Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact

maxresdefault Reboots are a necessary part of any franchise. Eventually a new installment must be introduced in an effort to bring new fans to the series. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean the show will succeed in capturing the same energy or entertainment of the original or even be a good show at all.

In the future, a new element known as Japanium has been discovered leading to a break through in energy production known as Photon Energy. The discover of the element, Dr. Kabuto has worked to create a robot which will be able to utilize the photon energy which is known as Mazinger. Before his death he entrusts the machine to his grandson, Kouji. Now Kouji will have  to master the use of the robot to be able to fight against the forces of Baron Ashura who works for the evil Dr. Hell.

groupkhrThis show’s biggest problem is how unbalanced it is. The first episode is one of those pre-recap episodes where it flashes ahead to show all the intense action which is going to be coming later down the line in the series. From their, episodes two through six are spent just introducing all of the powers at Mazinger’s disposal. The series then rushes to a final battle in the last three episodes for a final battle with Dr. Hell but introduces a new ultimate villain who isn’t properly defeated in the very last one. The series doesn’t even get a proper ending in the next Mazinger series, Mazinkaizer SKL. It just ends, which is the major flaw it posses.

The show also suffers a bit in the characters which are used. On top of reintroducing the characters from the original series the show also introduces characters from original creator Go Nagai’s other series such as Demon Lord Dante, The Abashiri Family, and Violence Jack. The characters are serviceable and help to move the story along but at the same time given the rushed ending to this series and its story telling, it seems like some of them may have been unnecessary. The show was retelling a 92 episode series in 26 (25 if you eliminate the pre-clip show one) episodes, did they really need to add more to it?

baron-ashura-finding-themselves-1The mecha are the one memorable aspect of the show. The designs are the same as they were from the original series only updated thanks to the new animation style. The Mazinger truly is a beast of a machine. The series succeeds in expressing just how powerful the robot is and how it is able to go head to head with all of Dr. Hell’s forces. Just wish it didn’t take so long to properly express all of its potential.

This series really didn’t hook me or make me become a fan of the Mazinger series. No, I attribute my urge to want to watch more of this franchise to the OVA, Mazinkaiser, which I will get around to writing the review for one of these days. For now this series is currently available to watch on Crunchyroll. Check it out, who knows I may be being too hard on it but considering this was suppose to revitalize a classic series for a new audience, I really think they creators could have taken the time to properly make the corrections needed to make this a great show.

RATING: C

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Star Driver


StarAs I’ve said before on this blog, there was a time when the idea of Studio BONES producing a mecha series was a guarantee formula for success. A long forgotten age when fan waited on bated breath for the announcement of BONES doing a show featuring giant robots. Today’s anime is one which came during the time when the studio could do no wrong and despite its eccentric nature was still a series worthy of the attention of mecha fans everywhere.

A boy named Takuto has transferred to Southern Cross Island in hopes of finding his lost father. While there he becomes entangled in the plot of the Glittering Crux Brigade, who wish to use the mysterious giants known as Cybodies to take over the world. Luckily, the seal of the four maidens prevents the Cybodies from being used anywhere except another dimension known as Zero Time. To prevent the Brigade from breaking the seals and using the Cybodies as they see fit, Takuto pilots his own Cybody named Tauburn to fight and protect his new friends from the dangers surrounding the island.

star-driver-02This show is over the top in a great way. From the main character having the nickname of “The Galactic Pretty Boy” to the villains of the “Glittering Crux Brigade” this show pushes the envelope of what is acceptable but you find yourself enjoying every minute of it. The show manages to reach levels of ridiculousness but at the same time retain a level of drama where you find yourself worried for the characters and their circumstances. Each character has a properly flushed out backstory and realistic motivations. Also, almost every one of them has a special power because of being connected to their Cybodies which resulted in a lot of hi-jinks.

The robotic designs take a bit to get used to. After all Tauburn looks like a musketeer and he’s suppose to be the robot we root for. Still, the designs eventually grow on you and some of the different “robot of the week” forms which are pulled out are definitely interesting to look at.

stardriver06-05The show does suffer from a “Monster of the week” format but this is kind of to its advantage. The monster of the week format allows each of the different members of the Glittering Crux Brigade to get a bit of screen time to so they can have their own time the spotlight before Takuto kicks the crap out of their own distinct Cybody.

The show does have a few other problems with it. The main being that the series ends far too quickly and doesn’t really have a good epilogue. Frankly, I would have hoped the movie for it would add some new content but I’ve since hear this is not the case. Instead, the show just ends after the final battle without any type of conclusion to how the characters are going to react to what has happened. There wasn’t enough of a need for a second season but a few additional scenes even on the DVD release would have been all the show needed. Is a simple Omake too much to ask?

Star Driver was another example of the winning combination of having Studio BONES do a giant robot series. One of these days I’ll have to get around to watching the shows which seemed to break this winning combination. Of course I kind of did one of them already with Captain Earth but I’m beginning to think I gave that one far too much praise then it deserved.

