If you like Transformers, Voltron, or giant robots in general, you owe it all to the one that started it all, Mazinger Z
Created in 1972 by Go Nagai, Mazinger Z has become a cultural icon not only in its native Japan but around the world. In honor of Go Nagai’s 50th Anniversary as a cartoonist, Toei has released an all-new theatrical movie, Mazinger Z Infinity.
Viz, in conjunction with Fathom Events, brought Mazinger Infinity to theatres across the U.S. for 2 special screenings. There were three local theatres near me playing the movie, which surprised me because up here in New Hampshire we never get these sort of things in theatres.
Between both screenings there were about a dozen people in attendance. The first showing in Lowell had free posters, and the theater had those cool leather recliners and high definition projection. While we waited, we got to play along with some Mazinger Z trivia. The second screening in New Hampshire did not have the posters, and it was a “classic” AMC theatre so no fancy seats for us that time.
For each screening, we were treated to some interviews with the director Junji Shimizu, character designer Hiroya Iijima, and then some words from Mazinger Z creator Go Nagai.
The movie itself tells the story of a newly discovered robot, Mazinger Infinity, found buried inside of Mt. Fuji. Koji Kabuto is a scientist and national hero, retired from piloting Mazinger Z. Boss runs a noodle shop. Sayaka runs the new Photonic lab, while Jun Hono is pregnant with Tetsuya Tsurugi’s child. Great Mazinger is the currently the protector of the Photonic labs, while Mazinger and Venus Ace rest in a museum.
With the discovery of Mazinger Infinity comes the return of Doctor Hell, and his Cross Army. He, along with Baron Ashura and Count Brocken are determined to remake the world with the power held within Infinity.
Mazinger infinity was one of those movies that if you were a fan of the original cartoon, you are going to love the modern interpretation. However, if you don’t understand the references and call backs you are going to be left with an uneven and often confusing movie.
The animation is beautiful. I’ve never seen a better representation of Mazinger Z in action. The fight scenes are dynamic and breathtaking. The movie tends to drag a bit during the contemplative slow parts, mostly in those scenes featuring LiSA, the new artificial life form that is the key to activating Infinity. Intercut with the serious drama are some outright silly and weird sections that clash with the overall tone of the movie, that is, if you are not familiar with the original.
The classic Mazinger Z was a kids show, with sight gags and corny gimmicks. Boss Borot was the comic sidekick, while Aphrodai A shot Breast Missiles. You were never meant to take it seriously. Kids could relate to the bravery of the hot-blooded hero Koji Kabuto but it never got too serious or too intense for young viewers.
Mazinger Infinity attempts to capture the goofiness of the classic show while interspersing it with a true dramatic story, and the results are mixed. But let’s be honest here, we’re not coming into the theatre expecting high-art. We want giant robots fighting with rocket punches and Mazinger Infinity does not let down in that regard.
There are some cool easter eggs in the film for those who are more than casual fans. Classic Kikaiju such as Garada K7 and Doublas M2 make appearances, but also obscure Kikaju like Satan Claus P10 (yes, look it up). All retain their goofy appearances despite rendering in exquisite mechanical detail. Mazinger gets new “Chogokin” coating, while support mecha are designed to look like the XX-11 toy accessory for Jumbo Machinders. While it doesn’t make an appearance in the movie, we do see a plush version of Dianan A, and new female Mazinger team called Mazin-Girls provide cheesecake and kick ass robots.
Overall, it’s a fun tribute to one of the greatest Giant Robots of all time, and I was thrilled to be able to see it on the big screen.
Viz has the rights to the domestic video release, so if you missed it in theatres, be sure to pick it up on Blu-Ray or DVD soon.