Last week, US inventors Megabots Inc challenged Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a giant robot duel, in a dramatically patriotic video with helpful Japanese subtitles. Because:
“[Y]ou have a giant robot, we have a giant robot. Let’s fight.”
Yesterday, Suidobashi Heavy Industries accepted their challenge, raising the ante by suggesting that the fight be melee combat, and also managing to get a dig in.
“Come on guys, make it cooler. Just building something huge and sticking guns on it. It’s … Super American.”
They may have a point. But huge blocky robots with guns on them are faithfully American – culturally speaking. After all:
Robot culture is rich in Japan, as the CEO of Suidobashi Heavy Industries notes in his acceptance video. But it’s strong in the US as well – just not as prevalent in everyday life. After all, the USA produced Isaac Asimov. Remember him? Positronic Man? Three Laws of Robotics? I, Robot?
As to Japan, the New York Times recently featured the Aibo, in a great article/video A Robotic Dog’s Mortality, and other than the massively successful Gundam series, there are a great number of other fictional mecha series as well. And a giant Gundam replica. And robot restaurants. And… all right, Japan. You get this one.
Who are Megabots and Suidobashi anyway? Megabots Inc is a US-based startup that tried a Kickstarter in 2014 that underperformed, falling short at $65,000 of its $1.8mil funding goal: they were trying to kick off a new global sport in – you guessed it – giant robot arena duels. It was since sponsored, at least in part, by AutoCAD. Suidobashi, on the other hand, has been selling their 4,500 kg piloted robots since 2013 for US$1,353,500 apiece.
Personally, we feel that the Japanese at least seem ahead, aesthetics wise (Left: Megabot. Right: Suidobashi’s Kuratas):
And we do love Suidobashi’s minimal branding:
But then again, aesthetics and branding won’t matter in a straight up giant robot fight. While the strategy of building something big and sticking guns on it is at least tried and true. Either way, we’re looking forward to the battle… one year from now. Fight!