RATING: B

King of Braves: Gaogaigar

Gaogaigar02The Yushu (Brave) series hasn’t really had much exposure in America. After the Transformers went dormant (at least with Vehicles as their basis), the company behind them, Takara worked with Sunrise to create the Brave series and introduced a series of Super Robot Animes to the world. Unfortunately, the mainstream fans were kind of sick of all robots until Neon Genesis Evangelion came along. This is a shame because there is a lot of great shows during this period which don’t get the attention they deserved because of it. A prime example of this is the King of Brave: Gaogaigar.

Mamoru Amami is a young boy who was delivered to Earth by a robotic lion called Galion. Raised as an Earthling, Mamoru’s world is interrupted when an alien presence known as the Zonderians have come to make the inhabitants of Earth their hosts. It is up to Mamoru’s ability to heal those possessed by the Zonders with help from The Cyborg Guy and the organization which supports him, GGG to save the world. When things get out of hand, Guy pilots Galeon and combines with the other the Gao Machines to create the King of Braves: GAOGAIGAR!!!!

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The good guys of this show really are memorable. Cyborg Guy is the definitive hotblooded, justice will prevail type of mecha pilot. The need for the kid aspect of having Mamoru around actually serves a purpose with how  he can heal the humans who were turned into Zonders. The rest of the GGG team lends their own special talents to help save the day and no one character is essential useless because of it. I’d be faulted if I didn’t mention Chairman Taiga, who you look forward to every episode giving the approval for the final fusion which will allow Galion to become Gaogaigar.

The villains on the other hand are weird looking and have odd names. The first group of villains has names like Pizza, Penchinon and Polonise. Think that’s weird? Well the second team has characters named after body parts such as Ear, Eye, and Spleen. Despite their very odd sounding names, they are menacing and formidable. Actually its more their plans and the destruction they intent to cause which is truly menacing. The characters themselves, not so much but they trying to transform all of humanity into hosts for their parasitic forces so they set the endgame bar pretty high.

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The mecha of this series is the real appeal. Gaogaigar itself is an impressive piece of hardware on its own. The base robot Galeon is a mechanical lion who transformers into a robot and has an aura of nobility about him. When combines with the Gao Machines he becomes Gaogaigar, a force which truly dominates the battle field. Gaogaigar is also backed up by some very handy sentient allies. These include the Ninja Volfogg, two sets of twins (HyoRyu, EnRyu, FuRyu, and RaiRyu) and the comical Mic Sounders the 13th. All of these mecha have their own unique skills and abilities and can easily hold their own in a fight.

GaoGaigar is a show no one really gave the chance it deserved when it came to America despite the fact it was successfully released. Probably wasn’t added by the fact the show never got a proper run on any major network. If you are a fan of the combining robot genre then you owe it to yourself to track this gem down and understand just how much fun it to had from hearing the approval for the Final Fusion.

RATING: B+

The Secret World of Arrietty

Arriety01 It’s that time again! The one day a year where I see the error of my ways and look at the value of how small and compact things are exceptional instead of focusing on the need for them to be large and enormous. This year I’m looking at a particularly interesting movie which was made by the legendary studio known for creating breathtaking films, Studio Ghibli. Is it as good as some of the other gems in the studios’ library?

Sho is young boy with a heart condition who is sent to live with his great aunt Sadako in the house where his mother grew up. While he’s there he hears legends of tiny human creatures called borrowers who come to borrow things from humans to use in their own lives. One of these creatures is named Arrierty, a young girl who is curious about Sho but doesn’t know if she can trust him either. She will have to find a way to work with him if she has any hope of her world not being discovered by others.

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Overall this is a good film.The art is top notch and the story is more down played in comparison to other Studio Ghibili movies. This helps to give the film a sense of distinction but at the same time it also gives it a bit of a disadvantage. When going to see a Studio Ghibili movie people are more interested in the ever expanding worlds full of adventure and wonder. Though the whole, smaller scale making the regular human world look vast is fascinating and presented well, its not as wonderous as the worlds of Princess Mononoke or Spirted Away.

The interactions between Sho and Arrietty are very fascinating to watch. They have a great bit of bonding between the two of them and a true friendship is displayed. Unfortunately, they have the classic “From two separate worlds” story line  which doesn’t get settled in a way which allows them to continue to see each other in the end. Its a bit sad but not entirely tragic either.

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I don’t know how accurate this is to other adaptations of the Borrowers as I haven’t really seen any or read the original novel. The closest I have come is watching the cartoon version of The Little’s back in grade school but that’s another series all together. Still, as a movie on its own I believe this is a more faithful and fun adaptation than the Tales of Earthsea was.

The Secret World of Arrietty was good but unfortunately not many people saw it. It was another box office flop and which eventually helped contributed to Studio Ghibili now being in its current state. On standby and not really releasing anything major until founder Hayao Miyazaki decides he wants to do another film.

