Yep, I definitely think so. I’m hard pressed to think of another director still in the TV anime business that is so capable of marrying style and substance for the purposes of creating a gripping opera full of both drama and comedy. Consider this latest episode of Shin Mazinger:
Right from the start Imagawa is giving us a taste of what is yet to come by showing us the end of this latest arc. Tragedy is in the air, but we know naught how we get there. Such is the purpose of that which is yet to come
My little angel from the very first episode. Here she actually has lines and we learn that her name is Lorelai and that she is at the Kurogane House doing an errand for her “papa”? You don’t have to squint to notice something about the picture above and the adorable little girl shrouded in what may very well be Imagawa’s vision of heaven’s light. The idea of Lorelai as a symbol of purity has been planted and yet it constrasts with what we see above…..or does it?
Shiro is immediately smitten and it’s love at first sight, hence the title of the episode “First Love? The Beautiful Lorelai”
It doesn’t take long for Shiro to drag her on a date either. Funny that it should be the sea, for it hints at a certain legend and a tie to this Lorelai. I’m talking of course of Die Lorelei by German poet Heinreich Heine, a golden haired siren who lures unwilling sailors to dash their ships upon a rock with her siren’s song. As you can see our Lorelai certainly fits the description so far. At least physically….
Not the consistent association of Lorelai with water. A simple bath that Shiro wants to keep peeping toms away from, or a hint at a hidden nature?
Lorelai’s father is revealed to be one Heinreich Stroheim, thought to have died, but apparently alive and feared to be in association with Baron Ashura and Dr. Hell. Hmm….Heinrech…a familiar name….how was it associated with Lorelai again?
In any case, Lorelai has taken Shiro to meet her father in Germany, and so our story moves to that location as Kouji makes haste with Mazinger Z to follow him
An Imagawa style moment, where less is more. A simple water colour to paint capture in time the beginning of the clash of wills that is yet to come, and a toast to the combatants as Stroheim wishes Kouji good luck and bids welcome a chance to see Mazinger in action. Excellence
After complete failure and losing the Battleship Saluud, Baron Ashura’s command of Dr. Hell’s army has been revoked and given to Count Brocken instead? Is he any more up to the job? Well I think a better question is whether there is any other option
The second Imagawa moment of this episdoe, as we see a personification of Stroheim’s Mario N7. Just another one of his ways of adding an extra hint of menace to a Machine Beast
More female robots? Hmmm…so the man that built Gamia Q, a series of blonde haired attack robots in the shape of a female, also built these, and has a blonde haired female daughter who appears seemingly innocent…
Cross is just in the nick of time. The cavalry is here, which means that Nishikori Tsubasa can’t be too far behind either…..oh if they only knew
Dad is weird eh? Well…Shiro does have a point when he mentions his grandfather. I like this little quirky moments that again aren’t too in your face and are just sort of their to remind you of what’s happened to the characters and what may yet be to come
Mooooooooooooooh! Oh well, can’t blame Shiro for being freaked out by the phantom of the bloody opera. Speaking of what’s happened and what’s yet to come, Stroheim mentions that Shiro’s mother is here, and curios that we would cut to a shot of….
Nishikori Tsubasa?! We’ve already met her but…..
And we’ve already met Count Brocken and Baron Ashura, too very dangerous fellows. But what are they doing here and…..are they sitting on rocks….and is that water? Why would Lorelai bring Shiro here….unless…..
Oh my lord…..
And so the episode ends. Doing things outside the box, but with vision, a touch of style, marriage of elements from multiple series into a working narrative, and always leaving off with a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to see the next part of the tale. Imagawa truly is a master of his art, and the mecha director to beat at the moment. A shame that more people are not watching Shin Mazinger, but I think that if they were too that it would speak for itself more than I could here. As long as we live an era where series like this are still possible and directors like Yasuhiro Imagawa who maintain a vision are allowed to work, I will continue to be satisfied with this little thing I call anime. You heard it hear on Straight Up Saturdays!