Mazinger Z: Infinity was released to American audiences for a special two day showing. I was able to attend the Sunday viewing of the film, courtesy of Fathom Events. Being a fan of giant robots, seeing this movie was a no-brainer for me. But to lay all the cards on the table, I did not know what to expect as I have not seen this show in years.
My experience with Mazinger Z consists of an old OVA that I saw back in the late 80’s and an action figure that I owned. As I got older, I learned what the show was but never tracked it down to watch the series as a whole. That might change now after seeing INFINITY.
Ten years ago, the villainous scientist Dr. Hell led his wicked followers, known as the “Underground Empire,” in a struggle to destroy all of humanity. It was against these forces that the young hero Koji Kabuto fought, piloting the legendary super robot “Mazinger Z.” Koji’s victory stopped Dr. Hell’s evil plan and returned peace to the Earth.
Now Koji has left the pilot seat behind and become a scientist in his own right, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. Yet an unexpected encounter deep under Mt. Fuji triggers an even greater threat to mankind than ever before and alters Koji’s destiny forever. With humanity’s fate in their hands, Koji and Mazinger Z face a choice between good… and evil.
Celebrating 50 years of the Manziger franchise, creator Go Nagai gives us Mazinger Z: INFINITY, an all-new, action-packed OVA. INFINITY is the sequel to the original Mazinger Z series that aired in the 70’s. INFINITY centers around Koji Kabuto, pilot of the mighty title character, who defeated the evil Dr. Hell when he was 16 years old!
The film focuses on how the heroes and heroines of the original series moved on in the last ten years. We see the two heroes living very different lives. Koji, now in his 20’s, has become a well respected researcher. Tetsuya Tsurugi, on the other hand, is still a pilot and is still getting into battles as we see in the film’s opening during an attack at a Photonic Power Plant located in Texas.
The military has taken the Mazinger technology and applied it to new robots that are piloted by soldiers tasked to defending the world from Dr. Hell. One of those soldiers is Koji’s younger brother Shiro, who is now about the same age as Koji was when he became a pilot. Sayaka is the new director of Japan’s Photonic Power Lab. She was Koji’s partner and girlfriend and longs for finally settling down. She feels that Koji has lost interest in her and is debating on breaking up.
If you are a longtime fan of the series, these story mentions get you caught up very quickly with what has been happening in the character’s lives. It was also nice to see that they did not create a totally new bad guy for this movie. Seeing Dr. Evil, Brocken and Baron Ashura again gives this movie a sort of nostalgic feel.
There is a discovery of new Mazin robot buried at the base of Mt. Fuji. This Mazin is HUGE! It is Nearly ten times bigger than Mazinger Z. Koji gives this Mazin the name INFINITY. We learn from the Large Intelligent System Agent, or L.I.S.A, that INFINITY is powerful enough to turn its pilot in into both God and the Devil and to shape reality the way they see fit. Of course, this is too tempting for Dr. Hell to pass up, so he makes a play for this new robot. At the same time, Koji finds himself grappling with the notion of being a pilot or to let the next generation become heroes.
INFINITY does a really good job of balancing the drama with the fun, over the top action scenes. The animation is a cross between 2D and 3D. The the computer rendering is left mostly for the mechas. This blending of the two different styles creates some of the most colorful, most beautiful animation that I have seen in a while.
The movie throws every monster possible at our heroes. This is something that the television show didn’t really do due to focusing on one monster a week. We get to see familiar designs like the Doublas M2, Gumbina M5, and Garada K-7. We also get glimpses of new designs to include an evil robotic Santa complete with jet powered sleigh!
I have to discuss one last thing. When I see movies, it is not un-common to see a product placement here and there. I never thought that I would see them in an Anime. I’m serious from the Sony Vaio computer to the Nissans that everyone drove, this was something I was not used to seeing in a cartoon. Nissan was so prominent that we see the cast drive several Nissan and a dealership.