Variable Fighters – The plausible next step in mecha mega-develepoment

With the results of the Sai Mecha semi-finals upon us, I’d like to take the time to take a look at one of of the powerhouses that dominated Sai Mecha and a well recieved mech among mecha fans, The Variable Fighters of Macross fame.

There is mecha research being made in the works, but they’re still on the infant steps and even the U.S. Army’s mecha research is more on the reconnaissance although there is rumor of attack mecha being researched, but I’m not sure…

Fighter aircrafts are one of the deadliest arsenal any faction can use during a war and these flyers can spell doom for enemies with a timely attack. Fast and deadly, seeing one in flight is a sight to behold.

When mecha fans already have Gundam, buts are still looking for more, then came visionary Shoji Kawamori and presented mecha fans with Macross with its trademark mech, the Variable Fighters.

…And the Variable Fighters were very well received by mecha fans, with some becoming hardcore fans.

What I really liked is its plausible design and innovative 3-mode system. Unlike Gundams, it is very realistic. Another thing that I really like about its is that its engine and fuel is very much similar to real life fighter aircrafts, which makes it very plausible to occur in the near future, unlike Gundams that is nuke fusion/fission engine powered that is totally very costly to make in real life.

Realistically speaking, in the far off future, the Variable Fighters may actually exist.

I’ve also said that it has 3 modes, right? Aside from its fighter form, it has Gerwalk and Battroid modes which the VF can transform into, depending the circumstances.

As a mecha fan, I’ll say that the Variable Fighters are the most realistic mecha that I’ve ever seen.

I will not be surprised if in the next many years or so, I’d actually see a real life Valkyrie taking the skies (if I ever get to see one…). Its realistic design and plausible fuel source make it the plausible next step in mecha mega-develepoment if technology is already advanced enough.

In conceiving the VF design, Shoji Kawamori is genius but VF’s are not the only things he conceived, he may have foreseen the future as well. Shoji Kawamori is a true visionary indeed.

As of now, the Variable Fighters have a huge following of fans and is still going strong. The Variable Fighters will continue to awe and delight anime and mecha fans for many more years to come.


11 thoughts on “Variable Fighters – The plausible next step in mecha mega-develepoment

  1. It’s only plausible given access to alien overtechnology and miniturized nuclear fusion reactors. And even then it’s still completely unecessary for a vf to exist in the first place because no three-mode transforming craft will ever be as good as an actual fighter, an actual helicopter/vtol craft or an actual tank, to say nothing of a dedicated legged “mecha”. The explanation given is that the humans HAD to develop a humanoid robot to combat the giant Zentraedi on equal terms, that is, hand-to-hand with infantry, but I don’t think it’s really necessary. For one thing, the Zentraedi employ their own non-humanoid or vaguely humanoid mecha (Regult, Glaug) as well as fighters and powered armor (Queadluun-Rau, Nousjadeul-Ger). Of these, none are markedly better than a vf with only the powered armors giving a good valkyrie pilot a run for his money. Why is this, I say it’s mostly to do with the fact that vfs are smaller and more maneuverable while retaining very high-powerd weaponry and energy-converting armor, which Zentraedi don’t have. This comes down to humanity’s ability to innovate and develop new technologies or improve on previously existing ones, whereas the Zentraedi can’t even perform basic maintenance on their equipment because they haven’t been engineered to innovate. They are bred just to fight. All this is to say, in a real-world sense, even given the existence of an alien super-race, a vf’s fighter mode is very plausible, it being just a smaller, more powerful F-14/F-15. Gerwalk mode is also very plausible, in that it’s basically a fighter jet with legs and arms for a wide angle of fire. Its squat stance and energy-converting armor prevent it from becoming a big target. This is my preferred real-world “real robot” design, along with spidery-tank things. The battroid mode will only work withing the context of a world in which the Zentraedi exist. Otherwise, just the transormation mechanism itself would severely impact the fighter mode’s ability to perform even the basic duties required of it due to excess weight and needless complexity. However, Macross being an anime series, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and accept that giant robots are a good idea (of course I will, I’m a mecha fan!). What has always bugged me about vfs, even though I now love them a lot, is that, even within the context of Macross being a work of fiction, either the gerwalk mode or battroid mode makes the other completely irrelevant. Either one or the other has got to go because both do the same things as the other one just in different ways. The gerwalk could exist given super technology, but the giant Zentraedi become a concern if the “goal” of the story is to give us humanoid mecha. The battroid mode could work as long as humanity will always want to wrestle with the giant humanoids, but what about the Vajra? What’s the point of having a humanoid mecha when you’re fighting space bugs? What I’m getting at is that a vf is cool because it does ridiculously implausible things like transform from a perfectly good fighter jet into two ungaingly robot modes. This does not make it a bad design, but in-universe practicality does not make it a “realistic” mecha, if what you mean by “realistic” and “plausible” is that it could be built and used effectively in our world.

