Some days it’s just good to be a complete and total nerd. Not only is a Joss Whedon-directed Avengers movie coming out this week, the newest trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises hit the internet a couple of days ago as well. You’d think that getting re-tweeted by Elizabeth Barnes, Brandon Keener’s wife, in praise of yesterday’s blog post would be hard to beat – considering that this means that the probability of the man who brought Garrus Fucking Vakarian to life actually reading what I wrote about him is close to 100 percent – but believe it or not I think I found something almost as cool as that.
I know what you’re saying right now: something this cool can only involve giant robots. Well, you’re right. As I’ve said in the past, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for animated weapons of mass destruction. Now, the Japanese – never a people to rest on their laurels – have a reputation for going one step further in creating full-size models of many of their biggest, flashiest, most iconic giant robots, with the most famous one being the massive 1:1 scale Gundam that stands guard over Tokyo, complete with lights, sound, and movement, but those imaginative lunatics across the Pacific have gone one step further: the Japanese capital now also boasts a scale replica of a Valkyrie fighter from the Macross universe (the fun starts at the 0:50 mark).
Now, I really hope that this kind of trend doesn’t go much further, as I’d finally have to make good on my promise to only ever enlist in the military if they let me drive the giant robot, but I can’t help but be more than a little thrilled at the prospect massive walking/flying transformable engines of death. It’s a little bizarre, considering how I’m not exactly keen on violence – I mean, I go out of the way to get bugs out of the house before one of the cats eats them – but for some reason the ability to rain fiery, writhing death down upon the landscape from the cockpit of a massive steel behemoth just makes me want to drink whiskey, chain smoke unfiltered cigarettes, and punch people in the face. This is most likely due to the fact that there is something seriously wrong with me. I blame my parents.
Of course, these types of displays of over-the-top geekitude rarely get constructed in the US. I can’t think of the closest completely frivolous permanent shrine dedicated to large-scale reproductions of fantasy creatures or science-fiction technology that doesn’t involve having to pay $80 a day to stand in line (hello, Star Tours). Sure, you may have full-size Battlestar Galactica Vipers set up at WizardWorld or something, but it’s not like you can go down to Rockefeller Center and see the Atlas statue replaced with one of Superman. Then again, as cool as some of this stuff is, it kind of pales in comparison with going down to the Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC and seeing the Enola Gay with your own eyes – something I was able to do when it was on display some 15 years ago.
I guess it’s hard to keep a tongue-in-cheek tone when you’re talking about actual death and destruction, though the resonance with the dropping of the atom bomb during World War II resonates strongly with Japanese culture, and is possibly why they’re drawn to such representations of power in in anime and manga. A culture that was so devastated by weapons of mass destruction most likely feels a need to conquer them in an attempt to recover from the horror those weapons wrought.
Or it could be that people just like giant freakin’ robots. Who knows?