Looking at this trailer, you’d think Harmony Gold had come to their senses and allowed the Macross Frontier Movie to be released stateside. Unfortunately, all it means is that fans are getting a little too good at aftereffects and voice announcement. Still, by most accounts this is better than the actual trailers made for the film in Japan.
Intrepid anime fan Roger Harkavy recently discovered a hoard of previously unpublished concept art from Artmic studios, creators of Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada (Robotech Masters and New Generation for those who care). It’s got some great examples of early eighties mechanical design. Many of the creative decisions on these series were still being worked out, producing a lot of odd hybrids. This guy up above looks like the folks at Mars Base started experimenting with Invid Technology, or vice versa. You can find the rest of the designs in pdf form here.
Found via Mecha Damashii
John K’s “Stuff” blog raised an interesting question about robots in anime the other day:
I wonder how many we need? What makes one any better than another?
To answer the first question, we need as many as possible. Why? Short answer, because God loves us and wants us to be happy, that’s why! Long answer has something to do with toy companies, business models and other stuff I really don’t care about right now. Robots!
To answer the second question, I believe that each era of anime robot design has its unique advantages and disadvantages:
60’s and 70’s: This represents the hey-day of “Super Robots”, machines that were usually one of a kind that derived their weapons from within their own bodies. The thick lines and clear silhouettes of these guys really look spectacular when they start to go to town the monsters they fight.
80’s: This was a period when cold war military spending was at its height. Many designs from this period borrowed heavily from vehicles like the M1 Abrams tank or the F-14 Tomcat. There are a lot more straight lines and more details put in to give the robots a increased sense of realism. This was also a period for a lot of classic “Real Robot” series, where characters took on a more central role, and the robots were mass produced machines and treated more like set pieces. Purists might criticize these designs for having too many unnecessary details, and that reducing the robots to set pieces just makes these shows into toy commercials. To this I say that details, when used properly, can make a robot look like it could come stomping through your town at any moment. Sacrificing a little bit of design for realism is not a bad thing. As for the point on mass production, I think armies of robots fighting each other is way cooler than just one or two duking it out, don’t you agree?
90’s-present: This is a period of a lot of branching out and introspection. Designs become more organic, reflecting storyline choices by series like Evangelion. A lot of remakes start happening here two. Mars Successor Nadesico is influenced by both the Super Robot and Real Robot sub-genres. There is a danger of robot designs plateauing in quality, either through repeated remakes, or because the CGI tools used to animate them allow designers to add details with reckless abandon, so as to render the mechanical designs unreadable. Fortunately, science is now catching up to science fiction. Now humanoid shaped robots are appearing in real life, perhaps mechanical designers can use them for inspiration for future designs.
Square Enix is re-releasing Romancing SaGa 2 for the Nintendo DS (Final Fantasy Legend II as it’s known in the west). There’s also a retrospective video on the same site. It’s a crime how little of the SaGa series was actually translated into English. Via Gametrailers.com
One more thing I forgot to mention about Tokyo: UFO catcher machines are everywhere. So much so that there’s apparently an industry event to showcase new toys. My favorite are these Gatchaman figures. There’s even a themed USB stick! Check out the rest of the 15th Prize Fair at Nekomagic.com
I’ve never finished an Armored Core game before, but they sure put out some nice model kits. Check out the full review at CollectionDX.com
Legend of Galactic Heroes. Seems like it’s the only science fiction series out there where the capital ships look built by an actual military. Via HobbyLink Japan
There is absolutely no good reason why Tekkaman Blade is not in Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom. They should’ve gotten an injunction or something and just slotted him in there. Here he is (foreground) in Soul of Chogokin form. Via SRW Hotnews
My name is James Strocel. I have been a card-carrying Transformers fan ever since Generation 1 in the 1980’s. I say the following of my own free will. I will not be spending any money to see “Transformers 2: Revenge of The Fallen” this Summer. If I do so, I would be positively reinforcing actions that are a detriment to the world economy and my enjoyment of giant fighting robots. I would like to present the following as evidence in support of this stance.
While I did pay money to see the first transformers movie, I came away with a number of caveats. First of all, the story seemed to revolve around the human sidekicks more than it did the Transformers who I actually paid to see. Don’t get me wrong, history is full of examples where robots play prominently in a human-centred story-arc. The anime serials Gundam and Macross come to mind. However, the human story in this case surrounded Shia Lebeouf getting to first and a half base with Megan Fox. It seemed as though the writers felt that people would have trouble relating to the titular robots of Transformers, so they added all this extraneous filler to entice people who had already paid their ticket to watch a movie about robots. I was hoping that for the sequel, the good folks at Paramount would get their act together and give the Transformers the screen time they deserve. This will not be the case. The trailer at screened at the Showest film festival spent over one and a half minutes of a two and a half trailer explaining how Shia wanted to leave his transforming corvette at home so he can go off to college and be “normal”. Words cannot begin to describe what’s wrong with that statement.
The first Transformers film grossed over 700 million dollars worldwide. Anyone poke holes in my rationale by saying that Michael Bay is just giving the fans what they want. He doesn’t have to listen to me, an actual fan, because he has the numbers to tell anyone who doesn’t like his human interest stories to go to hell. If that’s the case, then I have some numbers of my own to show.
The Dow Jones has lost 50% of its value over the past year. The cascading effects of bank insolvency and freezing on lending has led to over $14 trillion dollars worth of companies being shut down. How did we get to this point? By pleasing two sets of people, prospective homebuyers unable to pay their mortgages, and investors looking for high risk and high return investments. Banks made billions by giving sub-prime mortgages to the first group and selling to the latter. People got what they wanted, but did they get what they need? Not by a long shot.
Designing our entertainment or any other product around “giving people what they want” is killing industries left and right. Pontiac finds out that people “want” extra plastic and spoilers on their cars, so they make a car like the Aztec. Papers make more money from advertising than from actual paper sales, so the pages are stuffed to foie-gras goose proportions with ads. If you run a business and are just “giving people what they want” you are abdicating your responsibility as an entrepreneur. When you try to engage all this marketing mumbo-jumbo by testing random samples with no vested interest your business, you are only fooling yourself. Entrepreneurs have a duty to make their products the best they can be, no matter what the polls say. People’s needs have remained the same for thousands of years, but what an entrepreneur does is take a small piece of the universe, be it coffee, toothpicks or even the laws of physics that allows your iPod to work and fashions it into a new frontier to satisfy those age-old needs. It’s like being in a tribe of hunter-gatherers and knowing which ridge leads to the best wild game. It would put you on the fast track to becoming chief hunter-gatherer. The very best entrepreneurs educate people. They know how to get the most benefit out of their products and they pass that knowledge on for a nominal fee.
I realize the philosophy of “giving people what they want” is not going to die over night. My absence at the theatre will be bearly noticed, and I have little hope of getting others to join me. However, we keep saying over and over that we need leadership to get us out of this crisis. We think that the leadership is going to come from our elected officials. I think that we’ll find that leadership in a decent cup of coffee, a well-made camera, or movies that don’t insult our intelligence. If we support decent leadership where we find it by our simple consumer choices, we support the very ideas and strategies that will get us out of any economic crisis.