Let me just go ahead and get this out of the way. I’ve never seen a single episode of the Mazinger Z television show or any of its sequels. However, when I was around ten years old, Mattel released two-foot tall Shogun Warriors toys and I had, and loved, Mazinga (as he was called in the States). Marvel comics then licensed them and published twenty issues of a comic devoted to the human-piloted giant robots – and I still have every issue. So when the opportunity presented itself to get a look at the new film, Mazinger Z: Infinity, I couldn’t pass it up. Mazinger Z: Infinity was released as part of a celebration of 50 years of work by its creator, Go Nagai (who introduced the film in a short video at the special Fathom Event I attended), and is set ten years after the conclusion of the first sequel series, Great Mazinger. For those who aren’t familiar with the basic concept, Mazinger Z helped kick off the 1970s explosion of mecha anime, and was the first occurrence of mechas piloted from a cockpit. And for those wondering, yes, it was a huge hit in Mexico in the 80s and Guillermo Del Toro was a huge fan. Having no real familiarity with the material beyond the basic concept, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t know what was going on, and being an old man I had a flash of concern after the hyper-kinetic opening battle sequence. My old man eyes just couldn’t keep up with what was happening on-screen for most of what is, admittedly, a fantastically creative and energetic 3DCG battle between Great Mazinger and what seemed like hundreds of the giant mechanized monsters, Savage Kikaiju. Luckily, my eyes got used to the action and I was thoroughly entertained by the rest of the film. Especially since Takahiro Ozawa’s screenplay does a great job of reestablishing the characters and their relationships. The “ten-years later” setting also helped to make the film approachable to both new fans and old. All of the characters from the series are here; Great Mazinger pilot Tetsuya Tsurugi, his (now) wife, Jun Hono and his little brother Shiro, along with our main protagonist Koji Kabuto, pilot of the original Mazinger Z, his on-again off-again girlfriend Sayake Yumi, her father, (the now) Prime Minister Yumi, and comic relief, Boss. They’re opposed by the bizarrely headless Count Brocken, the two-faced, split-gendered Baron Ashura, and their boss, the fantastically named Dr. Hell. The plot goes a little something like this: It’s been ten years since Great Mazinger and Mazinger Z defeated Dr. Hell and his minions. Since then, Sayaka has become the director of Japan’s Photonic Power Lab and Koji has retired from mecha-piloting and become a scientist. During construction of the Photonic Power Lab, another Mazinger robot is discovered buried at the base of Mt. Fuji and it’s TEN TIMES BIGGER than Mazinger Z. As Koji investigates, a young woman – L.I.S.A., the cyborg A.I. pilot program of the gigantic mecha – emerges from the newfound Mazinger and imprints on Koji. It turns out, this giant mecha, dubbed Mazinger Infinity, has the power to recreate all of reality in the image of its controller. Cue the re-emergence of Dr. Hell and his armies and the film’s central question: is humanity worth saving or should we start over from scratch? And if starting over is the choice, somebody’s got to stop Dr. Hell from creating a universe of monsters where humanity ceases to exist. It’s a surprisingly interesting and philosophical film, despite director Junji Shimizu’s assertion in the introductory video interviews that the theme was simply “entertainment.” I was impressed by the way the film was able to balance the serious nature of the threat, solid character development, goofy-ass comedy, and amazingly orchestrated action sequences. Mazinger Z: Infinity is about as solid a film about giant mechas fighting giant kaiju as is humanly possible. And while I didn’t catch all the references and callbacks to the original series, the audience I watched the film with seemed to, and loved it. There was even applause when all was said and done. In the end, Mazinger Z: Infinity did what few other modern interpretations of classics actually accomplish: it updates the source material without losing any of the qualities that made it a classic in the first place. Even better, it made me want to go back and watch the original series. If that’s not a success, I don’t know what is. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.