Why do We Love Giant Robot? (Food for Thoughts)

I was watching the episode 5 of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken the other day and it got me really thinking: Why do we love giant robot?

As the episode demonstrate, large humanoid robot, while it can be realistic (give humanity enough time and we can basically invent anything), it is not exactly practical. In a scenario in which humanity is confronted with massive-scale monsters, it is more likely that our real-life military will simply deploy a more advance tanks instead of large robots. Concrete Revolutio is also another anime that pointed out the unpracticality of a giant robot for the purpose of engaging the enemy.

The boring answer to that, of course, is because it is cool, something that the robot club president in the Eizouken episode essentially admit to himself near the end. But I find that answer unsatisfying.

Yes it can be cool. But why it can be cool?

I realize that aesthetic appreciation is ultimately a tricky arena to venture into, especially since all it comes down to is individual taste. But aesthetic is not as subjective as most people believe. If beauty is truly at the eyes of the beholder, film directors and critics would not spend so much time studying cinematography in order to find out what is it that could engage audience.

Having said that, tackling this topic would perhaps require psychological knowledge that’s beyond my capability at the moment. But I do think that if there is one reason why giant robot is loved by so many people

Is that the humanoid element in giant robot makes it easy for audience to project their emotion.

By having giant robot resemble us in some ways, it becomes easy for audience to identify them as similar to them which in turns makes it easier to attach emotion.

Granted, it is not like humanity can’t emotionally attach themselves to a non humanoid-looking weapon. I mean, military otaku exist after all.

But I do feel like for these people, they really more interested at the machinery or the mechanism behind these military weapons, the way parts of the device interact and function with one another for the singular purpose of being the ultimate killing machine.

By contrast, what people basically saw in giant robot isn’t so much killing machine (at least not only that), as it is larger, more advance version of themselves.

This attachment theory (if it can be called that, I’m not aware if there is official psychological terminology to it) is actually why I think Neon Genesis Evangelion, as it is, would not work without giant robot. Having the Eva be this large humanoid figure instead of simply be a weapon vehicle actually contributes to not only the otherworldly monstrosity of Eva, but it also nicely reflects this burgeoning primal darkness within humanity itself especially when it went into its berserker mode (which incidentally also tie nicely to puberty metaphor).

So yeah, that’s kind of my two cent in the issue. Would be interested if anybody have better theory for it!

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The eternal student.

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