Gundam anime academy?

Gundam anime academy to turn science fiction into reality in Japan

The underlying storyline in the Gundam series is one of political strife, endless war and the challenges that arise when mankind begins to move away from Earth….

For most universities around the world illegal meteor-mining, politically explosive space colonies and wars waged between teenagers in robot battle suits are treated as the stuff of pure fantasy.

For Japan, they are the stuff of high academia.

In an attempt to inject “the most inventive possible thinking” into Japan, representatives of many of its most august universities are to become a “virtual faculty” of the Gundam Academy — the first academic institution based on a cartoon.

Next year dozens of engineers, astrophysicists, doctors, anthropologists, linguists — even town planners — will begin discussing how to convert the science-fiction series Gundam, created by Yoshiyuki Tomino, 66, into reality.

The agenda will be broad: the Gundam comic series has been running since the late 1970s and its storylines have constructed one of the most complete and complex future-scapes in science fiction.

Central to Gundam are the huge, occasionally dysfunctional, battle suits used by the characters to settle squabbles that arise as humanity fights over resources and power. The robotic engineering, the low-gravity control mechanisms and the life-support systems will all be subjects at the Gundam Academy.

One aeronautics expert involved in the project said that, as a serious scientist, he can see clearly which parts of Gundam are technically feasible and which are not.

Nuclear-powered thermal rockets and spherical helper robots should be pursued, he said.

At a recent symposium held by the founders of the academy and academics, there were lively discussions about emulating the protective coating which prevents the fictional battle suits burning-up on atmospheric re-entry, and the airbags that protect the pilot from the violent lurches of battle.

The underlying storyline in the Gundam series is one of political strife, endless war and the challenges that arise when mankind begins to move away from Earth.

Shinya Hashizume, a professor of urban planning and architecture at Osaka Prefectural University, said: “Gundam presents the reader with many challenges that we will encounter. It is vital to begin conducting research into these. Scientific research in Japan desperately needs a flow of new ideas.”

If they are successful, the founders of the project told The Times, institutions and companies across Japan could embark on new fields of research: everything from the perfection of a universal translation device to moon settlements and the construction of a mega-particle cannon.

Shinichi Nakasuka, a professor of astronautics at the University of Tokyo and one of the founders of the academy, said: “Studying fiction is an excellent way to get ideas about the future. Scientists often restrict their way of thinking to what they factually know. The comic shows how ordinary people without much deep scientific knowledge can come up with very good ideas.”


From November 1, 2008


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