Make no mistake: Gundam is a big deal in Japan. To put it in context for a Western audience, Gundam is the Japanese equivalent of Star Wars, complete with an iconic masked antagonist, laser swords and modern installments of dubious quality. But that comparison doesn't explain the presence of a 60-foot statue that took over two months and millions of dollars to complete.
What's so special about Gundam, anyway?
How about a quick unscheduled trip to Japan to explore their love of all robots, giant and battling?
I missed out of the Gundam shows as a kid, but somehow I still managed to find and read the first three Robotech book series. As bad as those books were, they still managed to capture my imagination.
In Japan it seems to have capture the whole country.
When I discovered Battletech through various computer games, I actually started having Battletech dreams on a regular basis. Weird? Maybe. It seemed to allow me to play out a sort of superman fantasy. I don't see myself as any sort of superman, but that particular sort of escapist fantasy does seem to be very popular.
But enough of my ramblings. Go read John Funk's Pilgrimage to Mecha for yourself.