Mazinkaiser SKL 03: The LAST WORD on Super Robot Violence

[SKL-Magnum] Mazinkaiser SKL - 03 [ABD72221].mkv_snapshot_20.54_[2011.04.18_06.30.20]

This short OVA is complete. It’s legacy is to accomplish what the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Movies failed to do: to deliver the best robot battles involving super robots. To be fair, Lagann-Hen had nowhere to go but bigger and cheesier to outdo the series finale. So let’s overlook that.

Instead, let’s compare the equivalent battles: Gurren-Hen’s battle for Teppelin (which spills over onto Lagann-Hen but in flashback form oh what fail), and Mazinkaiser SKL 03’s battle for Machine Island, or the 3rd battle for Octagon. Both have similar stakes, both involved armies, both involved stud robots duking it out. I won’t drill down to the fine details. I’ll make my case as simply as I can.

First, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Gurren-Hen may not necessarily have a better story, but its TV show version does and it is a far superior tale to anything Mazinkaiser SKL can hope for. This isn’t a comparison of stories, this is a comparison of climactic battles.

Okay ghosty, but Gurren-Hen had Lord Genome Beating the Crap Out of a Super Robot!

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While I do enjoy it when the likes of Lord Genome, Alberto the Impact, and Master Asia kick the tar out of super robots, this is already superhero fare and not what I watch super robot shows for. Admittedly, super robot shows are superhero shows only using large metal idols to do the fighting and protecting. However, if I really wanted to watch superhero shows I’d be joining my wife marathoning Justice League and related shows.

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In Mazinkaiser SKL 03, it was always about the big robots. Lord Galan died inside his cockpit in a fuckmazingly manly way, setting the stage for Kiba’s comeback in Iron Kaiser to match Skull.

Fine, but that doesn’t really tell me that Lazengann vs. Gurren-Lagann isn’t as good.

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I’m not saying it isn’t, but Gurren-Hen doesn’t really add anything much of value to how awesome the fight was in the TV series – it actually diminishes it by making it black and white in its flashback format. That said, even if you particularly like lots and lots of drills over swords, the Kaiser fight has:

  • More variety and more interesting weapons/attacks
  • Wingle (>>>> Gurren-Lagann’s Scrander clone)
  • Fighting on multiple altitudes
  • Speed

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I’m not saying Lazengann vs. Gurren-Lagann wasn’t fast, but the Kaiser vs. Kaiser battle was fast without having to resort to shortcuts (speed lines, DBZ/FotNS-style speed strikes). It is a better animated fight even if you’re not willing to concede that it is better choreographed and directed.

Skull was able to unleash its arsenal of attacks which was met gamely by the Iron Kaiser. It was a long, punishing thing that didn’t feel dragging at any point. What’s wonderful about super robot battles is how it absurdly puts everything together: guns, polearms, swords, energy weapons, flight, and gigantic explosions on the same battlefield. This should never work, but it’s there to be spectacular.

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And, while Mazinkaiser SKL should never be accused of restraint, you know it doesn’t go overboard with the attacks, going for bigger and bigger blows that ultimately result in either going off the scale, or using some kind of beam spam equivalent. What’s pretty cool about the Mazinger franchise is how every attack is a 1-hit kill weapon. Some enemies will be strong enough to withstand some of these, but by design these weapons are meant to kill – as opposed to how later (Nagahama) super robots have so many attacks that have no chance of killing the enemy outright, and yet get used like a checklist for every fight.

I think Mazinkaiser SKL should be the new milestone – a stretch goal, but not a standard – for super robot fights. This is what not being lazy looks like, what no shortcuts looks like, and what a commitment to spectacular action looks like. You’d have to look for choice moments in the Evangelion franchise to do better, for super robot action fare. While not necessarily better than say, Rebuild of Evangelion’s this isn’t confused with non-humanoid opponents; it is a ‘purer’ super robot action experience.

[SKL-Magnum] Mazinkaiser SKL - 03 [ABD72221].mkv_snapshot_26.30_[2011.04.18_06.43.04]

Vote for Mazinkaiser SKL in round 1 of the 2011 SaiMecha tournament!

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.
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48 Responses to Mazinkaiser SKL 03: The LAST WORD on Super Robot Violence

  1. Anya says:

    MAZIN! KAISERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!
    The 3 episodes were pretty much high octane adrenaline fuel to keep your heart pumping. And hey, check it out! It’s got wings!
    Their choice of words are awesome too XD
    “Whether you die first, or we do… Gambles like this are fun every once in a while!!!!!”
    “Fuck your sides, pal. You’re already in hell.”
    And the epic “Oretachi wa… JIGOKU DA!!!!!!!!!!” (Setsuna can suck it with his Gundamu).
    I’m not even going to question how they got out of their explosion, these guys are badass enough I don’t need any explanation XD

    • Yeah, the show really stuck with its guns (and swords, and rocket punches) to deliver the puerile kind of fanservice Super Robot anime fans have been wanting for some time. I do think the short length does much to prevent the show from overreaching and for the action scenes to remain a long string of highlights.

