Mazinkaiser SKL is like Star Driver for Real Boys

[SKL-Magnum] Mazinkaiser SKL - 01 [F0E13E21].mkv_snapshot_06.55_[2011.01.01_19.39.22]

[NO SPOILERS]

It takes a certain maturity to appreciate (not uh, ‘ironically’ make fun of) the effeminate male antics of Star Driver with its flashy costumes, flamboyant movements, and androgynous character designs. This is only worth mentioning in this conversation because Star Driver is, believe it or not, still robot anime – despite not having a robot in its title (just like Code Geass, and Eureka SeveN). Robot fans prefer to indulge (of course not every robot fan and not all the time) a more juvenile view of masculinity that relishes in overt and indulgent displays of it.

Robot fans like their shows where men have heroic sideburns, exhibit wild aggression,  use bold language, and flash threatening fangs. Men don’t look like girls, and even women don’t look like girls. Women aren’t flat like boys, so their breasts are obvious and pronounced. No one looks ‘adorable;’ the clothing is usually too straightforwardly revealing of ripped physiques and voluptuous contours for that. So, as much as I can appreciate a robot show like Star Driver, it doesn’t speak directly to my inner juvenile male anime fan – the fan that’s been here from the start, nurtured and cared for despite all other consequences of education, intellectual growth, and overall maturity.

For up to my generation at least, anime in the beginning distinguished itself from other cartoons by having gigantic robots fighting robots with ROCKET PUNCHES. Mazinkaiser SKL (SKULL) is this show… where GAR isn’t an afterthought or a side dish in the fanservice bento. This is a show where words like God, King, or Boss are thrown about with impunity. This is a show that doesn’t care for your liberal use of EPIC, your overdependence on hyperbole, and your limited vocabulary in general. Your inner 8-year old never gave a shit about these things. I’ve been watching super robot shows (Mazinger Z, Voltes V, Daimos) since even before I had a vocabulary.

Of course, if you’re 8, you probably won’t be encouraged (or even permitted) to watch a show this ass-backwards and violent… which is also why your 8-year old self will definitely want to watch it as a God among cartoons: THIS IS MAZINKAISER SKL.

[SKL-Magnum] Mazinkaiser SKL - 01 [F0E13E21].mkv_snapshot_15.37_[2011.01.02_07.21.45]

Like Star Driver the action happens on an island, where there is a struggle for control of whatever it is that will allow the winners to dominate the use (or in this case, production) of giant robots which I presume are rather useful in world domination. Instead of the lead male washing up on the shore, the lead female (in what could be a superficial love triangle; trivia: Hayami Sayori plays Tsubasa Yuuki in SKL and Agemaki Wako in Star Driver) ends up crashed on the island. But instead of a calm beach at twilight, she lands in a THREE-WAY BATTLE OF GIANT ROBOT ARMIES.

Predictably, the battle is in some kind of deadlock… until Mazinkaiser shows up and starts ripping everyone apart. Unpredictably, the Mazinkaiser is controlled by two pilots – alternating whenever Kaiser changes main weapon load-out: a sword as big as a fucking boat, or a pair of pistol-daggers. This gives Kaiser two very different looks. Super robots are mostly depicted overwhelming enemies with raw power and the the big sword lets Kaiser keep up with tradition. The pistol daggers, fought with Gun-fu technique lets us see the big bruiser type machine move with fluid form at remarkable speed. It’s definitely a new look and something I’m enjoying a lot.

[SKL-Magnum] Mazinkaiser SKL - 01 [F0E13E21].mkv_snapshot_09.35_[2011.01.01_19.49.07]

Far more effeminate robots like the Lancelot (Kururugi Suzaku, Code Geass), or the Freedom Gundam (Kira☆ Yamato, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED) wished they could move like this, but the Kaiser got better moves than these weenie machines. The Kaiser moves better than Katanagatari’s Emonzaemon who did the dual-pistol thing in a sword fight.

