10 Oct 2017

The Giant Robot Battle of the Century: Japan vs. USA


RobotIt sounds like something straight out of anime: two countries battle it out with giant robots. But not just any giant robots, these ones came with actual human pilots. A very cool concept that started in 2015, U.S.A.’s MegaBots challenged Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a match unlike any other: since both countries had them anyway, why not have a showdown to figure out which country has robot supremacy?

Although the challenge was set in 2015, with an expected air date of 2016, the duel wouldn’t happen until 2017, 2 years after the original post. Multiple funding and engineering problems were finally hurdled, and the battle was set to be the fight of the century.

However, despite the hype, viewers were left divided once the match was streamed on the Twitch website. While the match viewership was high, many people were left disappointed with the slow pace, shoddy editing and the scripted nature of the fight.

Supporters, on the other hand, have defended the episode, citing the fact that all robots had human pilots inside of them, making any all-out robo-brawl impossible without severely injuring the pilots not to mention causing thousands of dollars of damage on the mechs.

While the criticism was harsh and, for some, justified, everyone agreed that the match was still a marvel of technology. The only thing that people could agree on: there needs to be more fights of this nature.

U.S.A.’s MegaBots: Iron Glory and Eagle Prime

The American team had the advantage of not just one, but two giant robots. Iron Glory (Mk II) was the older of the two, standing at a relatively light 6 tons, and was armed with a 6” cannon and a 20-missile launcher. Unfortunately, both weapons were confined to fire non-explosive and non-lethal projectiles that had no effect– these added nothing to the fight nor to the spectacle to the show.

Eagle Prime (Mk III) stood at a whopping 12 tons and 16 feet tall, almost twice the weight of its younger mech brother. The Mk III robot was armed with a logging grapple, a 4-foot chain sword, and a double barrel cannon (which, sadly, mirrored the uselessness of the Iron Glory’s own weaponry).

Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industries: Kuratas

Japanese team Suidobashi Heavy Industries was the first to produce a giant, human-piloted robot back in 2012. Developed by artist Kogoro Kurata and roboticist Wataru Yoshizaki, the Kuratas was first unveiled in the 2012 Wonder Festival in Tokyo. The 6.5 ton, 13-foot-tall robot stood slightly smaller than its American counterpart, but was technologically advanced: an articulated hand was complemented by an “Ichigeki” fist and a sub-machine gun. Despite the human pilot, the Kuratas could also be controlled remotely via smart phone.

The Fight

Relatively lighter and more agile, the Kuratas was the perfect counterpart to the American team’s massive steel behemoths. Dominating the first match, The Kuratas knocked down Iron Glory with ease, securing the victory with a well-placed Ichigeki fist.

The second round was a more even match, with Eagle Prime able to withstand Kuratas’ constant attacks. At the end, Eagle Prime disabled Kuratas with a power attack using its 4’ chain sword.

Although the fight was staged and took 3 days to film, many viewers were still hopeful that this would kick-start more exciting prospects, with American team MegaBot hinting at a possible Giant Robot Fight League  sometime in the near future.

With their fresh victory over Japan, The U.S based Megabot company can focus on expanding and building the Giant Robot Fight League. Hopefully, they improve their technology, because the Chinese have already started building their own robot.

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