The 1970s was an important decade for the development of Japanese pop-cultural icons. Kindergarten children back then would likely have been introduced to the characters Doraemon (1969), Anpanman (1973) and Hello Kitty (1974). A few years into elementary school, they probably would have enjoyed “Kamen Rider” (1971), and finally — just upon entering middle school — their imaginations would have been sparked by a slightly more ominous world of science fiction, characterized by giant robots and slick weaponry.

Of the giant robot genre, “Mobile Suit Gundam” (1979) remains the most vivid in public memory. The animated series, spinoffs of which are still being produced today, revolves around massive human-controlled machines, called “mobile suits” or “mecha” in Japanese, which fight one another in space. Central to creating the series’ aesthetic is “mechanical designer” Kunio Okawara, whose work is currently on display at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.

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