This is significant because at the core of things, robot battles are large melees. Despite all the projectile weapons and massive beams, there is nothing as exciting as giant robots busting each other up with swords, poles, spears, knives, and fists. Despite the supposed army battle, the whole thing is a massive brawl. This isn’t Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s more like a massively multi-player fully armed mixed martial arts online fracas.

[SKL-Magnum] Mazinkaiser SKL - 01 [F0E13E21].mkv_snapshot_20.47_[2011.01.02_07.24.23]

Mazinkaiser doesn’t have to worry who to smash: if it doesn’t have tits, kill it (oops). It’s that kind of (awesome) show. Therefore, Kaiser just goes where there aren’t robots with tits, and just rip everyone apart in a death spiral of metal.

Here are some things to appreciate (especially if you’re A REAL BOY):

image

Voice actors going from playing wimp roles to soldiers of DEATH CAPRICE; it happens here. Furthermore, instead of the more colorful and light-hearted invincible tower of steel, Mazinkaiser goes for the dark God that is Hell on Earth:

[SKL-Magnum] Mazinkaiser SKL - 01 [F0E13E21].mkv_snapshot_05.21_[2011.01.01_19.34.23]

…which directly evokes a certain big-bladed berserker-armored warrior:

berserk2ch0

It makes me remember love for so many good things about anime violence (as well as Nagai Go’s corpulent body of work):

image

Bad Boys references aside, that is. I don’t want to get too into the things I want to talk about here in Mazinkaiser SKL until more people have seen it. I just want to hype the show up as much as I can, and even if I did think we got a good year in 2010 as robot fights go

image

…if you don’t enjoy this kind of thing too much…

image

Mazinkaiser SKL has a lot more of this.

I could go on and on or, you can just experience Crusader’s jizz-powered dick-wagging as he faps to our MEIN KAISER in this post. So if you want to turn back your internal clock just a bit too much, or cleave the dictums of good taste with a gigantic sword, or beat the crap out of boredom with twin TURBO SMASHER PUNCHES, or if you just want to turn into a GIANT PAIR OF TESTICLES (like I did after watching this episode), then hurry up and watch Mazinkaiser SKL.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in fanboy, first impressions, Mazinger Z and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Mazinkaiser SKL is like Star Driver for Real Boys

  1. Pingback: Mazinkaiser SKL 01: Mein Kaiser!

  2. Crusader says:

    We do not fap WE SALUTE OUR KAISER just like we did Reinhard-sama before he left out world.

    I like the comparison to Star driver though since that show likes to use super robot tropes, but sits on the opposite end of the spectrum as it is not gritty nor viciously violent. While swordplay seems to permeate both they styles are significantly different as Mazinkaiser’s is more about brute force slashes with a big HUEG sword while Star Driver uses lighter foils. Kind of like Kendo vs. Fencing. Also the gun fu/gun-kata gives Mazinkaiser a fluid grace that is hardly seen, it is ridiculous but looks so elegant at the same time.

    It’s also interesting to note that both shows do rip on the genre but in very different ways, Star Driver likes to go over the top while Mazinkaiser prefers to break, errr ROCKET PUNCH the fourth wall.

    • Aye comrade.

      Star Driver does give a strong super robot vibe with its called out attacks (not always called out, but it happens), or called out weapon activations at least. The show is far more concerned with flair than it is with raw violence. I think it’s excellent how it pulled off all this fighting without having to deal with casualties in its high school setting.

      However, I don’t think anyone really can accuse Mazinkaiser SKL or any super robot show for that matter (except perhaps RahXephon) for not going over the top.

      Also, some weapons data for you comrade:

      Mazinger Z shoots ROCKET PUNCH
      Great Mazinger shoots ATOMIC PUNCH
      Mazinkaiser shoots TURBO SMASHER PUNCH

  3. Fucking manly OVA. Most metal anime to come out since Mnemosyne. I don’t know why you’re comparing it to Star Driver, but you’re having fun, so whatever.

