I suppose I should start off by noting that practically everything I know about Mazinger Z I learned from Tranzor Z, the show’s American version which ran on television in the 80’s. I’m an infinitely bigger Devilman fan, admittedly. Hell, I even bought a DVD of that wretched live action movie they made a few years back. Mazinger Z vs. Devilman is a film I’d wanted to see for some time, but now that I’ve finally gotten my hands on it, I must say, I was fairly under whelmed.
Dr. Hell (Dr. Demon in the US) is up to his usual tricks, trying time and again to defeat the giant robot, Mazinger Z (Tranzor Z), and take over the world. Dr. Hell sends a troop of evil robots to attack Mazinger and Koji (Tommy), Mazinger’s pilot, rises to the occasion and thoroughly trounces the opposition. However, during the battle, Mazinger unintentionally frees the giant demon, Siren: an old enemy of the demon-hunter superhero, Devilman. Siren frees a legion of her demon colleagues, but before they can lay waste to human civilization, Dr. Hell intervenes and takes control of them. Devilman catches wind of this unholy alliance, and in his human form as Akira Fudo, sends a warning to Koji and Mazinger Z. Dr. Hell has his sights set on Mazinger’s new power-up, the Jet Scrambler, and with the powers of, well…HELL on his side, things are looking to go in his favor. If the Earth is to be saved, Mazinger Z and Devilman must work together.
This movie probably should have been titled “MAZINGER Z!! …with special cameo appearance by Devilman”. Devilman is played mostly as a chump throughout the film, getting taken prisoner twice and having to be rescued by Mazinger on both occasions. To add insult to injury, he’s taken prisoner by Devileen, the one henchman from Tranzor Z I absolutely loathed. What this flick needed was 100% more Count Decapito (now *he* was a badass henchman). So, of course, as a Devilman fan, seeing my favorite character getting his ass beat repeatedly and being rescued over and over didn’t exactly sit well with me. The demons are also some pretty weak sauce, being defeated by the likes of humans with laser guns. This is a Mazinger Z film at its core and Devilman is treated more as a guest star, much to my chagrin.
Another issue I take with the film is that Mazinger Z and Devilman never actually fight. I came into the film expecting two of Go Nagai’s classic characters to throw-down and all I got was a lame team-up. The only instance in which the two title characters have a competing moment is when Akira challenges Koji to a motorcycle race (which he *loses*, god dammit!). If that’s their idea of “versus” then I’m exceptionally disappointed.
The animation is dated but serviceable. Toei does an *okay* job, but the animation still isn’t up to theatrical-quality, even if this film was made in the 70’s. There are plenty of noticeable uses of recycled animation and the characters, outside of action sequences, aren’t particularly lively, standing around in static poses most of the time.
But, I suppose the film wasn’t all bad. I’m a sucker for crossovers, and just seeing Devilman interact with Tranzor Z was enough to get a sense of satisfaction out of me. There is also a sweet moment where they play the Devilman theme song as he rushes into battle which invoked an “Alright!” out of me, since I love that theme song. Additionally, I thought it was pretty cool to see Siren, one of Devilman’s trademark villains, again. She actually faired rather well in battle and got a good chunk of screentime, unlike most of the other demons, which were defeated with relative ease.
Mazinger Z vs. Devilman is short, about 45 minutes long, and I’m not sure whether that’s a *good* thing or not. Perhaps if it had been longer Devilman might not have been slapped around quite so much. But I guess we’ll never know. As it is, Mazinger Z vs. Devilman doesn’t live up to its own title. And, as a Devilman fan, I’m a little bit pissed. I suppose it’s fun if you’re a huge Mazinger Z buff, but I just couldn’t get into the film.