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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

REVIEW: Mazinger Z: INFINITY


Mazinger Z, briefly known in the US as Tranzor Z, helped launch the popularity of mecha anime and manga. The first piloted super robot is something of a symbol for mecha fans. Since its creation, multiple manga and anime featuring other versions of Mazinger have been produced. For its 45th anniversary, a special theatrical film was produced by Toei to bring Mazinger Z back to life.

Set ten years after the ending of the original anime series, the new movie follows Mazinger Z’s pilot, Koji Kabuto, having retired from piloting giant robots as peacetime has finally come to the world. Now, Koji is a scientist studying a new energy source, photon power. Koji’s longtime partner, Sayaka, is the new director at the Photon Power Lab, following her father becoming the Prime Minister of Japan.

The story sets off when Koji discovers a giant Mazinger called Infinity buried within Mt. Fuji and finds a humanoid computer named Lisa linked within it. Dr. Hell, a longtime enemy of Mazinger Z, returns at the same time, capturing Mazinger Great’s pilot, Tetsuya Tsurugi, whose wife Jun (another former pilot) is expecting their first child. Dr. Hell’s plan is to use Mazinger Great to link with Infinity in place of Lisa and collect photon power and remake the universe. Got all that?

Koji’s character is the most developed in the story… and probably the only developed character at that. He struggles with the thought of stepping back in the cockpit after ten years and being used primarily as a propaganda ploy to rally the other troops. Additionally, he is pressured by his friends to settle down and marry Sayaka. Everyone else is kinda just there. Sayaka is worried about everyone. Lisa doesn’t understand human emotions. Tetsuya is captured. Jun is pregnant. These are all constant throughout the film’s story.

But hey, we came here to see robot’s rocket punch things, right? Mazinger Z: INFINITY has all kinds of awesome action set pieces, featuring multiple classic Mazinger robots both good and evil. Every iconic special attack is used in stunning HD. And as someone who is usually not a fan of CGI being used in anime, I gotta say all the computer-generated effects blended really well with the 2D animation. It seems like they recreated every classic enemy robot for this movie, with the frame constantly being filled with all sorts of different, independently moving mechanical foes. Any scene that had one Mazinger taking on a fifty or more villain robots was awesome.

Nostalgia has been driving a lot of media over the past decade, and Toei is by no means an exception - especially when it comes to anniversaries. Several franchises, like Dragon Ball and Digimon, have had revivals with mixed reactions from old fans. Mazinger Z: INFINITY does it right in my book. One single film that’s jam-packed with all the awesomeness you love from the original series. Awesome mecha action, angsty pilots, and some weird and funny bits too. This is how you celebrate an anniversary.

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