Tuesday, August 16

New Motorcycles Look Like Giant, Robotic War Machines

Earlier this year, two Japanese automotive manufacturers unveiled the designs for new motorcycles. Now, keen-eyed observers, especially those who are anime fans, have noticed that the bikes’ designs look a lot like the titular giant robotic war machines of the anime and manga series Mobile Suit Gundam.

Honda made a big splash this past summer at the 30th Osaka Motorcycle Show when it revealed the plans for its new bike, the NM4 Vultus. With a sleek exterior and dramatic angles, it was very obvious that the bike was influenced by — as the automotive manufacturer itself said — the “futuristic machines seen in the anime and manga television and film styles.”

Looking at the bike from the front, the influences become much more obvious. Its inverted triangular shape, with its glass windshield, central headlight, and stark angles, bears a clear similarity to a Gundam’s chest.

Honda isn’t the only one drawing inspiration from cartoon robots, either. The front of Kawasaki’s new Ninja H2R is the spitting image of a Gundam’s helmet, complete with wing-like spoilers, and aerodynamic grooves. It even looks like it has the Gundam’s eyes.

“As popular as customized motorcycles are in the U.S. these days, I don’t see comic or cartoon-inspired cycles making any headway here in the Western markets. Japanese motorcycles are usually lighter and more compact, while traditional American cycles boast a larger body and engine,” says Mike Eichhorn, Owner of Chesapeake Cycles in Annapolis, Maryland.

Honda is also embracing the source of its inspiration. On the automotive manufacturer’s website, there’s a page in the “Design Laboratory” section titled, “Anime and Bikes.” There within, Honda picks the brain of Yutaka Izubuchi, the director of the 2012 anime feature film, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199, and talks about the shared influences between fictitious vehicles and real world ones. In the interview, Izubuchi notes that “it seems Anime has spread its influence to bike design.”

Though most might think that these anime-inspired motorcycles are the closest thing enthusiasts will get to being able to pilot a real-life Gundam, Japanese engineers revealed plans last July to build a 60-feet tall, moving model of a Gundam. The team expects the giant robot to be fully operational by 2019, in time for the series’ 40th anniversary.

Of course, the robot won’t be able to swing a laser sword as it did in the anime, so fans will just have to settle for these new bikes… for now.

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