D-ken "Popularity of Japanese Anime in South East Asia affects Bike Design"
"The Unnecessary, if considered as Flexibility, becomes Indispensable Design"

GROM

GROM

Izubuchi:
With this bike, it’s the headlights. The first thing you look at is the headlights, with its unique beveling. Lights are functional components, but with bikes, we see them as eyes. They should shine. With robots, if the eyes are cameras they shouldn’t shine, but that’s what makes them seem alive.
Nishimoto:
Recent developments in materials and processing technology give us the freedom to design these lights, but we put emphasis on the bike’s expression and impression when switched on.
Izubuchi:
This line, it looks like the designer was from the “Gun-pla” generation[1]. But this was designed in Thailand?
Nishimoto:
This is a collaboration between local and Japanese designers at the R&D Center in Bangkok. Not many people know this, but Japanese Anime is very popular in South East Asia. That may be why the Anime aspects which Japanese designers would avoid are apparent, especially in Thailand which is a vibrant motorcycle market.
Izubuchi:
Very colorful. And the design also gives a bright impression. This would look great in Thailand’s cities.

ZOOMER-X

ZOOMER-X

Izubuchi:
Where was this designed?
Nishimoto:
The ZOOMER-X was designed in Thailand. It looks even more Anime-ish than the GROM.
Izubuchi:
I would say more “Gundam[2]”-ish. The surfacing and overlapping is really robot-like. The strong presence of the logo adds to the robot-feel.
Nishimoto:
The seat opens very wide. This gimmick is a nice touch, isn’t it?
Izubuchi:
Yes, I agree. In animation we’d call it a set image. It’s very Hajime Katoki[3] to me. Is this a required feature in Thailand?
Nishimoto:
As I said, the influence of Japanese Anime culture has a larger influences in South East Asia than we Japanese think. Maybe we Japanese least know of this fact. South East Asia absorbs various cultures rapidly, so what is designed in South East Asia is not much different from what products are designed in Japan. In fact, South East Asia is more powerful than Japan now. Ten years ago the Japanese market would not accept a bike designed in Thailand, but now?
Izubuchi:
So our Anime work is contributing to Thai bike design?
Nishimoto:
Very much so.

Sh mode

Sh mode

Izubuchi:
This is different. This isn’t Thai, right?
Nishimoto:
The main market is Vietnam. The SH series was originally European, sold in Europe and Japan, and in Vietnam as a high-quality brand.
Izubuchi:
Do national characteristics have an effect?
Nishimoto:
Very much so.
Izubuchi:
Vietnam was once a French colony, and some aspects feel European. The ladies’ ao dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) is very classy, and seems very different to Thailand.
Nishimoto:
Culture changes with its history and climate, so it’s difficult to consider South East Asia as a uniform region.
Izubuchi:
But the rear looks like a HY-GOGG[4].
Nishimoto:
A Zeon[5] design? It was really strange, but I liked it!
Izubuchi:
The design consists of smooth lines, but something seems out of place. Zeon designs appealed to the aficionado. Or shouldn’t I say that?
Nishimoto:
I never thought anyone would see a high-grade scooter in that light. It’s a new discovery!

CROSS CUB

CROSS CUB

Nishimoto:
This doesn’t seem Anime-ish, does it? This model is made in China for the Japanese market.
Izubuchi:
This is a Cub, no matter how you look at it. It has the Super Cub’s extremely functional framework, with components that give hints to the future. Yes, this is the future Cub.
Nishimoto:
I think the feel of utility gives it the Cub identity.
Izubuchi:
I’d call it playfulness. When creating a world in animation, this sort of playfulness is essential for props. It may seem unnecessary, but if you consider it as flexibility, it becomes essential. These components on the Cub, for example, are unnecessary if viewed as “ornaments,” but viewed as functional in creating the Cub’s character, then they become a requirement.
Nishimoto:
Don’t tell anyone, but I think the existence of bikes are in some aspects, sort of unnecessary.
Izubuchi:
Then again, culture is the culmination of the unnecessary. Not everything is made up of function and convenience. The human heart is enriched by subliming the unnecessary into the necessary. That’s an important aspect of our work.

Notes:

[1] ^ “Gun-pla” generation

“Gun-pla,” short for Gundam plastic models from the television animation series ”Mobile Suit Gundam,” were a huge success in supporting the popularity of Anime to a whole generation, called the “Gun-pla” generation.

[2] ^ Gundam

”Mobile Suit Gundam,” a wildly popular television Sci-fi Anime series aired from 1979, rivaled only by Space Battleship Yamato. The pioneer in robots being used as mobile suit weapons.

[3] ^ Hajime Katoki

Japanese mechanical designer, famous for his work in Anime, game and toy design. Contributed to numerous “Gundam” series, including “Mobile Suit Gundam UC,” now in production. His designs reminiscent of industrial products add reality to unreal worlds.

[4] ^ HY-GOGG

Imaginary weapon appearing in “Mobile Suit Gundam” and “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ.” Enhanced mobility, based on the Principality of Zeon’s amphibious MS-GOGG.

[5] ^ Zeon

The Principality of Zeon is an imaginary nation depicted in “Mobile Suit Gundam” as the enemy state of the Union A.F. (Union Allied Forces, protectors of Earth.)

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