Mazinger Z is a classic series from the 70s with both a manga and several TV shows and OVA adaptations. Along with Getter Robo and Tetsujin-28 it is one of the original super robot series, with Mazinger being the first piloted super robot, while Tetsujin-28 who appeared earlier was controlled remotely.
Mazinger as a series is created by Go Nagai and popularized with its first animated appearance produced by Toei animation. The of Mazinger has gone through many incarnations and reboots both in manga and anime form. The general premise is that Mazinger is a super robot created by the main characters grandfather with the intention of creating an invincible robot with such power that it can become either a god or a devil. He leaves the choice of what to do to his grandson, Koji Kabuto.
Koji Kabuto became a very popular character which many subsequent main characters in the mecha genre sought to emulate; Amuro Ray of Gundam being one of the first to break from the mould. Throughout the course of Mazinger Z,Koji has to defend Japan from ‘Mechanical Beasts’ (Kikaiju) that have been released by Dr. Hell, the arch nemesis of the Kabuto family. Dr. Hell also has two principal lieutenants, Baron Ashura and the headless Count Brocken, he try to destroy Mazinger with the Mechanical Beasts or take out Kouji with their armies of often cyborg soldiers.
Like many Go Nagai series it can be very violent, although the animated series tone that down to reasonable levels. For most people they are familiar with Mazinger Z from the Toei animation (sometimes called Toeizinger) with a 92 episode run followed by its sequel Great Mazinger starring Tetsuya Tsurugi as the new pilot and Koji’s back-from-the-dead father taking over as lead scientist.
Go Nagai went on to create several more mecha series such as Koutetsu (Steel) Jeeg, UFO Robot Grendizer (Goldorak in Europe) and of course helping Ken Ishikawa launch Getter Robo. Toei also put out several versus movies as summer blockbusters which had these series team up to fight new monsters, for example Great Mazinger vs Getter Robo. While things were going well for the super robot mecha genre, eventually there was a rights dispute with the mecha anime Gaiking that led to Nagai suing Toei, after that they did not work together for several decades until the Mazinger Infinity Movie.
In the meantime there were three animated Mazinger series. Mazinkaiser and the OVA Mazinkaiser Versus The Great General of Darkness. Mazinkaiser is the result of the Super Robot Wars (Super Robot Taisen in Japan) staff wanting to have a Mazinger upgrade to put it on par with Shin Getter Robo. It resulted in the Mazinkaiser OVA then later the Versus movie in the early 2000s.
In 2009 the Shin Mazinger OVA debuted which retold the Mazinger story with modern animation and additional characters from other Go Nagai works along with a heavy Greek influence where Mazinger was built to resemble the alien-god Zeus. The series boasts high production values, good character development, some outstanding music by JAM Project (OP1 and OP2) and was helmed by Yasuhiro Imagawa, best known for his seminal work on the Giant Robo OVA as well as the fan favorite G Gundam.
For MechaStellar we will primarily be using the Shin Mazinger for our Mecha Profiles of the Mechanical Beasts (Kikaiju) along with the Mazinger Army, Boss Borot and Venus A. We are also, including a profile for the Toei version of Mazinger Z which has a larger equipment loadout, more actions and so plays a bit differently than Shin Mazinger Z. Eventually when we progress to the Char’s Counter Attack performance period we will also include profiles for Mazinkaiser and Mazin Emperor G.