Mazin- GO! Spoilers fly!
Mazinger Z and I go way back. It used to be broadcast back in Ecuador in the late 70s and early 80s when I had no idea what Anime was. Go Nagai’s idea of a giant robot piloted by a tiny human was a novel concept. The idea of an animated show that was serious, with end-of-world stakes and people dying on screen to over-the-top operatic music was a complete departure from anything else I was watching when I was a kid. This is way before G.I. Joe and the Transformers were options in the menu.
Mazinger Z Infinite is a sequel, believe or not, of Go Nagai that takes place 10 years after the events of the original series. The film, directed by Junji Shimizu, conmemorates the 45th anniversary of Mazinger Z. If you’re a fan like me, you’re probably going on a nostalgia trip watching this. Koji Kabuto is now a scientist. Sayaka Yumi is now the director of the Photon Research Institute. Dr. Yumi has become the Prime Minister of Japan.
There’s a lot to be said here, and one thing that I have to convey as delicately as I can is that Mazinger Z is a product of its time. There are lot of things that will make you smile and cheer. There are also things that are cringy, feel tacked-on, unnecessary and needlessly convoluted. The audience for this movie is not the new crowd. It’s a nostalgic vehicle and it inherits some problematic aspects from the older series. That being said, you can probably live through a few short cringe scenes since they are short and have nothing to do with the plot. Something that also makes me wonder why not cut them out entirely since they feel tacked on.
The convoluted part is in the plot that involves an ancient robot being discovered under Mount Fiji called Gorgoran, which has an cyber-organic AI named Lisa. Lisa becomes Koji Kabuto’s shadow and will play a prominent role, but her schtick is so complicated that it feels like she overshadows Koji’s and Sayaka’s role. We also get Tetsuya Tsurugi piloting the Great Mazinger and expecting a child from former mecha pilot Jun Honoo. Koji’s younger brother Shiro, all grownup, is also a military mecha pilot himself. Boss and his gang are also back once more as the comedy relief.
The main villains are back as well, and they are the ones driving the plot forward as in the old days. Dr. Hell has a plot to exploit Gorgoran which includes using the Great Mazinger. His henchmen are also back: Baron Ashura, who’s half-man and half-woman, and Count Brocken, whose dismembered head hovers around his body. Yes, the gang’s all here – and they’ve brought with them huge numbers of mechanical beasts. A lot of these are classics from the old series, but the fact that they’re all attacking at the same time also means non-stop action. That is not a bad thing until it becomes a bad thing – it’s fun to see a newly rebuilt Mazinger Z using his weapons to creatively deal with several enemies at once, but sometimes there’s too much explosions on the screen to follow.
The problems mainly show up when the movie feels it requires to explain itself with a lot of pseudo-scientific jargon that seems to go on forever. We want to see robots fighting, and we get that in spades, but the whole exposition bits are jarring. A simplified explanation of the plot would’ve worked wonders to move this along. The addition of Lisa and her key role to the resolution is typical Evangelion-levels of complications that feels like the movie searching around for an ending. It doesn’t help that her hair is violet. Strangely enough, it is also reminiscent of the anime movies of old where endings had to have an overly engineered solution through science and the almighty power of friendship.
Recommended for the nostalgia factor and old school fans of anime that want to see an old friend on the screen once more. Mazinger Z is still powered up, there’s battles to follow and some cringe to sit through but in the end that’s still the same robot, the same pilot, the same characters, the same enemies and the same world that keeps a lot of grownups from growing up. I don’t really see a lot for new fans here unless they have some interest on the series or in older anime in general. In short, there’s more here for the old school fan base while for the new fans, it might not be their cup of tea. Rocket-o punch!
That will do for now.