Friday 14 May 2010

Anime REVIEW: Mazinkaiser

After being won over by Shin Mazinger, I felt it was time to dig back a bit and see what else the Mazinger Z franchise had to offer. 2001-2002's Mazinkaiser is a 7 OVA (+ 1 "movie") continuation/spin off of the original Mazinger Z and its successor Great Mazinger. After Mazinger Z is defeated by Dr Hell and Baron Ashura's army of mechanical beasts, pilot Koji Kabuto stumbles upon a secret laboratory build by his grandfather, containing the most powerful robot ever built, the Mazinkaiser.

All I can say is, after seeing this I fully realised how much Shin Mazinger brought to the franchise. The fight scenes in Mazinkaiser are pretty spectacular, particularly in the final 2 OVA's and the movie, but everything else is a massive step down in comparison. Despite there being a far smaller cast of characters in Mazinkaiser, characterisation is at its lowest. Personalities are paper thin and nobody really develops at all throughout the series. Koji is a hot head, Aphrodite A pilot Sayaka jealous love interest, Boss is the comic relief etc. Baron Ashura, by far the most fully fleshed out and interesting character in Shin Mazinger, is nothing more than a snivelling lackey to Dr Hell in this continuity. While the art is top notch, it blends cartoon-y style characters with more detailed ones, and this can be particularly throwing at times.

Mazinkaiser is also fully aware of its demographic, and is sure to cater to that. The fanservice in this series is at ridiculous levels (particularly episode 4, which ironically enough is a beach episode), with explosions, breasts and giant robots around every corner. Not so bad if that's what you enjoy in an anime, but this series is about as complex as a 2 piece jigsaw puzzle. The film has a little more depth to it, but since its a homage to a film from the original Mazinger Z it does fall a little flat if you haven't seen the original. What I will say though is the Mazinkaiser docking sequence is EPIC.

In short, for a formulaic action/mecha series that's big on action and low on plot, Mazinkaiser is at the top of its game. And to be perfectly honest, it doesn't ever try to be any more than that. It's extremely enjoyable for what it is, but Shin Mazinger remains superior in every single way.

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