ROCKET PUNCH-drunk on Shin Mazinger Z

mazinger z soul of chogokin

Mai waifu gave me this Soul of Chogokin Mazinger Z die-cast toy robot last year. Life is very good yes?

Mazinger Z (1974)was one of the first anime I ever saw. It was so long ago (maybe 1979-1980 thereabouts) that I hardly remember anything from it. What I recall about the original anime are from what I read online, and what was hinted at by the Mazinkaiser OVA (2002).  So while there is some nostalgia involved in my eager anticipation of Shin Mazinger Z Shougeki Hen, a lot of the eagerness of the anticipation is due to authentic curiosity as to what the story really is.

However, after watching the premier episode, I didn’t see the Mazinger Z of old so much as I got to see an awesomeness of another kind. Nearly everything about the first episode reminded me of what was remarkable about the Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still OVA (1992-1998), which shouldn’t be that surprising because both are directed by Imagawa Yasuhiro, who also directed Mobile Fighter G Gundam (1994).

giant-robo-character

The Giant Robo OVA, is up there with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann as one of the best super robot anime experiences one can have and only at 7 eps. The thing that distinguishes Giant Robo I believe is that the absurdities and the over the top ridiculousness are never played for laughs. The awesomeness is delivered straight, tongues never ever in any cheeks (except maybe for the occasional slapstick relief, but none come to mind).

This means we will see a whole lot of humans fighting, as opposed to just the super robots. As with Giant Robo,

Most of the “Experts” featured in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” come from Yokoyama’s manga adaptations of Outlaws of the Marsh and Romance of the Three Kingdoms,[26] both wuxia novels and half of the “Four Classics” of Chinese literature. Wuxia are martial arts adventures populated by skilled, honorable fighters.[27] In Hong Kong action cinema, the genre is associated with swordplay epics sprinkled with mysticism.

Given their origin, the heroes and villains of Giant Robo are superhuman combatants who share many elements with the errant knights of wuxia like strength, magic powers and the ability to fly.[17] In wuxia adventures, the characters are given nicknames that allude to their mastery of weapons, their physical appearance or their demeanor (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Imagawa, inspired by Yokayama’s adaptation of Outlaws of the Marsh,[28] followed this convention and gave Giant Robo’s characters similar descriptive names like “Shockwave Alberto,” “Silent Chūjō” and “The Immortal.” [from Wikipeda]

The rogues gallery¹ of Shin Mazinger apparently proves this, not only with their bizarre appearance and styling, but also their fighting prowess. I don’t remember a whole deal of humans fighting in Mazinger Z, even less of human armies (swordsmen and cavalry!²), but there’s a delightful amount of it in Giant Robo, and since I’m not a purist of either (original creator) Go Nagai or Imagawa Yasuhiro this is all good news.

mazinger-shin-mazinger-01-kouji-4th-wall-broken

However, since Imagawa’s Giant Robo was for the most part a character-driven drama as opposed to being an all-out mecha smackdow, there may be some reservation for his treatment of Mazinger Z. Kabuto Kouji and the rest were neither layered nor nuanced. They are as ‘cartoony’ and as simple as they come, and is part of their charm for the nostalgic viewer. However, nuance and layering could be a good thing given Imagawa’s success with Giant Robo’s cast.

Having said that, Giant Robo and now Shin Mazinger Z has a huge cast. Not many will be given the kind of attention that viewers who have a thing for ‘character development.’ Paul van Oberstein, one of the heroes in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is frighteningly and awesomely consistent for over 100 episodes (follow the link but heed the spoiler warning when it appears). There are two things to consider then:

1. Giant Robo OVA had only 7 episodes, and did portray good characterization for the characters who are most important to the main story. However, most of the fighting is done by the human characters: the Experts of Justice (I can’t come up with a cooler name, my goodness) vs. Big Fire.

2. Shin Mazinger Z Hen has 26 episodes, which can mean that more attention to a larger subset of characters can be made. Also, even if a good deal of these super humans do the fighting, sufficient rocket punch action will happen.

I’m quite optimistic. I’m approaching the halfway mark of Imagawa’s G Gundam, thinking that I’ll enjoy it more having seen more of the Universal Century shows in the franchise. But I did enjoy the episodes that I did see a good deal, so I’m counting on him doing an even better job with Mazinger.

