Mazinger Z (Japanese: マジンガーZ, Hepburn: Majingā Zetto, known briefly as Tranzor Z in the United States) is a Japanese super robot manga series written and illustrated by Go Nagai. The first manga version was serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump from October 1972 to August 1973, and it later continued in Kodansha TV Magazine from October 1973 to September 1974. It was adapted into an anime television series which aired on Fuji TV from December 1972 to September 1974. A second manga series was released alongside the TV show, this one drawn by Gosaku Ota, which started and ended almost at the same time as the TV show. Mazinger Z has spawned several sequels and spinoff series, among them being Great Mazinger, UFO Robot Grendizer and Mazinkaiser.
Cover of the first manga volume
|Written by||Go Nagai|
|Original run||October 2, 1972 – August 13, 1974|
|Written by||Go Nagai|
|Illustrated by||Gosaku Ota|
|Published by||Akita Shoten|
|Original run||December 1972 – September 1974|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tomoharu Katsumata|
|Original network||Fuji TV|
|Original run||December 3, 1972 – September 1, 1974|
Mazinger Z is an enormous super robot, constructed with a fictitious metal called Super-Alloy Z (超合金Z, Chōgokin Zetto), which is forged from a new element (Japanium) mined from a reservoir found only in the sediment of Mt. Fuji, in Japan. The mecha was built by Professor Juzo Kabuto as a secret weapon against the forces of evil, represented in the series by the Mechanical Beasts of Dr. Hell. The latter was the German member of a Japanese archeological team, which discovered ruins of a lost pre-Grecian civilization on an island named Bardos, the Mycéne Empire. One of their findings was that the Mycene used an army of steel titans about 20 meters in height. Finding prototypes of those titans underground which could be remote-controlled and realizing their immense power on the battlefield, Dr. Hell goes insane and has all the other scientists of his research team killed except for Professor Kabuto, who manages to escape. The lone survivor goes back to Japan and attempts to warn the world of its imminent danger. Meanwhile, Dr. Hell establishes his headquarters on a mobile island, forms the new Underground Empire, and plans to use the Mechanical Monsters to become the new ruler of the world. To counter this, Kabuto constructs Mazinger Z and manages to finish it just before being killed by a bomb planted by Hell's right-hand person, Baron Ashura, a half-man, half-woman. As he lays dying, he manages to inform his grandson Kouji Kabuto about the robot and its use. Kouji becomes the robot's pilot, and from that point on battles both the continuous mechanical monsters, and the sinister henchmen sent by Doctor Hell.
In his Manga Works series, Go Nagai reveals that he had always loved Tetsuwan Atom and Tetsujin-28 as a child, and wanted to make his own robot anime. However, for the longest time he was unable to produce a concept that he felt did not borrow too heavily from those two shows. One day, Nagai observed a traffic jam and mused to himself that the drivers in back would surely love a way to bypass the ones in front. From that thought came his ultimate inspiration: a giant robot that could be controlled from the inside, like a car. In his original concepts, the titular robot was Energer Z, which was controlled by a motorcycle that was driven up its back and into its head (an idea which was recycled for the Diana A robot). However, with the sudden popularity of Kamen Rider, Nagai replaced the motorcycle with a hovercraft. He later redesigned Energer Z, renaming it Mazinger Z to evoke the image of a demon god (Ma, 魔, meaning demon and Jin, 神, meaning god). The motif of the Hover Pilder docking itself into Mazinger's head also borrows from Nagai's 1971 manga Demon Lord Dante (the prototype for his more popular Devilman), in which the titular giant demon has a human head (of Ryo Utsugi, the young man who merged with him) in his forehead. Koji Kabuto takes his surname (the Japanese word for a helmet) because he controls Mazinger Z from its head.
