Mazinkaiser Vol. #2 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, November 01, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, October 28, 2003
What They Say
Kouji Kabuto may have met his match in his evil nemesis Dr. Hell. As fast as the young warrior and his team can defeat the onslaught of the evil mechanical horde, Dr. Hell is developing new weapons to take over the world! The whole Photon Team is at risk from being infected by the sinister hybrid parasite or just flung into the heart of Mount Fuji! Could it be the end of Mazinkaiser and Venus Ace?
Find out in the final battle to end all battles against the evil plots of Baron Ashura and the malevolent Dr. Hell. It's unto the breach with blistering battle action and enough photon power to set the world on fire!
What do you do when you’re giant robot is outclassed? Get a bigger and better robot or hit the upgrade trail!
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language format that is also in 5.1 digital surround sound. The English track here is pretty solid with lots of forward soundstage directionality as well as the opening song really going up a few notches and coming across much deeper and richer. We didn’t notice a lot of sound going to the rear channels, but the forward presentation is excellent. We had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video in 2001, Mazinkaiser makes out rather well by also being encoded for anamorphic playback in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer here is solid with very little to really complain about. The dark blue sections, notably night time skies and some interiors, are the only areas that really had any problems and those tended to be the of the grainy look variety due to the coloring used. Cross coloration and aliasing are pretty much non-existent throughout, leaving a very smooth and clean looking print.
The front cover is quite busy this time around with a variety of images but it works out rather nicely in being both an eye-catching piece as well as really giving you something to look at when you sit down with it. The central dark image has the “dark” Venus in the center while you see the Mazinkaiser and Kouji above it. The back cover is done up in comic book style with shots from the show and the boxes listing the extras. There’s a basic summary of the plot and the usual production credits and technical listings. The insert provides a shot from one of the Japanese DVD covers while the reverse side is just boxart advertisements.
The main menu is a nice sectional piece with one main image behind it but each area allowing a different amount of the color to seep through. The menu is also thankfully anamorphic, something that doesn’t always happen. Selections are quick and easy to access though the text looks rather squeezed and blurry on my 4:3 set.
The second half to the series has some good extras on the disc. First, there’s several pages worth of enemy specifications that go over the various machines that are utilized in these episodes. A new section of production sketches is included as is the clean closing segment. One really nice look is the original Japanese artwork for the series, a nice brief gallery, as well as getting the original Japanese opening again.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first volume completely surprised us with its style and substance, we left it feeling rather enthusiastic about it, even with the filler beach episodes that the first volume concluded with. With only three episodes here, we figured things would move back on course pretty fast and we’d get a fun tale to close things out.
While we do get that fun tale, it’s pushed back a touch further and the first episode here is given over to something a bit more comical in nature for a good part of it. Coming back to the base after an important meeting with defense officials, Professor Yumi and one of the twins find themselves under attack from the Iron Mask Army along one of the mountain roads, causing them to falter and go over the cliff. While they spend their time on the run and trying to keep alive, a body double makes his way into the Mazinkaiser base by impersonating Yumi.
Underneath the mask and clothes, Baron Ashura tries to keep up the pretense of being Yumi while avoiding some of the pitfall questions he gets asked. What doesn’t work in Ashura’s favor though is that it’s actually Yumi’s birthday and he’s arrived just in time to be taken to a party for him. One he gets wrapped up into the party, he continually only thinks of himself as Ashura and falls prey to numerous near-miss revelations that would give him away. When the three doctor scientists arrive with a robot that will obey any and all voice commands of Professor Yumi for a birthday present, it just starts going over the top while Ashura tries to deal with it. One of the best parts is when Sayaka gives her father a new shirt that’s split like Ashura’s is, causing him to really freak.
And that’s when things really get exciting. While we get the comedy in the first episode, the series goes for the big overwrought ending spread over the final two episodes as the Great Mazinger returns to action and Mazinkaiser itself goes through some changes into its final form now that it and its pilot have managed to really grow and work well together. As the fight gets more personal between Kouji and Dr. Hell as the evil island full of new monsters gets closer and closer to its arrival at the Photon Labs. Kouji really gets into his role here and any trepidation is gone, leaving only the confident young pilot to try and pull one out of his hat as Dr. Hell.
While there’s angst and other drama mixed into the ending, it all comes down to the action as we get the good guys getting beaten up by the numerous new bad guys while they try to come up with a plan for victory. While the bulk of the show continues to be a great homage to the simple plots and big epic moments of battle and it’s all captured beautifully here. These episodes really fly by when it gets going and it flows just right, balancing everything just as one would hope for.
Mazinkaiser really surprised us in the end. I hadn’t expected to even like this series, never mind enjoy it as much we did. With it being only seven episodes and two volumes, this is a series that’s quick and easy to commit to and to get a heck of a lot of enjoyment out of. Old school fans must own this to relive some of that past while everyone else should get it to so they can see what the rest of us are talking about. Very recommended.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Technical specs,Original Japanese artwork,Production sketches, Original Japanese opening
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2