Published on May 22nd,2013 at 9:14 PM

Japanese Robot Art: Nice to Look At, and Don’t Forget the Inspiration!

Science fiction robots

Japanese Robot Art – It’s Good, Man!
Illustration, product packaging, statues & sculpture, and even some transhumanist pin-ups; for decades Japan’s been pounding out the robot art like nobody’s business. Last week’s robotics piece examined the artistic legacy influence of giant Japanese robots on the upcoming film Pacific Rim, but this week it’s just cool robot art for the sake of looking at cool robot art.

Some readers might just see the shiny, and that’s cool – some might find a new robo-wallpaper or screensaver, and that’s fun – or, as happens more than one might suspect, the exploration and enjoyment of sci-fi imagery and entertainment can result in actual factual inspiration.

Art Can Make Science, The -Fi Drives the Sci-
A guy named Martin Cooper, inspired by the communicators from the original Star Trek series (60s), went on to lead the Motorola team that invented the first mobile phone (70s). The Panasonic/ActiveLink exoskeletal Power Loader & Power Loader Light look a whole lot like the safety-yellow power loader from Aliens. The 1959 novel Starship Troopers has been cited as a major inspiration for those working on real-life badass robot suits. Sikorsky’s helicopters & Lake’s early submarines were heavily inspired by Jules Verne. It goes on.

Art & The Contemporary Robotics Revolution
The social and economic significance of the ongoing explosion in practical robotics shows a lot of parallels to the communications boom and media upheaval centered around the rise of the internet – in all likelihood, it’s not going to slow down. At all. And one has to wonder how many Gen-X roboticists fell in love with their field as children playing, watching, reading the Transformers, Voltron, Gundam, Star Wars, etc. Certainly went that way with at least one dorky keyboard pounder, as well.

Whatever the result, humans need art – and those of use with deep-seated robo-geekery proclivities, we need robot art. And so, enjoy the four forms below, and see the links at the bottom if you need a little more enjoyment, something that’ll look cool on your laptop or phone, and if the imagery below inspires you to invent, kindly link here when you go public, yeah?!

Form #1 – Illustration Because Illustration:
Doesn’t have to be a whole lot of practicality to robot art, just looking good is good enough. The main image above and the first work below is that of Toshiaki Takayama, who goes all kinds of robo-cyborgy on humans and dragons and other imaginary stuff:

Another great illustration is this Gundam going all robo-rage on… something, via Concept Robots, artist unfindable:

Form #2 – Transformers Box Art:
Now, this is also illustration, but for marketing and product packaging, of course. These images, perhaps modern vintage, were included on the 80s Transformers packaging. With plastic & metal toy in hand, these were the mind’s landscape.

In Japan it was this:

And across the Pacific:

Form #3 – Statues & Sculpture:
The most well-known and pun-intended visible robot statue is the life-size, 1:1-scale Gundam that pun-intended pops up from time to time around Tokyo. Ironically, this is Gundam Suit is, well, Mobile. The attention to detail is fantastic:

And just how big is the 1:1-scale Gundam? Could ask this dude:

Form #4 – Japanese Robot Art for Big Boys & Girls (CAUTION – the link below will deliver some NSFW):
For those who’d like a little more, ummm… nudity and sexuality in their robot art, a good place to begin is the work of nasty robot airbrush wizard Hajime Sorayama. His iconic and widely recognizable work was transhuman before transhumanism was cool, but his name isn’t exactly household. Below is a pretty mild sample, but if you’re like, you know, into that sorta thing, jump through the link down there – but not at work or in front of grandma:

Thanks for viewing – if you’ve got a favorite Japanese or otherwise nationalitied artist who represents with the robot art, let us and other readers know down below.

• • •

Reno J. Tibke is the founder and operator of and a contributor at the non-profit

Image Sources: Toshiaki Takayama at deviantARTGundam Gallery at Concept Robots & Blog of DARWINFISH105Transformers Box Art at Botch the CrabHajime Sorayama’s Beleaguered Website (Google Image Search is better)

Category Art Robot Toy
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