Old(ish) story so apologies if you have seen it before but found it while looking for something else.Nerds get to grips with odd art of paper robot wrestling
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo
When Tomohiro Yasui was a boy, he enjoyed making little figurines fight. Two decades on, people pay to watch him do it.
His paper robot wrestling is now not just a marketing success, it is also a spectator sport, the latest manifestation of the bizarre culture of "otaku," a term best rendered in English as "nerd".
Kami-Robo bouts are controlled by inventor Tomohiro Yasui
Kourakuen Hall, Tokyo's "holy ground of wrestling", played host last month to a crowd of 500 enthusiastic fans, thrilling to the spectacle of his figurines fighting it out.
The Kami-Robo, as they are called in Japanese, are a mere 5-6in high. So the bouts, with their dramatic throws and collisions, were relayed on to a big screen and a professional announcer provided live commentary. More action can be seen on DVD and there are plans to introduce the Kami-Robo to America and Britain.
The term "otaku", to describe men with solitary obsessions unsuitable for their age, used to be an insult. But spectacles such as the Kami-Robo show how the otaku is today not only acceptable but mainstream.
Mr Yasui began making his robot figures as an 11-year-old. Now, aged 33 and, perhaps surprisingly, married, he has created some 200 wrestling characters, each with a name, personality and fighting style.
Among his heroes is Night Cobra, "a skilled wrestler and an ideal leader, possessing the ability to push his disciples to the limit without demoralising them". More feared than loved is Blood Lee, a vicious fighter who takes part in death matches.
The decision to take Mr Yasui's private world public was made at the urging of a colleague three years ago.
"At first, I was really worried about the reaction," he said. "I was incredibly embarrassed that people would see this game that I started as a child just for myself. But that changed when I realised that people understood and enjoyed it."
Mr Yasui's robots are flexible and, in his experienced hands, their movements resemble the way human wrestlers grapple and fall. However, some sceptics have wondered whether Kami-Robo is a fix. Mr Yasui is not saying. But he likes to keep an element of suspense about the sport.
"I usually have an idea of who will win before I begin the fight," Mr Yasui said. "But wrestling is most interesting when something unexpected happens."ORIGINAL TELEGRAPH ARTICLE WITH PICS
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