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Category Archives: Robotics;Notes

Robotics;Notes – Episode 2: It Hurts To Watch

There were three main plot threads running through the second episode of Robotics;Notes.  All of them were painful to me on a personal level.

The first plot thread was the two members of the Robotics Club trying to get a hobby robot that they had stashed away in a closet to work so that they could win an upcoming robotics competition and save their club.  The thing didn’t work, it needed new batteries, a new gyro, various stuff, and they had to somehow convince the crotchety old robot repair shop owner to give them the parts they needed.

A dystopian future where Japan no longer provides its citizens with universal dental insurance.

Watching them working on the robot called up some unpleasant memories for me.  In my past life, I was an electrical engineering student. I remember things like trying to figure out what parts we need, trying to figure out how to afford them, trying to figure out if the reason our thing isn’t working is because the battery is dead or what.  These petty physical encumbrances got to be too much for me to handle, and I fled to the realm of computer programming, where there was nothing standing between my design and the product.  Where I could just pull products out of the aether, and not have to haggle with an old man over $50 for some “gyro” part that works based on the theory of conservation of angular momentum which I never really understood anyway and he’s probably just making up conservation laws to try to rip me off.  So I sort of just want to yell at the Robotics Club to stop trying to build a giant robot and instead try to build an artificial intelligence.  You don’t have to deal with parts procurement and your end result is more useful/likely to destroy the world.

The second plot thread was, once they had a working robot, they had to try to learn how to operate it so that they could use it to win an upcoming robotics competition and save their club.

Maybe if you had written an AI like I told you to, you could have it handle the controls.

People told them it was a crazy plan, to try to learn how to operate the robot well enough to win a tournament in a single week.  And it was a crazy plan!  Surely it would not work, except for the dubious plot magic that’s going to let the male lead remap the robot’s controls to his favorite fighting game’s control scheme and transfer his skills over that way.  (This is a plan that Would Not Work In Real Life, of course.  Or at the very least you’d need some wizardly computer programming going on behind the scenes, that would be harder than just learning the control scheme in the first place, and would be halfway to building an AI.) But the female lead is not going to admit she can’t do it.  She’s going to struggle and struggle until she burns herself out, because what’s the alternative?  Give up? Let the club die?  Admit there’s a thing that she just can’t do?  It’s not like it’s even impossible, after all, her sister did it.  To watch her want and need so badly to succeed, and then to drop the robot on its ass over and over again was a little heartbreaking.

The third thread was the male lead taking care of the female lead.  I guess she has “Elephant Mouse Syndrome”, where she occasionally collapses and is unable to process sensory information at real-time rates.  This recontextualizes some of their previous interactions; rather than him hanging around just to get yelled at for playing videogames all the time, he’s hanging around because he feels responsible somehow for her, for some unexplained reason.  I dunno that that’s actually better, though.  Boring people are still boring, no matter how deep and painful the reason is for their boringness.

I still don’t care about any of the characters.  They introduced a couple new characters this episode, but they didn’t make me care about them, so so much for that.  I don’t care about the plot – if anything, I’m rooting for them to fail, I want the Robotics Club disbanded so they can go be computer programmers like proper upright citizens.  Pain is a nice change from boredom, I guess, but it doesn’t make me want to keep watching the show.  So I won’t.