Anime Trending had the pleasure of interviewing the agricultural machinery company Yanmar about its upcoming anime project titled Miru, which was spotlighted at Anime Expo 2023. Miru will feature the relationship between a young girl and a robot as they reconcile the differences between the environment and machinery.
Yanmar is known for being an agricultural equipment and marine engine manufacturer. Anime is very far removed from those industries. What led to the decision to have anime be the medium to promote the message of confrontation and harmony between humans and nature?
Yanmar: One of the reasons is that we’re a very unknown company. We don’t have any way to connect to regular customers. Our customers are so specific and professional, they’re very difficult to reach. We can give them a specific message as professionals, but not a general message. Anime is now very popular and it’s growing, that’s one of the reasons. Anime is also based on Japanese culture, and we’re a very Japanese business. If they have a comprehensive understanding of the general culture, it becomes easy to communicate. Anime is easy to picture, to show that future and to show that vision in a very tangible way. It’s got sound, movement, and the pictures make it very easy to capture. It makes it very easy to communicate an abstract idea or goal. Anime is the best media to communicate with.
The robot’s design was done by the in-house design department. Did Yanmar’s products influence the end result of the design at all? How much of it is directly influenced by Yanmar’s products?
We wanted to realize a more peaceful, sustainable, and nicer future. That’s why we’re making all sorts of tools and services. We wanted it to have all tools, not weapons. We don’t make weapons — we make all sorts of devices for that peaceful future. We wanted to make the robot have a different way of fighting. It’s too easy to fight with missiles and weapons, but it makes a big mess for the whole environment. It’s not our future. It [the tools] reflects the image of our company. It’s a part of our policy for our designs, the tools need to be soft and approachable to humans but hard to the object.
The robot statue is very impressive to look at. What materials were used to construct it, and how did it get all put together?
We started with thinking about the story. The finish of the surface is completely different from any other product. It has kind of a textured finish, it’s very original. We wanted to express a new type of machine. It’s not normal titanium or anything — it’s got a very hard metal look. Our corporate color is red. Originally, the tool area and all the excavators were painted in red, but the company said, “It’s too Yanmar.” It looked too much like our current products. We struggled a little with the finished product. We wanted to let people imagine the future instead. That’s what we wanted to focus on. We wanted the resin to look like metal, and we had the vendor put a weathering texture on it.
If you got to design your own personal robot, what would it be like?
That’s a fun question. We would try to avoid hard material — it may be soft and inflatable with skin, not an “on the road” type. More like a human or creature, that type of thing. A hard robot is more for fighting. We’d want a humanoid robot. When we were designers, we had the same philosophy: we wanted to make soft cars to help save pedestrians.
Learn more about Miru at: https://www.miru-anime.com/en