Mecha

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Mecha (genre), also known as mechs (plural), or mech (singular), is a broad genre of vehicles (normally walking vehicles) which are usually controlled by a pilot. Mechs often appear in anime, science fiction, and other genres involving fantastic or futuristic elements. Mechs are generally, though not necessarily, bipedal, with arms, hands, and usually fingers capable of grasping objects. A mech that approximates the shape of a human body may allow the use of martial arts movements and swordsmanship, ceremonial acts of honor, saluting, and other human mannerisms that cannot be performed using a tank or airplane.

In most fiction in which they appear, mecha are war machines: essentially armored fighting vehicles with legs instead of treads or wheels. Some stories, such as the manga Patlabor and American wargame BattleTech, also encompass mechs used for civilian purposes such as heavy construction work, police functions or firefighting.

Some science fiction universes posit that mecha are the primary means of combat, with conflicts sometimes being decided through gladiatorial matches. Others represent mecha as one component of an integrated military force, supported by and fighting alongside tanks, fighter aircraft, and infantry, functioning as a mechanical cavalry. The applications often highlight the theoretical usefulness of such a device, combining a tank's resilience and fire power with infantry's ability to cross unstable terrain. In other cases they are demonstrated with a greater versatility in armament, such as in the Armored Core series of video games where mecha can utilize their hands to carry a wide range of armament in the same manner as a person albeit on a much larger scale.

The distinction between true mechs and their smaller cousins (and likely progenitors), the powered armor, or exoskeletal battlesuits, is blurred; according to one definition, a mech is piloted while powered armor is worn. Anything large enough to have a cockpit where the pilot is seated is generally considered a mech.

Rarely, mechs have been used in a fantasy convention, most notably in the anime series Aura Battler Dunbine, The Vision of Escaflowne, Panzer World Galient and Maze. In those cases, the mech designs are usually based on some alternative or 'lost' science-fiction technology from ancient times.

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