Mazinkaiser SKL 01: Mein Kaiser!

...They're some of the best pilots of the year.

While there were some slim pickings for mecha in 2010 for those who were farther West 2010 did end with a bang, and if you were living in the far east then 2011 started off with a BIG BANG when Mazinkaiser SKL was subbed. While Go Nagai’s works seem to inspire less fervor and attention than most other series, here at THAT we still venerate the Super Robot Genre, and as such we accept Mazinkaiser as our personal saviors for 2011 and to each of us he is Mein Kaiser. If you ever wondered what it would be like to have a show where Yazan Gable and Prince Ali were to team up and not be total jerks to people who don’t quite deserve it is well worth checking out. If you are one of the Super Robot Faithful you will not be disappointed, and if you are tired of under 17 mecha pilots and their bullshit then Mazinkaiser will show you what is possible when you have two genuinely insane pilots wreaking havoc instead of prattling about something stupid.

Preface By ghostlightning

This new OVA apparently has little or noting to do with the first OVA and the Movie featuring the titular robot from the previous decade. Those past shows featured the core characters of the Mazinger Z universe: Kabuto Koji, Dr. Hell, Tsurugi Tetsuya and others. Furthermore, the Mazinkaiser robot is featured as the ultimate evolutionary design of Kabuto Juuzo; from Mazinger Z, to Great Mazinger, to finally Mazinkaiser.

This story not only makes very little to no direct reference (i.e. the continuity) with the past shows, the design of the Mazinkaiser is altered significantly. It features two pilots in one (SKL/Skull) Pilder. Each pilot switches piloting duties depending on battle conditions. One specializes in pistols, the other in a giant two-handed sword. Furthermore, the organization of the SKL force is far more militarized — this time with a battle commander.

I’ll let my comrade Crusader comment more on the fighting. This is because the show has taken a far more military feel — a departure from its superhero roots (Super Robots play out their stories more like super heroes rather than the war stories of real robot anime). Further evidence of this is the utter lack of called-out attacks. We get to see the Mazinkaiser’s “Turbo Smasher Punch” at least twice, and yet they were launched without the usual fanfare.

How big a departure is this? Mazinger Z originated the giant robot with a pilot. It originated shouting out orders as a means of controlling the machine:

PILDER ON!
ROCKET PUNCH!
BREAST FIRE!

…and so on. This became so influential that every super robot show followed suit, and that it would take Mobile Suit Gundam to begin bucking the trend. The departure from the super robot style of show would not be as pronounced without eschewing this practice. And, Mazinkaiser SKL did it. It was very real robot that way.

But this is not to say it the lines are that blurred in the show. How combat is portrayed is that of a massive brawl. While sides are supposedly organized as armies, there is no organization that distinguishes use of melee and ranged weapons. Guns, cannons, missiles and arrows are fired willy-nilly amidst throngs in melee hacking about with swords, sickles, and beam blades. I’m no military historian, but I’d characterize this kind of fighting pre-dating the Greeks and Trojan conflicts (minus of course, the mechanized weapons).

The result is that of an awesome violent spectacle far exceeding anything from the Shin Mazinger Z-Hen show, which is what I would expect from an OVA like this one. The moves are very stylized with the emphasis on coolness, but always very violent, very manly. I for one felt like I turned into a giant pair of testicles after watching the show.

Crusader

As ghosty has already stated there is not real connection to Mazinger Z though the eagerness to incorporate Go Nagai shout outs remains pretty much the same even if they did not cram as much as Shin Mazinger Z. There is at the very least a seemingly military structure at work though in the case of Death Caprice military structure is largely superficial though as special operations troops they still have to listen to Yuki even if they are quite in the right when they get to choose how to accomplish those orders. Moreover Death Caprice aren’t the kind of dudes to look at things from a strategic point of view. As for Galan, Aria, and Kiba they seemed to have regressed to Dark Ages warfare as there is no organization and armies were smaller with champions having nominal command but with limited ability to dictate the flow of battle. Also a lot is taken for granted on the island only the Octagon has any indication of plant growth and yet even if each faction has access to a limitless supply of robots they don’t indicate how they manage to feed so many and certainly there seems to be a huge gender disparity between all the groups so there is little answer to where each generation comes from. Despite the seemingly crass logic, I do like how mecha designs give each faction a very unique feel. In Kiba’s case his is an army of beasts whose monstrous mecha reflect their monstrous pilots of no merit. Galan’s forces seem to be a little more humanoid and look like a bunch of dudes in armor, with an assortment of weaponry as opposed to the organic weaponry of the Kiba forces. Octagon forces seem to imply a technological edge and fragility and their rather poor performance against Kiba’s army reflected that.

