Thanks to Viz Media, the Tokusatsu Network checked out the latest installment to Go Nagai’s Mazinger franchise.
If you’ve never seen or read the Mazinger series or manga before, going into Mazinger Z: Infinity cold may be daunting. However, the film doesn’t leave folks lost. Because it does take place ten years after the end of the original Mazinger Z series and its sequel, Great Mazinger, the front end of the film does a solid job catching up with each character you’re supposed to be paying attention to.
Audiences get to see the original Mazinger Z heroes dealing with their post-conflict lives. Kouji Kabuto leaves his hero piloting behind to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and becomes a scientist. Sayaka is the new director of Japan’s Photonic Power Lab, while her father and the Lab’s former director, Dr. Yumi is now the Prime Minister of Japan. The world is at peace with its new photon energy technology, and all seems well.
Mazinger Z: Infinity, however, wastes no time in getting the action started and the animated action between giant robots battling each other remains the #1 reason why anyone who can watch this film in a theater should do so. At the very least, it’s worth purchasing a home release to watch on your own big screen.
The film opens with an attack on US soil with Dr. Hell’s army invading the photon power plant in Texas with Tetsuya Tsurugi piloting Great Mazinger defending it, but ultimately getting captured. Meanwhile, Kouji discovers an even larger Mazinger buried at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan and a very naked, female A.I. pilot named L.I.S.A emerges.
This even bigger Mazinger, the titular robot of the film, is the center of the film, as Dr. Hell wants to use it to reform the universe in his own image, using the captured Tetsuya to pilot it to replace its original pilot, L.I.S.A. There is the extra layer of drama as Tetsuya and his wife, former Venus A pilot Jun Hono, are expecting a child.
One of the points not to be missed is after Dr. Hell takes control of the photon lab, and therefore the powerful and enormous Mazinger Z: Infinity robot at Mt. Fuji, he holds the whole world hostage by declaring a faux peaceful solution to negotiate with the United Nations. In a confrontation between Kouji and Dr. Hell– after a pretty amazing robot battle action sequence– Dr. Hell declares that humanity’s biggest weakness is “diversity”. A pathological liar villain manipulating the world to fit his own worldview and eventually overcome by a hero who believes in working together is not lost to me.
For those who are also going in cold with Go Nagai work in general, his penchant for formulaic fanservice isn’t lost in Mazinger Z: Infinity. There’s plenty to be had in the Mazin-Girls, who are basically cheerleaders when the war with Dr. Hell starts up again. They do end up piloting the female robots, complete with breast missiles, which is quite iconic for the Mazinger series. For long time fans, there are still plenty of cameos from villains and robots in the Mazinger series and there is believable, genuine growth from all the characters we see.
Overall, there’s plenty to enjoy in Infinity, for both long-time Mazinger fans and newer watchers. The fights and animation are beautiful to watch and, like good tokusatsu filming and stunt work, you’re able to see the fight movements between battling mechas really well. I sincerely want to go back and check out the original series and see how these characters grew into what I saw in the film.