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VR lets you ride in the palm of a huge Gundam fighter (if you're in Japan)

Gundam, a super-popular franchise that started as an anime show in 1979, is racing toward the future thanks to HTC's virtual reality tech.

Gundam stands tall in Tokyo.
Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

Gundam is big in Japan -- so big, it has spawned video games, manga and even an academic institute. Now, the giant Japanese robots are coming to VR.

One of the geekier tourist attractions of Tokyo is an 18-metre (59-foot) tall Gundam statue. Using HTC's Vive virtual reality technology, Gundam fans can now bring the statue to life. Named the "Gundam VR Daiba Assault", the VR experience lets you be cradled in that Gundam's mechanical hand as it comes to life to battle its Zeon enemies.

Using a mixture of a VR simulation of the area outside of Tokyo's Diver City plaza and a motorised seat replicating the hand and thumb of the Gundam mobile suit (the RG 1/1 RX-78-2 Ver. GFT for those in the know), the participant can take part in an 8-minute clash, desperately holding on 15 metres or so virtually above the ground.

It's not the only interesting VR to come out of Japan recently. A designer in June made a minigame that lets you step into the shoes of the horrifying girl from "The Ring". In March a Japanese university made a natural-disaster simulator that used virtual reality to prepare people for earthquakes and tsunamis.

Starting as an anime series in 1979, the brand Gundam in 2014 was worth $800 million. "Gundam" refers to a type of robot suit, with the show considered a surprisingly complex analogy of war.

While just a teaser at the moment, this video, demonstrated by Tohru Furuya, the Japanese voice actor for Gundam character Amuro Ray, gives just a peek at what to expect.