  2. schneider says:

    Mazinkaiser SKL channeled Great Mazinger with its Thor Hammer Break. I loved the Pilder dogfight that *just* happened. Iron Kaiser was a worthy opponent.

    • Yes, yes, and yes. The dogfight came out of nowhere, and perhaps “completed” the kitchen sink approach this show took to delivering the violence fanservice.

    • Great Boota says:

      I actually found it incredibly interesting that an incarnation of Mazinkaiser FINALLY has an upgraded version of Great Mazinger’s Thunder Break. Fifth time’s the charm, I suppose. The versions of Mazinkaiser (that I’m aware of, anyway):

      1. Super Robot Wars F and F Final
      2. Manga
      3. Super Robot Wars Alpha Series
      4. Anime (2 OVA’s)
      5. SKL

  3. Reid says:

    OH MY GOD. I just got done with the final episode and that was the most incredible thing I’ve seen in the last five years as far as mecha anime goes. Holy crap. That was like a Motorhead concert being played at max volume in the middle of the engine of a top-fuel dragracer. Impaling Galan with the gunbarrel/blade?! The awesome Devil Lady backpack?! The intense battle against Iron Kaiser, piloted than none other than Joe Higashi/Guy Shishio?! The incredible boasting and hot-blooded swearing?! A motorcycle that turns into a hell-steed?! I hope hope hope we see a sequel, and sooner rather than later.

    • GOD MY OH. Yes indeed. The show is a long string of over-the-top violence spectacle in a show short enough to remain exciting. There isn’t enough of a story here worth writing home about, but there’s enough left unsaid that a sequel is more than possible. I expect it to be darker and slower, and I wouldn’t mind, because this could very well be the way to make Mazinger shows in this day and age. Each series is a self-contained arc that could very well fit in a 26-ep TV show, but is produced in a less risky project.

  4. first time seeing an Aphrodite copy, not losing immediately.

  5. Jack says:

    I actually found the whole series kind of boring. This final episode was slightly better in that it didn’t re-use all the animation from the first episode, but it still wasn’t interesting.

    None of the battles or actions or characters had any narrative weight or consequence, so at that point it becomes pretty colour moving around on screen. Not that I found anything particularly wrong with the choreography or animation (although I have seen it done better, for example in Gurren-Lagann).

    • Jack says:

      If anything, the Star Driver finale was far more impressive. A greater range of animators working with different animation and shading styles, crazier designs, better animation and an actual pay-off to some character work. I say that as someone who doesn’t even feel that Star Driver was a good show for the majority of it’s run.

      Strangely enough, both finales reference Gunbuster explicitly. In MAZINKAISER SKL we have the two different cores resonating with a central bomb and in Star Driver we had the wrecked robot floating in space.

      • I don’t know what super robot shows you watch that you’ll find this particular one boring, but if you use Star Driver… it is exactly the opposite in the exciting scale for me. The finale was… ugh. It probably could be viewed more favorably as a magic girl show finale, but as super robot… it reminds me of everything I disliked about Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan the movie Lagann-Hen. I love Star Driver, but more when it’s going all out with its high school drama hijinks and its over the top love dodecahedron and fujoshi baiting. As a robot show it’s pretty weak, mostly fulfilling what a more exciting Utena (for mechaheads) would be.

        • Jack says:

          “I don’t know what super robot shows you watch that you’ll find this particular one boring…”

          Just for reference, as I’m standing out here in the cold with my crazy dissenting opinion. I’ve watched and enjoyed:

          Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann TV (not the movies)
          Gunbuster
          Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still
          The Big O (Season one)
          G Gundam
          Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen
          New Getter Robo

          I didn’t enjoy the original Mazinkaiser OVA’s much, however, so that gives some indication as to why I don’t care for this series, even though they are fairly different in tone and style.

          • The TTGL movies are what Star Driver’s finale reminded me of. No surprise given Imaishi’s at the helm.

            Crazy, distorted action and animation aside (which fits something like TTGL), what separates SKL from all these shows is the frenetic pace of the fights without resorting to shortcuts. This is a huge treat as far as I’m concerned — when fights are fought with lots of striking, parrying, landing and blocking and not layered with instant replays, action lines, all sorts of spam, and reliance on energy powerups and/or energy attacks.

