Mazinkaiser SKL and Me
If you are looking for your daily dose of mechanized testosterone, you could do worse than pumping a few CCs of Mazinkaiser SKL into your veins. The dialogue is atrocious, the plot is paper thin, but 99% of the film is fighting, and the fighting is very well done. The drawings are dramatic and beautifully stylized, the animation is flashy and action-packed. What more could you want? Well, there are a lot more things you could want, but for an hour and twenty minutes, you can have as much flashy, high-tech violence as you can swallow, so why not?
Mazinkaiser SKL is the 2013 iteration of Mazinger Z, a character created in the early 70s by Go Nagai. The “Z” in “Mazinger Z” comes from what the robot is made of, namely super-alloy Z. This space-age material is forged using a newly discovered element called “Japanium”, found only in Mt. Fuji.
Mazinger Z was built by Professor Juzo Kabuto, but it turns out that his fellow scientist, Dr. Hell, also built a robot. Someone really should have taken the time to put Dr. Hell on some kind of watchlist when he got his Ph.D. Not only was Dr. Hell named Dr. Hell, but he didn’t exactly look like the rest of his colleagues, what with the purple skin and “unique” coif. (See below)
But all that’s ancient history, that’s the story of Mazinger Z. Mazinkaiser SKL belongs to a whole new world of scientists, evil warlords, interplanetary intrigue, and large breasted women. You can’t have an anime without overblown gender roles. In this one, not only are the characters exaggerations of polarized gender stereotypes, but it even extends to the architecture of their headquarters. The women live in a pink, curly vulva tower, and the evil male villain lives in a fleshy phallus palace. I tried putting “fleshy phallus palace” into Google Maps and got the following response: “Google Maps can't find Fleshy Phallus Palace. Should this place be on Google Maps?” I think the answer is obvious.
Nyron posted a pretty succinct summary of Mazinkaiser SKL on My Anime List:“There is a badass robot, two badass dudes, and lots of shit to ruin in a beautifully animated blaze of glory while lots of huge boobed chicks watch from the sidelines.” But even with such a succinct review at the ready, it’s worth quoting at least a little dialogue to allow you to sample the profundity of this masterwork. Let me set the scene. Our hero Magami is inside the Mazinkaiser robot and the evil Lord Tarun is inside his robot. The two of them are fighting…
Magami: “Screw you asshole, I’m my own man. I live the way I want and die the way I want. Yaaaaaaaaaaah! My life belongs only to me and nobody else, you hear?”
Lord Garun: “I happen to feel the same way about mine, and now I will teach you a lesson. Ahhhhh!”
Lord Garun: “That was a true disappointment, but it was very fun at the same time.”
Magami: “Don’t think you’ve won just yet. Aaaaaaaaaaah! I don’t believe this, how could this have happened?”
Lord Garun: “This is so boring.”
It’s not boring. It’s vapid, but it’s not boring. Playing throughout the film is a Japanese imitation of heavy metal. It’s actually pretty good. I wouldn’t go buying the album, but it’s fun. You have the hard chug of a Metallica-inspired guitar rhythm driving the music forward, and the more operatic style of pop-metal bands like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden flowing on top.
The film has a plot, or really a premise. All you need is a conflict and then you can get straight into the fighting. Mazinkaiser SKL sets up a power struggle for dominion over Machine Island and its special power source. There are three armies in contention: the Garan Army, the Kiba Army, and the Hachiryoukaku Army. All the armies are fighting each other, which is bad, so Mazinkaiser is sent in to fight them all, which is good. Mazinkaiser sets everything straight and everyone is happy. If that’s a spoiler, you are watching the wrong genre.
The original Manzinger Z was part of a group of robots called The Shogun Warriors. I still remember when the whole Shogun Warrior craze began. There were these fabulous commercials on TV for giant, 24-inch plastic robots with spring-loaded projectile hands. My rich cousin Danny got one for Christmas. I was jealous, but he got the lamest one in the series. There were five robots and a Godzilla. Who the hell wants Godzilla? I mean, I guess I would have wanted Godzilla, but the robots were better, and it didn’t make any sense that Godzilla’s hands shot off.
I remember I was eight years old and the corner store had miniature versions of all the robots. I stood in the aisle and stared at them for a long time before I decided to cram a few in my pocket and walk out the door. The store owner ran after me, caught me, and called the police. By the time the cops arrived, I was in tears. One of the cops gave me a piece of bubble gum and told me everything would be OK (I was white). My mom came and got me. She decided not to punish me. My parents were going through a divorce, and she figured I was acting out to get attention. Maybe I was, but I really wanted those robots. Almost half a century later, I sometimes find myself staring at the used ones on eBay. Sigh.
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