In recent news, Japanese robotics company Suidobashi Heavy Industry and their user-operated, rideable Kuratas robot have accepted the challenge to duel U.S. robotics company, MegaBot, and their Mark 2 mecha. In an acceptance video posted on YouTube, the designer who gave life and a name to Kurata, Kogoro Kurata, says, “We cant let another country win this. Giant robots are Japanese culture.” It seems that this upcoming fight will determine more than just who has the better robot, but who can lay claim to the once-imaginary cultural phenomenon.
Suidobashi Heavy Industry based the design of their Kuratas robot on a mecha anime (a.k.a. robot anime) television series that first aired in the 80's. Armored Trooper VOTOMS was a military science fiction anime that followed the ongoing conflict between the Gilgamesh and Blatant star systems. The main weapons used in this fight were Armored Troopers, alternatively known as VOTOMS (Vertical One-man Tank for Offense & ManeuverS). Created by director Ryosuke Takahashi and animation studio Sunshine, the series featured mechanical designs by Kunio Okawara, a pioneer animator in the hard science mecha anime subgenre. Okawara is well known for his mecha designs in the Gundam and Brave series as well as numerous other robot shows.
Kurata grew up on anime shows like Armored Trooper VOTOMS, dreaming that one day he could pilot his own Armored Trooper, and was first noticed after building a life-sized steel model of one of the show’s robotic Troopers, which inspired him to take his models to the next level. See the similarities for yourself in our composite images of Kogoro Kurata's creations and Takahashi's VOTOMS, above and below:
Click here to read VICE's original story, "America Just Challenged Japan to a Giant Robot Fight."