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When The Mainland China Thought Gundam was a Real Weapon

Updated on September 6, 2020
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A silent observer looking around. At times he must protect his identity with avatars and weird sounding names.

It is an old story, and it happened way before the pandemic came to our world. The story happened in the year 2015, and it was so outrageous that it deserves its own comedy themed anime. And just to give you an idea, it fits well into the episode of Gintama. The thing here is that this is what happened when mindless politics meddle with innocent entertainment, when propaganda run high and mixed with ignorance. And the failed result was both hilarious and embarrassing. And the one that was blamed for this was the state-run Mainland Chinese media.

There is a love-hate relationship between Japan and the Mainland China. I don’t want to get political, but the abuses of the Imperial Japanese soldiers were still fresh in the Mainlander’s mind. So much so that even today that Japan is a more peaceful nation, China remained wary. And it reflected on some politicized Chinese action movies where the Japanese are portrayed as the losing team. And in some cases, Japan is being accused of returning to its warlike self, as in the case of various Chinese propaganda materials. And in a segment of a Chinese-state run media, it again made the same hunch when it showed the so called evidence of alleged secret weapons development by Japan.

And guess what, it also claimed that Japan had a real Gundam as a weapon.

Gundams are Terrifying, But...

Gundam Barbatos Lupus Rex going berserk
Gundam Barbatos Lupus Rex going berserk

If you are a fan of the franchise, you know that mobile suits are terrifying weapons. Technology depends on the timeline, but in an episode of SEED, a Gundam was described as more maneuverable and faster than fighter jets, and with fire powers of battleships (not sure of the exact words though). With such high-performance hardware, a squad of suits are more than enough to overpower fleets of warships, squadrons of planes and massed ground forces.

Among the many suits, the Gundams represent the pinnacle of technology. If ordinary suits are bad enough, a juiced up Gundam is even more terrifying. The still of Gramps Gundam dismembering a Zaku remains an iconic and timeless image. And when the west got its first glimpse of the Gundam world, Wing Zero blowing up legions of suit made our younger selves go wow.

But then, we know that with all of their potentials for destructions, Gundams are not real.

They are just sci-fi materials, and they belong to the display shelves rather than the battlefield. Which is great considering that they are portrayed as efficient killing machines. And only a fool will believe that there is a real Gundam being developed somewhere in a secretive bunker. I mean, what kind of an idiot will think that there is a real working Gundam.

But unfortunately, there was!

The News Report

The state run news showing the Gundam as a real weapon.
The state run news showing the Gundam as a real weapon.

Firstly, I found the need to fact check, just in case that this is all fake news. As after all, this is the internet and there are a lot of jokers out there. But to my surprise it’s actually pretty much real! It got articles online and video footage on Youtube. It was even featured in an episode of a popular Youtube channel “China Uncensored.” But one might ask how a well-funded state media pulled off such a hilarious blunder?

Because it was all propaganda.

When you are running a propaganda “news” outlet, integrity matters little. All you need to do is to make your masters proud and do what you are told. If truth hurts, then leave it out.

It all happened back then, on June 30, 2015, and CCTV was to be blamed. CCTV is the Mainland China’s state-run broadcaster, and one of its programs Focus Today claimed that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clamors for war. The segment featured a scholar criticizing Japan’s overconfidence, and a video flashed showing what they claimed as Japanese armed forces “secret” weapons. The video showed footage of missiles being fired, warships, planes, helicopters, and a rather familiar shape that triggered the mecha fans.

A Gundam!

Yes, from the looks of it, the Chinese news media just claimed that the Gundam is a real weapon and a threat to security! But one might ask where the heck did China got that idea. Thanks to the Youtube channel China Uncensored, we can track where the footage of the Gundam was taken.

And it came from a Japanese TV ad “Boil Japan” for an instant noodle.

The TV commercial featured a convincingly realistic moving image of Grampa Gundam kneeling and rising and carrying a kettle. And maybe it was simply too real, that the propaganda media of Mainland China mistook it for a real giant robot. But it was still a TV commercial, and up to now I’m still wondering how the heck they thought it was real!

Nevertheless, CCTV realized their blunder and removed the video, but not before it went viral online. But that was not the first time that the Chinese state-run media made such an error.

Other Propaganda Blunder

The helicopter designed by a Singaporean based graphic artist. Photo from Deviant Art.
The helicopter designed by a Singaporean based graphic artist. Photo from Deviant Art.

And this wasn’t the first time that China messed up its propaganda machine. The news company was lucky that they never worked for North Korea, where a slight mistake in wordings will get you killed. But back in May 2013, the Chinese state media published an image of what they claimed as Japan’s latest attack helicopter. As it turns out, the image came from Deviant Art, and made by a Singaporean based graphic artist.

And if you ask me, anyone with a background in helicopter design and weapons development should have noticed that the said helicopter is too impractical to be real. It’s fancy design, nothing functional. And yes, it made me wonder why the people behind the propaganda news never realized this. But then again, it is propaganda, so truth matters little.

Then, there is the planes used in the Gundam series, and the China news outlet also mistook it for a real Japanese warplane.

Oh Please!

Reactions

A clip from Boil Japan TV commercial.
A clip from Boil Japan TV commercial.

And as expected, people are quick to seize the moment. The thing here was unlike North Korea, the citizens of China were not that isolated. If it was done in North Korea, people will believe it readily. But China got a large Gundam fanbase, and they easily noticed the blunder their state media made. Again, the video became viral online even before the CCTV could remove it. Some took it to social media to express their disbelief. Others mentioned how China will lose to Japan, with Ultraman and Doraemon joining the fight with the Gundam alongside the Japanese forces.

Maybe China will think twice now before they make another outrageous claim.

Special Mention: Japan Now Has a Walking Gundam

The life-size walking Gundam in Yokohama, Japan.
The life-size walking Gundam in Yokohama, Japan.

Even though that Gundams are not real, it indirectly took a swipe at China’s propaganda machine. Years after, there is still no war between Japan and China, so we could say that China’s worries might be baseless.

And back in 2015, Japan had an awesome life-sized statue of Grampa Gundam. Now, they upped the ante by building a transforming statue of the Unicorn Gundam, and a real life moving Gundam.

Yes, Japan has a walking giant robot.

The mechanical likeness of Grampa Gundam could now take a walk, though fans know too well that it’s just a motorized giant scale model. Nothing weaponized here. But who knows if a tinfoiler living in someone’s basement will make a stupid claim that it’s meant to fight in wars? And hopefully no state-run media of any country will lap it up.

References:

1. Gnam, Julian (July 1, 2015). "Chinese news use Gundam as evidence of Japanese invasion plan," Otaku USA Magazine.

2.Heung, Charis (July 2, 2015)). "'Oops, CCTV thinks Gundam is part of the Japanese military." Ejinsight.com.


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