What I’m expecting to see are scenes that really move me. It’s somewhat silly to expect this from a super robot show, but time and again I’ve witnessed scenes that drove me to /m/anly tears – mostly from hot-blooded emotional speeches leading to a launch, whether an attack or just a powerful sortie filled with righteous hope and fury, and the possibility of victory. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann gave me one or two, Gao Gai Gar and Gunbuster too. Giant Robo has more than a few, but perhaps there’s one in the final episode that can move me even without having to immerse myself in its context: a boy urging his robotic friend to fight.

While doing research for this post I must have watched this short sequence a dozen times.

While doing research for this post I must have watched this short sequence a dozen times.

One thing I won’t comment on too much is the plot. To be fully truthful, I don’t really care. There’s probably a whole lot of conspiracy going on, involving shady societies and factions trying to gain access to mythical powers and what not. The first epsiode was in medias res (though perhaps closer to the end of things like how Gurren Lagann did) but so much – SO DAMN MUCH was going on that I was left confused³. All that’s important to me is that at the end of the day I can tell who the bad guy is (if your name is Dr. Hell, I have a good hunch it’s you).

So as first impressions go, Imagawa has left his distinct mark on Nagai’s pioneering creation. But as if to remind everyone that Mazinger Z is definitely Nagai’s legacy (for better or worse) Imagawa left us with this very Nagai image, GOGOGO!

maziniger-shin-mazinger-01-how-very-go-nagai

¹ The gallery features luminaries with fanciful titles such as Viscount Pygman, Count Brocken, Baron Ashura, and  Archduke Gorgon.

² Imagawa apparently likes his battles anachronistic, and I think I like it. See the Ashura Corps., and the Kurogane Mob.

³ Other First Impressions:

More image links:

  • Mazinkaiser attempted to answer the criticism of super robot shows and the monster of the week implausibility (if the enemy can make all those robots, why not just attack with them en masse?) and I think the answer worked in its fashion. Shin Mazinger Z will do the same.
  • Like Giant Robo OVA, the forces of good will have its own share of oddities and eccentricities… but perhaps still not as odd as the bad guys.
  • More pictures of my sweet Soul fo Chogokin Mazinger Z toy robot: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05.

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 comparative, fanboy, first impressions, Mazinger Z and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to ROCKET PUNCH-drunk on Shin Mazinger Z

  1. Ryan A says:

    Total [not so]random jambalaya of CRAZY! Wicked impressive, striking, and mind-blowing…. outrage of laugher, verge of tears, and maddness of confusion simultaneously!

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yeah man, Imagawa totally GROPED ALL OF OUR COLLECTIVE BREASTS NAGAI STYLE with that episode.

      And yeah, it’s okay for men to have breasts since Mazinger Z uses his to send out hellish fire melt down foes FOR GREAT JUSTICE.

  2. digitalboy says:

    Glad to see a post on this that isn’t just ‘FUCKING SHIT CRAZY I CAME!’ and you’ve made some interesting points. I definitely think that even with all the bizarre shit going on, this show could have some moving moments. After all, even though I was watching this show with my brother, Funeral, No Name, and another friend Raw and none of us had any idea what the hell was going on, all of us collectively had chills at the end when the main dude gave his speech and all of us were instantly ready for more.

    • ghostlightning says:

      LOL but I DID FUCKING CAME.

      In Mazinkaiser Kouji Kabuto said some of the stupidest but awesome things ever… to the effect that the bad guys can’t win…

      …BECAUSE KOUJI KABUTO WILL NEVER DIE!

      -Kouji Kabuto

      I facepalmedSHININGFINGEREDmyfreakingface with such awesome power my molecules rearranged themselves.

  3. I’m going to be writing up on this a bit later on, hopefully you’ll be adding it the list of impressions. 😀

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’ll look forward to your post. You’ve been on a tear re first impression posts and I appreciate the work that was put in them. This show should be part of your roster as a matter of course! ^_^

      • Being temp-banned from AS Forums and having nothing better to do with my time I have been devoting it to doing some first impressions with my own unique and straight up front style. Though I’m sure I’ve managed to royally piss off just about everyone on the blogosphere in the process. :/

        • ghostlightning says:

          You’re a contrarian and you know it. You just love winning arguments. It’s probably what pisses people off more than what you actually say against the shows they like.

          Nonetheless, your posts when they’re about the subject anime are very solid and thorough reviews.

