Mazinkaiser Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mazinkaiser

Mazinkaiser Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     December 06, 2005
Release Date: November 15, 2004


Mazinkaiser Vol. #2
© ADV Films UK


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?

Episodes Comprise
5 - A Narrow Escape! The Photon Power Lab
6 - Kouji Kabuto Dies in Magma!
7 - A Fight!! A Burning Hell Castle!

The Review!
You can't really have a giant robot show without an explosive finale, and thankfully Mazinkaiser delivers just that.

Audio:
The soundtrack is presented in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 versions. I split my viewing between the English and Japanese tracks, to get some benefit from the 5.1 mix. For music and effects, good use is made of the available channels, although the rear is slightly muted compared to the front, while voices don't have much in the way of directionality to them. The Japanese track, being in 2.0 stereo, feels decidedly flat by comparison. There were no obvious encoding problems.

Video:
Keeping true to the old school giant robo style, Mazinkaiser features bold designs and bright colours. With it being a fairly recent show (2001), the transfer looks extremely good, with only the occasional feeling of graininess to spoil things. Video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.

Packaging:
Kouji and Mazinkaiser fill the top half of the front cover, with Dr Hell's hordes rampaging below. It's another busy piece of artwork, with some of the details quite difficult to make out. The back cover uses the same comic-book theme as volume one, with a few screenshots accompanying the disc synopsis and technical information panel.

Menu:
Dr Hell's mechanical monsters are the theme of the menus this time around, with static shots of the various enemy robots being used on each menu. Direct access is provided to each episode along with sub-menus for language setup and extras. With no menu transitions, it's all quick and easy to use.

Extras:
There's a reasonable selection of extras here, beginning with the "technical specs" of Dr Hell's mechanical monsters - basically a list of their special powers. There's also a gallery of the cover art from the original Japanese DVD release, a 3-minute slideshow of production art, the original Japanese opening credit sequence & a creditless version of the closing sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The comedy aspect of Mazinkaiser gets put to one side as the show aims for an impressive finale. As the disc begins, Baron Ashura is feeling more than a little bit paranoid after the disappearance of Dr Hell. Fearing it's because of their continued failure to defeat Mazinkaiser and the Photon Power Labs, they vow to make on last push to defeat the good guys – the plan is to infiltrate the Labs bu killing Professor Yumi and taking his place. Part A of the plan – dealing with Professor Yumi – seems to go smoothly enough, but Ashura has chosen the Professor's birthday to launch his plan, and wasn't expecting to have to deal with surprise parties and presents.

This episode provides the last of the out-and-out comedy scenes. Poor Baron Ashura just doesn't understand how to deal with happiness, and his reactions to some of what goes on here will definitely raise at least a smile. While all this is happening, Dr Hell is busy beefing up his horde of Mechanical Monsters and finally makes his appearance at the end of the episode, marking a shift towards a more serious style for the remaining two episodes.

With his new, super-powered monsters Dr Hell is finally ready to make his pitch for world domination, and launches an all-out attack on the Photon Labs. Arrogance seems to be the downfall of Kouji and the others here, as their belief that Mazinkaiser is invincible means they don't take Dr Hell's attack as seriously as they should. By the end of the episode, Venus Ace has been taken over by Hell's forces, Boss Borot is pretty much destroyed, while Kouji and Mazinkaizer lie deep within the fires of Mount Fuji, facing almost certain death. Confident of victory, Dr Hell begins to move his artificial island, Hell Castle, to Japan, ready to take up his new role as overlord of Earth.

You weren't seriously expecting Mazinkaiser to save the day without so much as a sniff of a setback, I hope? As the saying goes, the darkest hours are just before the dawn, and it seems to be a requirement of every giant robot show that the good guys end up on the wrong end of a serious kicking before finally coming good and saving the day. Kouji's blind faith in the abilities of his Mecha play a big part in landing him and the Photon Labs crew in a truly bad situation, but as you would expect help soon arrives to turn the tide of the battle

As the final episode begins, Tetsuya and his Great Mazinger appear just in time to save the day. Not only has he recovered from the injuries he sustained in the first battle against Dr Hell's forces, his partner Jun has also uncovered Dr Kabuto's secret lab, where Mazinkaiser was created and where a few convenient power-up options still lurk. It's just what Kouji needs to make his escape from Mount Fuji and take the battle to Dr Hell's fortress, where a re-modelled Baron Ashura awaits.

I'll admit, I miss the comedy side of things – it played a large part in making the first volume of Mazinkaiser as enjoyable as it was, and this volume definitely suffers a bit by keeping to a more serious tone. That said, being “almost really good” still makes this a fun disc to watch. Right from the start Mazinkaiser has stuck to the same basic formula that has served the giant robot genre well for a long time now. While that means there's not a lot here that will genuinely surprise you, it's all presented so well that it's hard not to just get carried away by the atmosphere of the show, even if you can usually easily figure out what's going to happen next.

In Summary:
The key to getting the most out of Mazinkaiser is remembering that it's more of a trip down nostalgia lane than an attempt to be something new or different. It takes everything you'll remember from giant robot shows of 20 years ago and simply dresses it up in some modern eye-candy, with the end result being something that fans of those “old school” shows will love. There have been a few other recent shows that have tried to update the genre, and this is probably the one that best manages to capture the spirit of the old classics.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Enemy Specifications,Original Japanese Artwork & Production Sketches,Original Japanese Opening Sequence,Clean Closing Sequence

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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