RATING: B+

Geneshaft

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What happens when a show focuses more on character designs and its heavy handed message over the fact that they have a giant robot they can pilot? You get a show like Geneshaft which presents a future with giant robots that I don’t want to be a part of. It should be obvious that if a fan of mecha writes that and the series doesn’t involve aliens bugs crushing humanity then the show probably isn’t going to be good.

The world has become ruled by genetic engineering and woman outnumber men. Mika is a young woman with a white gene type and thought to be inferior by others. In order to fight a mysterious alien race known as The Rings, a ship called the Bilkis has been tasked to investigate them. Mika becomes a member of the crew but has to deal with the fact her captain’s actions resulted in the death of her friend.

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The first main problem with this series is it bites off far more than it can handle. The series deals with topics such as selective gene manipulation and what type of society these actions create. This could have been the focus in a series by itself but then issues such as people devolving into beings with less emotion who don’t feel attachment because they can easily be cloned back to life is also thrown in. These subjects are dealt with in a 13 episode series where there is a giant robot and an enemy alien race trying to destroy Earth. This is far too much to handle in such a short amount of time.

Another major problem is the show has no “outside man.” There is no character to look at what is going on with this advance society and say how mixed up it has become. There is an episode where characters from the past are transported to this future, make the claim of how strange the society has become, and then disappear by the end of the show like it never even happened. Again, this could be the plot of the whole series but they use it in only one episode and don’t address it the rest of the show.

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Now the flaws of this series could be redeemed if it had superior designed robots and outstanding mecha battle scenes. Sadly it doesn’t. The Shaft (a perfect description of the overall design of it) is a bare bones robot with one large cannon in its chest and that’s about it. The robot is plain metallic grey color (the photo is from a later episode when the Shaft is reacting to one of The Rings, which is why is gold) and looks like it is a wire frame bare bones model design no one took the time to go back and fix after they wrote the original idea down on paper. That’s what this feels like, a half finished product that no one took the time to correct and polish to make it any better or worse then the finished product.

This show really didn’t need a giant robot. It should have just had a crew of people going out into space with someone who was cryogentically frozen to awaken from the past to look at the bland and calculated way of life society has become and express the importance of feelings such as love and compassion. Because if the characters can’t get caught up on attachment and are working to repress emotion, why should the audience be expected to attach any feelings of their own?

RATING: D+

Poll: The next theme month

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With my first theme month completed I need to figure out which theme month I should get ready for next. I’m going my Crew figure out which one should I prepare for deployment.

  • Monkey Madness: A month of giant monkey movies
  • Goofy Gamera: A month of all the more comical Showa Era Gamera films
  • Bigger than Big: A month looking at all the different versions of Gigantor (Tetsujin 28)
  • Transformers: A month of Tranformers series to help get through the extended list of different Transformer series

Cast your votes below crew and help me figure out what you want me to review for this blog.

Escaflowne: Girl in Gaia

2vttu8g Retelling month coming to an end as I review a movie that re-introduces a story with a much different look then before. New art, modified character designs, but the same story about a girl named Hitomi who gets teleported to the world of Gaia. This is Escaflowne: Girl in Gaia.

Hitomi is a girl with depression who wishes she could disappear. She gets her wish and transported to the world of Gaia where she meets the warrior prince, Van. Together the two of them must use the “Dragon Armor” called Escaflowne to retake the world. There is a prophecy though which talks of a “winged goddess” who will bring destruction to the world. Is this about Hitomi and will she destroy the world?

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The change in art is the most noticeable change from the show to the movie. The characters look much darker and harsher in their tone and the landscape and scenery shots are a wonder to behold. The movie does lacks the fun and lighter moments which were in the series as it seems to follow the art and keep a much harsher tone throughout the entire film. This change is what divides the fans of the series. Some like it and some hated it but for the most part everyone is happy the characters no longer have the pointed noses they did back in the original series.

The characters also have a change from what they were in the series. Van becomes a much tougher warrior from what he was in the TV series and gets the addition of having psychic powers. The first five minutes of the movie show him boarding an enemy vessel and slaughtering the crew. Hitomi gets a change too. She is much less love struck than she was in the show. The character may have changed but they are still very intriguing to watch.

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The mecha overall remain the same but there isn’t as many of them as their were in the show. Instead of everyone and their mother having a robot, they are much less common an occurrence. When the enemy Guymelef (the mecha for the series) makes its appearance it is a big deal and a lot of people are killed because of it. This change is a odd choice but the fight between the enemy and Escalowne is an intense battle that is one of the best parts of the film.

Overall, the Girl in Gaia manages to tell the story of a girl being taken to another world and meeting a prince with a Giant Robot in far less than half the time and half the mythology. Despite this lack of ability to cover all the points from the original, the movie is very good and it a great treats for fans of the series. There you have it, the end of the first themed month for this blog. Next up, time to take a step back to a first in a franchise.

RATING: B+