There seems to be an abundance of life-sized recreations of giant robots popping up all over Japan at the moment, a trend that I fully support. The latest of these is an 18-meter tall recreation of Testujin 28-go (鉄人28号) — known as Gigantor in English — that was constructed as part of an effort to revitalize Kobe’s Nagata Ward, which lost some 80% of its population after the Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. As a symbol of the reconstruction of the Nagata area, the statue is truly effective; not only is it actually made from steel (“Tetsujin” literally translates as “Iron Man”), but its guts pose definitely provides the proper sense of triumph over adversity.
As it turns out, the creation of Tetsujin 28-go by Yokoyama Mitseru was strongly influenced by another incredibly destructive event in the history of Kobe — the firebombing of Kobe during WWII that resulted in the deaths of over 8,000 people and the destruction of some 20% of the city. The firebombing of Kobe also serves as the backdrop for the incredibly moving Isao Takahata film, Grave of the Fireflies (an adaptation of Nosaka Akiyuki’s novel of the same name).
I hope this trend of building life-sized replicas of the famous giant robots from Japanese manga and anime continues unabated. I’d love it it every city had one or two of these robot monuments, and perhaps a couple of kaiju as well. I look forward to the day that I can stroll through any major Japanese city catching glimpses of the Evas, Valkyries, Labors, and Mortar Headds that have been stitched into the urban fabric.
And speaking of stitching, how great is this Mike White mashup of Gigantor and “Iron Man”?
Filed under: animation, art, culture, design, film, history, Japan, Kansai, manga, society, video | 2 Comments
Tags: 神戸, 鉄人28号, firebombing of Kobe, giant robot, Gigantor, Hanshin Earthquake, kobe, life-sized, mecha, monument, recreation, statue, Tetsujin 28-go, WWII, Yokoyama Mitseru, 横山 光輝