Shin Mazinger Shōgeki! Z-Hen (You May Now Use The Word Epic)

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Odds were that a title that could be identified as a proper epic would actually appear to salvage the word….however temporary.  Here is a title that even identifies itself as an epic in it’s title, so go ahead and call it one

Shin Mazinger’s opener is an oddity because it’s not really an opener at all, but instead what appears to be a pastiche of the final events of the Mazin Saga woven together to set the stage for the epic to come.  It’s a spoiler essentially, but in my opinion it works as an artistic choice.  Why you might ask, well because in the history of the ancient epics and mythologies (which Mazinger is like a modernization of if the presence of Zeus doesn’t tip you off) the majority of the time the listener already knew what was going to happen. 

Take the Ragnarök Saga for example.  The final destiny of the gods.  We already know what is foretold and how the heroes and villains of the story will act and how the gods will all be killed in a legendary battle with the Frost Giants that ends in the burning of the World Tree, the submerging of Midgard and the rebirth to follow as the waters subside and life begins anew.  Not only do we know the fate of the gods, but the bards have regailed audiences with the epic tale so many times that all that is left to wonder at is the embellish of the particular performer as to the events of epic.  And so it is the same with Shin Mazinger and it’s bard Yasuhiro Imagawa.

You may know of Imagawa from such works as the legendary OVA Giant Robo and G Gundam among others and if there is one thing he has been praised for in all of his works it’s his stunning sense of how to use the imagery in any given seen to bring out the full power of a moment and leave naught to chance at it’s meaning.  A famous example of this is the way Imagawa made use of lighting and angular shots in Giant Robo to make it appear as if it was showing emotion and reacting to events when in actuality it just had a face that was permenantly fixed in an expressionless stare.  That was nothing compared to what he would accomplish in Tetsujin 28th with the unveiling of the Tetsujin in what is to me personally the most powerful anime scene I have ever born witness too.  I was going to be uploading a video of this scene, but my computer doesn’t seem to want to convert the file so that I can edit and upload it so I’ll just say this, if you can, go out and pick up Tetsujin 28th as it’s one of the hidden gems of 2004 and I cannot find enough ways in which to praise it (and this is rare for me because normally I hate overpraising anything).

Imagawa doesn’t quite reach the heights in Shin Mazinger’s “opener” that he did in Tetsujin, but his directoral prowess and attention to detail (ugh cliche I know, but it’s actually true here) is clearly evident:

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The first scene is extremely reminiscent of the Stalker bits from G Gundam where he would inform you of the Gundam fight to come and talk directly to the audience about the events of the show to help hype up the episode.  Kouji’s bit here is similar and I love how the first thing we see is just a pair of eyes to create a sense of mystery and then a light…..and Kouji is brought into the picture to tell his incredible story.  It’s excellent in creating a sense of wonder not only for the audience, but to show that clearly Kouji thinks so as well in the experience that will lead to him being given Mazinger Z and the potential to become either a god or a devil with it.  This is Imagawa’s ability on display to pull the maximum effect out of a fairly simple concept and it’s only the first minute….

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Behold the ruin that is, and that which is yet to come as Ankoku Daishogun rises from the ground to do battle with Mazinger Z

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I like this bit of imagery too and I think more then a few people will be reminded of the Sekiha Love Love Tenkyoken from G Gundam taking on the image of the King of Hearts, the spirit of the God Gundam.  Well if anybody is the spirit of Mazinger Z then it is Juzo Kabuto who built the damn thing, so it’s only appropriate for him to ride it’s fist of justice in what looks to be the final battle for humanity’s fate….but does he do it as a God or Devil?

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Dr. Hell’s godhood complex reaches it’s peak as he attempts to deliver his own twisted version of The Sermon On The Mount to his soldiers to go forth and end this war between his and Juzo’s will once and for all

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I liked this particular zoom out.  Here we see Count Brocken getting ready to lead his armies in an attack on the Photon Power Lab and while at first they appear to just be foot soldiers on a non descript landscape, the camera pulls out to reveal that they are in fact on the Gool and his army is made up of a vast number of Machine Beasts

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Ahhhh Baron Ashura, you and your classic split gender face.  Baron Ashura for those who don’t know is almost a legend of his/her own within the Mazin Saga and takes on his/her name from the multi-headed demi-god Ashura from multiple mythologies.  Baron Ashura practically started the whole sadistic recurring villain gimmick (along with his/her thing for speaking with either a male, female or male/female combined voice depending on which side of his head is facing the camera) on his/her own and really there still isn’t much quite like this character.  Baron Ashura will never get old….much like Mazinger Zsnapshot20090406214337

Imagawa is doing the Giant Robo thing yet again with the Boss Borot.  Notice how the angle is shown at and a slight distortion of the image makes it seem like the Boss Borot is furious and snearing at the aggressing armies of Dr. Hell.

