Tag Archives: anime

The Gauntlet of Sakuracon

By all accounts I should be too old for Anime conventions. They are crowded, smelly, and noisy. Not a year goes by without some epic account of organizational ineptitude on the part of the managing staff. My total wait time at registration this year was three and a half hours. The hazards of cosplay are many. You can kill yourself trying to meet a con deadline through accidents with sharp objects,  hotglue and paint fumes, not to mention sleep deprivation. Don’t ever forget the sleep deprivation! That bustling photo you see in this post was taken at 10:30pm! Yet still, year after year, my friends and I manage to show up. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I don’t think the answer has anything to do with meeting friends or a slavish devotion to Japanese cartoons. Sometimes you just need an ordeal. No matter where you are in life, no matter what problems you have, there is nothing like a good shunt of self-inflicted stress to make it all go away. When you’re working on a costume, a music video or a drawing, you aren’t thinking about car payments or where your career is going. You just know that when Saturday rolls around, that labor of love needs to be out the door, no matter what state it’s in. When you see the looks of amazement on the faces of passersby, you know you’ve just spun a little bit of fiction into fact.

These conventions retain a kind of purity because of the fact that only the anime creators are allowed to really make money there. You’re not grasping after abstract concepts like meaning or marketability, you’re just having fun taking something that was in your head and making it a reality. That feeling of knowing “hey, I made that” feeds the soul. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll go through hell and back to experience it again.

Magical Mystery Macross Trailer

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.

Lost Robotech Designs Unearthed

Intrepid anime fan Roger Harkavy recently discovered a hoard of previously unpublished concept art from Artmic studios, creators of Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada (Robotech Masters and New Generation for those who care).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

Giant Anime Robots

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.