Why Gundam, Transformers, and Mecha Anime Fans Are Unhappy With BBC Sport

BBC Sport made a certain blunder regarding the Gundam franchise by Sunrise and Bandai Namco

By Iyane Agossah

August 5, 2021

While covering the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, BBC Sport made a certain blunder regarding the origins of the Gundam Unicorn statue in Odaiba, which triggered various reactions from Gundam and Mecha anime fans on social media.

“Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway” Trailer 2 (EN sub)

“Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway” Trailer 2 (EN sub)

Why are Gundam, Transformers, and Mecha anime fans unhappy with BBC Sport

This August 5, BBC Sport was covering the Sports Climbing event of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The competition was held at Odaiba, right near the life-sized Gundam statue of RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, from the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn movies. However, BBC Sport’s Twitter account called Unicorn Gundam a “Transformer”, sparking things up and triggering various reactions from Mecha (giant robot) anime fans.

The Gundam Unicorn statue is located in Odaiba’s DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, and it’s life-sized. It was installed in 2017, replacing the life-sized statue of the very first gundam robot, the RX-78 from Mobile Suit Gundam. It’s definitely not the first time someone called the statue a Transformer, and it won’t be the last time either.

BBC Sport quickly noticed its mistake and later bounced back for some friendly social media engagement.

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The Mecha anime genre is often misunderstood, and Mecha fans are (sadly) used to it

It’s definitely unsurprising for someone unfamiliar with Mecha anime to call every single giant robot a Transformer. It’s a long-running joke among longtime Mecha anime fans as well. It’s even funnier considering many Mecha anime fans love both Gundam and Transformers. And some Transformers series had animators who also worked on Gundam series, such as the legendary Masami Obari.

Moreover, some fans replied to BBC Sport’s tweet with the infamous giant robot identification chart, which I’ve first seen years ago. Check it out below alongside some of the reactions and memes.

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Inversely, I’ve also already met anime fans who didn’t know much about Mecha anime, but would know about the Gundam franchise, and call every giant robot they saw a gundam.

Moreover, Mecha anime has often been one of the most misunderstood genre and most looked down upon genre in the English anime community. It’s a similar syndrome that happens with Sports-themed anime or kids anime. Long story short, people tend to judge Mecha anime without actually watching them.

There’s also the usual pattern of certain anime fans considering certain masterpieces in the Mecha anime genre as inherently different from other Mecha Anime. Something you often see with Hideaki Anno’s Evangelion. As a Mecha anime fan myself, I definitely wish things would be different. In any case, you can always reach out to me on Twitter @A_iyane07 to discuss Mecha anime.

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Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been watching anime for over 25 years, and plays Genshin Impact mainly for its story. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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