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Japan's mighty Gundam crushes Chinese lookalike in robo war

Japan's 18 metre (60 foot) tall Gundam combat robot, hero to millions of sci-fi animation fans, emerged victorious Monday after apparently banishing a lookalike rival from a Chinese amusement park.

Japanese devotees of the "Mobile Suit Gundam" anime series had been up in arms after television news reports showed a giant golden figure that closely resembled their beloved battle-bot towering over a fun park in China.

Japan's Fuji Television showed images of the robot, of similar height and with similar features to a giant Gundam that has been on show and drawn large crowds in Tokyo and then coastal Shizuoka in recent months.

Like Gundam, the Chinese figure bears the logos EFSF and WB on its shoulders - short, as all Gundam fans know, for 'Earth Federation Space Force', which controls space colonies, and 'White Base', Gundam's mothership.

A spokesman for China's Floraland park in Chengdu, Sichuan province, was quoted as telling Fuji TV that the design was "completely original", but that the park was "remodelling" it because some people said it looked like Gundam.

On a Japanese chatroom, one outraged writer thundered that "they have no shame", another critiqued the Chinese robot's colour scheme, and a third suggested it should be called "Gansaku" - Japanese for "counterfeit".

Gundam's human defence forces were readying for a possible copyright battle.

"We have got information that a copied statue of 'Mobile Suit Gundam' is being built at a theme park in Sichuan," said an official of Sotsu Co., which handles trademark and merchandising issues for the TV and movie series.

"We are now collecting information as the details are still unclear."

Officials at the Chinese theme park denied the existence of the statue on Monday. A witness told AFP the statue had been removed from the premises.

The Gundam anime series, first aired in Japan in 1979, and its spin-offs, have won legions of enthusiastic fans in many countries, including China.

The copyright battle may not be over yet. Fuji network also showed figures at the park that resembled characters from Japan's "Ultraman" sci-fi series.