    Mazinkaiser Skull is Guts from Berserk fused with Brandon from Gungrave and then turned into a ROBOT.

    • You don’t know because you aren’t reading. The whole foundation of the post is masculinity notions, and Star Driver is currently representing effeminate Robot anime. I’ll forgive you because you because you just finished watching and your skull is full of splooge because that’s what Mazinkaiser SKL does to real boys.

      • I think rather than effeminate robot anime, Star Driver doesn’t really represent robot anime at all. I almost don’t want to call it a robot anime, since for me it does little of what robot anime do.

        • It most definitely is robot anime, until Cybodies stop being robots, Star Driver is a damned robot show. Not only is it robot anime, it is SUPER ROBOT anime.

          STAAAAH SWOOOOHHHDOOO SAAAFEEEEER

          etc.

      • Janus says:

        Stardriver isn’t just effeminate, it’s an horrible fujoshi anime, sometimes I couldn’t even bear the creepy tee-shirt of Takuto, take one at your size whore.
        This is the worst part of this show, the rest isn’t bad (overall)but i stopped watching it anyway, i couldn’t stand this shit.

  4. Alright! Alright! I’m on it!

    • Check back with me when you’re done being a gigantic pair of testicles.

      • http://moby.to/zaxhh7

        Not bad, but I’m a little surprised there was no rape. A lot of dirty horny, stupid guys and virtuous uppity women in easy access clothes, but no rape. I guess even Japan has to tone it down nowadays.

        Other than that… not really much of a plot, but who cares. And action was beautiful, viscious and visceral. Yeah, I think I could get used to this.

        • Too early for rape, and for low-level mooks. They have to be killed by the Kaiser to be made an example of. But then again, Kaiser shows have been light on rape and the most that happens is groping of giant alloy tits.

  5. BenDTU says:

    It’s a this point I’m remembering the SKL man-love rumour that was flying around earlier in the year. This show may be getting significantly less manly fast next ep.

    • Man love =! effeminacy… which is the trait of Star Driver, unless that is, either Kaido or Magami start acting dressing androgynously and making Takuto/Lelouch/Liberace-like flourishes and mannerisms.

      • BenDTU says:

        Episode watched. I think I’ll assume that rumour is null and void at this point. Surely such a show has no time for such things because of all the FIGHTING and YELLING it has to do?

        Tl;Dr: That was awesome.

  6. Bonesy! says:

    I started regular anime watching in feb 2009, but late 2010/2011 are my first years of having to deal with monthly/longer OVAs. Roberta’s Blood Trail, Mazinkaiser SKL, Unicorn. Good stuff, but I hate the wait.

  7. Kuro says:

    I salute Mazinkaiser. Rocket Punches, Big-ass swords and Chest blaster finishing moves… This is exactly the Super Robot Era that I grew up with.. So Nostalgic…

    Oh yeah, Masinkaiser is one of those mechs that along with Shin Getter, Ideon and Dis Astaranagant that can be called Godlike mechs, as they have can destroy Planet Earth (which will never happen but I’m just saying to show how much power these mechs have) so calling Mazinkaiser a god isn’t much of an exaggeration.

  8. Jack says:

    The action sequences where delightfully over the top, even if many of their prime moments had been revealed by the trailers. The last few minutes where certainly the hight point of the episode.

    I can’t really say I enjoyed any other part of the episode though. It felt badly edited, without a strong sense of progression and in general it flowed akwardly. I appreciate that the show wishes to dive right into the action, but then they try and pull back to tell a bit of story and it doesn’t work. The last few minutes don’t have that problem, which is why I probably enjoyed them the most.

    The episode was certainly in a rush to get to the robots having awesome fights, but I’d have appreciated a bit more on the two main characters. I can’t even tell them apart and they seem to have no defining traits, apart from talking back when issues orders. They don’t seem that crazy to me!

    • The fact that I didn’t notice these things perhaps proves that I haven’t approached it critically yet — or at least as formalism goes. I’m still high on the content — which is probably what will keep me busy in succeeding posts I’m going to make about the show.

