A few days ago, American robot maker MegaBots threw down the gauntlet in Japan’s backyard, and it didn’t take long for Suidobashi to reply: “We accept!”
Pacific Rim didn’t have much of a story to tell, but those Jager robots definitely redeemed it. As someone who has grown up watching Voltron, that movie was a dream come true, and news that a sequel is in the works made my grin even larger. I’m sorry, there weren’t any Transformers on the TV at that point, and I don’t really like that franchise anyway, but Voltron was co-produced by Toei Animation, a Japanese animation studio, so that should count, shouldn’t it?
“Suidobashi, you have a giant robot, we have a giant robot,” said MegaBots co-founder Matt Oehrlein last week. “You know what needs to happen. We challenge you to a duel. In one year, we fight.”
“We’re shooting for a year off, so June 2016,” Oehrlein said. “We think we need about a year because we need to establish the rules and then we have to choose where it’s going to happen.”
Japanese mecha builder Suidobashi Heavy Industries couldn’t have remained absent at such a challenge. After all, giant robots have become part of Japanese culture, and Kuratas (Suidobashi’s mecha robot, pictured above) has some national values to defend. You can watch MegaBots’ challenge in the above video, and the reply in the one below.
“We can’t let another country win this,” Kogoro Kurata, Suidobashi’s CEO, said in the video. “Giant robots are Japanese culture.”
There’s no doubt that these robots and their epic duel will put BBC’s Robot Wars to shame. In fact, I’m willing to bet that Japanese blacksmith Kogoro Kurata has been thinking about this day ever since he founded Suidobashi.
Kuratas, which is more of a 12.5ft (3.8m) tall exoskeleton or wearable mecha robot, was up for sale on Amazon Japan for the “small” sum of ¥120,000,000 ($978,000, £627,000, €882,000), fact that invited fake reviews. It may be smaller and slower than MegaBots Mark II, but I’m betting on it, as I can’t really see Japan losing at one of the things it’s most popular for. Even MegaBots co-founder Gui Cavalcanti is aware that their mecha could use much better armor, so it doesn’t get turned into sushi right away.