Premiering at the Rome Film Festival in October of 2017, Mazinger Z: Infinity was released to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the original anime’s debut. The film was licensed by Viz Media who supplied AiPT! with a review copy. Does Infinity stand out in the near five decade history of Mazinger or is it just another forgettable super robot movie?
Infinity starts with an attack on a photon power plant in Texas. The world is trying to live in peace. Photon power is being used as a clean energy force that is easily shared by the countries of the world. Mazinger Z’s pilot Koji Kabuto has retired from active duty to become a scientist. The discovery of a new giant Mazin leads to a new danger.
Toei Animation handles the art for Infinity. With a renowned past that includes classic anime such as Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and One Piece, the studio is a name that is known the world over. Infinity is a mixed bag that will impress at some moments then immediately have viewers disappointed by what is being offered next.
The animation is very choppy at times. There are some odd character designs. Koji could have played the main protagonist out of any anime since the 1970s. His big spiky hair and thick sideburns look odd in a movie released in 2017. Other characters look like the extras of a silly comedy. Then there are the ones that lack any detail at all.
The backgrounds are also lazy at times. There are multiple shots when battles are being fought against a blank background. This is normal in animation; placing your major character in front of a black background can help it stand out more. The problem with Infinity is that it happens way too much. This is also done with characters that don’t need the treatment. Is it really necessary for comic relief to get multiple shots of their wacky faces?
Infinity also includes another throwback that seems out of place for today’s audiences. The opening scene includes a battle that seems to be little more than an excuse for the pilot to shout Mazinger Z’s weaponry. At first, it seemed like a cute homage to a bygone era. When it happened in the film’s climatic battle, it did not come of as well.
There’s also the typical oversexualizaton of female characters that appears a surprising amount of times. Watching a film released in the 21st century use the Gainax bounce multiple times was certainly shocking. Infinity seems to try to make things better by having a female be the director of a top secret science project. Then you learn that her father is the Prime Minister of the country and she’s thinking of leaving her boyfriend since she’s ready to start a family. Just when you think things can’t get worse, Infinity introduces the jiggly and buxom Mazin Girls, complete with their own mechs and fully operation Breast Missiles. (Yes, they’re exactly what they sound like.)
Despite its many flaws, Infinity does have a lot going for it. Though the animation is inconsistent, there are some scenes that look very impressive. The movie includes some good moments that have detailed shots of many of the characters. Dr. Hell in particular looks good throughout the entire movie. The first fight scene involving the A.I. Lisa also looks really good. For the most part, Infinity is at its best when dealing with its more human aspects.
The artists on the film were also clearly influenced by Macross. There are large chunks in the middle of Infinity that are basically shot for shot recreations of scenes from the iconic ’80s series. It’s almost like watching a YouTube supercut.
There is also an interesting subplot regarding Koji. Mech anime with love subplots tend to follow a similar path: Hotshot pilot falls in love. Said pilot’s significant other wants him to leave the fighting. Pilot convinces woman he knows what’s best and the two live happily ever after. Infinity does things a little differently. Koji is torn between his personal and professional life. However, he has already made the decision to stop risking his life. His struggle is more about moving on and what he really wants out of life. It’s well written and has a nice payoff.
Mazinger Z: Infinity is a giant mech anime that will feel familiar to anyone who watches it. While the movie is not bad, it also seems stuck in a different decade. Depictions of women are comically outdated while many of the robot fights border on parody. When Infinity sticks to the ground, it shows off its many strengths. Longtime fans of the series will certainly enjoy it, but most viewers will see it as something to have on in the background.