Giant Characters You Can Touch and Play With
Some people think that to simply look up at a giant character, no matter how imposing, is not interesting enough—for them, experiencing the world of anime means touching, riding, and playing with the characters. Luckily, there are places where these anime fans can enjoy doing just that. For instance, another 1:1 scale statue of Gundam can also be seen at a popular amusement park located at the foot of Mount Fuji. Among the park's many roller coasters, the Gundam Crisis attraction has been in operation since 2007. Instead of just admiring the replica, visitors must power-up Gundam by gathering data to activate Gundam from various places inside a hangar and entering it into a handheld device supplied. If the tasks are completed within a time limit, they can enter Gundam's cockpit.
Gundam Crisis offers visitors a chance to sit in the cockpit (right) if they can gather the necessary data such as the Gundam design charts and user guide by placing a special device over sensors located at various points inside the attraction. (Cooperation: Fuji-Q Highland) ©SOTSU, SUNRISE
After the Gundam Crisis attraction became a hit, the Evangelion: World Pavilion was opened at the park in 2010, based on the popular animated film series Rebuild of Evangelion, a remake of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Since the robots of the series are 80 meters tall, the pavilion recreates the top part of Evangelion Unit-01 from the chest upward, a total of nine meters in height. Video footage, life-size figures of the cast and behind-the-scenes production materials from the anime are also featured, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the anime's world.
Featuring a robot display nine meters tall and 16 meters wide, Fuji-Q Highland's Evangelion: World Pavilion enables visitors to experience the world of the anime. ©khara
A model of the monster, Gamera, can be seen at Izu Andy Land, a turtle aquarium in Shizuoka Prefecture. ©2006 Gamera the Brave Production Committee
Along with anime, monster movies have been another popular form of Japanese entertainment, and large statues of some creatures featured in the films can be found around the country. For instance, a 10-meter-tall Godzilla statue stands in a large park in the city of Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture. While appearing just as fearsome as in the movies, its tail serves as a slide, giving children a chance to play together with the hugely popular monster. Meanwhile, in Shizuoka Prefecture's Izu Peninsula, visitors at a turtle aquarium-centered theme park are welcomed at the park's lounge by a seven-meter-long model of Gamera. The model is an actual prop from the movie, Gamera the Brave, which tells the story of a monster that evolved from a turtle.
The Japanese love anime and monsters, so we should expect to see more of these heroes spring to life from their cartoon images and appear around the country in the future.
(Updated in March 2012)