Tokyobling's Blog

Maschinen Krieger 5th Expo

Posted in Stuff by tokyobling on November 26, 2009

Sunday a couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend the 5th Maschinen Krieger expo in Kamata, Tokyo. Even if you are into plastic kit modeling, miniatures and SF, chances are you have never ever heard of this particular sub-genre of SF. Maschinen Krieger or Ma.K. is probably the best kept secret in the world of SF and it all started in Japan about 20 years ago as the brainchild of master modeler and artist Kou Yokoyama. Most of the fan base is Japanese and fiercely devoted to it, but it is slowly gaining popularity outside of Japan as well. The story as fomulated by Yokoyama-sensei is set about 800 years in the future on a planet Earth torn apart by a huge war. Quite apart from usual SF there is nothing “American” or even “English” about the characters and storyline, most seems to revolve around evolved versions of Finnish and German culture which combined with the gritty heavy metal/old tech feel of the machines and war gear makes it feel really unique and fresh.

I took a few photos of some of the huge number of cool models that were exhibited on the expo, there were so many amazing works of art that I really had to pick and choose, but I’d like to show you the diorama with a machine called “Falke” by Mac and the new kit by the rather famous US kit maker, Jason: a huge exhibit showing a space suit investigating a derelict space vessel, just check out the detail and craftmanship that went into making this amazing limited edition model kit. I didn’t note the name of the artist who made the diorama in the last photo.

If you’re interested in reading more about Ma.K. I recommend starting with Linc’s amazing modeling blog site Scale120 from where you will find links to help you learn more about the Ma.K. universe. I have been trying to get him to write an introduction for non-Japanese speakers as he is one of the foremost non-Japanese experts in the field. The Ma.K. fan base is unique in the sense that almost everyone contributes in some way: by writing, making animated shorts, designing costumes, building kits and models, photography or websites. Any sub genre where the makers outnumber the consumers, is bound to be pretty cool.




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19 Responses

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  1. megafutzi said, on November 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    as a german, I always thought this fascination with german military or engineering thingies in japan is a little bit weird….

    anyway, are you planning to go to the international robot exhibtion these days?

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on November 27, 2009 at 1:09 am

      Well, 99% of the people who use “Germany” as an influence in their work or design has NO idea about the real Germany, historic or otherwise. As with all countries “adopted” by the Japanese in popular culture or litterature, they adapt the parts of the “narrative” they like, the look, the feel, the imagery. It happens to French, Americans, Africans, even Swedish. A good example being the current “Hetaria” manga series that has Taiwanese and Italians up in arms over what they consider negative images of their countries. Still, it’s just images, and the Japanese know it. I do understand (us as westerners) first reaction of surprise (and feeling of weirdness, as you mention) but it’s easiest and best to not take it personal. It’s just make believe, and the Japanese know it.

      Anyway, yes, I might go!

      Like

      • megafutzi said, on November 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

        wanna go tomorrow? =)

        Like

  2. Lincoln Wright said, on November 26, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Hi Tokyobling,

    Thank you very much both for your excellent report and for visiting the Showcase, very good to see you again and as expected, fantastic quality photos!

    I promise to write up more of an introduction in English for you too.

    Yes, that last little dio is quite good and it’s by a chap here whom goes by the name “SRod”.

    Thanks again and talk soon,

    Lin.K

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on November 27, 2009 at 1:10 am

      Lin.K., thanks for the comment (I believe it is your first on this blog). Good to hear your confirmation about the last dio by SRod. I’d link to his site if I knew where to find it. Looking forward to that intro! (^-^)

      Like

      • Lincoln Wright said, on November 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm

        Hi Tokyobling,

        Yes, I am not allowed out of my cage often and when I am surfing around, don’t want to make a nuisance of myself

        Found S.Rod-san’s blog here, must exchange links with him too. Really nice write up of the show. ^^

        http://hotskinsarts.blog76.fc2.com/

        Lin.K

        Like

  3. pk1154 said, on November 26, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Ah, so Ma.K. may be a source of inspiration for some of the designs and concepts I’ve seen in some of the anime I’ve watched recently.

    As to the German influence, I it was mentioned in my Japanese Culture class that during the Meiji era, the modernization efforts involved many Germans/Prussians, particularly in regard to the military but also in government, law and technology.

    So the “German thing” in Japan has historic roots (and left loan-words behind).

