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Mecha: Expressions of Cultural Influences and Differences Demonstrated in Science Fiction Mechanical Design

Maradin, Nicholas R (2009) Mecha: Expressions of Cultural Influences and Differences Demonstrated in Science Fiction Mechanical Design. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The opening theme to Cartoon Network's animated series MEGAS XLR (2004) exclaims:"You dig giant robots!I dig giant robots!We dig giant robots!Chicks dig giant robots!"This is perhaps the essential anthem for our fixation with out of this world technology. Japanese and American audiences in particular are innately passionate about science fiction robots, as ardent consumers and proprietors of contemporary Mecha culture. The challenge then for the academically-minded aficionado is to put across just what makes these fantastic machines and their stories so fascinating, so prevalent in entertainment and society, and so tied to our own perceptions of human development.Science fiction represents what people are thinking about technology. This thesis posits the contemporary science fiction phenomenon Mecha as the predominant expression of humankind's age-old fascination with the mechanical arts. The philosophical approaches taken in these forms of escapist entertainment often mirror the attitudes each culture has towards real-life robotic machinery- from replacement prosthetic limbs, to robotic household companions and even weapons of war. In Mecha fiction, the sentiments of the artist-citizen towards this notion of a robotic, hi-tech society are expressed free of the limitations of a practical and commercial reality. Science and engineering have not yet caught up to the culturally-nurtured imaginations and ambitions of the human spirit, and they never will. Instead, the artists and creators of Mecha consciously and unconsciously translate and magnify this social consensus into mechanical designs and narratives that enforce a particular paradigm on the overall human-machine relationship.This study examines through key written and visual texts the function of "low culture" pop-entertainment as an influential and relevant indicator of broader societal values and cultural traditions. By reverse-engineering and deconstructing (quite literally) these Mecha designs and how they function as a creative work, I believe we can better understand how two cultures have come to express their relationship with technology both conceptually and philosophically.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Maradin, Nicholas
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeis, AnneWeis@pitt.eduWEIS
Committee MemberMitchell, GordonGordonm@pitt.eduGORDONM
Committee MemberOlson, Lester COlson@pitt.eduOLSON
Committee MemberStahl,
Date: 18 May 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 April 2008
Approval Date: 18 May 2009
Submission Date: 15 May 2008
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: anime; art; culture; gundam; history; machines; mech; mecha; mechanical; pop; rhetoric; robot; visual
Other ID:, etd-05152008-151200
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:44
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:43


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