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Chinese Gundam (Japanese: 中華ガンダム, Chuuka Gundam), also known as Sichuan Gundam (Chinese: 四川高达) is a nickname given to the robot statue Tian-xiang-er-hao (Chinese: 天郷2号, shown right) that was erected at an amusement park in Sichuan, China in December 2010. Due to its resemblance to characters in the popular sci-fi robot anime Gundam and Bandai’s 2009 exhibit of 18-meter tall Gundam replica (shown left), incensed Japanese netizens and Otaku communities responded to the news with parody videos and “improved” renderings of the Chinese robot that the park management claimed to be an original design.
Background: Gundam Series
The Gundam Series is a colonial space anime series featuring giant mecha robots called “Mobile Suits” (MS), which are operated by human pilots. The protagonist’s mobile suit is usually designated Gundam. Since its on-air debut on April 7, 1979 as a serial TV show, Mobile Suit Gundam has become an internationally popular franchise with titles in form of TV series, films, manga and videogames.
中華ガンダム (Chinese Gundam)
In the middle of December 2010, a Japanese TV news reported that a standing robot statue looking alike Gundam was revealed in Floraland (国色天乡乐园) in Sichuan, China. The news report pointed to the statue’s resemblance to the Japanese Gundam model:
“Clearly, this is a rip-off of Gundam. But it is made by wire and nylon cloth, it is low-quality. And the robot is credited as Gundam on Floraland’s official web site.”
In this same report, Floraland official responded with the following statement:
“This robot is completely our designer’s original. We had never thought that this robot look alike something. We don’t know what Gundam is. But, as we was pointed out that, we are fixing it up now.”
This news was subsequently reported by English online news sites such as Kotaku. The news made headlines across Japanese online communities and many began referring to the Floraland robot as “中華ガンダム” (Chinese Gundam), “チャイダム” (Chi-dam) or “偽ガンダム” (Nise Gundam, lit. Fake Gundam), mocking the display as a low-quality imitation of the 18-meters tall Gundam replica statue previously installed in Odaiba district of Tokyo in July 2009:
A few days following the news report, Floraland robot was suddenly removed from the site for safety reasons and renovation.
Around January 30th, 2011, several Japanese and English news sites, such as Anime News Network, Kotaku and CrunchGear, reported that Floraland completed the Chinese robot and put it back on public display, insisting that their newly-renovated Chinese model was an original design.
TV news coverage began in early February 2011. On this report, Floraland released a statement saying “The robot is designed by ourselves. There is no rights violation.” Later, it was revealed that new Chinese Gundam’s name was “天郷2号” (Tian-xiang-er-hao). But, it’s uncertain whether if first Chinese Gundam’s name was “天郷1号” (Tian-xiang-yī-hao).
Surprised by Floraland’s insistence, Japanese media, Gundam fans and anime blogs criticized the redesigned Tian-xiang as still unoriginal and monstrous looking. However, some Otaku groups took interest in the heavily-altered design of Tian-xiang 2 and began exchanging remixes, concept designs and other tributes to the Sichuan Gundam.
On pixiv, a Japanese social network service for illustrators, this meme was immediately started from the same day that the news was reported. One of the notable early works was this image made by pixiv user “Kuramochi Kyoryu” on January 31st.
This stylish art work became popular among twitter and was picked up by several web news and blogs on the next day. Because of this, many other Japanese internet users’ awareness about this meme was raised.
On pixiv, these image works are mainly tagged as “中国のアレ” (Chugoku no Are, lit. Chinese thingy), its original name"天郷2号" (Tian-xiang-er-hao) or “偽ガンダム” (Fake Gundam). Over 60 images were posted to there in the first week.
Nico Nico Douga
On the Japanese video sharing service Nico Nico Douga (NND), this meme was also started. The videos related of this meme are tagged as “チャイニングガンダム” (Chining Gundam, it’s pun for “China” and “Shining Gundam”: one of the Gundam’s names in previous. it’s also called “チャイダム” (chi-dam)" for short.). Its modeling data of Miku Miku Dance was already made in Feburary 3rd and soon became to be reused in Dancing videos on NND.
This mischievous and creative reaction from Japanese Otaku to Chinese plagiarism was picked up by Japanese online news sites as well as English articles by Anime News Network and Sankaku Complex.
In addition, Taiwanese online news gamme.tw reported fanfics of Chinese Gundam by Japanese internet users in February 8th. And this article was networked to Netease, a news media on Chinese mainland, in February 9th.
In both articles’ comments, Taiwanese and Chinese internet users laughed at those fanfics and admired Japanese internet users’ enthusiasm. Of course, they didn’t forget to give ironical applause to “original” Chinese Gundam. In especially Chinese users, they were ashamed to their country’s plagiarism habitude.
A Hong Kong newspaper “Apple Daily” also covered this fuss in Japan by online video news in Feb 22.
3DCG fake OP movie
See entry: Moe
Super Deformed Gundam
Super Deformed Gundam, drawing the mobile weapons and characters in super deformed style is a popular way of fan-art in Gundam series.
CrunchGear – Chinese Gundam Copy Now Looks Less Like The Original, Still Ugly / 2011-01-31
Anime News Network – Daily Video: Chinese 'Gundam' Gets Fan-Made Video – Interest / 02-02-2011