            My take on the show focused mainly on the action aspect. I do think however, that I wouldn’t be as appreciative of these things if I was as indifferent as you regarding the rest of the content.

          • Great Boota says:

            I think it’s because of the tremendous lack of story here compared to the shows you mention. I’ve heard this criticism a hundred times for the Mazinkaiser OVA’s in the early 2000′s, and it’s a valid one.

    • SquareSphere says:

      “…had any narrative weight or consequence”

      ….

      Uh that’s the point of Super Robot Shows. You scream attacks and beat the other guy with your guts. That’s about as complex as it’s supposed to get. When you interject morals/drama/politics you ruin Super Robot Shows.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Star Driver too. But you can’t compare them. That’s like trying to compare G Gundam to Eva.

      • Great Boota says:

        Not really. Again, he mentions series like Gunbuster, The Big O, and Giant Robo, which have tons of narrative weight, and are even deeper than many “Real Robot” shows out there.

        • There are two main kinds of super robot shows, if I can armchair theorize about it:

          1. The Nagai Go school of AWESOME
          2. The Nagahama Tadao school of SRS BSNS

          The former obviously includes Mazinkaiser (Getter Robo, Mechander, perhaps the J9 stuff, etc.)

          The latter’s inclinations started being evident with Voltes V, and eventually influenced people like Tomino Yoshiyuki… which then led to…

          Space Runaway Ideon
          Gunbuster (Diebuster)
          Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still
          Evangelion
          Nadesico (YEAH I WENT THERE)
          Gao Gai Gar (particularly Final)
          RahXephon

          …culminating with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

          Almost each and every one of these shows subverts the super robot tradition of Nagai Go, combining incredible silliness with GRIMDARK, or at least grand themes of narrative weight.

          • JoeQ says:

            I’d argue that only the original 70′s shows and admittedly both Mazinkaisers really fall to the first school, while Shin Mazinger and the Getter OVA’s (Armageddon in particular) belong more to the second school.

          • Matt Wells says:

            Just remember that Nagai’s robots have their own fair share of darkness, and that Getter Robo is a whole different kettle of fish…produced by Nagai, but created, drawn and written by Ken Ishikawa. Getter Robo kind of straddles both super robot branches you describe here, falling more on the SRS BSNS side.

            Though as far as the series themselves go, the Nagahama trilogy is FAR superior to Toei’s Mazinger trilogy; it comes down to an intentional difference in approach and execution.

  6. JoeQ says:

    Dammit, you’re really testing my resolve here. Good thing Mediablasters is releasing the DVD soon.

    • Cool, I daresay it’ll be worth the wait for you.

    • Great Boota says:

      Yeah, it’s a pretty good buy, from what I’ve heard, especially since it has all 3 episodes in 1 disc. If you have the equipment, you might also want to get the blu-ray version.

    • Matt Wells says:

      BWAHA HA HA, Media Blasters releasing the DVD soon?! Best laugh I’ve had all day. Thank God they licensed Tekkaman Blade and Gaogaigar (and no FINAL!), but they really have a tendency to slip up the release dates for their series.

      That said, I’m glad to have the show licensed so quickly, and if its successful in North America, who knows? They MIGHT just decide to license Shin Mazinger! After all, they already released Giant Robo, what’s another over-the-top Imagawa show to them?

      • JoeQ says:

        While that would be superduper awesome, I remain doubtful. A three episode OVA that you can easily fit on a single disc is much less risky than a 26 episode series in today’s market, especially considering that this stuff doesn’t exactly have broad appeal. Oh well, all I can do is buy SKL (and GoLion too!) and hope for the best.

        And yeah, it really sucks that we never got Gaogaigar Final. Guess those collections just didn’t sell well enough…

        • Matt Wells says:

          I heard those Gaogaigar boxsets finally broke even for them a few years ago. Shame they never finished the dub. At least with Final they could sell us two versions; the original 8 episodes and the 12 episode edit Grand Glorious Gathering, which tied it into the GGG interquel/Eva rip off Betterman.

          And yes, the chance of ANYBODY licensing Shin Mazinger is slim, but I can always hope :( Giant Robo and Gaogaigar weren’t exactly bestsellers, but they still put out multiple collections of them.

  7. WhatSht says:

    never had time to touch Mazinkaiser, since i’m watching SDF Macross, already done with episode 14, and after reading some comments, star driver’s ending was expected, most anime have good endings when they need a bad ending, it will be WTF if all the physical(not in those forms you see in zero time) cybodies blow up and destroy 1/3 of the Earth like what a Dimension Eater from Macross Frontier did.

