Crap From My Childhood: Mazinger Z (1972)

I've always had a fond appreciation for Mazinger Z. I think it was 1978 or 1979 when we actually got to see this anime in the Philippines. It was phenomenal- kids would run straight home right after school to catch these huge-ass robots slug it out with other evil huge-ass robots; there was nothing on TV like it.

Aside from the other Mecha shows, of course. At the time, other than Mazinger Z, there were Voltes V, Daimos, Mekanda Robot, UFO Grendaizer on one TV station (GMA 7), and then you had Balatak, Jeeg, Danguard Ace, Striker Force and Star Zinger on another (RPN 9). Of course there were others later on (Getta Robot, Gaiking, etc.), so maybe I'll blog all about these other mecha shows in another post.

Anyway, Mazinger Z was the very first mecha anime that came out- Wednesdays, I remember. For a cartoon, the theme was rather different from other usual animated fare at the time, like say, SuperFriends, or Disney movies or stuff from Hanna Barbera.

Mazinger Z ushered in a host of new mecha shows that were a lot more violent, darker, and perhaps a little more mature. Looking back, maybe it was a little too violent for kids (I was 5 or 6 at the time). But as far as mecha anime shows go, Mazinger Z set the conventions which would later be used by similar programs, and set the standard for a great super-robot series.

Check out this great Mazinger Z pic by Jose Liepana. Totally awesome.

The Mazinger Z Story

An archeological research team digs up an ancient civilization (said to be the Myceneans) on an island (which may have been the island of Rhodes?). The team discovers that this civilization made use of an army of giant steel titans (not unlike the legendary bronze giant, Talos), as a protection against invaders. The expedition team unearth prototypes of these titans, and start restoring them.

Realizing these giants can be remote-controlled, Dr. Hell soon sees the massive potential of these prototypes as instruments of world domination, and decides to kill off all the other members of the research team, so he can have the steel titans for his own designs. Professor Juzo Kabuto, another member of the research team, was the sole survivor of this treachery, and managed to escape to warn the world of Dr. Hell's plans.

Dr. Hell then starts building his mobile base of operations and his army of robot "beast fighters". In the meantime, Professor Kabuto builds Mazinger Z- a super-robot created out of a fictitious super-alloy (Chogokin-Z) that could only be found at the base of Mt. Fuji, and armed with an array of weaponry to stand up against Dr. Hell's mecha army.

Just as Professor Kabuto finishes Mazinger Z, he is assassinated by Dr. Hell's right-hand man, Baron Ashura. The dying professor passes on the secret of Mazinger Z to his grandson, Kouji, who then does battle with the beast fighters sent by Dr. Hell in every episode.

Mazinger Z Weapon Systems

To activate Mazinger Z, Kouji flies a specially-made hovervehicle (called the Pilder) into the super-robot's cranial cavity. This effectively allows him to interface with Mazinger Z and control the mecha's movement and access the weapon systems.

  • Rocket Punch. Mazinger Z can launch his fist and forearm as a projectile that can punch through steel. These forearms then fly back to reattach themselves back to Mazinger Z's arms.
  • Koshiryoku Beams. Laser beams that shoot from Mazinger Z's eyes.
  • Rust Hurricane. Mazinger Z can blow out gale-force winds which can disintegrate steel
  • Breast Fire. High-intensity beams powerful enough to melt metal that radiate from the red fixtures on Mazinger Z's chest.
Mazinger Z also had a female counterpart, Aphrodite A- which is piloted by the hot-blooded and tomboyish Sayaka Yumi, who also serves as Kouji's romantic interest. While Aphrodite A is also made of the same Chogokin-Z superalloy, she doesn't have much in the way of offensive weaponry. In fact, her only weapon system are missiles launched from her breasts- the Oppai Missile System.

Other Mazinger Z Facts
  • Go Nagai, the legendary Japanese animator, was the creative genius behind Mazinger Z. Mecha/super-robot fans would usually credit him as the father of the super-robot anime genre, and Mazinger Z as "the mecha show that started it all". In response, Go Nagai would humbly pass the honor to two other animators and their projects: Osamu Tezuka's Tetsuwan Atom (aka "Astro Boy") and Mitsuteru Yokoyama's Tetsujin 28-go (aka "Gigantor").
  • Mazinger Z was re-dubbed in English and re-named Tranzor Z for the US release in 1985. Many scenes considered too violent or too sexually suggestive were edited from the series, cutting down the number of episodes from 92 to 65.
  • As you can see on YouTube, Mazinger Z seems to also have been popular in Italy, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain and the Middle East.
There were actually two Mazinger Z openings. This one I remember the most watching it as a kid (thanks to javeln, who shared this clip on YouTube):

This other opening replaces the first midway into the season (thanks to JihadAlexander, who also shared this clip on YouTube):

If you wanna check out more of Mazinger Z, you can read more about him here on his Wikipedia entry, here on the AnimeNewsNetwork, or here on Interestingly enough, you may also want to check out Wikipedia entry on Mazinger Z's enemies-of-the-week, the "mechanical beasts".

"Crap From My Childhood" is a special feature on old cartoons and kiddie shows from the 1970s and 1980s. Read all about it on Renzie's personal blog on all things television: "Too Much TV!"

Cheers, everyone.



Just A Regular Dude Watching TV

I might be a media guy, but my field is really more into radio and marketing more than anything else. For the most part, it means that what I know about television is pretty much stuff just about anyone can know- so don't expect me to go technical or anything.

I'm just a regular dude who just happens to appreciate me some good TV.

TV has so much to offer- a show I like might not exactly appeal to your tastes and vice versa. And that's the beauty of it all- with just so much TV going on, there's definitely something for everyone out there. We even have our own guilty pleasures- and that's just all good.

Feel free to share your thoughts on whatever TV show you like (or don't like). As long as you're all mature about it, with a genuine desire to inform, educate, or just someone with an honest opinion- come, sit and let's talk about TV.

Cheers, everyone.

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