A giant mecha robot, publicly revealed in Yokohama last week, has been criticized for appearing to kneel during the national anthem of Japan. The robot is modeled after a Gundam from the popular Mobile Suit Gundam series and was created to serve as a centerpiece attraction at Gundam Factory Yokohama. Standing over 18 meters tall, the robot has been shown to be capable of various movements such as walking and gesturing.
Seen as a symbol of great national pride, operators played the national anthem during a test demonstration of the Gundam’s capabilities. Partway through the anthem, the giant robot was seen taking a kneeling position seemingly in solidarity for human rights. While some observers were in support of the gesture, others criticized the display as being disrespectful to the country’s national image.
Critical responses online echoed the sentiment that the Gundam should “stick to mecha battles” and not be involved with greater societal issues. Some claimed that they found it shocking that a giant robot modeled after a series often themed around large scale conflicts would be involved in anything relating to politics.
Due to the pandemic outbreak, the Gundam Factory has not yet been opened to the general public leading to questions over if the Factory would continue to allow the Gundam to make demonstrations for certain issues once open and if not, how to even go about telling a giant 24 ton robot what to do.
Gundam Factory Yokohama issued a statement following the event reassuring the public that the Gundam is just a murderous war machine incapable of emotion and that the kneeling motion was likely an erroneous coincidence rather than a sign of the massive robotic unit feeling any sort of sympathy towards humanity.