      (I must say I’ve never been that kind of reviewer anyway, so thanks for sharing this kind of discussion).

      As for crazy — their characterization is that of the “Blood Knight” trope — which is arguably a convention enough not to warrant “crazy” relative to anime. But outside that, they’re pretty fucked. Crusader took note of this, and it is quite remarkable to have them as leads — characters owing nothing to just causes and being wholly dedicated to carnage.

      One can crudely characterize them as “anti-heroes” — but I’m more interested in throwing them together with the likes of Panty and Stocking, who are basically agents of anarchy BUT without an overarching malice intended unto the whole of creation.

      • Jack says:

        “(I must say I’ve never been that kind of reviewer anyway, so thanks for sharing this kind of discussion).”

        I don’t even consciously do it, my brain seems to pick it up automatically. That’s what I get for studying film at school!

        I had a longer reply about Death Caprice which really got out of hand. So I made it into a blog post here: http://scenesofdespair.tumblr.com/post/2581557754/mazinkaiser-skl-anti-heroes-and-slasher-smiles. Please excuse the roughness

        • Expectations do indeed play a lot, having read your post I get where you’re coming from.

          You’re reading the characters from the backdrop of Go Nagai’s corpus. Crusader can’t do that because he’s only seen what? Shin Mazinger Z-hen So his frame of reference isn’t Ryo and Hayato… but rather the trove of whiny emo teenage pilots from Gundam. If you’ve read Crusader for some time, you can tell that he has disproportionate rage and hate for some things (Zeon, emo teenage pilots in robot shows) — and such biases lead to hyperbolic appreciation of what he considers the opposite of such.

          As for myself, I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of Nagai either. I’ve read Devilman, and have seen many of the Mazinger shows (but not all), but not Jeeg, the Getter franchise; I haven’t read Violence Jack beyond the first chapter, and so on. Similarly, I appreciate the characters as they’re differentiated from other character types.

          But this is not to say that I am already taken by them.

          The lack of fleshing out just isn’t that big a deal for me yet… and, truthfully, if they don’t become compelling characters at all, I’m not going to be disappointed. I don’t have high expectations of characterization from the Nagai bunch of licenses. I enjoy characters from this bunch of stories as caricatures. Kabuto Koji? A primitive (or more generously, prototypical) robot pilot lead that shouts a lot. There’s some attempt at complexity about him being able to choose between becoming a God or Devil via Mazinger Z, but I never for a moment doubted he would choose the hero role.

          In any case, I come to these shows for the spectacle of giant robot violence and related fanservice. Any interesting story and storytelling are bonuses.

          • Jack says:

            After another watch, I was able to enjoy it a bit more than before, because I had checked my expectations.

            I never really expected any story or character depth from a Go Nagai-style work. That’s what made Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen so unexpected, because it focused not on the rather dull main character, but instead it decided to flesh out a whole cast of wildly insane villains.

            Of course, that show had no budget for proper fight scenes, so I’m glad Mazinkaiser SKL is delivering on that end.

            Perhaps one day someone will give Yasuhiro Imagawa the budget to produce something with excellent animation and a compelling story.

          • But Imagawa did have that opportunity when he got to do Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still.

  9. Reid Gheith says:

    I enjoyed the very first Mazinger Z when it first aired during the 1970′s. It’s great to see the franchise continue and expand into one “bad-ass” anime. You can catch all the Mazinkaizer SKL episodes at Animeflavor.com.

  10. taleweaver says:

    Oh man! You did it man! You got me back into Anime. And Mazinkaiser SKL was the ticket. After the final battle in Gundam 00 my anime watching just stopped. I had gotten tired of Bleach and Naruto and there was no mecha to my taste coming out (even Gundam Unicorn and the new Evangelion failed to get my anime jones up).

    But this! I read your Mazinkaiser SKL hype article and immediately downloaded it. WOW! Straight up no holds barred action.

    Thanks Ghostlightning!