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Kouji is helped by a mysterious being that bears a striking resemblance to his own Mazinger Z, only clad in gold and facing away from the camera.  We are not allowed to know the true nature of this being no worthy enough to gaze upon his presence until we have had his tale

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I like how Imagawa superimposes this gentleman (no idea who he is unfortunately) telling the tale of Zeus and his war with the Myceaneans over the actually background of the epic unfolding.  Its also kind of meta in that it reflects a bard reciting an epic poem within a show that is essentially a bard reciting an epic poem that is the Mazin Saga

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By far my favourite shot of the whole episode and somewhat reminiscent of the master Tetsujin 28 unveiling scene.  I know nothing about Zeus (Z Mazinger) but I am in absolute awe of his sheer might and prowess in this scene.  The light reflected down from behind him, the parthenon in the background, the clouds, his pose and Mazinger looking so tiny and insignificant next to his omnipotent presence all serve to paint an epic picture of him.  It does just to the idea of Zeus just described by the gentleman in the proceeding scene and then some

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I don’t even know who this little girl is, but the meaning of the scene and her presence is very clear.  Sometimes a single still image with excellent symbolism can speak louder then all the fanciful and fluid animation in the world.  The glow of light around this girl seems to indicate her purity and innocence and the semi-transparent state of her appearance in this scene seems to indicate that such pure innocence can never be allowed to come to harm or even be touched for that matter.  I don’t know who this girl is…and yet I find her moe appeal so much more than that of any girl in K-On or Saki as a result of the presentation she has been given her.  This is an innocence I don’t want to see come to harm, something I would want to protect, something I value…..

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Dr. Hell’s arrogance has sudden turned to urgency as he orders the Kedora destroyed.  What is the Kedora, why is it such an utterly terrifying being to behold despite the fact that it is basically a tentacle monster with one eye attached to a brain like some sort of cliche b-movie monster?  At the same time Count Brocken launches his attack with some awesome posing action

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I’m sure somewhere somebody is overfocusing and whining about Lori and Roll’s breast cockpit in the Millenium Alpha while missing all of the subtle imagery put in place in other areas, but hey….their loss

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Sayaka rushes to protect her father Professor Yumi from harm and again the way Imagawa has posed the Venus A makes it look as if it shares her sentiment to protect Yumi by covering the two of them with it’s arm

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Viscount Pygman (who is a classic Dr. Hell henchman, but has never appeared in an SRW to my knowledge) looks prepared to crucify the Yumi family on what have become the shores of a lake of fire in what has basically become hell…..

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Help arrives in the form of the Gamia Q3 and a mysterious but familiar stranger…..

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This fellow identifies himself as “Blade”, but I think anybody who knows anything at all about the Mazin Saga can clearly identify him as……I’m not going to say because the anime doesn’t yet either, but his voice actor sounds like it might be the same one as Soldat J and that is awesome, because that guy almost beat out Nobuyuki Hiyama’s Gai Shishio when it came to screams.  That “J Quaaaaaaaaaaaaaath” pretty much get’s my vote for most hot blooded scream in any anime ever.

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And here it is, Mazinger Z’s most legendary attack, Breast Fire.  I’m sure somebody out there who doesn’t get it is currently working himself up into a little frenzy over the fact that it has such a silly name and is ready to bash the whole show for it, but hey, if anyone is that shallow to condemn a show that is all about taking things to the limit in every respect then that’s just to bad for them

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This scene seems to imply that every single one of the characters besides Kouji will be dead by the end of the show run, but I’m not sure what to make of it quite yet.  It seems more likely though that Kouji is giving a “for everyone’s sake” type speech.

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The imagery in this one seems tricky, but I am going to go with the hand of fate favouring Mazinger and Kouji surpassing Mazinger’s potential to become a God and as such being depicted the largest of all

Well that was certainly intriguing in that they showed bits of the finale before even airing the first chapter, but epics are told out of order or from certain points all the time and sometimes you don’t even get the full story.  This show pays tribute to the whole oral tradition in this regard and visualizes it in the way that Imagawa chooses to interpret Go Nagai’s word and to tell the story in his own fashion and with his own particlar embellishment of the larger then life heroes and villains that exist within the Mazin Saga.

Of course this show assumes in the same way that Code Geass R2 did with it’s expository World of C arc that the viewer will not take everything shown on screen literally as if it were actually happening instead of it being symbolic and that they will be able to identify the majority of the symbolism and imagery that Imagawa presents with the story in order to get the maximum experience and impact out of it.  Of course like Code Geass R2 this show does have the fallback whereby people can just watch it for the crazy action and “mecha porn” as it’s called in some circles if people just don’t care for all of Imagawa’s visual wizardry.  Somehow that would feel like getting less than half of the full experience though….like going to a double feature but only staying for the cheesy B-Flick that precedes the high profile A-Flick. 

I will say this though, all of those words I have harped on my fellow bloggers for using over the past few months in “Epic and Retro” may now finally have the chance to use them here and be right on the money.  The story is presented as an epic and the visual style is indeed retro as are Imagawa’s preferences when directing mecha anime.

I seriously can’t wait for the next episode to start and will say right now that watching this and giving my first impression has been the most enjoyable experience of the new season thus far.  Now only Basquash and Full Metal Alchemist are left for me to look at.