There is almost no instances of calling out attacks which is very real robot in spirit but the combat that is used is very super robot in nature. They do break the fourth wall here and there pointing out the draw backs of rocket punches while at the same time celebrating them. There is an obvious nod to Cutie Honey in this OVA but even so the combat here is much more visceral than in most real robot shows. Each kill comes with liberal amounts of robot innards and robots bleeding, and most delightfully of all we get to see the pilots die in rather graphic and humorous ways. Seldom will you see a show where the protagonists would simply crush opposing pilots underfoot, it would probably be deemed excessive, cruel even, but here there is a sense of contempt as Kiba’s boys weren’t a very sympathetic lot. The liberal use of gun-kata in addition to gory sword play was a first for me. While Mein Kaiser is not the first to dual wield he is the first in a long time to employ a very showy technique instead of the usual stop at the cool factor for dual pistols. The conceit of realism is quite thin and when employing the rule of cool Mazinkaiser goes the distance every time and is not concerned with realism or hard sci-fi.

It is a super robot show in form but the spirit is quite different as it is not about justice for the pilots they just want to fight and the Mazinkaiser design largely reflects this. Where as Mazinger Z could be a God or a Demon, Mazinkaiser’s design errs more on the side of demon with the spikes and skull pilder. Death Caprice has been cut from a very different cloth than most mecha protagonists in any other show they would likely be villains or fill the blood knight slot. It is like having Prince Ali and Yazan Gable doing what they do best only with a decent enough leash where they don’t kill as wantonly even if they like to dare friendly fire on those they are supposed to be helping. They hold Octagon forces largely in contempt along with most of their enemies, they aren’t gentlemen and don’t pretend to be. While Kabuto Koji may have had courage and guts to call his won Death Caprice are simply lunatics and sadistic killers with a bit of heart. They aren’t splitting hairs about what is right or the bad points about taking sides in a conflict, all they care about is Kiba is bad so kill they ass. It’s simple and as a 3 ep OVA this is perfectly fine.

Mazinkaiser is like IGLOO 2 the story is hardly there but the action puts many mecha series to shame as they do so much in 30 minutes than some series do in an arc. Mazinkaiser has a somewhat unique flavor as it deviates from the established super robot conventions and rarely will you see two heroes acting very un-heroically as they derive a sadistic glee when they beat up on enemies and squish them underfoot. They may not be calling out attacks but they do make threats, taunts, and insults to make up for it. If you simply need to have a hero pure of heart who moans about friendship, and righteousness at every opportunity this is not the series for you, but if you want to see two bad ass dudes kick ass and get shit done then Mazinkaiser is well worth seeing. It isn’t real robot but it is very stylish, gory, and AWESOME.

As for predictions I suspect Himiko is going to be the Final Boss as Galan seems to be little better than Kiba. Kiba’s group was just garbage and it was amply shown by their lack of discipline and gangster ways. I like how Kiba was castrated by Mazinkaiser and his manliness challenged and finally crushed. Kiba wasn’t much of a man if his first target was the Octagon and his objective was to get women in a most vile manner. They deserved to get wiped out and massacred and it is refreshing to see that there were no apologies being made for killing the lot of them. Hopefully Yuki isn’t going to be as useless as Sayaka and at least she’s wearing more and hopefully her mech won’t be a pushover.

Now that is how you motivate people!

Wow it's like Escaflowne all over again...

I don't care if Goufs are blue, Gihern's gay and Full Frontal too, Lockon I don't care about you, It's Mein Kaiser and it is Love!

