Del Toro’s Next Film: Now with Added Robots

So apparently Guillermo Del Toro’s next film, Pacific Rim, which is currently in production, will not only feature giant monsters but also giant robots to fight them — mecha style. For more information, see this Undead Backbrain article.

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War of the Worlds: Goliath Looks Spectacular

It’s been some time since I posted to Robot War Espresso (I’ve been busy) and even longer since anyone much has heard anything of the animated steam-punk-inspired sequel to H.G. Wells’ classic invasion tale, War of the Worlds. Directed by Joe Pearson, War of the Worlds: Goliath (which we last saw here) is looking spectacular — a 3D anime-style epic that envisages the Martian invasion as a full-on conflict, more equal now than the first invasion was in 1900, thanks to defensive machines back-engineered from the wreckage of the first wave of Martian Tripods. Thanks to Quiet Earth, we can see what advances in production the past year has brought:

View it here.

Synopsis:

In 1900, the Earth was attacked by ruthless invaders from the planet Mars. The Martian’s 80 ft tall, heat-ray spewing, Tripod battle machines laid waste to the planet, but the invaders ultimately fell prey to Earth’s tiny bacteria.

Fourteen years later, Man has rebuilt his shattered world, in large part by utilizing captured Martian technology. Equipped with giant, steam-powered Tripod battle machines, the international rapid reaction force, A.R.E.S., is Mankind’s first line of defense against the return of the rapacious Martian invaders. Based in a massive fortress complex at the south end of Manhattan Island, the young warriors of A.R.E.S. train under the leadership of Secretary of War, Theodore Roosevelt, and the grim General Kushnirov.

And return the Martians do. The rematch finds the multinational squad of the A.R.E.S. battle Tripod Goliath on the front-lines of a vicious interplanetary offensive when the Martian invaders launch their second invasion using even more advanced alien technology. In the crucible of combat, this young team helming the mighty Goliath will be tested to the limits of their endurance and courage as they fight for Mankind’s very survival under the onslaught of an implacable enemy.

Excellent!

Official website

Source: Quiet Earth via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood

Review: Godaizer

Not long ago I was privileged to be able to see director Hillary Yeo’s full animated short film, Godaizer. Below is my review (follow the link to my main site, Undead Backbrain, to read the full thing).

Godaizer (Singapore-2011; short [18:43 min.]; dir. Hillary Yeo)

Godaizer is not the kind of frenetic anime that is all action and noise, certainly during its opening third. In some ways it is more suggestive of Miyazaki’s cinematic style (not so much visually as in general ambiance). Its opening sequence, showing the start of what is obviously another typical day, is slow and contemplative, as the youthful main character, awoken by a bedside clock, looks out upon the morning and the chooks, pushes open rusting gates and then pulls switches to start up the vast repair shop in which he lives. The roof slides back to let in the sun, service gates grind open and lights come on.

Godaizer embraces the dynamics of daikaiju conflict as thoroughly as it exploits the tropes of the human/machine dynamic lying at the heart of the [mecha] genre.

A mecha/daikaiju classic in miniature, Godaizer may be short, but what it lacks in direct narrative complexity it makes up for in attention to suggestive detail.

Read the review.

Upcoming: Godaizer, the Giant Robot

Godaizer — a short film from animator Hillary Yeo  — is clearly intended to reference such TV shows as Tetsujin 28-go and seminal mecha anime such as Mazinger Z. The artwork itself is more painterly, giving the film a unique appearance, different from both the hard-edged cell-animation style of early cartoons and the naturalistic 3D CGI of recent work.

Here is the trailer:

Synopsis:

An independent computer animated short about a robot repair warehouse run by a old man and his grandson where old decommissioned giant robot Godaizer is kept.

When a giant monster is awoken, it is time for Godaizer to rise again and defeat it. But what cost must the monster be taken down?

Clips:

Monster Concept Design:

You’ll find lots more images in the Gallery below — and check out the official website for even more.

Gallery:

MORAV: The History of Robotic Warfare

The M.O.R.A.V. (Multi-Operational Robotic Armored Vehicle) world, created by Fon Davis, began life, conceptually at least, as a live-action TV show. An ambitious project, work on it has since gone into abeyance — not abandoned, just gathering its forces for the next assault.

Meanwhile Davis started work on a six-part comic series of the M.O.R.A.V. tale, which Undead Backbrain reported on back in June last year. That apparently fell through, but Davis subsequently found a publisher interested in a graphic novel version.

