What They Say:
Ten years after the defeat of Dr. Hell and his Underground Empire, Koji Kabuto has retired from piloting Mazinger Z and become a scientist. Now a shocking discovery under Mt. Fuji has revealed the greatest threat the Earth has ever known, forcing Koji and his friends to once again fight for the future of all humanity.
The audio presentation for this film brings us the original Japanese language track in 5.1 along with an English language dub in the same, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The film works a really great sound design here that makes me wish I did catch it in theaters because it plays heavily to the action side and it’s pretty immersive with what it does. Placement, depth, the overall movement across not just the forward soundstage but what gets thrown to the rears hits a great sweet spot. There’s some solid impact to the bigger moments and the bass plays well on my setup, making you feel a nice bit of rumble at some key points. Dialogue kind of follows the same pattern but with more variety to it with lows and highs to it. The film definitely keeps things moving and it’s one of the better designed theatrical mixes to really provide an experience.
Originally in theaters at the end of 2017, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Clocking in at just over ninety minutes, the film was animated by Toei Animation with Junji Shimizu directing. The film puts its entire budget on the screen when you get down to it as it’s very fluid with high-motion sequences, lots of color vibrancy, and just so much going on almost constantly that it’s almost a little overwhelming. The variety of what’s going on in terms of the mechanical design is impressive and the detail with all of it holds up wonderfully with great sharpness to it. The colors are rich throughout with the depth of it and it maintains a solid color field to really deliver something that will please fans wanting to see all of this in the modern age with a big budget. The encoding definitely captures all of this wonderfully and fans will definitely enjoy the end result here.
The packaging of this release is nicely done for the first pressing editions as we get a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc inside. The set comes with a foil o-card that has one of the better action images from the promotional materials for the film with the Mazinger in punch mode. The foil lets the gold and fire really shine beautifully here and makes it a must-own for fans just for that alone. The back cover leans more into the silver side of things as we get another great image of the Mazinger along the left with some really nice detail in the illustration that shows its power. The summary of the premise is very minimal to the right and we get a good breakdown of the extras included and the basics of how the film is put together. A few shots from the show line the bottom and we get the logo-filled grid below that. While the back cover is the same for both o-card and the regular cover, the front of the regular has a good full-length shot of the Mazinger standing in ruins with an almost greyscale design to it that gives it a really moody feeling. No show related inserts are included but we do get a nice visual on the reverse side of the old base.
The extras for this release have some nice pieces to it that definitely gives it some value. The familiar are here with an art gallery and the English version of the opening and closing credits sequence that was used for its theatrical release. Where it goes big is in the interviews as we get six of them as it works through from the directors to character design. They vary in length but they let each of these key parts of the film’s creation talk about the project and the contribution in a great way even if it is just for a couple of minutes. In addition to that, we get a message from Go Nagai for the worldwide release that’s the standard but welcome minute-long piece. We tend to not see creators too often and Go Nagai in particular, so this was a very charming moment. We also get an array of trailers but we also get a brief minute-long piece that’s a promo for the opening theme, which is a great watch and it’s done in either romaji or English. It’s just a blast to watch Ichiro Mizuki actually perform.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’ll easily admit I don’t have a heavy knowledge of the Mazinger Z property. It came originally from a time before I knew anything about anything but I grew up in the late ‘70s with those giant Mazinger Z plastic robot toys that shot their weapons. I’ve seen some of the properties released over the years but never the originals, just remakes, and new incarnations. So going into Mazinger Z: Infinity, it’s something where I don’t have a lot of really strong background to be able to make big connections. Directed by Junji Shimizu, the film is one that doesn’t try to be too accessible to new fans as it wants to delight those that have been fans for decades. That said, it does provide enough to go on but it’s the old case of the more you know the more you get out of it.
The film does a decent job in the opening segment to touch upon what came before, showing the big final battles with the villains at the time and how Koji Kabuto and the rest protected the world as best as they could from Dr. Hell and the weapons and machines he threw at humanity. It plays out well to show the bigger motions that unfolded and the level of chaos that Dr. Hell and all that he had was put out there. It is one of those areas that I actually felt a bit overwhelmed by early on. What we get from all of this is the ten-year leap forward, which I like since it helps to age up the familiar characters a bit more and provide something more in terms of what they’ve lived and experienced, and how they approach everything anew since they’re not the bright-eyed idealists of their youth. What we see is the world that has spent years rebuilding and we see how Koji has honored his father and grandfather by becoming a scientist himself.
There are a lot of neat little changes that have come since but the intriguing one is the introduction of Lisa, who is basically a control unit that’s been put together that’s mostly organic but with an AI. This, naturally, comes as a new attack on the world is starting from a returning Dr. Hell as they want the Infinity machine for their larger purpose. The film plays with its wonky physics here but it digs into quantum overlapping in a way to show that Dr. Hell may not exactly be evil in some way but just dealing with an alternate reality that crosses over with this one. I do like that Dr. Hell tries to find a way to do things peacefully, even if that’s not his real intent and he can’t be trusted anyway, but his arrival in all of this in this time has set into motion the fight back against him. Which, comically enough, has Koji and the people at the Photon Research Insitute create a new Mazinger Z with a giant 3D printer using photonic energy. That’s just classic.
Like a lot of anime films of this nature, it wants to get into some philosophical stuff along the way and it plays out as a lot of it does for me. There are some interesting ideas there but it’s just not that engaging since they’re not going to really do anything with it. I don’t begrudge films that engage in all of this but it really is just so predictable in a lot of ways and at times kind of undercuts things in my mind. That said, the bulk of the film is just one thing and it’s what counts the most – action. And it does work beautifully here as there are so many big sequences, so much intensity to it both in how the giant robots go at each other and the pilots with their expressiveness, that it really drives the whole thing in a big way. The power of the machines and the people combined with the array of opponents and the over the top nature of it delivers a lot of excitement. It’s also filled with a great scale since these are giant machines striding over the landscape. While some of the story elements may not be memorable, watching this unfold in terms of action is simply thrilling.
Mazinger Z: Infinity is a pretty fun movie. It’s a big and bold action piece that takes the classic and gives it all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a modern incarnation. It keeps to some of the key aspects of the classic and really embraces it and like a lot of ‘70s works that get updated, it comes across really well in the present day with the designs standing out as something special. Coming into it now, I’m disappointed that I missed out on seeing this on the big screen as it must have been quite the experience. Viz Media put together a great release here through and through, however, as it looks fantastic, manages a strong theatrical audio mix, and a lot of solid extras for fans of the production side. This is one of those properties that definitely scratches an itch that few works do and it left me delighted with its skill in handling the move to the big screen and actually advancing a storyline.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Go Nagai Worldwide Release Message, Ichiro Mizuki Opening Song Music Promo, English Theatrical Open and End Credits, English Cast Outtakes, Director and Japanese Crew Interviews, Art Gallery
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: February 19th, 2019
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.