AnimeTronics are a type of animatronic originated by Johnson Industries in March 2010, in collaboration with Creative Engineering. Despite their name, they have been used for non-anime characters as well.
The first-generation version of the AnimeTronics technology was first used in the World of Tokyo theme park in 2010, before making its way to other Johnson theme parks, notably Harveyland USA, which used it for characters from the Richie Rich, Little Audrey, Little Dot, Little Lotta, and Casper the Friendly Ghost series in the attraction A Tour of the Rich Mansion with Richie and Friends. It also began seeing use in McDonaldland USA, namely for characters such as Grimace, Birdie, and Hamburglar.
The second-generation version debuted at ShowBiz Pizza Place locations in the Japanese states in 2016, this time produced in collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering and, once again, Creative Engineering, for the cast of K-On!, which replaces The Rock-afire Explosion in said locations. The second version boasts improved, more realistic movements and designs.
A third incarnation, with further improved movements, has been in the works since 2019; it is slated to debut in 2023.
First generation (2010-2016)
The first-generation animatronics are programmed via Looney Bird's Lab.
Second generation (2016-present)
As with the first-generation animatronics, all second-generation animatronics are programmed via Looney Bird's Lab.
All second-generation animatronics have a massive range of movement, can sit down and stand up, jump off the ground, have over 200 actuators in their faces to simulate facial muscles (to simulate normal lip flaps in anime, anime characters normally don't parse their lips, but can do so when necessary; non-anime characters always parse their lips), and can even walk around unassisted, in an extremely realistic manner, thanks to operating on electronics, rather than hydraulics, and also have onboard computers and rechargeable lithium batteries. Their clothes are washed weekly in specifically-labeled washing machines. They also have real hair that is washed nightly using rinse-free shampoo.
The second-generation animatronics also have numerous failure modes in the event of various issues, ranging from cosmetic issues to major mechanical malfunctions; for example, if an animatronic has an article of clothing come loose, they can readjust it between shows or during moments when the band is merely sitting around talking instead of singing, by way of numerous sensors that can detect faults in their clothing. On the flip side, if an animatronic falls down while walking, it can stand back up unassisted, and one animatronic can also help another stand back up; this applies to both accidental falls and falls caused by rowdy guests tripping or pushing them, the latter of which the animatronics react to by screaming their heads off at the offending guest; plainclothed guards are on hand at all times, watching from the back, to ensure guests do not damage the animatronics. In the event of an extreme mechanical failure, such as an arm falling off, the entire show will immediately switch to a failure mode in which the characters stop singing and/or playing and react to what has happened, usually in horror. Each failure mode has a two-digit code: a number indicating the type of fault (1 for cosmetic fault, 2 for computer error, 3 for servo error, 4 for minor mechanical error, and 5 for major mechanical failure), and a letter indicating which animatronic has the fault. In the event of a Mode 5x failure, a backup showtape is activated, with less moving parts.