Gundam Kodan

Since nothing really exciting happened here except for the performance, I’ll spare you guys the wannabe Gonzo journalism this time.

Going off of a tip from kransom, as well as a series of amusing youtube videos, I decided to pop down to Yokohama’s Chinatown yesterday to see a Gundam Kodan performance. That is, scenes from Gundam told in the Kodan style. I’m not sure how many Japanese people I’d offend by saying this was my first time watching a Kodan performance, but it was.

The venue was pretty small. The stage was a modest size, and the seating area (composed entirely of normal chairs, so they weren’t fastened down) was enough for about 20 to 30 people. Thusly, in retrospect the whole thing felt not dissimilar to a school play, but I’m under the impression that most nerd events in Japan are like this, especially ones like this that only weird people would care about. I must be especially weird, since I was the only foreigner in that small–but fairly packed–room to go see some crazy guy perform scenes from Gundam dressed in a kimono.

I got there a little late, but the performance hadn’t properly started yet. Minamihankyu, the man of the hour, was on stage with two girls dressed in Zeon outfits (in fact, all the staff were dressed like either Federation or Zeon soliders) and they were going on about something or other. A variety of Gundam theme songs, as well as First Gundam BGM were coming through the sound system to set the mood.

Once the clock struck 15:15, a woman came on as a warm up act told what I assumed was a chapter from the Tale of Genji. I’m just assuming because I couldn’t understand anything she was saying at all beyond “Genji.” Once that was over the man himself, Minamihankyu, took the stage clad in a green kimono with Zeon emblems all over it.

He opened with a short introduction about kodan, how he got into it, and more importantly how he got into Gundam. He made note that he was 33, and Gundam this year is 30, so when the original aired he was just a 3-year-old boy. He went on to say that at one point in his life (I couldn’t tell when) he watched all of the original Gundam movies in one sitting, without sleeping or eating. Because he’s awesome. After about 15 minutes of that, he went into his performance.

This first thing he decided to do was most of episode 1 from the original series. Everyone laughed when all the famous lines came out, and people really went nuts when he started humming the appropriate BGM for the scenes he was doing. The most amusing parts were probably when he’d take on the role of one of the robots, and do something like the stealthy infiltration of Side 7, or one of the battle scenes. The battle scenes were especially hilarious because it’d just turn into him running around the stage making lots of noises.

Once our man had finished his attack on Side 7, there was a short intermission, followed by a guest interview segment. Three people were on–a game developer who seemed to have worked on Gundam MS SenSen 0079, a female Gundam doujin artist whose specialty was making cutout artwork of the robots, and the woman who had performed previously. I couldn’t get too much out of this since my Japanese comprehension is rather bad, but it was pretty cool to see that one artist cutout a Zaku at lightening speed. People made requests, and once she was done she’d give the final product the person who requested it, as well as one to a random person in the audience. I didn’t get one, unfortunately.

Another short intermission followed the guest segment, and the event ended with an encore by Minamihankyu. He concluded by reenacting the events after the Side 7 infiltration, meaning he got to say the famous “mistakes of one’s youth” line, as well as run around the stage as Char Aznable’s Zaku, this time dressed in an appropriately red Kimono, once again emblazoned with the Zeon emblem.

All said, it was great. I feel I got my money’s worth (2800 yen), but I still kind of wish there was more of him and less of other things. It was mostly worth the three hour round trip to Yokohama, but only because I got to sleep on the train.