July 06, 2007

Do androids eat electric sheep?

Author asks why the liquid-metal android in Figure 17 eats food. Actually, it's the norm in anime for androids to consume food, even if it makes no sense. All the androids in Hand Maid May eat, for instance, and Mahoro loves food. Chobits is one of the few series to get it right; Chi doesn't eat and doesn't have a sense of taste either, which is why she has to rely on the landlady to learn how to cook for Hibiki.

The idea of androids eating never made much sense. In the case of HMM, the excuse is that they were designed to be good companions for their human masters, and taking meals together is part of that.

But the real reason was so that the other androids could complain about May's uninspired cooking, so that Mami could take over and do really well, leaving May feeling inadequate. (Sob)

By the way, Commander Data also has the ability to eat, and for him too it was included in his design for social reasons. He has a hatch on his chest that can be opened, and food he consumes collects in a bag inside which can be removed and discarded when he's alone.

DBZ's Android 18 is an interesting case. She's a cyborg. Dr. Gero kidnapped a pair of fraternal twins and modified them heavily, a process which included adding an eternal power source. "Eternal" is a relative term; it's possible it's good for a hundred years, but we really don't know.

What we do know is that Android 18 never gets tired. It's one of her biggest advantages in combat against a flesh-and-blood. If she's fighting someone stronger than her, all she has to do is maintain stalemate until her opponent gets weary, and then beat the crap out of them. Even if it takes a week of 24-hour days, she can do it.

Dr. Gero designed her to hunt down and kill Goku, and he gave her a power source that would last long enough to make sure she could do it. Anything beyond that wasn't important. The only thing we know for sure is that it lasts 20 years in at least one timeline, and there's no indication that she was beginning to run down. (That version of 18 never got the chance; Trunks killed her.)

There's no indication that she ever eats or sleeps, either. Presumably it's necessary for her to consume at least a little bit of food, in order to properly maintain muscle and skin, but she doesn't use food for energy and she is never shown eating in the series. (One would presume that she did have to eat quite a lot during her pregnancy, of course.)

Of course, physics in that realm is different. Piccolo never eats either, so perhaps 18 doesn't need to on an ongoing basis. And Piccolo can regenerate lost body parts, with mass coming from no-where obvious, so maybe 18 didn't need to eat during her pregnancy. (Sometimes DBZ makes my head hurt.)

Moving right along, Lila in Najica Blitz Tactics doesn't eat on a regular basis, but she can do so socially. When the two of them are at home, Lila cooks for Najica but doesn't eat herself. When they're out in public, Lila does eat (e.g. ice cream, in the second episode).

Instead, Lila and the other humaritts have to soak in a special solution on a regular basis. That seems to perform several functions, and one of those may well be to recharge their power source. It's interesting that when Lila is doing that, she also submerges her head. Apparently she doesn't need to breathe, either. Which makes sense if her power isn't coming from combustion of carbon.

Anyway, I would say that the vast majority of androids in anime do eat. No, it doesn't really make sense -- but that's how it goes.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 10:30 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 653 words, total size 4 kb.

1 Hungry robots...well, they could be meat-eating robots...or, perhaps they have a very capable and sophisticated "digestive system" that lets them break down the food into the atomic materials they need for repair and maintenance.  The food might also feed any necessary "semi-organic" parts like what grows hair, boobs, "girl bits"(ahem), etc, etc...

After all, when you boil it down to the essentials, one carbon atom is pretty much like any other carbon atom, regardless of if it came from a diamond or some chocolate or Ebola.  This also explains some weird food-eating habits of some characters, tho I don't think anybody could ever explain some characters food choices, except via drugs.

Posted by: Jonathan Souza at July 07, 2007 01:15 AM (yWPgT)


They must use every molecule of that food.  Although I've seen anime androids that eat, drink, fornicate and procreate, I've never seen one that needed to do that other important biological function.  No, I'm not talking about respiration.

(On the other hand, I wasn't looking that hard.  Hell, there probably a genre for it.  //shudder//)

Posted by: jdhays at July 07, 2007 04:06 AM (ZwtRK)

3 I seem to recall an episode of ST:TNG (The Naked Now) where Data caught a disease that was spreading through the crew after doing the nasty with Tasha Yar. Data himself explained it by saying nearly all his artificial bodily structures were functionally identical to human ones... "If you prick me, do I not leak?" Of course, he was under the influence of the virus for no reason other than to serve the "Data gets laid" storyline, and he got cut open lots of times after that without spilling a drop of anything even remotely liquid. So it only proves the writers didn't give a flip about continuity. Still, I don't see why androids couldn't get energy from the same ADP/ATP reactions humans do, though they would probably have to give up on energy-consuming powers like being faster than a speeding bullet, etc. etc.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at July 07, 2007 08:21 PM (j8zCH)

4 Sheesh... one internet hookup lets me view the page properly, but strips all the paragraph breaks from my comments. The orher doesn't mess up my comments, but shows the contents of all the hidden parts of the page.

Testing a workaround...

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at July 07, 2007 08:27 PM (j8zCH)

5 Looks like the <br> tags worked. I may not have a computer, but at least I can turn my Nokia and Nintendo into semi-decent approximations of one. Though I still need a printer and scanner.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at July 07, 2007 08:33 PM (j8zCH)

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