Super Robot anime has two immediate appeals in this modern era. The first, being fantastic opening theme music and the second, which I will go into more detail later, is accessibility. Super group Jam Project is a great example of outstanding music, its founders, Ichirou Misuki, Hironubo Kageyama (Whom some of us at CotBF affectionately address as “Japanese Bon Jovi”.), and Massaki Endo have individual music that deserves to open this review. Watch all three of these openings and try to pick up on the pump-you-up feel as it just dares you to scream out an attack name. Now image a group made of singers all working the same level of excitement? I consider 2010’s Mazinkaiser SKL (Actually, this time instead of the aforementioned Jam Project, Mazinkaiser SKL’s opening is performed by the tonally more appropriate metal band known as Loudness) to be a perfect example of Super Robot anime and the inherent pick-up-and-go that shows like this champion.
Mazinkaizer SKL is directed by Jun Kawgoe with company Dynamic Planning, who I know as a company hell-bend on producing countless anime adaptions of mangaka. Go Nagio’s huge catalog of giant robot and random perverse demon/angel/demon angel material helped materialize such shows like Getter Robo Armageddon and New Getter Robo. Jun Kawgoe also directed the awesome but seemly ignored Cyborg 009 The Cyborg Solider.
Warning: Starting with MazinKaizer SKL, we are starting to occasionally cover Blu-Rays. Problem is, we have no idea how to make effective Blu-Ray screen caps (we looked up ways, but they did not help/required the out of our budget AnyDVD HD). This means we are going back to the old days when we used to take images off our T.V.s with our phones. So if they look fuzzy to you, they look just as fuzzy to us as well.
On a remote location called Kikaijima Island, crashed soldier Yuki Tsubaki has just been promoted to Lieutenant (might be a different rank, but in the grand scheme of things, is really not that important) by way of the rest of her squad dying when they entered the semi-radioactive purple vortex surrounding the island. Yuki witnesses three robot armies; the first, the post-apocalyptic marauder army led by the shirtless battle-crazed Kiba; the second, the ancient militarist empire army (their means of long range projectiles are in actual iron bolts in a world of lasers for God’s sake) lead by, straight out of the Sengoku period, Japan giant Garan; and finally the third, the all-female Greek Goddess based army lead by their Goddess idol Aira. But wait, who is that cloaked robot who is tearing things up with both broadsword and dual-pistols? Why, Yuki recognizes the menace as Mazinkaizer SKL, piloted by the two military infamous pilots named Kaido and Magami.
Simply put, Maizenkaizer SKL is about Kaido’s and Magami’s mission to team up with Yuki and Aira’s army to stop Kiba and Garan from setting off the Gravity Curtain that will take the world with it. The idea behind the melt down stems from the amount of resources and factories these three armies have used to constantly wage war amongst each other, with Kiba and Garan having finally kicked production over their limits. For the anime equivalents of fellow writer Biskmater and I, the mission for hot blooded foul-mouthed short range-combat Kaido and cold but slightly crazy long range-combat Magami is simple potentially friendly-fire filled destruction. What more could someone ask for really?
I continue to press the notion that Super Robot shows excel at accessibility because of my personal experience as at least a mid-range fan. Mazinkaizer SKL restarted my need for Super Robot shows, as evident from my return to the Getter Robo shows mentioned above. The beauty of Super Robot shows stem from the ability to engage and disengage every couple of months or so (which is how I experience most of my genre specific interests). On a pure fan knowledge level, Mazinkaizer SKL is filled with Go Nagio property inside jokes like Mazinger Z staple monsters Garada K7 and Doublas M2 are reused as Kiba’s foot soldiers and Mazinger Z lead Koji Kabuto and his friend Sayaka Yumi make a cameo in a diner. What makes these nods and fan appeals accessible is you do not need to know what they are referencing to like it; in the same way you do not have to know what they are referencing to watch an episode of Loony Tunes.
Pros: Mazinkaizer SKL has surprising levels of design and color in the various army bases and in the vortex sky, pleasant to find in an anime which would have just been bathed in grey-scale otherwise. Action is constant, be it Magami and Kaido fighting in Mazinkaizer with rocket punches and chest lasers or in person with swords and pistols. Heavy Metal tone with its skull reimagined Mazinkaizer and Loudness opening with accompanying guitar riff heavy soundtrack keeps that feel that they are genuinely trying to take it up to eleven (must I really reference a movie I have never fully seen?).
Cons: Hate to compare Mazinkaizer SKL once again to the Getter Robo shows in heavy rotation in this review, but that excess of violence and nudity of the prior seemed to be toned down as compared to the latter. I try not to contrast shows on what they are willing to show, but I felt a voice in the back of my mind saying “Is it just me or does it feel that somewhere in the production, the violence and nudity were told to be reigned back to not overwhelm a potential audience”. While Magami and Kaido are a cool enough tag-team, their dialog stood out when they would constantly remind each other who was better at long range- combat or short range- combat, odd if they were professional military soldiers deemed excellent enough to pilot Mazinkaizer.
Media Blasters has Mazinkaiser SKL out on either on DVD and Blu-ray that are relatively cheap, which is why this is the site’s first Blu-ray review! Speaking of cheap anime, most Super Robot shows, mentioned or just in general, are tend to be either dirt cheap out of lack of interest or market up ten-fold because of the hard-core. Mazinkaizer SKL starts with the action and style and keeps it going, creating a show so engaging, I watched it twice in a week for this review. Get your Super Robot start here folks, for it goes down smooth.