Rinne no Lagrange, the new mecha show which begins broadcasting in January, has robot designs done in part by the Chief Creative Officer at Nissan Motors, Shirou Nakamura. He was interviewed in the November 4th edition of Nikkei Business Daily about his experience. Japanimate blogged some highlights:
What's the reason you decided to design robots?
Shirou Nakamura: Because what you need most in car design is to get a spark of motivation and creativity. It's a chance to improve the creativity at design HQ. It will also convey the broad ability of Nissan's design team. Car and anime robot design also share the foundation of recreation, so they're close.
The cultural clout of Japanese robot anime is big. Not only many active designers, but also many car buying consumers are from the Gundam generation. They are influenced by the thoughts and values contained in robot anime. The fact that it's said that the GT-R looks like a Gundam also naturally shows this influence.
A new mid-term planning session has begun. From a design standpoint, what will you challenge next?
It's been about 11 years since I started at Nissan, and during that time both design and manufacturing have progressed. We challenged ourselves with the design of unique cars such as the Juke and the Cube, but their popularity has not really faded. This not fading indicates Nissan's growth. In this next mid-term planning session, I'd like to take another step forward into something new. The robot anime discussions came up at a good time.
For example, the Juke was the success I've been wanting to experience for 10 years. Its character is strong, it has individuality, and it's unique, but it sells! It's not only unique, but it gives people this fun feeling so it can't be disliked. I guess in Japanese we'd say it has charm (愛嬌). It shares that sense of recreation with anime. It's a design that surpasses being simply "beautiful" or "cool;" I think it's a truly excellent design.
Was it a useful experience, to design robots?
Overseas competitors are not delivering designs that go beyond a car's frame. It's just a straight line from the traditional car designs. To be able to get stimulated by anime and robots is Japan's forte. [Overseas car designers] just don't seem to be able to design something like a Juke or GT-R very easily. These cars came into existence to break the "grammar of car design."
The GT-R and Juke were not designed by looking at cars. We consciously worked to not take too much influence from cars. Of course, traditional techniques are important. We certainly pursued the coolness of a traditional design with the Fair Lady Z. Just for the innovation to create new things, you need that creative spark. That's the point where Japan has its background of anime culture as a forte.