  11. This one was as straight up Go Nagai as anything I’ve seen from the 80′s!!!! Kind of understand why they decided to go with an OVA format here, this clearly would not work on TV in the form it’s been presented here. Especially not with the new ordinance bill going into effect.

    As for the show, it took me right up until the end to fully comprehend the overall situation, but that’s just because you’d have 2 minutes of exposition, then 3 of straight up no holds barred brawling, then another couple minutes of exposition, then 5 of straight up no holds barred brawling and so on. Pretty simple storyline when you get down to it, but KAISEEEEEERRRRR has no need for overcomplicated plot lines that get in the way of it wrecking shit up.

  12. Pingback: XI: The People in That Thing Are Insane | Animanachronism

  13. schneider says:

    WE ARE HELL

    Fembots with drill hair, truly Go Nagai and his friends are at the forefront of innovation.

  14. apecape says:

    This post is amazing and again I allways love mecha anime, due to robots fights and different plots and genres. The series matzinkaizer loooks awesome and it makes todays mecha shows look like seasme street or some kiddie anime

  15. Noel says:

    Really cool to see some Go Nagai love on the site. For those interested to see other Nagai works similar to Mazinkaiser SKL, check out:

    Devilman OAV (1987)
    Devilman Lady (1998)
    Getter Robo: Armageddon (Change!! Shin Getter Robo – Sekai Saishuu no Hi) (1998)
    Amon: The Apocalypse of Devilman (2000)
    Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo (2000)
    Mazinkaiser (2001)
    Mazinkaiser vs. The Great General of Darkness (Mazinkaiser: Shitou! Ankoku Daishogun) (2003)
    New Getter Robo (Shin Getter Robo) (2004)
    Koutetsushin Jeeg (2007)
    Shin Mazinger Shogeki! Z-Hen (2009)

    By far the most brutal of those is Amon.

    • Noel says:

      Oh, and just in case people are wondering, the second episode of SKL is coming out in February, and the third in March.

      • Noel says:

        Whoops! Forgot Violence Jack in my list above:

        Violence Jack (1986)
        Violence Jack 2 (1988)
        Violence Jack 3 (1990)

      • Best news ever.

        I’ve only read the Devilman manga, is Amon new material or is part of the adaptation?

        • Noel says:

          Amon’s the final story arc and ending of Devilman, so it’s still adapted from the manga.

          The only problem I have with it is that it’s that it’s too short and the storytelling looks rushed, like they were trying to get it finished as soon as possible. I personally also think that the animation is really great, though Jack’s right in that the late 80′s OAV’s trump it in that aspect.

    • Jack says:

      “By far the most brutal of those is Amon.”

      Yeah, but it suffers badly by being an early 2000 production. The 80′s Devilman OAV’s are pretty damn beautiful though, excellent animation throughout.

      In a grotesque way.

  16. Huntsman says:

    I prefer the original Mazinkaiser design myself (not to mention Mazinger Z itself if we want to go back to the roots of it all) since this one looks far too busy, but I’ll be damned if the show wasn’t entertaining in spite of that.

    Then again, I don’t really have any problems watching different kinds of robot shows with absolutely distinct priorities and interests in mind.

    The last thing I’d ask from Mazinkaiser SKL is an interesting plot or characterization, but sometimes that makes for better rewatch value after the dust settles down. Super Robot shows occasionally engage in it but not too often, while Real Robots at least make a regular attempt to do so even if it doesn’t work out.

    • Yes, those things do happen in the subgenres of robot anime.

      As for rewatch value, perhaps in terms of rewatching the whole thing no there’s not a lot. But shows like this are enjoyed by rewatching highlights.

  17. Pingback: Mazinkaiser SKL: A manime for men today « space buttes

  18. Pingback: What the Robots You Voted for SaiMecha Round 1 (Earth Side) Say About You | We Remember Love

  19. Pingback: Anime Review: Mazinkaiser SKL Episode 1 | This Euphoria!

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