In the classic Japanese anime Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the heroine Nausicaä flies a glider called a "Mehve". The anime might be a work of fiction, but the glider isn't. Not any more.
Since 2003, Kazuhiko Hachiya has been working on a real-world Mehve—an actual single seat glider just like in Nausicaä.
Back in the late 1990s, Hachiya created an email software called "PostPet", which became popular in Japan. Hachiya now makes toys and media art that are the stuff of dreams. This is a guy who once made a jet-powered skateboard that floated like a hoverboard—and accidentally caught on fire. The glider is another way Hachiya is bringing fantasy into reality.
"This project is using the fictional Mehve that appears in Hayao Miyazaki's manga and anime Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind as a reference point," says the project's website, "and seeing about prototyping and testing it as an aircraft that can truly fly." Above, you can see the first prototype.
The goal is to create an aircraft able to fly with a pilot as a "personal jet glider".
The project is called "Open Sky", and it began with paper planes, a radio-controlled mock-up, and hang glider lessons. That progressed to working prototypes and test after test.
Now, a decade later, the project is in its third iteration: a jet engine-powered one-person glider. Starting July 13 and ending September 16, 3331 Arts Chiyoda in Tokyo is holding a new exhibition for the latest Open Sky glider. Visitors can see a documentary of the jet engine powered real-world Mehve take to the sky, with Hachiya as the test pilot.
This isn't just art or only engineering. It's pure magic.
To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.