    • Funny you mention Macross Frontier, but what the Star Driver finale did remember love for is SDFM/DYRL itself! You’ll know it when you see it. In any case, it felt to me that Star Driver suddenly decided to be an all out robot show when it really hasn’t been for the most part (and delightfully so). So it felt like empty flashiness to me.

      What I would’ve enjoyed is if that whole spectacle was contained in half the episode or less, then a lot of delicious character interactions in the denouement. When you finish Macross Frontier, you’ll see another big reason to compare Star Driver with it.

  8. Matt Wells says:

    Only tangenitally related to your article, but Justice League IS awesome, no mecha aside. Your wife has serious taste sir. :)

    P.S. SKL kicks ass! Now give us Shin Great Mazinger Uncle Go!

    • Hehe. I outgrew my American comics hobby when I graduated from high school. I was really into it though (and I still have my copies of the Jim Lee X-Men up until Issue 13 or so). Alas that was the “Dark Age” of comics history, and I had to go through all the crap involving Superman Dying, Batman getting broken, etc. etc. Then LOL Image Comics (I bought so many titles from those clowns).

      • Matt Wells says:

        Justice League the animated series is a far cry from the superhero comics of the 90′s in quality. Along with Batman: The Animaed Series, those shows feature some of the greatest storytelling in the history of western animation, superlative stuff.

        For example, The Death of Superman in the comics was, as you accurately described, an overblown clusterfuck. In the cartoon however, which follows its own continuity, Superman is actually teleported to an apocalyptic future earth.

        Powerless under the rays of its red sun, he single handedly tames a pack of mutant wolves, SKINNING THEIR PACK LEADER AND WEARING HIM AS A CLOAK. ON A KIDS SHOW. After going all Conan on this crappy future, he attacks a tribe of intelligent mutant cockroaches, and returns to his own time.

        Not over the course of 40 issues, but in two episodes. And THEN the series REALLY starts getting good…You owe it to yourself to check out all the 90′s and early 2000′s Warner Animation super hero cartoons. You don’t need to have read the last 800 issues of Batman to know whats going on, they stand apart on their own as a different universe.

        They give wonderful, iconic interpretations of DC’s greatest characters, all independant from regular comics continuity, easy to enjoy whether you’re a kid or an adult. Check ‘em out on TV Tropes if you need further convincing, particuarly Batman: The Animated Series. Were it not for that show, I would not be watching Anime today; it showed me animation didn’t HAVE to be for kids, but for adults too.

  9. foshizzel says:

    Best ova series ever! The fighting was amazing have to agree there with you Ghost, nice to see Yuuki get to do some small fighting too. Iron Kaizer vs skull was great haha even going into dog fight mode mid fight was great! Anyway glad I watched these really fun stuff and the swearing hahah so good XD

    Gotta love Mecha Violence <3

    • It won’t make you reflect on the important things in life and the world, but what it does do, it does so well: getting a bunch of giant robots beat the tar out of each other.

  10. Kuro says:

    We both voted for Mazinkaiser SKL. I already predicted that Yuuki will get her mecha fight scenes but damn, her fight scenes were totally cool! Also, SKL’s fight scene with Iron Kaiser is epic and violence is plentiful. For a 3 episode OVA, Mazinkaiser SKL sure does deliver!

    • Yes, Wingle is not only the best name for Scrander, but it’s also a fantastic super robot in her own right. The boob epee was epeec (I will burn in hell for that pun but I don’t care).

      The 3 ep OVA is a great format for something as fanservicey and utterly lacking of narrative ambition as Mazinkaiser SKL.

  11. Rockmanshii says:

    So I just watched it, and I gotta say I’m in awe at how awesome this finale turned out. This along with The Inspector’s ending some weeks ago was one of the best mecha pumping action I’ve seen. When the two Kaisers fought in the clouds I literally went”wow”. And the dogfight out of nowhere made me laugh so much. They simply thought about putting up an awesome show instead of acting rationally. That’s what this whole OVA was about.

  12. JoeQ says:

    On the final battle of Lagann-hen: I agree that ‘hey, let’s give everyone a Tengen Toppa mecha and then have them combine into an even bigger mecha!’ wasn’t really necessary and a tad too cheesy, but the Giga Drill Break and the final fistfight were awesome and IMHO an improvement over the TV series version.

