Post Reply CATALOG SPOTLIGHT: Mazinkaiser SKL
Polysyllabic Support Lead
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Posted 10/8/14
by Dingofist

Super Robot shows are a lot like the summer blockbusters of the anime world. They are big, loud, and exciting while rarely bothering with pesky things like a coherent plot or any kind of theme other than whatever ideas about courage and determination are being shouted nonstop at the top of the main character’s lungs. So it is with Mazinkaiser SKL, the latest (though hardly new) adaptation of Go Nagai’s classic grandaddy of all super robot shows Mazinger Z.

Perhaps adaptation is too strong a word. Other than the general appearance of SKL’s Mazinkaiser, the story shares approximately zero common factors with the original Mazinger Z or even the original Mazinkaiser OVA. There is no Kouji Kabuto, no Sayaka, no Boss, and (tragically) no Dr. Hell. Of course that also means none of the classic robot designs appear (Boss Borot nooooo!), though several of SKL’s mechs feature elements lifted from the classics, as well as other works in Nagai-sensei’s storied catalog. So, instead of an adaptation, perhaps it’d be best to consider SKL as "inspired by", or even think of it as a new interpretation, though even that may be stretching things a bit.

To best describe the plot of Mazinkaiser SKL, you need to think back to your childhood for a moment. Imagine you have a bunch of robot toys from different lines all spread out in your bedroom, and you needed to make up some loose reason to make them all fight. Okay? Once that’s done, you need to give your Mazinger Z toy’s pilots the baddest assed attitudes possible, then proceed to wreck every single toy in sight with them. That’s the general idea behind Mazinkaiser SKL: two badass mech pilots in a huge terrifying Mazinger robot annihilating the living hell out of everything they see for no real reason other than the simple fact that they can. Sure, there's some minor plot about a gravity engine and warring nations and the destruction of the world, but who cares about that, right?

If that sounds silly it’s because it is, and if it sounds like hyperbole I assure you it is not. Condensed down, this is exactly what SKL is. Now, with that in mind, is SKL bad? HELL no! It may be a bit stupid, sure, but the show is an unwavering monument to excessive action, a bizarre vacuum of a story where robots are forged only to explode in new and exciting ways. While the story may not be full of twists and turns, it is executed effectively enough, and the dialogue is always snappy and entertaining, helping to bridge the (short) pauses between robotic carnage.

There’s a joke a friend of mine and I reserve for when watching silly action movies or playing silly action games that revolves around the phrase “What do the kids like?” and SKL’s protagonists are the perfect embodiment of the answer to that question. Pilot partners Kaidou and Magami are a classic Red Oni/Blue Oni duo: one is loud, crass, violent, and dumb while the other is cool, calculating, violent, and intelligent. Both have impossibly cool outfits and hair, both are unmatched at their chosen combat discipline, and both are borderline sociopathic. Kaidou uses swords, Magami uses guns. It’s a simple dynamic, and one played for a lot of fun as the two pilots take turns piloting Mazinkaiser, using their different strengths to manhandle whatever obstacle is unfortunate enough to be put in front of them. Still, I’ll be damned if Kaidou and Magami don’t feel more like Ryoma Nagare and Hayato Jin from Getter Robo than they do your usual Mazinger series pilots. Perhaps that was intentional?

Supporting characters and villains are equally cool and ridiculous, ranging from the spirited warrior women of Hachiryoukaku to the massive, imposing Emperor Garan, right on over the the wild, unruly Kiba, voiced by none other than the unbeatable Nobuyuki Hiyama.

Fans of Go Nagai’s work will be pleased to find numerous references to his works scattered all through SKL’s three parts, such as a mech that may as well be Devilman Lady or robots that clearly resemble those found in Grendizer. Eagle-eyed diehard fans are sure to find many more references to such classic series, and it only adds to the fun of the overall package.

Truly, Mazinkaiser SKL’s greatest strength is that while it doesn’t take itself seriously, it also never takes itself lightly, either. The entire tale is presented honestly without any knowing winks and nods, which is itself the biggest wink of all, perhaps. The production company knows this story is insane, they know it makes no sense and is just 80 minutes of action, but they’ll be damned if they’re going to let you know they know. The viewer needs to immerse themselves into the insanity of it all to really enjoy the ride.

And what a ride it is. From start to finish, Mazinkaiser SKL is a nonstop bullet train to hell, full of heavy metal, guns, skulls, swords, robots, babes, and more fights than you can empty several giant robot gun clips at. The animation is stellar and the voice acting superb throughout.

Any more questions!? NO!? Good! Go watch Mazinkaiser SKL! It’s awesome in so many ways! What the HELL are you waiting for!?!
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48 / M / Memphis, TN
Posted 10/20/14
Nice comparison of the old and new. I have to ask, then, what did you think of Robot Girls Z as a re-interpretation of the franchise? I actually loved RGZ, and am still hoping to see a second season!
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