The fight of the century (or the millennia, rather) is happening for the first time in a strange and monumental new class of its own. Giant robots or mecha have always been hallmarks of Japanese pop culture that inevitably found their way into movie studios and mainstream media ?all around the world. While most of its implications have been left to the imagination, a true-to and larger-than-life mecha duel is about to take place in the foreseeable future as two mega-robotics companies from the US and Japan have agreed to prove their mettle in full-contact one-on-one combat.
The Japanese robot-making company Suidobashi Heavy Industry?very recently accepted a challenge by its US counterpart, MegaBots Inc. to battle it out after a year of modifications for combat-readiness. Japan is still reeling from a loss to the US at soccer in the World Cup.
MegaBots released a video showcasing their headquarters while detailing the specifications of their robot Mark 2 and challenged Suidobashi’s carrier robot Kurata?to a duel by boldly stating, “We have a giant robot, you have a giant robot, you know what needs to happen.”
Even as the challenge came out of nowhere, Suidobashi graciously accepted and said they would not be able to tolerate defeat. CEO Kogoro Kurata states, “We can’t let another country?win this. Giant robots are Japanese culture. ” He also made a cheeky remark about their counterparts’ tendencies for overestimating firepower. “Just building something huge and sticking guns on it. It’s… Super American.”
In October of last year, MegaBots attempted to raise $1.8 million in a Kickstarter campaign to finance a robotics project which could have been the precursor to the Mark 2 yet drew little attention. The company forged on and eventually built the Mark? 2 as “America’s first fully functional giant-piloted robot.” It weighs 12,000 pounds and fires three-pound paint cannonballs that can go over 100 miles an hour. Suidobashi’s Kurata weighs 9,000 pounds and features twin gatling guns, an advanced targeting system and an interactive pilot display.
Judging by the video, it seems that CEO Kurata will personally pilot his company’s robot. In contrast to MegaBots’ propensity for guns, he intends to get physical and beat the Mark 2 into the ground through melee or close-quarters combat. Both robots have human pilots inside, two for the Mark 2 and one for the Kurata.
Although MegaBots first asked Suidobashi to choose the battlefield after a year, Suidobashi gave them the initiative and responded at the end of their video with “Organize the duel. We’ll be there.”
On an interesting note, the challenge?coincided with the 114th birthday of Eji Tsuburaya, the Japanese film director who conceptualized and developed the pioneering template for mega-monster franchises as the creator of Ultraman and co-creator of Godzilla. His work reverberates across the Japanese mecha genre and his influence can be felt in Hollywood adaptations such as Pacific Rim.