  4. animekritik says:

    i can’t believe you used that chest groping pic! i thought this was a family blog…

    • ghostlightning says:

      LOL. Groping happens within families fairly often ~_^ In Go Nagai’s family of animu, it happens a whole lot I suppose ^^

  5. LBrevis says:

    I loved the first episode for its sheer insanity, indeed by the end I’d begun to chuckle like a madwoman possessed by Dr. Hell himself. However it strikes me as strange that they’d run the risk of alienating fans like myself who are new to Mazinger Z and thus have no idea what is going on. Or maybe that’s the point, and if all the action scenes delivered in one episode didn’t leave you begging for more you shouldn’t be watching in the first place?

    I can’t comment much on what you’ve written about Giant Robot since I haven’t seen it yet, but you’ve definitely got me feeling like I must watch it ASAP.

    By the way, my favorite scene was when GODDAMN ZEUS SHOWED UP. And he is Z Mazinger? I don’t even know what that means but it was awesome.

    • ghostlightning says:

      The show is so damn old even I don’t have a freaking clue. As for Zeus, I got nothing. I don’t care …yet, aside from the fact that he’s freaking huge and is GOLDEN AWESOME.

      I don’t know if you noticed, Tetsuya and Great Mazinger showed up near the end of the episode. This is interesting, because they may end up showing Mazinkaiser too.

      Here’s a little distinction:

      Mazinger Z uses the Rocket Punch
      Great Mazinger uses the Atomic Punch
      Mazinkaiser uses the Turbo Smasher Punch

      This isn’t Evangelion, effort in thinking is quite optional. The spectacle is value enough.

  6. animekritik says:

    @Kaioshin

    AS as in animesuki? How could one possibly get banned from animesuki? not putting spoiler tags on stuff?

  7. Camario says:

    To sum up my own feelings…I’ve rewatched the episode several times already, with and without subs.

    It’s incredibly addictive in terms of hotblooded action and, while trying to make sense of it all is premature, I keep noticing new details every now and then which makes it a big temptation. Hell, I could probably type up a conspiracy theory about Zeus (!) being the true bad guy behind everything at this rate.

    This definitely felt like being thrown headfirst into one of the later episodes of the Giant Robo OVA, at least in terms of the scale of its action and the nature of its choreography since there really wasn’t enough time for much else.

    Btw, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the seemingly eternally recurring doom those twins have as their fate.

    • ghostlightning says:

      LOL conspiracy theory involving Zeus being the big bad. IT COULD HAPPEN! ^_^

      Logically speaking, omniscience and omnipotence technically make a being responsible for EVERYTHING (even the twins getting groped at their cockpits), so your theory has merit.

  8. I don’t know if you can be a purist fan of Go Nagai, as he keeps rejigging his previous works in his later ones himself. I have a suspicion that some of the many characters who featured in this episode were just cameo’ing, which would reduce the need to spend time on them in the rest of the show. I’m just guessing, though.

    Beginning with the build-up to the final battle does, as you say, feel slightly different to a standard in medias res beginning (like Dougram or Victory Gundam — neither of which stay that way for very long).

    • ghostlightning says:

      Fair point re Nagai’s alterations of his previous work and its complication of any attempt at purist behavior. About the potential cameos, I suppose one can say the same about the multitude of characters in Getter Robo. Perhaps I should disabuse myself of thinking about cameos as practiced by Stan Lee in every Marvel movie adaptation.

      The use of in medias res here reminds me of the prelude in Gurren Lagann, though its usage there strikes me as a little weak because I quickly forgot about it by the end of the 1st episode and remembered it only near the end, as well as in rewatching.

      • The prelude to Gurren Lagann is an oddity, as it doesn’t seem to be part of the res at all. Though Dougram has a slightly similar problem with its in medias res first episode, but that’s just a continuity error.

        I, and this could just be me, find in medias res beginnings most satisfying when the story stays in the middle for some time (more than one episode of anime) before going back to the start. I can’t recall, off-hand, any anime I’ve seen doing this, with the possible exception of Gasaraki (a ‘possible exception’ because it involves some trickery with reincarnation).

        • animekritik says:

          Yup, the whole point of in medias res is that you stick to the story from the middle on (you might do flashbacks here and there or have characters discuss the past) but if you immediately go back then it’s just a silly gimmick. I don’t know in anime, but the Iliad is totally like that and it rocks!

        • ghostlightning says:

          Yep, Just like how Homer rolls. I just realized that the title of the episode is ‘Finale.’ Perhaps this thing we just saw may be similar to the in medias res device as we know it, but is trying to do something else altogether. Like Gurren Lagann, it’s supposed to convey awesome scale.

