Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Mazinger Z: Infinity—Because the World is Never Sufficiently Saved

Let’s get a new perspective on Mt. Fuji, unlike anything Hokusai ever envisioned. It is time to go underneath, where remnants of the ancient Mycene civilization were discovered. It turns out there was even more to be unearthed down there, including technology that could save (again) or destroy (again) the world in Junji Shimizu’s Mazinger Z: Infinity, which releases today on DVD and BluRay.

Using remnants of the Mycene technology, humanity was able to create the Mazinger mecha ‘bots to defeat Dr. Hell. He sounds like a bad guy, right? Of course, they were not able to ultimately kill or capture him, so he remains at large. Nevertheless, humanity has rebuilt itself using the photon energy cultivated at the Mt. Fuji power station, under the direction of Sayaka Yumi. As further exposition, Koji Kabuto was a hero of the Mazinger battles, but he has retired to a life of scientific research. He has also rather abruptly broken off with Yumi.

Despite the awkwardness between them, Kabuto has come to Mt. Fuji to analyze the massive Mycene Mazinger discovered in the far geologic depths. During his initial inspection, he launches LISA, a biological-AI hybrid that is supposed to act as the Mazinger’s key. She remains faithful to Kabuto as her activating “master”-controller but nefarious old Dr. Hell has found a way to hotwire the so-called “Mazinger: Infinity.” The Galactus-like behemoth does not merely smash things. It can destroy our entire universe, replacing it with another from the nexus of multi-verses. So, we’re dealing with some serious cosmic peril here.

Basically, the Mazinger franchise is a lot like Evangelion without the angst. Frankly, the most interesting character in Infinity, at least for newcomers who have not invested in the prior anime and manga series, is LISA, who struggles with her partially human state, much like DATA in Star Trek: Next Gen.

Still, the Mycene backstory is intriguing and it is cool to see Mt. Fuji employed so prominently as a backdrop and a plot element. There is also plenty of action, including a prologue that effectively catalogues the Mazingers’ arsenal of weapons for new arrivals to the franchise.

There is no shortage of destruction in Infinity and the stakes are undeniably high. Nevertheless, it mostly feels like another episode of the original series, rather something really feature-worthy, despite being largely self-contained. Regardless, mecha viewers who want to see more robots shooting at each other will find a quick fix here. Just recommended for the pre-existing fanbase, Mazinger Z: Infinity releases today on DVD and BluRay.