There’s a reason I don’t do many reviews, but once I started this one I wanted to finish it.
This is an true masterpiece of anime! The legend of the unsinkable fortress of steel, which is made of the indestructible Chogokin ZETTO!! Its name is…its name is…its name is Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact!.
(Probably still better known as Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen.)
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. I bought the DVD release by Eastern Star (Yes, there is one blatant subtitle error.), which has the entire series. The only language option is Japanese and the only subtitle language option is English subtitles, and the only extras are clean openings and endings. The packaging is nice enough.
But on to the series itself. It’s primarily based on the same Go Nagai manga that the 70’s Mazinger Z anime was, but is simultaneously closer to the manga and an amalgam of the original story with other Go Nagai works, and at least one non-Nagai Mazinger story (the Kedora, in case you were wondering; its first appearance was a manga story written by Ken Ishikawa).
The amalgamation aspect is not surprising considering the director is Yasuhiro Imagawa, who famously pretty much had to do the same thing with the Giant Robo OAV due to not being allowed to use any supporting characters from the manga or the tokusatsu version. Despite not having that kind of restriction, Getter Robo Armageddon may have been heading in a similar direction too, but Imagawa left after episode three so only two characters from other Ishikawa manga actually had a role in the series.
And well, if “same director as Giant Robo, G Gundam, and Getter Robo Armageddon” doesn’t interest you, you probably haven’t seen any of those. (If you have seen and not liked those series, maybe this one isn’t for you either.)
Mazinger Edition Z uses anachronic order a lot; in fact, the first episode is titled “Grand Finale”! (Also the only title without an exclamation point in it.) It serves as not only a preview of events from late in the series, but also even a couple of hints about the future past the actual ending. Several things are not exactly what they seem, though, and this is despite only one line being changed to avoid spoilers.
After that there aren’t whole episodes out of chronological order, but scenes can be presented that way, often enough that it would be confusing to watch this show without paying full attention to it.
The pacing is different too. It completely avoids the “monster of the week” format of the 70s series, and doesn’t even necessarily have mecha fights in every episode. Sometimes it seems a little slow for a 26-episode series, but I never actually got the impression that not much had happened in an episode.
Despite a huge cast I can’t really say many characters didn’t get a chance to shine. Oddly enough, one of the few characters who got shafted was Sayaka, who is usually one of the most important characters in most Mazinger Z stories; a scene between her and Kouji that was early in the manga comes pretty late here, she never wins a fight in Aphrodite A, and the “give everyone an awesome moment” aspect of the final episodes leave her with one less than she might have.
Not many shows can manage to be both so melodramatic and so aware of how fundamentally ridiculous half the stuff going on is. I mean, one of the villains is an undead cyborg Nazi whose head and body are no longer attached, so why not play soccer with his head? (“I am a tragic character!”)
Ultimately, the only really big “flaw” in the series is that it hasn’t gotten a continuation. The mood whiplash at the very end is quite effective; I just wish we got to see what happened next. I know it’s been over 5 years now since this aired in Japan, so it probably won’t happen, but c’mon…make a Great-hen (Edition Great?). Or at least show some notes on what it would have done to Banpresto.