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on November 27, 2009 at 1:19 am

      Hi! Yes, Ma.K. is a huge inspiration for any number of manga and anime series right now, both in Japan and outside (I won’t mention which ones but we all know who they are… haha…) but one them being Last Exile, one of my favorites. It also ties in a little bit with the Steampunk movement in the US (even though Ma.K. predates it and is much harder and less “optimistic” in outlook). I think one of the reasons it is so influential is because it takes a familiar concept (mecha, future war, machines etc) and puts it into a sort of retro, down to earth “rusty” setting without any of the gung-ho heroism of popular US and UK SF series. This is much more like the 1940’s, ordinary people forced into a war situation with much more mud, boredom, stale coffee and toolboxes rather than explosions, lasers, heroes and magical machinery. Perhaps we should invent a new genre name for it? Mudmecha? Mechapunk? Retromecha? But I guess we only need to call it Ma.K.-punk.

      And yes, Japan had very close relations with Prussia, England and France during the Meiji era. The Emperor in his haste to modernize Japan sent fact finders to all parts of Europe and different areas of Japanese society adopted different parts of European customs. For example, the Navy were heavily influenced by the English, the Army was influenced by the French, the ministry of Education was influenced by the Prussians etc. One remnant of this today is that Japanese school children still wear 1880’s era Prussian Navy Cadet uniforms (sailor suits for girls and gakuran for boys).

      Like

      • pk1154 said, on November 27, 2009 at 2:22 pm

        Ah yes, just finished watching Last Exile myself.

        Poor Dio… (*sigh*)

        Like

        • tokyobling said, on November 30, 2009 at 1:15 am

          Oh you did? I had no idea anyone outside Japan watched that. It’s rather old. I saw it on TV and loved the vehicles!

          Like

          • pk1154 said, on November 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm

            Behind the times I am, even for many American anime fans. But that’s because I generally don’t cheat. (There are a lot of fans who watch current shows via pirated fan-subs.)

            I typically view shows on DVDs from the local library, or DVD sets that I buy new or used.

            Like

          • tokyobling said, on December 1, 2009 at 12:33 am

            I think we can assume that we are both of the age where we’d rather wait for proper quality issue dvds than mindlessly hunting the intrawebs for the latest YouTube-low-res-fan-sub quick fix (^-^) I have never seen a subtitled anime show though, must be strange. But subtitles are much better than dubbing. Strangely enough, I have a friend in Tokyo who is very active in the fan-subbing community, the only thing is that she is a 32 year old exotic dancer! I’m lucky to know so many interesting people over here.

            Like

          • pk1154 said, on December 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm

            Oh, you can most certainly obtain pirated shows in full HD with quite well done subtitling. I try to abide by certain ethics when it comes to that…

            And yes, subtitles are better than dubbing. Even with my very limited Japanese, I ‘get’ more of the original flavor. Levels of politeness, how characters refer to each other, the poignancy of simple, every-day sayings…doesn’t come through in dubs. Even for programs with good English dubs (which I can follow on cable TV), I usually make a point of watching at least some episodes in Japanese, just to understand how the characters address each other or refer to themselves.

            Like

          • tokyobling said, on December 8, 2009 at 12:19 am

            Right you are! With dubbing you get a false impression of “closeness”, culturally. There is such a vast difference between the Japanese mindset and the Western, even subtitles hardly come near to convey it. Hope you can come over and visit some day!

            Like

  4. Alex said, on November 27, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Hello
    Maybe you know a schedule for 2010 event? I’m planning my trip now and wonder if it’s time to visit something other than usual WonderFestival

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on November 30, 2009 at 1:13 am

      Hi Alex! I like your blog! Have to study more Russian though. For scheduling, please keep an eye on Lin.K’s Scale 120 site. He is usually pretty quick on Ma.K. events. Hope to see you on the 2010 WonderFestival!

      Like

  5. Lisa E. said, on November 28, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Great photos! Thanks for the link! 🙂

    Like

  6. Lincoln Wright said, on December 8, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I haven’t seen much dubbed work but can only imagine that it would become “inventive”. The subtitling here for western media is very subjective, it might be because there is only one little old lady doing it. Sounds like a joke, but it’s true!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on December 8, 2009 at 3:32 am

      It is “inventive”, I have done some translations of manga myself and for about half the material you just have to invent something that sounds good in your native language. The originial Japanese is many times absolutely untranslatable or nonsensical when translated straight out. Did you see the subtitled Lord of the Rings movie (the first one)? That was a such a travesty I felt sorry for the Japanese movie-goers. Likewise, early Mishima or Tanizaki translations (into English) are absolutely amazing, whereas modern Japanese literature (Yoshimoto, Murakami etc) are so badly done I don’t even want to try reading them anymore.

      Like


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