          My theory should work if the story re-sets to a very humble beginning, like Jeeha village. The contrast can be interesting, but I’m not so sure if it works just as planned.

        • I guess it’s fitting that the last great epic [!contentious statement alert!], Paradise Lost, uses the device in the Homeric manner too.

          Briefly shoving us in near the end and then jumping back to the beginning could be called . . . prope finem rei? Or prope finem res? The original tag’s from a poem, and I’m not sure what Horace was doing grammatically at the time.

          • ghostlightning says:

            If we do jump to the beginning (and it’ll be quite something if it’s a kind of beginning that doesn’t have to have further flashbacks), I’d like to call it prope finem res (easier to remember with rhyming with in medias res) my apologies to Horace.

            With regards to your contentious statement (did you mean last chronologically? My professors will throw 50,000 years of oral traditions in 70+ vernacular languages from the Philippines at you ^_~ lordy I couln’t be bothered to read them for shame), I’ve given thought about ‘canonical’ epic (poems) and taken (thoroughly impolite) liberties with the use of the word. It’s quite handy in contemporary internetspeak because it’s a four letter word.

            So I use it in a non-scholarly way, even while fully appreciating the literature that you, iniksbane, and Baka-Raptor have published towards a revival of its classical use.

  9. Martin says:

    You’ve now made me want to watch this. That’s four new shows on my ‘to watch’ list already…this is going to be a busy few weeks!

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes, do watch.

      *eyes MAL*

      Tsk tsk, my friend! Perhaps if you do watch this you’ll finish Gurren Lagann, and I do strongly recommend Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still. Given how GR OVA is only 7 eps, you may just take a weekend or two to blast through it and you’ll do yourself a righteous turn. ^_^

  10. Oh, and a further thought picking up on your point that Giant Robo features a lot of human-scale fighting: I guess we can say that G Gundam follows the same trend, given that (as I’m sure you’ve noticed) there are a lot more fights between the martial-artist-pilots outside of their cockpits than you’d usually get in Gundam.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Oh yes, happy 30th birthday Gundam! The whole business of ‘Undefeated of the East,’ and the Shuffle Alliance reminded me of Giant Robo instantly. That said Undefeated of the East fighting mobile suits outside his cockpit didn’t shock me as much ^_^

  11. digitalboy says:

    quick question, wha tin the fuck happened to your site, why is it now hideous?

  12. digitalboy says:

    ITS ALL ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE SCREEN AND THERES A WIDE OPEN SPACE OF NOTHINGNES SON THE RIGHT, WHYYYYYYYYY

  13. TheBigN says:

    Hopefully they can at least tell us who’s side everyone is on. 😛

    • ghostlightning says:

      I think they will. While Giant Robo gave some nuance to character motivation even amongst its villains, and even went on to cast the members of Big Fire in a heroic and romantic light…

      You knew who the good guys were because they were called “The Experts of Justice.”

  14. I-K says:

    I’m just wondering if Kouji Kabuto will die in magma in this version as well…

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  16. Lucius says:

    Mazinger

    One of my favorites anime and robot manga man!, I end up getting the collection and I hope they came with a blue ray master upgrade, clean image. I even have a two pieces, one feet tall and a small one. Is sad they don’t make any more like this. Mazinger Rules! 🙂

    • ghostlightning says:

      I see lots of Mazinger toys from the Soul of Chogokin line over here. If the series does well I don’t doubt that Blu-Ray releases will follow. Furthermore I anticipate a new toy line sooner or later, because that’s just how the industry works [->].

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  23. Ryoma Nagare says:

    That last pic made me laugh. In both Z-Hen and SKL, a female mecha ended up having her breasts grabbed by an enemy unit. I’m currently only on episode 4, but I’m enjoying it.

    • Matt Wells says:

      It lulls a bit around the middle, in an arc starring Shiro Kabuto that feels like forever. Persevere through that though, and you’ll be rewarded with one of Imagawa’s best series to date. The ending, not to spoil it for you, is genuine punch-to-the-gut shocking stuff. Just bear in mind, you need to watch this show for the plot, not the mecha action; actual robots clashing has never been Imagawa’s strong point, and Mazinger can outright curb stomp any Mecha-Best dumb enough to challenge it.

    • Matt speaks wisely about this. The action in this show will never be its draw. The plot and narrative however, is incredible (tied in with outright fuckmazing characters).

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