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    The theater poster for the new Mazinger Z: Infinity movie.

    Fathom Events brought the new movie Mazinger Z: Infinity to Austin, TX for 2 days only.  I took my 2 older boys to see it in the theater.  The movie was a lot of fun to see.  I’m glad I took the time.  I wouldn’t even have known of the event unless my friend Ollie Barder hadn’t told me.

    The movie’s story takes place 10 years after the events of the Mazinger Z TV series (although they kind of ignored the full time line established by Great Mazinger).  Kabuto Koji and the other characters are older and have moved on with their lives.  The discovery of a massive robot that resembles the Mazinger robots is discovered in the base of Mt. Fuji.  Soon after Dr. Hell’s mechanical beast army reappears and announces the return of the fearsome villain.  Dr. Hell seizes control of the recently discovered Mazinger Infinity and plans to use its fearsome power to annihilate the universe and replace it with one of his own making.  Kabuto Koji uses the original Mazinger Z (hidden from the public for years) and the cyborg LISA (who appeared at the Infinity’s discovery) to prevent Dr. Hell’s plans and save the universe.

    The Mazinger Infinity packed the power to erase the universe and replace it with a new one of the operator’s choice. Talk about feature creep!

    The animation in the movie was great.  The mechanical designs from the early 70s were altered only slightly to add a more detailed look to them.  The effect was great to see on the big screen.  The story was an altered form of a Mazinger manga from recent years.  The script was careful to pack references and brief scenes of all characters and machines from the original TV series that fans remember.  The writers aimed at entertaining audiences more than scoring points with the progressive set.  The result was a fun, action-packed movie with nothing to break the audience’s immersion.

    I was disappointed to see the Great Mazinger and its pilot downplayed in the movie.  I realize a movie has to focus pretty tightly and Mazinger Z has proved more popular than Great Mazinger over the years.  Still, I remember how the Great Mazinger made its appearance in the final episode of Mazinger Z and showed itself to be a great step above Koji’s mech in terms of power and ability.

    If Mazinger Z: Infinity rolls into a theater in your town you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see it yourself.

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  • I had the opportunity to read Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei.  Blame! is a science-fiction manga that was first put out in Japan by Kodansha Comics and in English by Tokyopop.  The Master Edition is now available from Vertical Comics in 6 large books.  One note worth making, a more accurate translation of the title would be “Blam!” – a reference to the sound made by the hero’s main weapon.  It seems the title was misunderstood, rendered as Blame! and then the title stuck.

    Blame! is a far future science-fiction story about Killy’s quest to restore order to society.  A great catastrophe occurred in the distant past when humanity enjoyed a level of technology far beyond what we know today.  The results included the majority of humans dying, the Internet of the future (far more advanced then the one we know) becoming inaccessible, the system designed to regulate Internet access going haywire and the system of automatic machines that built and maintained cities and/or space stations also going haywire.  A class of robots called Builders started building out of control and the result is the Megastructure – a truly immense structure that fills up a large portion of our solar system and consists of strata that are many stories high and separated by an almost impenetrable dense substance.  Each strata of the Megastructure holds a seemingly endless city made of jumbled buildings and similar structures.  There are no animals or plant life to be seen except for very few pockets where circumstances are shifted for various reasons.

    Cibo

    Cibo joins Killy on his quest and proves to be an invaluable ally.

    The Megastructure’s infrastructure is mostly damaged and the shattered remains of humanity exist in isolated pockets with no knowledge of each other.  A new class of beings called Silicon Life, cybernetic creatures that vaguely resemble humans in appearance, range throughout the Megastructure and hunt humans mercilessly.

    Wandering through this dystopian nightmare is Killy.  Killy is a human with a cyborg body that is on a mission to find any human who still possesses the Net Terminal Genes.  Finding a person with these extremely rare genes would allow authorized access to the Netsphere where the Administration (the Authority in Tokyopop’s translation) exist.  If authorized by humans, the Administration could bring the damaged systems of the Megastructure back in line and restore society.

    Killy, joined by human scientist Cibo, have to wander the endless city structure and contend with murderous Silicon Life, deadly robots of the Safeguard (a haywire security system that became so damaged it tries to kill all humans without Net Terminal Genes and all who try to access the Netsphere), distrustful and desperate human settlements and damaged remnants of the technological past.

    Blame! is sparse in dialogue and character development.  The art takes center stage and the result is a feast of surreal scenes and mind-bending landscapes.  The large, empty spaces reinforce the sense of desolation and loneliness that permeates the story.

    Although Nihei may not have intended it I think Blame! illustrates well the fallacy that many people currently hold about technology curing humanity’s problems.  The highly advances technologies on display in Blame! couldn’t prevent the catastrophe that destroyed human society.  Those technologies couldn’t put society back together again, either.  The author included notes in an art book dedicated to Blame! where he shares the outcome of the story.  Killy’s unshakeable perseverance and determination succeed in the end.  He plants the seed that restores humanity’s control of the Megastructure and in this shows that it is people with good character who will help society – not advances in technology.

    The lack of romance, character development and humor make Blame! lack wide appeal.  These omissions, however, help the manga focus on its main themes and premise.  Only true-blue science-fiction fans will enjoy this story.  I regard it as one of the best additions to my science-fiction shelf.

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