In the United States, Three B. Productions Ltd., a production company headed by Bunker Jenkins, developed Mazinger Z for American television by producing an English-dubbed version, which Jenkins retitled Tranzor Z. This adaptation aired in 1985, and was, like many English-dubbed anime shows that were on American TV at the time, re-edited for American audiences. Many of the Japanese names used in Mazinger Z were changed for its adaptation into Tranzor Z; for example, Koji Kabuto became Tommy Davis, Sayaka Yumi became Jessica Wells, Shiro became Toad, Professor Yumi became Dr. Wells, Dr. Hell became Dr. Daemon, and Baron Ashura became Devleen. Only 65 out of the 92 episodes were dubbed into English, as 65 was the minimum number of episodes required for syndication. An earlier English dub that was more faithful to the original was produced and aired in Hawaii for around 30 episodes in the late 1970s.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Mazinger Z anime ran to a total of 92 TV episodes from 1972 to 1974. Its period of greatest popularity lasted from roughly October 1973 to March 1974, during which time it regularly scored audience ratings in the high twenties; episode 68, broadcast March 17, 1974, achieved the series' highest rating of 30.4%, making Mazinger Z one of the highest-rated anime series of all time (1). It culminated in the destruction of the original robot by new enemies (after Doctor Hell's final defeat in the penultimate episode) and the immediate introduction of its successor, Great Mazinger, an improved version of Mazinger, along with its pilot, Tetsuya Tsurugi. The idea of replacing the first robot with Great Mazinger (sometimes called Shin Mazinger Z) is a variation of a death-rebirth myth found in most Japanese action series: the title character, even if it is only a robot, is never truly defeated or destroyed, only improved upon, and replaced by the next version. Koji and Mazinger Z come back in the last episodes of Great Mazinger to help their successors defeat the forces of evil.
Another sequel, albeit in a different line, was introduced in 1975, with the appearance of Grendizer, set in the Mazinger and Great Mazinger story continuity that included Koji Kabuto as a supporting character.
The shows spawned so-called "team-up movies" early on, which were like longer episodes that teamed up Mazinger Z with one of Go Nagai's other creations, as in Mazinger Z vs. Devilman (マジンガーZ対デビルマン) in 1973 as well as Mazinger Z Vs. Dr. Hell (マジンガーＺ対ドクターヘル) and Mazinger Z Vs. The Great General of Darkness (マジンガーZ対暗黒大将軍) both released in 1974.
On the franchise's 45th anniversary, a sequel film titled Mazinger Z: Infinity was announced, taking place 10 years after the events of the original series. It was animated by Toei Animation and directed by Junji Shimizu and written by Takahiro Ozawa. It is released theatrically in Japan on January 13, 2018. Viz Media licensed the film for its theatrical release outside Japan.
In the 1980s, on behalf of Dynamic Planning, Masami Ōbari and other independent animators (Toshiki Hirano) not part of Toei Animation began work on a miniseries of Mazinger Z. The OVA (Original Video Animation) would have been called Dai-Mazinger (or Daimajinga, 大魔神我) and would have presented the same characters known to the general public, starting with the main protagonist Koji. The robot would be more realistic: for example, it would have exhaust pipes and its rocket fists would not be able to automatically return to its arms.
The news, initially protected by a tight secrecy, managed to leak and were spread by the specialized press. Toei protested, saying to Dynamic that the rights of the animation of Mazinger was only theirs and that they did not tolerate a Mazinger animated by others. As a consequence, the project Daimajinga was blocked. This wasn't helped with the fact that Nagai was in the middle of a court battle with Toei, suing them for not properly crediting him and not paying him royalties over the creation of Gaiking in 1976. However, since then the relationship between Nagai and Toei had steadily improved.
Thirty years after the start of the original program, Nagai's company Dynamic Planning released a continuation of the original Mazinger series as an OVA—named Mazinkaiser (mazinkaizā)—in 2002. This work would be succeeded by the movie Mazinkaiser: Deathmatch! Ankoku Daishogun, which in some ways served as a partial remake of Mazinger Z vs. the General of Darkness.
Since 2007, several rumors surfaced regarding a new series which would be based on the Z Mazinger manga. In February 2009, it was officially announced a new Mazinger anime called Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen (真マジンガー 衝撃! Z編, Shin Majingā Shōgeki! Z Hen) which later began airing on April 4, 2009.
