I Swear on My Robot Soul that Giant Robots are Awesome
Through several generations, otaku has often been seen as being intimately close with new technologies. But these technologies are mainly technologies of play, for entertainment. From television, to video tape recorder, to personal computer, to virtual reality tools of present day, otaku use these technologies to play with the media they love. Their childlike, playful enthusiasm for technology seems as if putting them at the forefront of those technological development, by engaging with those technologies in ways that deviates from common sense.
Knight’s & Magic plays with that idea, by allowing Ernesti’s childlike enthusiasm for giant robots to introduce new ideas that stir and push the development of silhouette knights beyond what was accepted as common sense in the world. In a world where giant robots actually have practical use and can confer political powers, Ernesti puts the fun of designing and building giant robots as his foremost driving motivation.
Sure, he also considers practical functions when designing new robots, but it has also been noted that on occasions, he develop new features simply because he enjoys doing so, without being clear on what immediate practical purpose that they can serve. And even when Ernesti plays along with the politics of the world, he only do so to further his interest to complete and augment his knowledge of silhouette knight construction, rather than for the sake of possessing power and prestige themselves.
Understanding the childlike enthusiasm of otaku for giant robots in this anime can be helpful to understand the enduring appeal of the fiction of giant robots. It has often been discussed how giant robots are not really practical as weapons in real life (see 20th Century Boys, for example). And yet, the idea is still captivating, anyway. Now let’s consider how in the anime’s finale, the stake for Ernesti is saving silhouette knights from the threat of obsolence by a rival military technology introduced by enemy engineer Oratio Gojass (Yuuichi Nakamura). Ernesti won’t allow for Gojass’ battleship to take over as dominant military technology in this world, because for him, giant robots represent certain ideals that make them awesome, and cannot be replaced by other things.
Through the fiction of Ernesti’s fight to defend the ideals and existence of giant robots in his world, we have the key point of the appeal of giant robots. They may not be realistic, but even so, giant robots as an idea is awesome and that’s enough reason to love them. And we can always love them in imagination, in fiction, no matter what reality has to say. It’s a dream that continues to bring wonderful childlike awe and excitement.
Of course, the ideals of awesome giant robots would have fallen flat if Knight’s & Magic couldn’t demonstrate the awesomeness of the giant robots. But the anime staff are, indeed, capable in making the giant robots look cool. Not only that the CG robots are well-animated, the robot combats are also strongly directed to effectively convey their scale and power. In tune with Ernesti’s enthusiasm to build his ideal robots, so too the anime staff endearingly give shape to the robots’ awesomeness through their craft of animation.
But it also needs to be noted, though, that focusing on male otaku’s love for giant robots as much as Knight’s & Magic does, does have its limitations. It’s not that the anime doesn’t have any strong female characters, but almost none of them share the same kind of passion for creating giant robots that Ernesti has. The main heroine, Adeltrud, is only in the giant robots business because she follows Ernesti to begin with (though her possible role as a conventional romantic interest is, amusingly enough, undermined by a combination of her own infatuation with Ernesti’s excessively youthful look and his complete lack of interest in women’s affection); while the senior Helvi (Shizuka Ito) is more interested in the use of silhouette knights as fighting machines. Most of the characters with enthusiasm for engineering are males, with the exception of the minor dwarf girl character who’s part of Ernesti’s construction team. Also, despite featuring conflicts between humans and war as well, it’s just not the kind of story that ruminates deeply on the casualties and consequences of war.
With its story of a mecha otaku transported into another world and enjoying the awesomeness of giant robots in his new world, yes, Knight’s & Magic is a pandering show. And there are limits to what it can offer as a pandering entertainment. But, nevertheless, it panders excellently with such passion for the love of giant robots, that the fervour may draw you in to believe (or strengthen your belief) that no matter what, giant robots are very awesome indeed.
Perhaps it should be noted that the of affective response and engineering thinking can be seen as permeating otaku culture in general and not just mecha fans. Consider how fans can engage affectively with character images by reassembling their favourite characters through fanart, doujinshi, cosplay, garage kits, and so on. Or even with fujoshi, they reassemble relationships between male characters into seme/uke combinations that generates various moe affect. To nurture characters and/or their pairings is by reconstructing them according to the fans’ fancy. The eros and techné of otaku are inseparable, indeed.
- Lamarre, Thomas (2009), The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), chapter 16: “A Face on the Train,” p. 209-220.
- Lamarre, Thomas (2013), “Cool, Creepy, Moé: Otaku Fictions, Discourses, and Policies,” in Diversité urbaine, vol. 13, no 1, p. 131-1522.
Facts and Figures
|Source Material||Light novel by Hisago Amazake-no|
|Director||Yusuke Yamamoto (Aquarion Evol, Sgt. Keroro)|
|Casts||Ayaka Ohashi as Adeltrud lter
Kazuyuki Okitsu as Dietrich Knitz
Rie Takahashi as Ernesti Echevalier
Shinsuke Sugawara as Archid Olter
Shizuka Itou as Helvy Oberi
Yasuaki Takumi as Edgar C. Blanche
|Series Composition||Michiko Yokote (Girl Friend BETA, Genshiken, No-Rin)|
|Character Design||Kenichirou Katsura (Macross 7, dan Comic Party Revolution)|
|Opening Theme||“Hello!My World!!” by fhana|
|Closing Theme||“You & I” by Ayaka Ohashi|
|Broadcast Date||2 July 2017 (1200 GMT/1900 WIB/2100 JST)|
The Indonesian Anime Times | by Halimun Muhammad