Story:

M.O.R.A.V. chronicles the earliest days of giant robotic warfare. We are introduced to Lt. Michael Okeda, a cocky fighter pilot who is thrust into a daunting new world of armed conflict, where he and his fellow soldiers must fight for their lives.

For a full synopsis, go to the website.

Creator Fon Davis reports:

We’ve taken what was going to be the 132 page 6 issue comic book series and combined it in to a single graphic novel, which will include an extra 30 pages of bonus material.

So, the M.O.R.A.V.: History of Robotic Warfare graphic novel is 160 pages long. If you or anyone you know wants to order a copy, there is a link on my website morav.net. I will be signing exclusive advance copies of M.O.R.A.V.: The History of Robotic Warfare at Comic-Con 2010 in San Diego.

The story features giant robots of the mecha kind, used not only for policing, but as combat weapons once World War Three breaks out. Davis commented in regards to the TV show:

If you like robot science fiction, MORAV could be what you’ve always wanted to see but no one has done. This kind of gritty realism is uncommon in the robot science fiction genre. [It] is heavily focused on keeping stories character based and making the environment tangible. There is an effort to bring the audience into a world where robots really walk the streets. The robots in this series do not jump, fly, and shoot lasers out of their eyes. They are designed the way giant robots would be if they were real.

In regards to the live-action version, Davis added:

I am going back to producing the live action webisodes of M.O.R.A.V. this August.  I’m really looking forward to getting back to the live action series.  Here is a sneak peak at the 1/6 scale Gen 1 M.O.R.A.V. we’re building for that series right now in my studio [see below].

  • Source: Fon Davis via Kaiju Search-Robot Avery. Written by Robert Hood.

Gaiking

In a sense, of course, the classic mecha of Japanese manga/anime/film aren’t robots in the sense that they function as autonomous, self-motivated mechanisms. They are, like cars, piloted by ordinary flesh-and-bone humans — and as such are merely vehicles or exoskeletal enhancements. Yet subjectively, in the fictional world, the mechanisms themselves tend to acquire personalities, and many tales from the mecha subgenre introduce an ambiguity into the relationship between mechanism and pilot that blends them into a single, undifferentiated unit — the whole greater than the sum of the parts, as it were.

So the mecha subgenre definitely has an important place here in our ongoing exploration of artificial lifeforms, which is why I continue to discuss existing and upcoming examples of such tales.

This is Gaiking (or as he is known in his home country Demon Dragon of the Heavens Gaiking (大空魔竜ガイキング, Daikū Maryū Gaikingu). Super Robot Gaiking, invented by a Dr. Daimonji, forms part of the crew of the carrier Daikū Maryū — a huge ship that can partially transform, sections of it detaching in order to form Gaiking (specifically his skull-like chest and horns). The crew of Daikū Maryū battle against a race of aliens, the Dark Horror Army, whose home planet is being consumed by a black hole — which in turn is causing them to mutate. Daiking is piloted by an ex-baseball star, Sanshiro Tsuwabuki, whose latent psychic powers form the basis of his ability to control the huge robot.

Premiering in 1971 Gaiking was the first Super Robot mecha anime TV series produced by Toei Animation that was not based on an existing manga. Toei were responsible for such classic and formative mecha series as Mazinger Z and Getter Robo, which were based on existing work. In the US and the West generally the mecha robot Gaiking was best known as part of Mattel’s Shogun Warriors toy line (and as such appeared in comic form in the Marvel Universe, below fighting alongside the Fantastic Four):

Though the anime was Americanised for US television, it was aired as part of another series and never became as widely known as series such as Tetsujin 28-go (known in the US as Gigantor). [corrected, see Comments]

Just announced is a live-action Gaiking, to be produced by an American crew. According to Slashfilm:

The Gaiking project was originally supposed to be a 7-minute short attached to Fincher’s Heavy Metal, but after that project moved to another studio, Jules Urbach took it and ran with it, and now it looks on track to be a full-blown feature film with Matthew Gratzne directing. (source)

As this picture shows, Gaiking’s new design is darker and even more mechanistic, in true 21st century fashion. Urbach commented, however, that this CG version (taken from the trailer below) is only a concept image:

We are building the robots life size. Matt is one of the last great practical effects guys in the business who can pull this off. … The teaser we have now is CG for the robot. It is to give the fans a taste of the design we are going with, but it is not a true reveal given what we are going to be doing when we build the thing. The real deal is going to be mind blowing, of course. (Ain’t It Cool News)

At the moment the film is in pre-production with a very tentative release date of 2012. If successful, who knows where this may lead?

Trailer:

Sources and Further Reading: