Tag Archives: Great Mazinger

Mecha That Changed Anime: Beginnings

Last April, I mentioned that I had “mecha that changed anime” as one of my search terms, and said that might be a good idea for its own post. Well, better late than never, and it’s going to be a series of posts rather than just one.

Note that it’s “mecha that changed anime”, not “landmarks of mecha anime”; the categories obviously have overlap, but anything that had impact outside its own genre is of particular significance, and non-anime mecha that had influence on anime are also eligible.

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The power to be a Godmaster or a Devil Z

Okay, a little background information. When the original Transformers cartoon ended in the west, several more Transformers series were made in Japan. The first one, Headmasters, was still mostly similar to the third US season (and the three-episode fourth season, which Japan didn’t get). So it was the next, Chojin Masterforce (Super God Masterforce), that was the first time Transformers was ever re-invented in Japan, and, while still in the same continuity, the first time it ever really “started over”, since Masterforce had no returning characters (except one villain who comes in fairly late).

At first the show focuses on the Pretenders, Transformers that can disguise themselves as humans (in the case of the Autobots/Cybertrons) or monsters (the Decepticons/Destrons), but before long the Headmaster Juniors and Godmasters are introduced; both groups consist of humans who use special bracelets to combine with special but non-sentient “Transtectors” to become Transformers. Since that’s sort of like piloting a mecha, it’s often said that Masterforce’s way of distinguishing itself from other Transformers series was to be more like every other super robot anime. That’s true to an extent but it gets more complicated, particularly toward the end of the series.

But what I’ve noticed, and not seen mentioned before, is that Masterforce didn’t simply move closer to typical of a genre; it has a strong influence from one particular set of super robot anime; the original mecha series, Mazinger Z, and it’s sequels, Great Mazinger and Grendizer.

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