We have been a fan of Sci-fi based movies nowadays and Transformers has been one of the top trends and most popular among all of it. Do you ever wonder where the concept of Transformers and the all-time kids’ favorite, the “Power Rangers” came from? How about the first glance on the first robot shows? Well, believe it or not, these robot eras has started during the 1970s where anime was developed further, separating itself from its Western roots, and developing distinct genres such as mecha and its Super Robot subgenre. “Astro Boy”, “Lupin III” and “Mazinger Z” became famous during this period but Mazinger Z became the so-called “granddaddy of all the Super Robot Genre”
Mazinger Z is the first entry of the Mazinger Z trilogy. Its first manga version was serialized in Shueisha Weekly Shonen Jump from October 1972 to August 1973, and it later continued in Kodansha TV Magazine from October 1973 to September 1974. In December 1972, the anime version premiered on Fuji television. A second manga series was released alongside the TV Show,this one drawn by Gosaku Ota, which started and ended almost at the same time of the TV show. It must be stated that, there are two different tankobon (independent/standalone book) releases compiling the original Go Nagai manga due to the move of the show from Shonen Jump to Kodansha TV Magazine. It seems like both manga has been unsystematic when the Shueisha release compiles chapters, there are missing in the Kodansha edition and vice versa, and some chapters are not recompilated in any of them, and neither of them were chronologically arranged. It was then that an Italian publishing house published an “edizione integrale” (book in complete edition) containing all chapters and arranging them according to chronological order.
Go Nagai, series writer and illustrator of Mazinger Z reveals that he had always loved Tetsuwan Atom and Tetsujin-28 as a child, that’s when he dreamed to make his own robot anime. There was a time when Go Nagai observed a traffic jam and mused to himself that the driver he was seeing in back would surely love a way to bypass the ones in front. That’s where his ultimate inspiration came from: a giant robot that can be controlled from the inside. During that time, in his original concepts, his honorary robot was Energer Z, which was controlled by a motorcycle that was driven up its back and into its head, this was recycled for the Diana A robot. However, due to the sudden popularity of Kamen Rider, he replaced the motorcycle with a hovercraft. He then redesigned Energer Z and renaming it as Mazinger Z to awaken the image of demon god. The docking of the Hover Pilder seems familiar isn’t it? That is because Go Nagai borrows that idea from his 1971 manga Demon Lord Dante or also known for his popularity as Devilman.
Generally, the story of Mazinger Z started when Dr. Kabuto and Dr. Hell found the remains of an ancient civilization capable of making giant robots. Their rivalry began when Dr. Kujo found out the plans of Dr. Hell to create giant robots to conquer the Earth. This lead Dr. Kabuto to begin the construction of Mazinger Z, an enourmous super robot constructed with a feigned metal called Super-Alloy Z which built from a new element mined from a reservoir found only in the sediment of Mt. Fuji, in Japan.
Dr. Hell sends his first assistant, Baron Ashura, to kill Dr. Kabuto. His attempt was successful, but not completely: Just before his death, he is found by his grandson, Kouji Kabuto, and informs him about the recently finished robot hidden on the underground basement. From that moment, and with the help of Dr. Gennosuke Yumi (Dr. Kabuto’s ex-assistant), the inexpert Kouji manages to learn how to pilot the powerful Mazinger. In order to help Kouji, Dr. Yumi also made a robot of his own, called Aphrodite A, and piloted by his daughter Sayaka, which was primarily conceived as a peace-time robot. Both Mazinger and Aphrodite together combat and destroy every mechanical monster created by Dr. Hell and his associates, Baron Ashura and the Iron Mask. In a second season of the series, a new character appears: Dr. Kabuto Jr., father of Kouji, who wasn’t dead, but constructing an even more powerful robot, the Great Mazinger.
There were actually lots of sequels, spin-offs and remakes throughout four decades due to the forty-years old Long run of the franchise: The Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer,God Mazinger, New Mazinger …etc. just to name a few. Have you watched all of it?
The contribution of Mazinger Z in the history of super robot genre created an impact to the super robot concepts today. Yes, there were some creators who managed to conceptualize their own idea but still it was Go Nagai who first made the popularity of robots and mecha since then.
Therefore, in my opinion, this only prove that Mazinger Z really deserves to be known as the “Granddaddy of the Super Robot Genre”
Kudos, Go Nagai.