Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The transformations of Mazinger Z (マジンガーZ)

Mazinger Z, influential Japanese anime

Did you know that 60% of the world's animated series were produced in Japan in 2004? (Source: Time Asia). Indeed, people around the world have probably grown up watching the same made-in-Japan animated shows. Even last year, I remember watching a Chinese dub of Inuyasha in my hotel room in Xian. Now many animation studios are being outsourced to South Korea, where labor is cheaper (did you know that the Simpsons are drawn in a Korean studio?) but still there is no denying the power of Japanese animation.

Let's look at how Mazinger Z (pronounced with the British "zed" not the American "zee") a classic Japanese anime underwent global transformations. This anime, which ran from 1972-4, was the first of its kind: a giant robot piloted by a human. Kabuto Koji would jump into a hovercraft and dock into Mazinger Z's head (click here to see a poorly translated video of the first episode). BTW, his robot comrade is Aphrodite A, who would eventually be modified to shoot missiles out of her breasts. I remember as a kid, watching dubbed versions of Mazinger Z in a movie theater in Hawaii. Frankly, the only scene I remember is when Mazinger fell into the water and Kabuto could not see out the glass since there were no windshield wipers. Click here or on the Mazinger pic above to see the opening song for Mazinger Z. It's a cool sounding song that just sticks in your head.

Look at the size of the Mazinger statue in Spain!

Mazinger Z also became very popular outside of Japan:
  • Check out the Italian version known as "Mazinga Z"- the singer is so much more emotional, it's almost a different song.
  • As for the French version, well, it sounds like 1980s Eurodisco music, with the singer going "Mazinger! Mazinger!" But hey, haven't the French have been keeping disco alive long after it died out in America?
  • Also, look the Arabic version, known as مازنجر (Majinger) which starts out sounding like any average cover of the song, and then midway through, changes course and just rocks (video is from Dr. WaSaBe, who also did the translation). I love the ways the singer sounds when he cries, "The time has arrived! Morning has started! GET READY TO START SHOOTING!"
  • Unfortunately, the U.S. version, released in the 1980s as Tranzor Z, got rid of any semblance of an opening song. Talk about the American characteristic of making cuts in quality to cut down on costs. Makes sense, as this series was heavily edited in order to make it suitable for children? Think of all the 1970s and 1980s cartoons in America - any of them had a catchy theme song like Mazinger Z? Sigh, what we were deprived of during childhood...
  • And Mazinger was extremely popular in South Korea, where it was known as 마징가 제트 and led to the creation of a Korean anime, but that is the subject of another post...


Anonymous said...

I live in Indonesia and I grew up with Mazinger Z too. As a kid, the series gave me a real thrill - and opened up pathways to imagination. I still love super robot anime now!

A. Calder said...

There was actually another american dub made in hawaii.