Well, Imagawa says they aren't making the Shin Mazinger sequel he deserves, but back in the real world Bandai needs to sell toy robots, so the Wheel of Mazinger continues to roll on. Mazinkaiser SKL isn't the show I'd hoped for, but I'm sure as hell happy to have it.
I get the feeling that director Jun Kawagoe and the usual gang that's been doing all the other Go Nagai remakes this decade saw Shin Mazinger and said "hey, let's reinvent this thing too!" Rather than Imagawa's "best fanfiction you ever read" approach, though, the Mazinkaiser SKL staff decided to make something that wouldn't be out of place in the Youth Restricted Viewing section of your local Blockbuster Video in 1998. Watching this show will make you put on some kind of cybernetic headgear and incorrectly pronounce "MANGAAAAA" very loudly.
Do you know what Mazinger always has that Mazinkaser SKL doesn't have? The origin story. You know how the super robot story goes: boy meets robot built by his dad, boy and robot team up to battle evil with their combined manly spirit. The origin story of Mazinkaiser SKL goes more like this:
"There's this badass robot called Mazinkaiser SKL-- that's for skulls, bro, cause he's fuckin' covered in skulls-- that fuckin' kills the shit out of like, everything. It's got these two dudes that like, one of them is the gun guy and he knows Equilibrium, and then the other guy is the sword guy, right, and they're both fuckin' crazy, like they don't give a fuck about whatever. So basically they fly around in this plane shaped like a skull and save all these girls with big tits from fuckin' robot gangs, shit yeah it's awesome."
From the barren wasteland to the bloodthirsty heroes, it's kind of like Mazinkaiser is being pulled a little closer to Devilman. Or Heavy Metal magazine. Or MD Geist. It honestly makes sense: Mazinkaiser was always this really overdone-- many would say to the point of being tacky-- version of Mazinger Z. They came up with the robot specifcally for the Super Robot Wars games, specifically because they wanted there to be a stronger Mazinger to catch up with all the other robots. So SKL makes sense. It doesn't even care anymore that it's tacky, it's just about STRONGER. Just look at the weapons! The chestplate is made out of guns, and the guns are also knives. In the opening animation, SKL shoots a rocket punch-- except the fist is holding a sword-- to mow down a mob of enemies. There are characters named Hurricane and Flash, okay? We're past worrying who's gonna make fun of us, here.
There's a backstory somewhere in here, something about gravity fields and factional wars and whatnot, but I think I understood more from reading the blurb on some anime site than I did actually watching the episode.
The important thing here is big, stupid, screaming robot violence (Kaiser lays waste to armies of mass-produced, human-piloted versions of classic Mazinger monsters) and a general 16-year-old-boy kind of attitude maintained throughout. (Never mind how it got there, of course there's a strip club!) Our heroes (definitely not Kouji Kabuto or Tetsuya Tsurugi, that's for damn sure) are complete bloodthirsty killers who never miss a chance to stomp on a helpless enemy pilot or splatter blood or oil on some terrified bystander girl. Did I mention that the English-language theme song is by famous Japanese 80s hair metal band LOUDNESS and contains such lyrics as "IMMORTAL GOD MACHINE SET THE WORLD FREE"?
Again, this is the kind of thing that Manga Video would have sold a ton of in 1998 (even the subtitled dialogue on my copy has kind of a profane Manga Video vibe). It's loud(NESS), it's violent, it's stupid fun and it's totally worth thirty minutes of your life. I'm going to describe a thirty-second scene verbatim so that you really get it:
Our friends Hurricane and Flash (maybe a Cutey Honey thing?) get surrounded by a group of robots. Flash's machine gets the pilot's chamber cracked open and naturally, the enemy pilot drops everything to hops out and try to rape her. As the guy's wiggling tongue approaches, something falls, whacking him on the head and causing him to bite his own tongue off. Blood's gushing everywhere. We cut back, and the impact was from Kaiser's saw-serrated sword, which has cut both robots in half. The enemy pilot survives the fall to the ground, but is immediately stepped on by Kaiser. His blood splashes up onto the squealing Flash, who is safely inside the cockpit of her now-destroyed robot. Our heroes yell down:
"We told you to get the hell out of our way!"
Media Blasters has had the rights to this show for some time and the US DVD/BD release is planned for May, a good long time after the three episode OVA is finished running in Japan in its entirety. I'm definitely getting that Blu-Ray: this is the kind of entertainment where you know 100% what you're getting, and I've got no problem with that.