No Rating For This Episode As I Find It Innappropriate To Rate What Is Basically A Pastiche Of A Final Scenario.

21 Responses to “Shin Mazinger Shōgeki! Z-Hen (You May Now Use The Word Epic)”


  1. 1 MarsDragon April 7, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Actually, the opening bit with just Kouji’s eyes in the darkness and the main gist of his little speech there is straight out of the manga. The cutaway shots of Mazinger Z aren’t in there, but the basic idea of the scene is the first two pages of the Mazinger Z manga.

  2. 2 Dorkas April 7, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Good review.

    Though, I feel I have to correct you on a point.

    When you were talking about the intro (when Kouji is explaining his situation and Mazinger) you said:

    “The first scene is extremely reminiscent of the Stalker bits from G Gundam where he would inform you of the Gundam fight to come and talk directly to the audience about the events of the show to help hype up the episode…This is Imagawa’s ability on display to pull the maximum effect out of a fairly simple concept and it’s only the first minute….”

    I’d just like to point out that this scene is directly adapted from the manga. The manga starts out exactly like that, they didn’t alter the scene at all. The Words are the same and so is the imagery. So, the power and impact of that scene should clearly be directed towards Nagai himself.

  3. 3 ghostlightning April 7, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Great stuff! Wow I sure missed out on Tetsujin 28. WILL GET NAO! I really appreciate the work and detail you put in here. This is probably my favorite work of yours.

  4. 4 Kaioshin Sama April 8, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I’ve never read the Manga myself so thanks for that tidbit. Credit should indeed go to Nagai then.

    If anyone wants to see the Tetsujin scene I am talking about they can go here:

    http://www.vimeo.com/4049604

    It starts at about 20:20 and is basically the part the episode is named after. The Ressurection of Shotaro. Basically Tetsujin-28 was built by Professor Kaneda to represent the soul of the boy Shotaro’s unborn brother, and in his rebirth he takes the life of Murasame Kenji’s (not immortal in this one) brother in an event that will mark their rivalry in episodes to come. It’s just so powerful. The fury of Tetsujin, the anguished cries of Tatsu as everybody is powerless to save him, the sheer awesome power of Tetsujin that is on display in this scene as it rises like Frankenstein’s Monster from it’s slab, as it’s shadow rises above everyone, as it’s bandages snap of to reveal it’s menacing and glowering face. Senju Akira’s (my favourite composer who is also doing the music for the new FMA series) awesome score doesn’t hurt either. Such a simple moment yet so all encompassing.

    Also for fans of Giant Robo, I should mention that mecha and characters that appeared in that OVA keep popping up in different personas in Tetsujin 28th in a similar fashion to Osamu Tezuka’s Star System.

  5. 5 Vicente April 8, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    The cutaway imagery comes from the first ed of the Mazinger Z TV series:

  6. 6 Camario April 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    It’s hard to deny that I was confused by the first episode as much as everyone else, but at the same time, I’ve re-watched this “Finale” enough times in order to appreciate it all the better.

    “Also for fans of Giant Robo, I should mention that mecha and characters that appeared in that OVA keep popping up in different personas in Tetsujin 28th in a similar fashion to Osamu Tezuka’s Star System.”

    In some ways it’s a reverse Star System. All those characters existed in their own independent stories, sharing the same creator, Mitsuteru Yokoyama, until Imagawa brought them together for Giant Robo.

    I haven’t seen Tetsujin 28th yet, though your recommendation is helpful, but that’s one of his underlying creations so, naturally, a number of characters are expected to be there.

  7. 7 Nieroshai November 25, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Which manga version is this based off of? I know the author redid the series several times, but I’m sure that, like the Gundam and Zoids series, they were cast with unrelated characters and done in a different visual style. This preview’s visual style seems to reflect the first manga, but events that practically happened by the third issue(i.e. the little girl and metal-face) haven’t even happened yet in what seems to be a series sequel’s ending spoiler.
    Or it’s probably a new re-envisioning combining concepts of the original Mazinger Z and the MazinSaga idea that Mazinger is a powerful being that is trapped inside an armor shell. Maybe I’m overimagining. That would make more sense. Kind of like how the Ghost in the Shell films differ greatly from the anime, which differs greatly from the manga.

  8. 8 Kaioshin Sama November 27, 2009 at 5:56 am

    @Nieroshai: It was indeed a reimagining of the Mazinger Saga in the same way that Imagawa’s Giant Robo and Tetsujin 28th (both also brilliant series) were reimagining’s of their respective original stories. I really look forward to seeing which classic mecha tale Imagawa does his own spin on next. Right now everything seems to be pointing towards Great Mazinger.

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  1. 1 ROCKET PUNCH-drunk on Shin Mazinger Z « We Remember Love Trackback on April 7, 2009 at 11:25 pm
  2. 2 Ashura Cryin’ — The Villain Has Many Faces (Baron Ashura sure showed a bit of character this time) « We Remember Love Trackback on May 16, 2009 at 12:02 am

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