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Bizarre characters from the world of Osamu Tezuka brought to life in robotic form and perform in theatrical production
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Bizarre characters from the world of Osamu Tezuka brought to life in robotic form and perform in theatrical production

Thu, Mar 10, 2016
Bizarre characters from the world of Osamu Tezuka brought to life in robotic form and perform in theatrical production
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From February 26-28, the Human Art Theater (HAT) performed the third installment of its “Fusion of Comics & Theater” that focuses on the works of iconic manga artist Osamu Tezuka. Appearing in the performance were robots playing the role of Spider and Hyoutan-Tsugi, both of whom are gag characters that made numerous appearances in Tezuka’s works. Waseda University’s Takanishi Laboratory (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and Hashimoto Laboratory (Institute for Advanced Study) lent their support to the production.

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Members involved in the robots’ development. Pictured center is Kenji Hashimoto. To the left are two Spider robots and to the right is the Hyoutan-Tsugi robot.

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Osamu Tezuka’s bizarre characters Spider and Hyoutan-Tsugi

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Spider and Hyoutan-Tsugi are gag characters that defy explanation. Inspired by the mischievous drawings of Tezuka’s siblings, the bizarre creatures appear out of the blue in Tezuka’s manga and provide comic relief during serious situations. Their robot counterparts successfully fulfilled this role in the Human Art Theater’s production.

The Takanishi and Hashimoto Laboratories also successfully recreated “The Human Sore” from the manga “Black Jack” by fusing robotics with special makeup techniques.

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Last year, the Waseda laboratories developed the “Pinoko” robot, which debuted in the Human Art Theater’s first installment of its “Fusion of Comics & Theater.” Commenting about the team’s experience developing the robots for the most recent installment, Professor Kenji Hashimoto said, “Preparations began in August of last year. We developed the robot over a period of around half a year as part of a class with third year undergraduate and first year master’s students. We were able to manipulate the robot using a wireless video game controller. During the fourth performance, one of the Spider robots began acting strange. However, we were able to get through it thanks to adlibs from the talented performers.”


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