What They Say:
Koji and Company are back, along with Dr. Yumi and the staff of the Photon Light Institute, to keep Dr. Hell from taking over Japan. However, things won’t be so easy now that Dr. Hell has a new alliance with the terrifying Duke Gorgon and an UPGRADED series of Mecha Monsters to throw their way.
Can Mazinger Z keep up with the growing threat? Or will the glory go to Sayaka’s shiny new Diana A, or even – in the worst possible case – Boss Borot? Will Sayaka allow the new Most Dangerous Maid, Misato, to WORK at the Institute without being overcome by jealousy? Or will evil prevail as Dr. Hell’s ambitions grow? One thing is for certain: there is no escaping tragedy and triumph in the second half of Mazinger Z.
The only audio present here is Japanese Dolby stereo 2.0 and it sounds pretty good without any noticeable distortions.
This series was originally broadcast in 1972, and looks good here. The cel animation holds up fine and colors are vibrant and steady. The nuances of old-school sketch-line animation are still fun to watch. The subtitles are colored and detailed appropriately, which makes them easy to read as needed.
The front of the box has Mazinger Z looking ahead along with his many mechanical beasts while the masthead and volume denotation are in the lower thirds. The back has the “what they said” text vertically on the right side of and screen shots shown vertically on the left. Disc credits and specifications are shown in the lower thirds. The box itself is meant to hold 6 DVDs.
With many of the mecha in the background as well as new villain Archduke Gorgon, the episodes are listed vertically in yellow text on the left side of the screen. The right shows the series masthead and the playback options, including “play all” or “English subtitles on / off.” The show theme plays in the background.
There’s a surprising set of extras on her not listed on any sites or even the DVD cover itself. Discotek managed to sneak in 3 short pilot episodes taken from 8mm film and transferred them on here without any restoration / color enhancement. It’s very nostalgic to see them on here like this, depending how far back you might remember grainy pictures, dials and rabbit ears being on your TV sets.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Well, we’ve come to the concluding volume of Mazinger Z, the first ever super robot series in which the hero actually pilots the giant mech. Long before Gurren Lagann, Gaogaigar, Golion and other shows where the heroic hunk of metal did a stack-&-attack sequence to beat the villain’s plot of the episode, there was Go Nagai’s revolutionary robot ready to save the day for millions of kids watching in the early 70s.
This set covers episodes 47-92 to close out the series. We have the main character who…. Well… he’s still a d**k. No way around this. He’s condescending to his friends, including female team member Sayaka because she’s female, and is reckless as hell using the Mazinger against the advice of Dr. Yumi, the head of the Photon Light Institute. He still gets into messed up situations against mecha monsters more powerful than Mazinger Z at times. He also irks the bully Boss and his two friends Nuke and Mucha.
It’s ok though because this particular trio gets their own robot, The Boss Borot, in an awesomely funny debut ep to help save the day. Even still, due to the bad guys upping their game, everyone gets new weaponry as Mazinger itself gets some upgrades and Sayaka must tearfully say goodbye to Aphrodite Ace in favor of a new mecha, Diaanan-A.
Speaking of said bad guys, the villainous Dr. Hell continues to plan for the day he can conquer the Institute and destroy Mazinger Z. His two lead henchmen, dual-gendered Baron Ashura and head holder Count Brocken, have been total failures when it’s come to taking down the good guys. The lackeys biker daily and Dr Hell seems to have had just about enough of them both when an interesting new player is added to this game: Archduke Gorgon of the Mycenean Empire, who had some very interesting dealings with the doctor (and the Kabuto family) many years before.
Gorgon is an interesting design as he’s a blue-skinned humanoid with Roman clothing, but his bottom half is that of a tiger who growls very often. Gorgon offers newer and more powerful mecha beasts and helps give the Institute teams an increasingly hard time. After a while, one of the lackeys fall in battle and all the villains vow to avenge him, while Doctor Hell recruits another lead man to take his place, the mystical Viscount Pygman, who has strange abilities and seems like a midget with a small torso on top of a large humanoid torso.
Like I said, the villains up their game and the Institute suffers loss. They use more personal tactics to get to Koji at times as well as Koji’s own impetuousness as he gets more and more impatient dealing with Dr. Hell. The aspect that’s interesting to see though is the personality and / or design of the mecha monster in a given episode. For example, one of them is a rifleman / sniper who is ordered to shoot civilians on the ground, but it refuses to do so because it won’t fire on anyone not in a giant robot like Mazinger-Z. Another basically turns itself into a giant clam at the bottom of the ocean so that Koji might drown. Others shoot so many missiles at the Mazinger team it’s not even funny. Some are based on humanoid warriors, others still on crazy animals which get more deadly as the show goes on.
Series director Tomoharu Katsumata throws all kinds of action into the show as it builds toward the finale, which solves some things yet leaves others unresolved. Still it’s a fun ride all the way seeing this lead to other robot shows Katsumata eventually directed for Go Nagai including Getter Robo, Grendizer, and Gaiking. The action gets goofy at times but the show itself is often entertaining.
I hadn’t had a chance to watch this series before these sets were released. Though I’ve really enjoyed the super robot genre, I’d only seen the mini-movies, Mazinkaiser and Shin Mazinger Z-Hen before featuring these characters. It’s been great to see the show that originated the genre Go Nagai is so heavily credited for. In the future I’m hoping to see Discotek Media bring over the next great Mazinger series they can get their hands on and any other show that can help fans to learn how entertaining giant robots have been over the years.
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A+
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Discotek Media / Eastern Star Inc.
Release Date: December 23rd, 2014
Running Time: 1150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1, 4:3
Review Equipment: Panasonic 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3