If Gigantor is the grandfather of the giant robot anime, Mazinger is the daddy.
Mazinger Z first appeared in 1972 as as a manga series before making the jump to it’s animated rendition. Created by Go Nagai (the man behind Cutey Honey, Devilman, and UFO Robot Grendizer), the series is in many ways an homage to Gigantor (or Tetsujin 28 as he is known in his native Japan). Mazinger Z is as important a national treasure as Godzilla, with the special metal used to construct the robot (Japanium) mined from Mount Fuji. Forged as a weapon of defense against the forces of Dr. Hell and his assistant the hermaphrodite Baron Ashura (called an intersex in my translated version), Mazinger-Z is piloted by the young Kouji Kabuto… who bangs his head against the inside of the robot many times in trying to get it to work.
While Gigantor was an adventure series more fitting with Herge’s Tintin, Mazinger is straight-out fighting robots and monsters. The result was so influential that it inspired a number of cartoons over the years featuring men piloting giant robots against other creatures such as the magnificent Big-O.
Kouji Kabuto retired his robot jocky suit and went on to guest-star in the UFO Robot Grendizer as the UFO-enthusiast who regularly got shot down by animal robots. The series spawned several sequels including team-up movies with Getter Robo, Devilman and UFO Robot Grendizer. As I had mentioned last month, Mazinger-Z was intended to be part of the Force Five series, but due to complications the series was not transmitted on US soil until much later as Tranzor-Z. Because of the bad timing of the translation the series looked primitive to modern viewers and was not well received.
According to AnimeNation News: “Reportedly director Yasuhiro Imagawa (Giant Robo, G-Gundam) will helm the production of Shin Mazinger Shogeki! Z-Hen, a television anime remake of the 1972 Mazinger Z television series. The new 26 episode series, tentatively scheduled to debut later this year, will be animated by BEEMEDIA and Code,” so the Mazinger saga is far from over.
While there have been many of its kind, this is the real thing. If you don’t have the time to investigate the series proper, I highly recommend the Mazinger Z Movie Collection.