On the 2010 June issue of the magazine Hobby Japan, released on April 2010, a new OVA series was revealed, called Mazinkaizer SKL (マジンカイザーSKL, Majinkaizā SKL). The OVA also has a novelization, serialized in the ASCII Media Works magazine Dengeki Hobby, and a net manga, published by Emotion (Bandai Visual) in the mobile phones magazine Shu 2 Comic Gekkin.
In February 2019, it was announced that Transformers and Mazinger Z would crossover. A manga featuring the two franchises was released on March 28 of the same year.
Mazinger remains one of Go Nagai's most enduring success stories, spawning many products in the realm of merchandising, model kits, plastic and die-cast metal toys (the now famous Soul of Chogokin line), action figures and other collectibles. Mazinger has also been successful in the video game area (at least in Japan), as one of the main stars in the acclaimed battle simulation game series Super Robot Wars, released by Banpresto, featuring characters and units from almost all Mazinger-related shows, alongside other anime franchises.
A 40-foot tall statue of Mazinger Z was built in a suburb called "Mas del Plata" in Tarragona (Catalonia, Spain) in the early 1980s, to serve as the suburb's entrance, yet the suburb was never completed and the statue remains there.
Discotek Media acquired the American home video rights to the show. The result was a release of all 92 episodes of the original series in 2 volumes: Mazinger Z TV Series Vol 1, Ep. 1–46 and Mazinger Z TV Series Vol 2, Ep. 47–92. Discotek Media later released on double feature DVD on April 29, 2014, alongside Amazing Nuts!, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, and Unico.
Reception and influenceEdit
Mazinger Z helped to create the 1970s boom in mecha anime. The series is noteworthy for introducing many of the accepted stock features of super robot anime genres, including the first occurrence of mecha robots being piloted by a user from within a cockpit.
- "'Mazinger Z' Comes to U.S. Cinemas With 'INFINITY' for Two Special Screenings February 11 and 12 - Anime News Network". Anime News Network. January 19, 2018. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
- "マジンガーZ". Toei Animation. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Go Nagai's manga works 1971–1975". Nagai Go Special Corner (in Japanese). ebookjapan initiative. Archived from the original on 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2008-11-14.
- 「劇場版マジンガーZ」 2017年10月にイタリア公開、日本より3ヵ月先行 - アニメーションビジネス・ジャーナル
- Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 872–873. ISBN 978-1476665993.
- "Intervista a Masami Obari". Italian magazine Mangazine (in Italian). 29.
- "真マジンガー衝撃！Ｚ編". Shin-mazinger.com. Archived from the original on 2012-08-06. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Mazinkaizer SKL Anime, Manga, Novel Revealed". Anime News Network. 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- "mazinger z [coin-op] arcade video game, banpresto (1994)". Arcade-history.com. 2011-01-22. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Mazinger Z". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
- "Discotek Adds Mazinger Z Super Robot TV Anime - News". Anime News Network. 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- "Discotek Sets "Unico" Anime Film Double Feature DVD for April 29". Crunchyroll. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "Discotek Adds Amazing Nuts! Video Anime Anthology". Anime News Network. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "Discotek Media Acquires 'Amazing Nuts' Anime Short Anthology". The Fandom Post. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "'Mazinger Z' Anime DVD Gets Release Date, Cover Art". The Fandom Post. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "Discotek Media Dates 'Jin-Roh' Separate DVD & Blu-ray Anime Feature Releases". The Fandom Post. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "Discotek Sets Date for Mazinger Z and More". Otaku USA. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "Discotek Media Brings Studio 4ºC Anime Short Anthology "Amazing Nuts!" to DVD". Crunchyroll. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "First "Mazinger Z" TV Anime DVD Set Delivers 46 Episodes on April 29". Crunchyroll. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "Discotek Media Sets "Jin-Roh" DVD for April 29". Crunchyroll. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
- "Bigger Audiences, More Varied Productions". Nipponia. 2003-12-15. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Gilson, Mark. "A Brief History of Japanese Robophilia". Leonardo. 31 (5): 367–369.
- "Animage Top-100 Anime Listing". Anime News Network. January 15, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- newch (2013-08-11). "Guillermo del Toro meets Gundam in Japan". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-08-23.