But what good are snub fighters against that?

Oh man and already Aphrodite A is being shown up...

Sorry Jihad-kun but Mein Kaiser's one sword is better than your seven.

Just smashing!

Mein Kaiser has mastered the art of Gun-kata, unlike a certain Loser named Lockon...

THIS is how you dual wield.

This son of Zeus is here to save the faithful.

Man if only they could lecture those underage Gundam pilots...

Wait did Wonder Woman have kids?

Kiba = Kaifun, he also gave crappy concerts.

Why Hello there your Grace. I suppose Galan is a Leon?

So this is Neo-Venezia?

O RLY?

Mein Kaiser has come to bring you to hell...

Who needs funnels when you have FISTS?

So very visceral...

Amen to that, though to be fair t'is only a small drawback...

How utterly vile! He's trying to steal her first kissu! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

Mein Kaiser frowns upon your trying to destroy her shoujo dreams.

No...

DAMN YOU!

Just be glad it wasn't you know... some other liquid from that guy.

I guess I was not the only one to go through Equilibrium...

I prefer blood-like oil to colored smoke.

That was easy.

No what is fucking up is that I have to wait a few months for the next one.

INDEED.

YEAH BRING IT BITCH!

Kiba was made of weaksauce, always picking on girls in the play ground...

...

O_o

Bet those lousy Funnels can't do that.

HERE HERE!

AMEN BROTHER!

And that is why they are so much better than under 17 Gundam Pilots.

O RLY?

After all, WHO DO YOU THINK THEY ARE?

Mein Kaizer is here to save the mecha genre and show those kids in other series how THINGS GET DONE.

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32 Comments

  1. Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Well, quite.

    More mecha should arrive on the battlefield by rising from a suddenly-opening flaming chasm which devours combatants from both sides.

    • Crusader
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure that chasm devoured any Octagon troops, even going over it slowly it seemed that those sent to burn in hell were almost exclusively Kiba forces. Maybe this was intentional as only bad people go to hell. Hey if it came out of the Statue of Liberty it would have been just as well, but it was a most impressive entry.

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Tangentially… this show is the “super” equivalent of Broken Blade, but dispenses with phlegmatic characters with burdensome development arcs in front of them and instead presents fangs-bared, monsters of aggression wholly enjoyable without ‘development.’ Hell, it dispenses with the ambitious political and romantic-fraternal drama and gives the finger to the “war is hell” theme…

      Magami and Kaido wants us to believe in their hell.

  2. Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I *still* can’t help but shake the feeling that Himiko is a Jeeg homage that managed to sneak in among the Devilman, Devilman Lady, and Cutey Honey pastiches that got slapped on this Mazinger timeline. It must be the Orochi imagery of Galan’s fortress.

    Hmm, notice the ruins of the Photonic Energy Labs in the OP?

    • Crusader
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      I guess those ruins were the handiwork of the Great General of Darkness, whose return I eagerly anticipate. I wouldn’t put it past them to have Himiko as a series immigrant. Hopefully Her Grace is planning something delightfully evil while Galan takes the role of her stooge. Maybe later we will have Gamia 3 and Kurogane House join the fun…

  3. Anonymous
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    it has more connection to violence jack than mazinger.

    however, aira mu appears in it, and she’s from god mazinger… and violence jack.

    • Crusader
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Still it’s hard to look past Mazinkaiser’s pedigree even if the characters are migrants from elsewhere.

  4. SquareSphere
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    That… was… AWESOME! Praise Zeus! What a great start to the year :3

    • Crusader
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      A most glorious start indeed more to come so 2011 will not totally be without good mecha.

  5. grss1982
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    “I guess I was not the only one to go through Equilibrium…”

    Amen to that brother!!!! :D

    • Crusader
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      Glad I am really not alone. I wonder how many of us there are though…

      • Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:29 am | Permalink

        I watched that too, pretty nifty though I’ll be damned if I remember anything else from it outside the Gun-kata.

        • Kherubim
          Posted January 9, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

          “Here’s a question, more of a riddle actually. What is the best way to disarm a Grammation Cleric?”

          Wasn’t the whole point of the movie about Gun Kata and Sean Bean dying early???

  6. Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Mazinkaiser is FUCKIN’ AWESOMELY EPIC. GODLIKE SUPER ROBOT FOR THE WIN! >_<

    • Crusader
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:29 am | Permalink

      Let us PRAY comrade.

  7. Kherubim
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Is it full of awesome MANLINESS??? I was intrigued by the plugs you guys gave on Twitter and will take a look…

    • Crusader
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:30 am | Permalink

      It is hyper violent for a super robot show enemies getting squished underfoot, not like them purple clouds in that Cosmic Era bullshit.

      • Kherubim
        Posted January 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        None of them seem to understand, the Kaiser is not locked in there with them, they’re locked in there with the Kaiser!!!

      • Posted November 26, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

        Is that really all there is to it because that’d be flabberatgisng.

  8. ReddyRedWolf
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    My goodness its as if various OVA incarnations and New Getter Robo versions of Ryouma and Hayato got concentrated in these two and given a Mazinger robot instead of a Getter robot.

    Yeah he may have the title but Kiba isn’t Boss. His criminal attitude shows as he wants to make the Octagon’s women his sex slaves. When dropped off that woman to the floor you realize her and others used to be pilots turned to spoils of war.

    As for the situation the world may be saved from immediate destruction but with three factories producing robots Mazinkaizer could very well pull a Conan unite whatever is left, and conquer the world or at very least spread war.

    Oh after that blood bath some women may actually want to bear Ken Kaido and Ryo Magami’s children.

    • Crusader
      Posted January 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      It was disgusting what he was doing before PIG DISGUSTING when we put two and two together…

      Still I quite like Mazinkaiser HELL Kiba got the ass kicking he so rightly deserved, as for pulling a Conan i have my doubts that Death Caprice will be able to rule together… moreover it’s not about power but about FIGHTING, not leading.

  9. Rockmanshii
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Hell yeah I knew I could count on you guys to preach about how this Mazinkaizer OVA is FUCKIN EPIC. It’s the kind of show I’ll make my kids watch when they’ll be mature enough.

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      The irony! It actually does take a lot of maturity to enjoy a show like this and not turn into an idiot. For those of us who do enjoy it, it feels good man.

      Mazinger Z was the first anime I ever saw at around 3 years old and I certainly did not grow up to be a misogynistic, immoral freak.

      My daughter just turned 1 year old today and while she doesn’t have the attention span to last a full ep she did see Shin-Mazinger Z ep 01 as her first piece of Japanese animation ever.

      • Rockmanshii
        Posted January 3, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Yup feels good.
        I never watched the original Mazinger Z as I wasn’t even born when it aired in my country, but my big brother did and he’s the one that got me into anime. Last year he often made fun of me, joking about the fact that I’m enjoying Shin Mazinger too much and a 19 years old like me who didn’t watched the original doesn’t deserve to watch it.
        Happy birthday to your daughter.

        • Posted January 4, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

          Thanks!

          Tell your older bro to stop being an oldfag elitist bully LOL

          If I did try to watch the original Mazinger Z today I doubt I’d last through the fugly bad guy of the week crap for episodes on end.

  10. Posted January 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    This was a lot of fun to watch! I loved the over the top random fighting. The gun mode was epic and fast and mechs bleeding! to cool :D

    Can’t wait for the rest of this.

    • Crusader
      Posted January 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      The second installment cannot come soon enough…

  11. Posted January 4, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I watched the episode 1 as well and more or less I have the same feeling. Can’t wait for Wingle and her combination with Kaizer :D

  12. sinjin
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    personally don’t see the love for the show, & i am shin mazinger / mazinkaizer fan. Problems: too thin on plot. Gun-fu animation doesn’t work for me, too fast & unconvincing, & i don’t get the whole gun/axe cartridge thing (diving to load, flipping/catching cartridge, etc.) Also, the way they animate kaizer, for all his spikes/sharp points/muscles, he might as well be made of rubber. Pros: the mechanical design/concept is great. That’s about it.

4 Trackbacks

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