ANIME/FILM REVIEW | "Infinity" And Beyond With Impressive "Mazinger Z" Continuation
While Osamu Tezuka is considered the God of Manga, Go Nagai on the other hand should be thought of as the creator of practically every single popular genre of the art form. From magical girls with Cutie Honey and hardcore action with Devilman to even ecchi comedies with Dororon Enma-kun, Nagai was and still is a pioneer of both anime and manga as a whole. His biggest contribution was the creation of the mecha genre, with his iconic concoction known as Mazinger Z. 45 years after its debut (and 50 years since Nagai started his career), pilot Koji Kabuto (Wayne Grayson) returns to prep for one epic battle in Mazinger Z: Infinity.
Taking place ten years after the battle against Dr. Hell (Mike Pollock), Mazinger Z: Infinity has Koji stepping away from piloting and into the world of science. While constructing a new building to harness photon energy, they discover a massive robot underneath Mt. Fuji. Inside lays a bio-organic woman named Lisa (Courtney Shaw), who can control the robot and also perform the capabilities of exchanging universes via a power known as Goragora. That's when Dr. Hell shocking reemerges, capturing the Great Mazinger and its pilot Tetsuya (Dan Green) during an attack. Hen then reveals his true plan: to use Goragora to destroy the current universe.
It should be noted that in order to fully comprehend what's going on in this film, viewers will need a decent amount of knowledge regarding the Mazinger Z universe. The film drops its audience right into the thick of its massive plot, with very little back story delivered aside from a condensed montage during the opening credits. Because of this, people who walk blindly into Infinity will no doubt find themselves very confused about the importance of these characters.
However, those who have been following Koji's adventures will no doubt love every aspect that this film delivers. Right at the get-go, viewers will be treated to a grand display of mecha and kaiju battles, with the first sequence proudly showcasing a plethora of robots and monsters beating the living bejesus out of each other. Bringing to shame the likes of Pacific Rim and its disappointing Uprising sequel, these and other battles throughout the film demonstrate the power and tenacity that Nagai's creation delivers. All of this is captured in Toei Animation's impressive attention to detail, with its mixture of traditional and CGI animation meshing far better than past attempts at the style.
Of course, this is trademark Go Nagai, so there will be some fan-service-y shots both from an action and ecchi perspective. The excitement of giant beasts clashing with one another will delight any fan of the genre, and it makes no qualms over how it's presented. As for the more perverted parts, the appearance of the MazinGirls goes far and beyond the concept of mere eye-candy, with their respective robots even performing their bootylicious poses for the sake of a good laugh. (And yes, there are plenty of boob rockets on display to leave every horn-dog fan with bashful grins on their faces.)
Surprisingly, Mazinger Z: Infinity goes the Devilman Crybaby route with its display of social commentary via both Lisa and Dr. Hell's mentalities. The latter feels the need to destroy the universe because he's deemed it worthless; the former, with the aid of Koji, tries to overlook the crummier parts of society and seeks the helpers that try to better the world. Although it doesn't reach the deeper aspects that the recent Devilman adaptation succeeded at, it knows how to make a proper point about the importance of giving life a chance to attempt to do the right thing.
For Blu-Ray extras, VIZ Media delivers a plethora of behind-the-scenes footage from the director and crew behind the making of the film. Nagai also shows up with a quick intro that preceded the theatrical release, showcasing his eternal gratitude towards the fans who've stuck by Mazinger Z throughout the years. Although the shortest of the extras, the most fun to watch is singer Ichiro Mizuki being as epic as ever behind the mic as he bellows the film's opening theme.
Mazinger Z: Infinity is a great follow-up to the iconic series. However, unlike Devilman Crybaby or Cutie Honey Universe, people will need to be familiar with the original source material to truly understand it. (Its original 92-episode anime is available in the US, which serves as an appropriate way to spruce up one's knowledge.) Those who do know enough about the original piloted mecha series will certainly have a blast seeing their beloved heroes & villains return in a finely polished and super-fun sequel.
Promotional consideration provided by Erik Jansen of MediaLab PR