Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For the newbs: Mecha, androids, Cyborg and Robots

I've grown to love Pacific Rim ever since it's on HBO. I didn't even care about the hype when it was being hyped, but now that I've seen it, I don't even know why I like it so much.

However, during said hype, mistakes where made. Mistakes regarding what a robot is and what a mecha is. So, for all those now gettin g into Geekery, this one's for you.

The word robot finds it's root in the word roboto, the polish word for slave. The word mecha comes from the latin mechanical.

A robot is an autonomous mechanical being. In fiction, at least, these usually tend to move for themselves, and act for themselves, without imput from the outside. R2d2 is a robot. So is Johny #5 and Sonny from I Robot. So are the Sentinels form the X-Men and the Transformers.

A Geth from Mass Effect is an alien robot.

Subcategories of the robot include the android, which is a robot in the general shape of a man. C3PO David from Ai  and David from Prometheus are androids.

The Robot Wall-E, while imbued with human-like personality, is not an Android.
 Gynoids, are robots shaped like women, which are somewhat rarer, and even more rare to be described as such. EVi from Mass Effect 3 is a ginoid.

Both the T-100(left) and the T-X(right) are robots, but T-1000 is an Android, while  T-X is a ginoid.

Not to be confused with Cyborgs. Cyborgs are humans with noticeable mechanical parts added to them. The Bionic Commander, Jax from Mortal Kombat and Will Smith's character in I Robot are cyborgs.

General Grievous substituted all his body parts save his heart for mechanical ones, thus becoming a cyborg. However...

Luke Skywalker lost his hand, and had it replaced with an indistinguishable replica. Luke Skywalker is a cyborg.

But a Mecha is not a robot. A Mecha is a vehicle designed  with the appendages of a quadruped. It has no will of it's own. The Jaegers from Pacific Rim are Mechas. So is the Power-loader from Aliens, the vehicles used by the Zion resistance in Matrix Revolution, and the Evas in Evangelion.
A pilot ascends into his mech in the dormant Mechassault franchise.
So, hopefully this will clear up any confusion about that before the Pacific Rim comes out. I know many are not "in the know" of Mecha, because it's a bit of a niche concept here in the west. Robot is more popular. In fact, we tend to refer to a cyborg as "having a robot arm". We need to be working on the jargon, because how are you supposed to enjoy Mecha beating up on kaiju without correcting this technicalities?
The Probe Droid is not piloted, but the Walkers are. Thus walkers are Mecha, and the Probe Droid is a robot.


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