posed figurines on a spinning wheel, with carefully timed strobe lights to bring the figurines to life. It’s quite hard to explain, but maybe an awful quality video on Youtube will give you an idea. A phenomenal effect, though.

They also show a short film which only plays at the Museum, and definitely meets the Studio Ghibli standard. You might like to brush up on your Japanese first, but you won’t be able to escape the whimsy, regardless. It is inescapable.

Also, I should make mention of the fact that they have a giant robot.