NTV, one of the major Japanese television networks, broadcasts a program called “World Records” every Sunday evening (19:58–20:54). Some of their segments get a little bizarre – like the woman with the smallest waist size in the world, or the team that tried to set a record for building a human pyramid on a moving motorcycle. One of the regular features is a Robot Battle contest between two bipedal robots. The goal is a TKO, but they do have other point systems to determine a winner if a TKO doesn’t happen. This being Japan, the robot designs are pretty much what you would expect, often resembling a Transformer or Gundam-
The designers and operators can come from any walk of life. It’s not unusual to find a salaryman competing against some college engineering students. For this particular competition the designer was listed as an engineer for a major Japanese company and the operator was an 11 year old school student. I’m sure the engineer doesn’t wear that costume to the office every day.
At the beginning of each battle it’s important for the competitors to show their respect for each other by bowing politely before they try to rip each other’s head off. It’s all in good fun, and everyone really gets into the spirit of it.
Of course once the bell rings they go at it hot and heavy. The balance and style is really surprising. Not only do they try to hit each other with their fists, they also balance on one foot and dispatch karate style kicks with the other. Sometimes the costumes get a little bit extreme, but it’s all in good fun.