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Robotics professor’s new book examines science behind superheroes #SaturdayMorningCartoons

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Robotics professor’s new book examines science behind superheroes. by Kenji Miyazaki via ashi.com

FUKUOKA–In the world of comic books, Batman may be able to soar through the night sky with the help of his batwing cape, but he couldn’t land. That’s a scientific fact, according to a recent book written by a professor of robotics engineering at the Fukuoka Institute of Technology.

Hitoshi Kino’s “Batman wa Toberuga Chakuchi Dekinai” (Batman can glide, but he can’t land) was published in April by Saizusha Corp. The book assesses the science and physics behind superheroes such as Batman, Kamen Rider and Saint Seiya.

Born in Iwata, Shizuoka Prefecture, Kino grew up watching TV shows such as “Mobile Suit Gundam,” a popular giant robot sci-fi anime. He knew what he wanted to do with his life when he came across a humanoid robot at Expo ’85, an international scientific expo held in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Kino became a lecturer on robotics at the Fukuoka Institute of Technology in 2001 and a professor in 2011. He never forgets to mention anime and live-action superhero shows in his lectures, whenever he has the opportunity.

“Batman wa Toberuga Chakuchi Dekinai” was inspired by an earlier work in which Kino was a contributor. He had analyzed the science behind anime robots such as Mazinger Z and Gundam in “Ano Super Robot wa Do Ugoku” (How do those super robots move), a book on robotic control written by several authors four years ago.

Kino’s newest book is divided into 12 chapters. The material gets increasingly complicated as the analysis and observations progress further, but Kino’s concise expressions and sense of humor make for a fun read.

“(The book is) a combination of academics and trivia,” Kino says.

In the chapter on Kamen Rider, Kino assess the difference in the damage caused by a standard “Rider Kick” and the more powerful “Rider Manji Kick” that uses a gyrating motion before delivering the powerful kick. Kino presumes that many superheroes use gyrations in their signature moves because of the power unleashed by the tightly coiled movements.

He also aerodynamically analyzes the movement in which Batman’s cape allows him to glide and explains how Char’s Zaku, a predominant enemy robot in “Mobile Suit Gundam,” can move so fast with the law of action-reaction.

“Rather than saying ‘That’s not possible,’ I wanted to write with a perspective saying, ‘They must be utilizing this sort of scientific phenomenon,’ ” Kino says. “I hope the readers can find science closer to them than before by reading this book.”

“Batman wa Toberuga Chakuchi Dekinai” sells for 1,296 yen ($12), including tax.

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