Jeremiah Tolbert over at But Wouldn't It Be Cool? has taken the time to repudiate my assertion that giant mecha robots are stupid, taking the position that giant mecha robots are totally awesome. Since he was courteous enough to respond politely, I'll return the favor. Tolbert makes the following points:
- Collateral damage Tolbert argues that the clumsiness and impracticality of mecha that I abhor is actually the point of mecha. They're supposed to be clumsy and impractical—the better to "accidentally" level skyscrapers and smash puny human-scale vehicles and...er...humans. These are weapons of terror. Seems kind of inefficient to me, but the government has wasted money on dumber projects.
- Giant energy swords are awesome First, let me say I never argued that 400-foot lightsabers weren't cool. I mean, c'mon, it's a 400-foot lightsaber. I just suggested they were impractical in general and, as a rule, building the coolest weapons possible and not directly attaching them to your battlebot is kind of dumb. You could lose the darn thing, and 40-story energy swords are expensive. Tolbert extends the point to suggest that you build swords because your mecha has hands, and hands are useful as general purpose tools—both for destruction, and for rescuing kittens from trees. Personally, I always thought that the fire department was more cost effective for the latter, but I guess you have to amortize your billion-dollar battlemech somehow.
- Giant mecha robots make cool sounds Yes, yes they do. But Industrial Light and Magic makes cool sounds too. Based on past history and George Lucas production budgets, ILM could simulate cool mecha sounds for—at worst—half of the cost of a full scale mecha. Three-quarter budget, tops.
- Giant Mecha robots are our only defense against the Daikaiju threat I actually acknowledge this in my original piece, but I also think history has pretty clearly shown that the best defense against a giant biological monster is our own giant biological monster. MechaGodzilla doesn't defeat Godzilla, King Kong defeats Godzilla.
- Giant Mecha battles will be cooler than any other sport ever made Okay, now you're on to something. NASCAR combined with Ultimate Fighting by way of BattleBots. You find the eccentric billionaire(s) willing to front the cost of a Mecha Combat League, and I'll be the first guy in line to buy tickets. Just make sure it's significantly less lame than Robot Jox (shown above) and we'll be cool. Also, less dead spectators if at all possible.
- Giant mecha robots, when damaged, explode Uh, wait, whose side are you arguing for here? Cool explosions aside, I'm pretty sure that's a mark in my column.
So, which side do you come down on, Mecha Yes or Mecha No?
(Found by our good friends at SFSignal.)
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.