Getting the mix right - manga style

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Nargess Shahmanesh-Banks finds Nissan turning to the art of Japan's comic-book heroes to give the Mixim concept an edge

Yoo Eunsun is very hip and very young. She's Korean, lives in Japan and speaks perfect English. It was her interior-design concept that won Nissan's in-house Mixim competition. And it is her (or, rather, her generation's) fingerprints that are smeared all over the car.

Nissan's latest concept car to come from the Tokyo-based exploratory design studio was officially unveiled at this week's Frankfurt Motor Show. It was created by a design team with an average age of just 25.

"I am influenced by Japanese animation, like the film Ghost in the Shell," says Eunsun, her eyes widening as I explain that I have no idea what she is referring to. She thinks I'm joking as she continues to explain that the car is conceptually rooted in computer games, and visually influenced by manga comics, anime (Japanese animation) and Second Life.

Second Life? The strange world where you create an alter ego, and live an alternative existence? "I haven't joined yet, but everyone in Japan is part of it," she enthuses. It seems Second Life has even entered the world of comic books.

The Mixim is a car aimed at the next generation of drivers. Through extensive research, speaking with and observing teenagers in Europe, the United States, Japan and even China, Nissan has come to the conclusion that the driving generation to come has no interest in engine size, driving dynamics or speed, but is looking for an alternative to the conventional notion of the car. Most crucially, they are a truly global lot, with a common vocabulary.

François Bancon, general manager at the advanced studio, and the brains behind the Mixim concept, explains that the car has all the right ingredients to excite the next generation of drivers.

"The young of today have a different sense of reality," he says. "They are no longer so interested in products, but in experiences. They interface with the world through the computer," he says. "This is a digital-era car."

The Mixim also brings to the table new principles of how to design environmentally friendly cars. Powered by a motor/generator using Nissan's new compact lithium-ion batteries, the car has 4x4 capabilities, thanks to one motor driving the front axle and another the rear.

The car is compact (3.7m long, 1.8m wide and 1.4m high), light at 950kg, will run for 155 miles (250km) before needing to be recharged, and can accelerate up to a respectable 112mph (180km/h).

But more importantly, since this is purely a conceptual exercise, the Mixim challenges the conventional anti-car electric vehicle (EV) design language (think the awkwardly designed G-Wiz). Instead, the coupé-type car has been aggressively designed, even sporting suicide doors.

"We didn't want to produce another cuddly EV, but a concept with genuine character that just happens to be battery-powered," says Masato Inoue, the chief designer.

He explains that elements such as the head and tail lamps are derived purely from Nissan's design language, but that the "non-defined wavy surfaces are a metaphor for free thinking and are the antithe-sis of conventional machine appearance."

The Mixim wants to make a statement against machines. The lights have been designed not to look mechanical. Even the name is a derivative of the initial concept codename, "remix against the machine".

It is with the interior, however, that the designers seem to have had all the fun. Step inside the car and all appears blatantly futuristic.

Eunsun explains that today's youth see no boundaries between the virtual and the real worlds. In the Mixim, the centre-positioned driver seat is inspired by Formula 1 and computer games, as is the steering wheel and the control panels. Eunsun says it is easier to control the car this way. "With the driver being in the centre, he is in command of the car," she says. "You also feel like you're in your own world."

Eight hidden cameras protect the Mixim and allow the driver and passenger to see the world around them. There is a horizontal split screen with a virtual display of the road ahead that sits directly underneath the windscreen the play on reality.

"The inspiration for Mixim's design development was '99 per cent evil, 1 per cent cute'. This mini-monster theme was developed from a spectrum of Japanese computer-game animations," says Inoue.

Bancon explains that this kind of vocabulary has no national barriers any more. "Anime, video games, manga, all of this somehow creates a kind of generational background which is shared all over the world.

"It may have originated from Japan, but it's now part of, say, any French kid's culture. They probably don't even know where it came from originally. It's now a global vocabulary," he says.

He later explains that Ghost in the Shell was the first anime to be made with a global market in mind using an international team. In fact, this is the direction Nissan is moving in. "We are going to make concepts with a global vision," he says.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

    £125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

    Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy