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:
…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.
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.