Though Japan is well known for its abundance of large-eyed anime girls and unique otaku culture, the country is also world-renowned for its technology sector. One of Japan’s most active technology organizations is, of course, JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which has sent numerous satellites and probes into the heavens. However, aside from a promotional video released last year, we have to admit that the thought of combining space and anything from otaku culture, like moe maids, never even crossed our minds.
Fortunately, there are people out there a bit more creativity than us! We were recently contacted by a reader who wanted to share his unique figure collection with RocketNews24. While there are many folks around the world who collect maid figures, we’ve never see anyone who could describe their collection with these two little words: “Space maids!
While the future of maids in Japanese culture might to be a bit murky right now, there’s no denying that they’re still incredibly popular both in their home country and abroad. But are they also popular…in outer space? Well, if Dr. Morris Jones, who has a BSc degree in physics and a PhD in journalism, has anything to say about it, absolutely!
Morris, being the smart, handsome, and awesome guy he is, recently emailed RocketNews24 to let us know that he’s developed a rather impressive collection of moe maid figures. While that’s pretty cool on its own, he took things a step further and combined the figures with his other passion: Space! That’s right, in addition to being a dedicated moe figure collector, Morris is a space analyst, which means it’s his job to write and talk about space news, including “anything from meteorites falling to Earth to China’s Moon missions,” he told us via email. Which might just be one of the coolest jobs in the world!
We were impressed by his collection, and wondered how he got started combining maids and spacecraft. Morris wrote that he has “collected models of anime figures and spacecraft for years. This also includes a collection of maid café figures. I was partially inspired by the ‘moe anthropomorphism’ fad that created the OS-tans and other weird combinations.” In case you haven’t heard of OS-tans before, they’re basically anthropomorphized mascots of various computer operating systems.
But just how do you combine moe maids and space? Well, like this! Here is Explorer 1, the USA’s first satellite, and a maid. The pair are roughly to scale, though the satellite should be a bit smaller, relative to the maid.
And here’s a maid posing with the Long March 2C, “an expendable launch system operated by” China. The actual rocket is 39.925 meters (130 feet) tall, so the scale might be slightly off, we think.
Next we have a maid bringing us a fresh order of Lunar Prospector, “[which] was a NASA probe that detected evidence of water in the Moon’s polar regions,” as Morris explained.
This maid is carrying a model of Saturn 5, which was actually 110.6 meters (363.0 feet) tall in real life. But it somehow looks much cuter piggy-backing on a maid, doesn’t it?
“The H2A is a Japanese rocket, and I thought the maids should all gather to see it,” Morris told us. We have to admit, this looks as if it could be a scene out of an anime about maids fighting space aliens! Or maybe delivering drinks to the moon?
Here is a maid posing with a Soyuz. Obviously, this isn’t to scale, since, as Morris pointed out, “the Soyuz is Russia’s crew-carrying spacecraft, and the only spacecraft that presently carries crews to the International Space Station.” We bet the crew would enjoy the trip more if they had a few maids to help them feel at home!
Of course, this collection wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. Sputnik was only 58 cm (22.8 inches) in diameter, so it’s not quite to scale with the maid, but it would certainly have been small enough for her to carry–except that it weighed 83.6 kilograms (183.9 pounds)! That’s a little bit more than your average tray of drinks and ice-cream, isn’t it?
Here are a few maids gather to watch a lift off! This is the Saturn 5 rocket, which according to Morris was the vehicle for the Apollo program. The rockets were launched from John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida and hold many records for both rocket size and its payload. Just think of all the rice omelets they could carry!
Here are some maids carrying US Space Shuttle and Apollo spacecraft. While both of the spacecraft are now retired, we will never forget them for all the work they did taking us out of the atmosphere. And don’t they look adorable in the hands of a pair of maids? Cutest spaceships ever!
And finally we have two maids posing with Sojourner. Morris explained that “Sojourner was the first rover to operate on Mars. In reality, it is much smaller than the maids. This image contrasts with most of the other models, where the space hardware is much larger than the maids themselves.” Which sounds impressive, but all we can think is: “cuuuute.”
We were curious as to whether or not there was a “story” for the photos or any specific scenes, but apparently not. Morris replied, “If there is any narrative in the scene, I guess the maids are playing and delivering spacecraft instead of iced tea!” Cheeky maids, indeed!
Though Morris has not yet had a chance to visit the cafes of Akihabara, he says that he’s been able to visit some outside of Japan. This made us wonder how difficult it was to get the figures in Australia where he lives. Sadly, it looks like the otaku scene down under isn’t in great shape right now, as Morris told us that “Moe figures, like anime figures in general, are becoming scarce in normal retail stores in Australia.” Fortunately, though, our friendly space analyst says that he’s gotten most of the maid figures already!
Since a large part of Morris’s job could be described as public outreach, we were really curious how he felt about using maids and anime to educate people about space. It looks like the subject is a bit trickier than we had imagined! He explained that while it would appeal to people in Japan or folks familiar with otaku culture in general, many in the space community were mostly baffled by the JAXA/NASA promo video. So, for now, moe textbooks about orbital mechanics will have to wait.
If you’re interested in learning more about space or reading some of Morris’s work, you can find many of his articles on SpaceDaily.com, where he’s been writing since 1999, and on many other websites by Googling his name.
We’d like to extend a big thank you to Dr. Morris Jones for contacting us and taking the time to share his collection and expertise with us. It was certainly a lot of fun to work with him and we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes out for his articles to learn more about space!
All images by RocketNews24/Morris Jones