Gaijin Gunpla

[I posted this on the Gundam Australia Forum as a wrap up to the Strike Freedom Group Build and thought that I should include it here as well.]

Now that I have had several days to rest up a bit I find I want to write a proper farewell post in which I bid goodbye to the project while mentioning some things I forgot to mention before and basically put down some thoughts that have been in my head for a while now.

First of all, I wanna thank everyone who was/is involved in this Group Build in some way.  From the people actually building the kits, to those posters who encouraged us on, and to the people who supplied us with banners and video and images (the news reel was fantastic!), and Sonar for supplying the venue.  It truly feels like I was part of something big and not big in the biggest-Perfect-Grade-kit-ever type of big but the a-group-coming-together-and-being-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts type of big.

We’ve all shown what we are capable of, our strengths and our weaknesses, and did so in an environment that nurtured open, honest discussion and interaction.  So now I have to be truthful and write that this build has taken a toll on me.  Perhaps it is because of the size of project, but probably moreso it is because of what the project meant. Despite the joy I’ve felt in seeing an idea come to fruition I realize, now that it is done, that I have been working with a pretty heavy heart for the four months I was putting it together.  I’m glad it is done and I’m glad I get to rest.  I don’t anticipate I will take on such a project for quite some time.  And that is okay.  This project is pretty special to me and I will see about giving it a prominent place on so that it doesn’t get pushed aside and quickly forgotten like many of the people it was made for.  It’s been several days since I updated my site, probably a record of inactivity for me, but while I have material to put up and projects still on the go, I find myself doing other things with my time.  I am procrastinating.  There is a post I am gong to put up soon but it’s also pretty heavy and I want to make sure that, when it comes time to compose that post, I get my thoughts down properly.

Now I’ll mention here some things about the kit I forgot to mention in previous posts.  First off, I realize now that I didn’t really give any detailed description of the Japanese characters I (crappily) wrote onto the kit.  If anyone out there wanted to know what I wrote, here you are:

Starting at the top left of the kit when you look at it head on (which was the intention from the beginning).

The top reads がんばれ東北! (ganbare Touhoku!)

The very Ganbaru (頑張る) can translate as ‘to keep going’, ‘to not give up’, ‘to be strong’, ‘to push through’.  It is used so often in Japanese conversation that in some ways it has lost a lot of its meaning (or so I feel).  The form ‘Ganbare’ is used to encourage someone on. You hear parents say it to their children, fans to their favorite player during ball games.  This form of the verb is more casual implying a closer connection to the person it is spoken to.  I see this all over Japan on posters aimed at the people of Touhoku.  The rest of Japan cheering on its brothers.  Hang in there!  I actually translated it for the video as ‘Stand Firm’, which I feel more appropriate in this circumstance.  Stand Firm, Touhoku.  Be strong, Touhoku.

The bottom line in this image reads 一人じゃないみんながいる。(hitori janai minna ga iru)

I feel the best translation for this sentence would read “You are not alone. Everyone is here.”  Just after the disaster a series of television commercials aired and in one of them japanese athletes who were playing professionally abroad had words of encouragement for the people of their home nation.  This was one of the sentences that stuck with me.  You’re not alone.  We are here to.

Top right of the image.

It reads がんばろう日本! (Ganbarou Nihon!)

Ganbarou is a much stronger way to say Ganbatte/Ganbare.  It is more forceful.  Because of the strength of this verb form it is used mostly from a person of higher social standing towards those lower.  But it also comes out in times of great distress for instance, in the many videos on the net of the tsunami, people standing watching the water are yelling out to those that are still in harm’s way, Nigero! Run Away!   This expression is everywhere in Japan. On billboards, trains, t-shirts.  Japan as a nation, Fight!

The bottoms reads as 日本の力を信じる (nihon no chikara wo shinjiru)

“I believe in Japan’s strength.”  After seeing how the people of Touhoku have worked together, and held it together, after one of the most devastating natural disasters in modern history (and, I realize now, the event that may define a good chunk of my life) I can say without hesitation that for me that sentence is true.  I do believe.  (I just don’t believe the strength is found in the Japanese government.  They’re worthless.)

Lower left:

七転八起 (shichiten hakki)  

This is an 四字熟語 or 4 character expression.  These have origins well in the past and have continued to be used, even in everyday conversation. I love these.  The history behind them and the depth to their meaning has always intrigued me.  I surprise Japanese people quite often when I bust these out in conversation.  “What?!  You can’t speak Japanese but you know yojijukugo?!”

The characters in this one translate to 7 rotations 8 rise, or, how it most commonly translated “fall down 7 times, get up 8.”  Just keep going.

bottom sentence:
寒い冬のあとに必ず春は来る。 (samui fuyu no ato ni kanarazu hara ha kuru.)

The spring always comes after the cold winter.  This is similar to ‘It’s always darkest before dawn.”  With what has happened to the people of Touhoku, for the most part, now there is no where to go but up.  I actually found this saying in a video for the people of Fukushima which I found touching.

It will get better.

Last dragoon, bottom right of the kit.

Top reads 今ひとつになる時 (ima hitotsu ni naru toki)

“Now is the time to become one.”   Together we rebuild, together we continue on, together we share in the future. I feel the Japanese people embody this type of sentiment more than others.  I think they have to as they won’t get much from their inept government.

Bottom reads みんなでやれば大きな力に (minna de yareba ookiina chikara ni)

This is a tough one to put into english.  I see the japanese and I understand the message immediately.  In english perhaps it would translate as “If we all do it, there is strength.”   Combine your efforts and produce an amazing result.  I’ve been able to see a lot of amazing results, but there is still a long way to go.  

Stand firm, Japan.

Throughout the build I was wondering, “Would it work?”  I had an idea, not quite a crystal clear vision, in my head of what I wanted this project to say.  In the end, I think I did it.  I masked and sprayed all that red just eyeballing it as I went and it works.

I am pleased with how the red circle appears from many different angles.  It could have gone so horribly wrong.

The base wasn’t an idea I seriously contemplated until there was about 2 weeks left in the build and I found myself with a completed kit and some extra time.  With what I wanted to convey, and the feelings I wanted to evoke, I realized that maybe the base was an important part of the whole so I did my best to come up with something simple.  Despite it being my first attempt at a diorama of any kind I think it worked out well.

Someone posted a comment writing that he/she felt the video I made was in bad taste.  I am not disappointed by this comment and am glad that it was posted.  I battled these kind of thoughts throughout the project.  Was what I was doing tacky?  Shallow?  Was I making light of a horrible situation?    

In the end I realized that I was doing something that was in my power to do for the people of Touhoku.  I don’t have a lot of money and can’t give it away.  I don’t have extra money which would allow me to take time off work and go out to help.  I have a family of my own that needs food and shelter and I can’t ignore them for the sake of others even though those others so desperately need assistance of any kind.

A good friend of mine told me that the people of Japan can’t forget about what happened to the people of Touhoku.  She said that things such as Courage will cause people to stop, remember, and consider.  I think that’s all I can really ask of something like this and I am satisfied if that is the case.

That’s all I can think to write at this time.  Even the writing of this post has left me tired.

People of Touhoku, Courage!

Categories: Builds, Courage

16 Responses so far.

  1. Hypnos says:

    it´s an awesome custom build, and a great way to show your respect and your hopes for Japan.

    Great Job!

    Cheers from Uruguay!

    • Ivan says:

      Absolutely concurred with Hypnos. Hobby modelling is not simply a kid’s play. In Japaneses’ mind, it can also be a spirit, perseverance, strength, building from zero etc.

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks for the description of the writting on the dragoons, give’s us more of the same perspective of the meaning of the kit that you have.

  3. Gundam Gunso says:

    Great gesture that you are doing. Keep it up!

  4. Busterbeam says:

    excellent job my friend. i’m going to show this to some of my japanese non-gundam fan friends to show them that our hobby isnt as limited as so many believe it is. Seeing you make this was a big inspiration for me.

  5. samshirou says:

    Really nice project and colour !!!!!!

    Hope to see the next one .


  6. Lawrence says:

    You are an artist. The best things are created when the needs of the world (japan crisis) and your desires (gundam) intersect. I really have great respect for you passion not only for gundam but for japan as well. Keep it up! We really appreciate your art.

  7. Brian says:

    Hi Syd, I can honestly say your PG SF inspired me to do something like yours on my own. I hope I can show you what I make, whether it’s “good” or not. I’ve been to Japan this past summer and it’s there where I felt like my love for Gunpla needs meaning and I have partially found it through your website. Thanks again and thank you for HLJ as well; 2 over-satisfied orders and 1 order coming in.

  8. syd says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. It means a lot to me to see that people are seeing Courage the way I hoped it would be seen.

  9. Evan says:

    damn awesome Syd!

  10. Dennis says:

    At first when I read your ideas, well…. I was apprechensive to say the least, but I knew that if anyone could pull this off, it would be you. Great job!!!!!!

  11. Paulo951 says:

    “Holy S**t” where the words I used when I saw Courage’s finished pictures. Think you did a really good job on the painting and the masking (can’t forget the masking lol). That base diorama really goes well with Courage’s theme and those characters you wrote on the wings were a really nice touch!!….I think Courage stands as a symbol of hope to the people of Japan

  12. QantaRaiser says:

    Spectacular Syd, i think that using what your good at to do something great is one of the best thing people can ask for. i wish i could be building gunpla right now but i’m at college so i can’t, so i look here, and its the projects you put up that continue to remind my why i love gunpla so much. So thanks for that.

  13. cabookie says:

    great job once again syd, this stands as a symbol of strength,courage and hope to whole of japan. Great job!

  14. Brian says:

    Thanks much Syd! I’ll get on it when I find time from school work 🙂

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