Back in 2009, Namco Bandai construction a life-sized Gundam statue to commemorate the anime's anniversary, later moving it to (literally) look over its figure factory. There was another giant robot statue built in 2009, and it commemorates more than a cartoon.
OK, so that's not really fair. As any fan will tell you, Gundam isn't merely a cartoon - it's much deeper than that. However, the 18m Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor in the West) statue was erected in late 2009 to encourage those living in an area hit hard by the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.
Early morning on January 17, 1995, an earthquake hit the Hanshin area, claiming the lives of over 6000 people and laying waste to the port city of Kobe. The emotional aftershocks were felt throughout the country. Some lost their businesses, others lost their lives.
One reason why parents in the Kansai region sleep in the same bed with small children is that there were stories of roofs or bookshelves toppling on children in their rooms and not surviving the quake.
Kobe took years to recover, but the city gradually rebuilt. The Tetsujin 28-go statue is a fitting and encouraging monument to the people of Kobe. Fitting because the fire bombing of Kobe during World War II inspired the original manga.
This month, the Tetsujin 28-go statue is being lit up for the holidays. Kobe's Christmas illuminations are quite famous throughout Japan. This statue is a reminder of the obstacles the city has overcome again and again. That, and the fact that giant robots are awesome.
Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome — game related and beyond.