MazinKaiser SKL (2011)
Harken to a day when robots were made of metal
Nevermind the fact that you can find Kaiser spelled with a S or Z depending on where you come from. Never mind that Netflix only had the subtitled version as opposed to the one with the English VA's I've read exists. Forget everything you know about Mazinkaiser, if you knew anything at all. This movie brings the metal back into the giant robot anime.
There's a plot to this film, but I'll warn you know that it's totally optional. You see, a gravity generator (think a large reactor that deals with gravity as opposed to fusion or fission) on this island has started breaking down, and it's up to some deployed soldier types and an engineer to fix it or shut it down before it goes critical. Why? Should the gravity generator go critical, the meltdown would essentially cause irreparable damage to the Earth's gravitational pulls, pretty much wiping us all out. Bad news that, right? So a crew gets sent in through the "Gravity Curtain" - this big gravity storm that keeps everyone on the outside clueless as to what's happening on the inside beyond the reactor readouts - to fix the issue.
They fail in the first five minutes, leaving the engineer Yuuki as the only one alive - although it's possible that the two-man Death Caprice squad is still alive in there. Shortly into her adventure, we are introduced to the fact that yes, Ken and Ryou are alive (and being flat out awesome) and that there appears to be more going on on the island than originally thought. Turns out the energy from the gravity reactor has been powering three separate power plants that are manufacturing an army of robots for three different groups. In one corner, Aira and the ladies with some mild psychic power and feminine robots (down to having mechanical "hair" and assets). On the other side of the coast, we have Kiba's boys, a rowdy bunch of guys who live in what looks like a fortress made from a beached battleship turned strip club, complete with mad-max type barbarian gear and a hankering for battle and women. The final corner of the trifecta is a somewhat more noble warrior type Garan, who looks and acts a bit like a war-hungry samurai.
That's about all the plot you really need to know, or there really is for that matter. The minor details of things such as how the robots are controlled or function aren't really something the show cares to bother us with, instead keeping us steamrolling through the over-the-top heavy metal music video-esque nature of the flick. It gives you a followable (for most people I'd bargain) base of a plot, and then proceeds to just throw in heaps of action, one liners, and killer guitar riffs. A few twists are thrown in for kicks, almost as though they needed to have a more epic "final boss" to fight, so they decided to try and surprise folks.
Animation quality here is great, and if you take a look at the images put in with this review you'll see the quality I'm talking about. Fight's are hectic and violent, and against normal fodder troops from any side the MazinKaiser comes out looking like some kind of skull-capped god or demon. The two pilots swap back and forth, effectively changing the fighting style between Equilibrium style gun-kata and monstrous sword fighting impacts on the fly. Being still in the style of a super robot show, fancy moves come off a bit like super powers (rocket punches, lightning slashes, whirlwind breath) and some of the action takes place on the ground with fists, knives, and pistols. Regardless of the size of the combatants, things bleed quite a bit as they end up being chopped up, broken apart, or otherwise obliterated off the screen (although one might argue that it's oil from the mecha, to which I would argue that its robot blood anyways).
I can't vouch much for the language, as I don't speak Japanese, but the subtitles had a bit of a issue from time to time, losing words or jumbling on each other. In the case of Netflix, the subtitles also only appeared in the bottom left corner of the screen (as opposed to a more known method of stretching them across the bottom). The voice actors sounded like they were getting into their parts to the best of what I could pick up from the Japanese, and I do admit that this is one of the few times when I would rather have nothing to do with reading words on screen. Considering how the movie plays out (pretty action heavy), the need to avert your eyes to the bottom corner to read what characters are saying can lead to missing out on some of the stellar ridiculous stuff the screen elsewhere is throwing at you, and it disappoints me in that manner. Again, I know of the existence of an English dubbed version out there in the world, but until I find it I very well can only throw my opinions on what I've got, can't I?
Now, we (or I) know that I'm a bit of a giant robot fan. I've been watching the mech genre shows since I first saw Gundam on the telly, and playing games like Armored Core and Super Robot Wars that just lead to learning of more and more mecha out there in the universe, so I have heard of MazinKaiser before. I have not, unfortunately, really ever been able to watch any of the series numerous incarnations however, so I can't vouch for how much of a departure this entry is from the existing fluff. I do know familiar moves return, regardless of possibly altered names, such as the Breast Burn and earlier mentioned rocket punches. I do also know that it looks rather similar to the MazinKaiser images I have seen before. It's interesting to note here, since I'm talking about the Kaiser specifically, that in this flick all of its gear tends to have a home on it - for instance, the guns when not in use form the breastplate design.
Yeah, there's most likely a lot of people who wouldn't like this guy. Maybe the plot isn't deep enough for you, or you hate having to read movies, or you don't like anime, or its too fantasy for your sci fi tastes. Maybe it's a little to violent for you even, or perhaps you just hate that terrible racket (blasphemy!) some call music in the background. If you, however, love the old heavy metal music video style movies, I can almost gaurantee that this thing is right up your alley. If you are a fan of action and giant anime robots, it's worth a watch. Clocking in at 81 minutes, what do you really have to loose?