    For the record, I like fighter-to-gerwalk the best. 🙂

    • For starters, humanoid mecha has been really been the bread and butter for most mecha anime, and while at first glance, it would be impractical for a transforming mecha, I think it would come to that at some point, if not then we just might as well see Tachikomas (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) running amok in the near future. While everything you say makes perfect sense, I still think that the concept of a F-15 transforming to a some sort of mecha is still in the range of plausible in the near future, even it its only fighter to gerwalk but that’s just me.

  2. We may not be able to build a thermonuclear engine small enough to be put into a jet, but i think we can use conventional turbofan engines for the engine units(thats what the VF-0 had), the only problem is the transformation system and the fuel needed(if we are not using thermonuclear engines, the VF-0 is fuel-unfriendly)

    well, the battroid mode can be used in combat in mountainous regions.

    I bet Japan will be the first to make a real VF, many smart people are there.

  3. Pingback: Tachikoma: Possibly the future of highly advanced AI | Kuro's anime ramble blog~

  4. The variable fighter combines tank, VTOL, and fighter into one. Gerwalk mode I can see has its disadvantages, which is why the batteroid mode is necessary.

    Fighter: High maneuverability and speed; used as a conventional fighter although practically will outperform most conventional fighters; cannot perform VTOL

    Gerwalk: High maneuverability and mobility for close-ground air support; cockpit is exposed leaving the pilot vulnerable to small-arms fire; high speed and mobility allows excellent strafing; cross between a tank and a fighter; allows Variable Fighter to land on nearly ANY terrain, removing the need for a runway; can be used to instantly change directions from fighter mode

    Batteroid: Thrusters in the feet along with complete leg articulation as well as humanoid design allows for maximum maneuverability; cockpit is protected within the armored chest, allowing a more direct combat role; similar to a tank but with high mobility and more firepower; can utilize buildings and terrain as cover like an infantry; used by pilots to shoot down AA missiles

    This is why all 3 modes are necessary. Now the only problem is getting the vehicle to change between all 3 forms within 3 seconds without either destroying the pilot or the machine itself. Most if not all Variable Fighters are able to freely change between forms in less than 3 seconds, the VF-0 being able to change forms within a second and the VF-25 Messiahs of Macross Frontier being able to change in even less time if I remember correctly. In addition, all 3 forms are meant to be used in tandem with one another, meaning that remaining in just one form is will not maximize the effectiveness of the Variable Fighter. However, this means that these thing will be bloody hard to pilot, leaving only a select few with the necessary talent/skill.

    The modes of the Variable Fighter do more than just fill roles, they give the pilot options. Those options create many ins and outs of combat engagements, and the moment they are able to catch the opponent off-guard will be the moment that they win.

    In addition, according to Macross Zero, the various features of each mode can be used during other modes (ex: extending the arm of the batteroid/gerwalk form to grab a falling gunpod during fighter mode)

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