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Japan Society Hosts 'Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Freedom' East-Coast Premiere

There are few franchises in Japan as iconic as Mobile Suit Gundam. The mecha- a.k.a giant robot- sci-fi saga has spanned more than 40 years and is sometimes called "the Japanese Star Wars." The latest entry is Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Freedom, a feature film sequel to the Mobile Suit Gundam Seed series first aired in 2002.

Entries in the franchise are divided into main Universal Century timeline, which take place in the continuity of the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam TV series and those set in alternative reality. Gundam Seed and its sequel Gundam Seed Destiny is one of the latter. Spanning 100 episodes from 2002 to 2005, the series is credited with bringing a new audience to Gundam and introducing modern themes such as terrorism and modern warfare. The series broke records when it originally aired.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Freedom is also a record breaker, earning over 3.7 Billion Yen at the Japanese Box Office since it opened in January. It went on to become the highest grossing film in the whole Gundam franchise. The new film has been in development since 2006, and continues the stories established in the TV series.

The Japan Society has announced that it will hold the East-Coast premiere of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Freedom. The organisation, dedicated to bringing the US and Japan together, is screening the film in recognition of Gundam's major contribution to Japanese culture. The special event screening is held in association with Anime NYC and Bandai Namco Filmworks and will take place simultaneously with a West Coast premiere held by Bandai Namco in LA.

The subtitled premiere will take place on Sunday, March 31 at 4PM. An encore presentation featuring the premiere of the English dub will follow on April 1 at 7PM. Both screenings will take place at Japan Society in New York.

"Gundam has impacted fans all around the planet since the 1970s, and beyond even this, it has shaped generations of creators," said Peter Tatara, Japan Society Director of Film. "Gundam changed the anime world when it premiered, and it has since gone on to influence and inspire live-action and animated storytellers all across the Earth. It changed the world, and all those it has affected continue this change."

Gundam has spawned multiple anime series and movies, mangas, novels, videogames and a galaxy of merchandise including a whole industry of model kits. The series has been honoured in a series of Japanese postage stamps and several life-size Gundam statues can be seen throughout Japan and Asia. There is a Hollywood live-action adaptation in the works from Legendary Pictures and Netflix.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed takes place in the Cosmic Era (C.E) timeline, where humans born with special abilities called Coordinators are in conflict with the Naturals, those born without genetic modification. The series introduced iconic characters such as Kira Yamato, Arthrun Zala, Lacus Clyne and Shinn Asuka. The movie picks up in C.E. 75, two years after the events of Seed Destiny. The fighting still continues and there is aggression from a radical anti-coordinator group called Blue Cosmos. To calm the situation a global peace monitoring agency called Compass is established with Lacus Clyne as the leader. As members of Compass, Kira Yamato and his comrades intervene in battles around the world. Now, a newly established nation called Foundation proposes a joint operation against a Blue Cosmos Stronghold.

The Japan Society will host a Gundam display in their lobby. The screening will be introduced by a prerecorded introduction from director Mitsuo Fukuda. There will also be an onstage appearance by voice actress Alyson Leigh Rosenfield (English voice of Luminaria Hawke). Both general admission and VIP tickets are available. The latter includes a commemorative art print, illustration card and a Gundam model kit.

Tickets are available from the Japan Society website here.

The Los Angeles premiere will take place at Regal LA Live (1000 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015). It will be accompanied by a 'talk show' featuring Soichiro Hoshi (Voice of Kira Yamato), Rie Tanaka (Voice of Lacus Clyne), Michael Sinterniklaas (NYAV Post Studio Owner and Dub Producer), and Stephanie Sheh (English Voice of Lacus Clyne, Casting Director, and Dub Producer).

Tickets for the LA screening can be ordered here.

For those who can't make either screening, a wider release is planned- more details on that when we get it.