  13. Ryoma Nagare says:

    I agree with most of this, but comparing Kaiser to Eva is blasphemy. Eva is highly overrated and in my opiniion, it drags. The fights don’t come anywhere near the magnitude of SKL. If you’re going to search for a better fight, dithc EVA and take a look at some Getter Robo. New Getter Robo is a shitstorm of awesome and great action. It has a good plot, but I’d be a liar if I said that I watch for story. Anyway, EVA shouldn’t even be in the same category as these super robots. Still, pretty awesome and accurate review.

    • I’ll let your bias against EVA slide. Getter Robo to me seems generic and boring in relative terms — doesn’t mean I dislike it, but nothing compared to say, Tosho Daimos or even Chodenji Machine Voltes V.

      Thanks for visiting!

      • Ryoma Nagare says:

        Getter Robo is in no way generic. In fact, it helped pioneer the super robot genre. Mazinkaiser SKL’s characters were based off the Getter team’s Ryoma and Hayato. I can’t understand how anyone can get bored of Getter either. If you haven’t already, I highly reccomend watching New Getter Robo and Getter Armageddon. They put on an amazing show from start to finish. I didn’t find them generic at all. Ryoma is one-of-a-kind. Even the almighty Kamina pales in comparison to Ryoma. That being said, to me EVA is generic. It seemed like the typical mecha anime with an emo pilot who has a hero complex. The characters in EVA may have depth, but I don’t find them even remotely enjoyable to watch develop. Their character is not very likable in my tastes. Still, not everyone is going to agree with me, so I’ll respect your opinion.

        I enjoyed reading this page. Nice choice of pics too.

        • Matt Wells says:

          I think he means he finds the original 70′s Toei seies Getter Robo generic, and there he is right. Getter Robo and Getter Robo G from the 1970′s pale in comparison to the far more complex and ambitious Nagahama trilogy, or Tomino shows like Zambot 3 and Daitarn 3. Part of this is because of how watered down the series is compared to the manga. For the other Getter anime: while Armageddon has its incredible episodes 1-3, and 11-13, every other episode inbetween is fairly generic, due to the story problems behind the scenes (evident in how one episode Black Getter just disappears into thin air). And Neo Vs. Shin is a fun but superficial action series, similar to the Mazinkaiser OVA of the same period.

          New Getter Robo, which I’m pretty sure Ghostlightning HASN’T seen, is really the only anime which fully captures the themes and complexities found in Ishikawa’s original manga. It must be said, if you want to see Getter Robo at its best and most satisfying, you NEED to read the manga. The first two manga series (Getter Robo and Getter Robo G) are not as deep as the later installments, but the Shin Getter Robo and Getter Robo Go mangas are incredible. New’s high quality comes from basing most of its story on those later manga chapters.

          I wouldn’t exactly call the character of Ryoma deep and complex, just like I wouldn’t call the character of Kamina deep and complex. I still find them both enormously entertaining and awesome, but character depth isn’t why you watch Getter Robo or Gurren Lagann. You have to understand that Eva was a pioneer: it was the first robot anime to really show us unlikable and annoying characters who STAYED that way. That was the point. The characters of EVA are all broken and disturbed individuals, and events only conspire to worsen their conditions. You aren’t meant to like them, sometimes you’re even meant to despise them.

          Shinji was a groundbreaking deconstruction of the Super Robot pilot mould established by Kabuto Kouji: a young hero who wasn’t hot blooded, but dealt with all the anxiety and isolation of a normal teenager. His actions as a Hero defending humanity only excerbate his mental instability and lonliness. EVA may be infuriating, but it was never meant to be watchable: the entire series is a parody and deconstruction of traditional Super Robot Anime. Mind you, I’m saying this as a person who’s only seen a handful of EVA episodes, so take my commentary with a pinch of salt. Always nice to see another Getter Robo fan on here! Hope to hear from you again!

          • Well said. I’m trying to read the Shin Getter Robo manga right now, I really am TRYING. It’s just not holding my attention. I’ll keep trying though.

  14. Pingback: Anime Review: Mazinkaiser SKL Episode 3 (final) | This Euphoria!

  15. Anonymous says:

    You’re not supposed to be reading Shin Getter before you read Getter Go otherwise it will make little sense. But seriously, Getter Robo belongs in both the first and second school rather than the first. (Both serious business and dark comedy) I’m not talking about toei’s version of Getter Robo. I’m talking about the manga especially Getter Robo Go where it blurs the line between super robot and real robot considering how militaristic the manga is. (It reminds me of a darker version of the original MSG). In SKL or Gurren Lagann, you get these rather sympathetic villains, but in Getter Robo Go, you can really feel the evil in Dr. Rando. He’s not evil for the sake of being evil like SKL’s pilots but rather just because it’s just in his very nature to be so.

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