The upcoming film Mazinger Z: Infinity, soon to premiere on the big screen in the United States, is one of the latest entries in the mecha genre of anime. Already released in Italy and Japan, fans here are anticipating its special screening Feb. 11 and 12.
In the world of anime, one of the oldest and most established genres is the mecha — stories of intrepid youths piloting gigantic robots to defend Earth from mad scientists, shadowy organizations, and monstrous inhuman threats. The mecha genre has been going strong in Japan for decades, and has quite the devoted following here in the United States.
After all, each generation has had an anime series to love and a robotic hero to call their own. Whether your Robot of choice is Voltron, Gundam, or Gurren-Lagann,the genre as we know it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for one robot in particular: Mazinger Z.
Mazinger Z is the heart of the Genre
The 1972 series Mazinger Z is a cornerstone of anime history. Created by the highly influential manga artist Go Nagai, Mazinger Z tells the story of hotheaded teenager Koji Kabuto, who inherits his late grandfather’s creation, the Super Robot Mazinger Z. Using a hovercraft-like ship docked in Mazinger Z’s head to pilot it from within, Koji battles against the nefarious Dr. Hell and his army of giant Mechanical Beasts.
The show proved to be a smash hit, running for 2 years and 92 episodes, spawning two sequel series, Great Mazinger featuring the titular successor to Z, and UFO Robo Grendizer, which became a worldwide success in its own right.
Mazinger Z’s success kickstarted a boom in Super Robot anime during the 70s and served as the basis for an entire genre of anime to come. Prior to Mazinger, series such as Astro Boy, Gigantor, or Giant Robo featured remote-controlled or fully-autonomous robot protagonists, and many other familiar themes and tropes from mecha series and anime can be traced back to Mazinger Z. Anything from teens piloting giant robots, flying rocket fists, and loudly announcing the name of your special attack can be traced back to Mazinger Z.
Ten Years Later
Mazinger Z: Infinity is set 10 years after the events of the original series with our heroes now settled into a peaceful existence. Koji has become a prolific scientist like his grandfather before him and Sayaka Yumi, a fellow giant robot pilot and Koji’s love interest from the original series, heads the New Photon Research Center. With the Photon Energy previously used to power Mazinger as the basis for a source of completely clean energy, a newfound period of prosperity for humanity is ushered in. However, the discovery of a mysterious new Mazinger known as “Infinity” and the unexpected return of old enemies threaten this era of peace, and our heroes must take action once again to protect all of mankind. Infinity blends traditional and CGI anima-tion together, with human characters and backgrounds in 2D and all the giant robots and action scenes rendered in 3D.
The CGI action in particular is quite impressive, with all of Mazinger’s iconic attacks and secret weapons on full display in exciting, fast-paced scenes of giant robot combat. There are many nods and references to previous shows in Infinity, which may be difficult to follow for those not seeped in knowledge of the long-running franchise, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable movie for anyone who wants to see colorful and imaginative fights between larger-than-life characters and their even larger-than-that robots.
Mazinger Z: Infinity’s American release comes hot on the heels of two other adaptations of creator Go Nagai’s other works. With recent release of Netflix’s Devilman Crybaby, and the upcoming Cutie Honey Universe, adaptations of two of Go Nagai’s equally influential works, now is a good time to be a fan of classic anime. Mazinger Z: Infinity proves to be a solid movie for longtime and lifelong fans of Japan’s plethora of giant robot characters, and pays tribute to the robot that truly defined what it means to be a Super Robot.
“Mazinger Z: Infinity” premieres in select theatres for a limited screening on Feb. 11 and 12. For more information, go to: www.fathomevents.com/events/mazinger-z-infinity.