Thursday, June 9, 2016

short SHORT Review: Robot Girls Z Plus

Manga Mecha MovieRobot Girls Z+

Directed by Hiroshi Ikehata
Written by Kazuho Hyodo
Production Studio by Toei Animation

One thing I love is Anime from the 1970's, well Animation in general from the 70's, since it was a time of expression and very weird thoughts, though that's the infatuation. Mazinger Z is one of those Anime that will never stop, there will always be another version or a new movie or a series. It's something that I love about the people celebrating the past and rebooting the odd ideas of others. That spirit is great to have, since it fits the current motif of this decade. A little weird, but a ton of fun, then you have those that weave from great to poor. And Robot Girls Z Plus is in entirety this represented from beginning to end, the spirit and idea of enjoyment and fun, though it's directions lose its path, well it lost it's power. I think it would have been stronger if it was like its predecessor and stayed with the three episode system, since they knew the right amount of comedy and drama to add in each episode. Though with change so comes problems, but let's take a look at the good and the bad.

This one is a little longer since it's six episodes that make up one series, though it is the sequel to the last series (Robot Girl Z, you can read the review here), also the episodes are less than ten minutes. The opening music hasn't changed much, though there seems to be something different that I can't place my finger on, though there are changes not only to the animation, though also to the characters that are featured. It seems with the end of the first series the other Robot Girl Teams and villain-bots are getting more attention in this series, though this is just the opening. Also this is seen with a lot of series in the 80's and 90's where there's more of new characters, but in very few episodes, though they have them featured like they're apart of the core cast. Still a lot of the Robot Girl Teams I really wanted to see more of from the last episode, so I'm excited to see the Getter Team (Robot Girls Team G).

Episode 01

We get a satellite view of the City that fades into "Nerima Ward Ooizumi Academy Photonic District" it's nice to see the City again, it's been a year or more and they rebuilt it as nice as ever.

Quick thing, recently I was reading a lot of Astro Boy, and that Photonic energy seemed to be a popular trope in Japan, where in America we went with good ol' Toxic Radiation. I'm going to tell you right now I can't truly explain Photon energy, though I can give you this much from what I could understand, if focused photon beams can split lasers. That's all I need to know… if that is correct, PROFESSOR!

Then we see our title character that inspired this whole series, Z-Chan (Mazinger Z) voiced by Mariko Honda. She's in the middle of the street beating in the face of another student, let's see how this plays out. Like one would expect from the main character Z-Chan beats her rival named Boss, who has a really big head. Then we get to see Gre-Chan (Great Mazinger) voiced by Inori Minase and Grenda-san (Grendizer) voiced by Kazusa Aranmi in the background commenting on how brash she is with her friends.

The one thing I've always loved about this series is that they don't try to keep the characters clean. If they get beaten up, they look bruised, scrapped, and swollen. Everything that an animator hates, though knows it's a good effect if it can be held from scene to scene, frame to frame. Through half of the episode Z-Chan is wearing tattered clothes and has a bloody noise with a fat cheek. Live-Action or Cartoons, they like to keep their characters from showing any true violence, that's one of the things I really like about this series. It has a lot of cartoon antics, but it's real when it comes to things that are more adult.

Tea Steeping pretending that her arm is a cannon, maybe one day, but for now take care of that arm.

Then out of nowhere we have the flavor of the week, an enemy that doesn't seem too special and isn't really imaginative. Bon-Bon Girl, a little lass that has missiles and everything else that goes boom. Also a reference to Go Nagi, so I like her already, though the City is rubble, so nothing all that new. Then like the last series this is the only time you'll see them Transform (I don't really know if this is true, but I think it would be a great running gag [Edit: yes, this is true]). Also their "hats" are called Pilder, just thought that was some keen trivia for those wondering the names too. Bon-Bon Girl sees that she's met her match, well after the Robot Girls Z transformed into their magical girl giant robot selves and fired a ROCKET PUNCH. So the destructive lady fires a round at Boss. That's deflected by the drill spear of Liger-sama (Getter Liger) voiced by Sayuri Yahagi. Then is a desperate attempt to attack this new enemy Bon-Bon Girl fires again while Liger-sama is facing the other way. Though Pon-Chan (Getter Poseidon) voiced by Misaki Kuno pops the shell back at her with a swing that hits nothing, but home runs.

With the building that Bon-Bon Girl was standing on now destroyed, again no care for the City, the Getter Team takes the clothes that gives her power. Then they call in their final blow, Ge-cchan (Getter Dragon) voiced by Maaya Uchida, who flies out of the sky and Double tomahawk boomerangs the villain out of the City limits. Then Team G poses with a Victory explosion visual effect. And with the enemy gone the only mystery that stands between the two teams is where this new enemy came from, since last we heard the evil group from the first series lost budget. Our enemy is still in the shadows, though we get to enjoy the Pop musical ending, it's very bouncy and sweet, though the fading images of the Z Team make me think that things will get more dire down the line.

Episode 02

The one thing I love is that all the episodes are less than 10 minutes, so you can enjoy them like a lot of Modern Cartoons. I'm not sure why there was such a change, though the time allowance packs more into one sitting, but less at the same time. It allows there to have more implication and beautiful design, though I'm nostalgic for 20-ish minutes of animation. Though I'm gonna focus on this nostalgic series giving homage to Mazinger Z.

The second episode of Robot Girls Z Plus starts again with  fun J-Pop explanation of the series as we get to see the characters that seem to be recurring characters rather than guests per episode, though like I mentioned in the other episode this could be the way they want the show to be marketed, showing off more characters gives the idea (mostly to casual watchers) that this is something completely different than it's predecessor. Though the question of why one is watching the OVA rather than watching the first series, but sometimes something from the future can influence the past, and vice versa.

We open up to the local water park, that seems to be used as the local fishing hole. Well, we have our water themed villain in place, let's see if this aquatic miscreant will trouble our magical girl giant robot heroes. It seems that this fish themed femme fatale is a bit of a pervert and wants to play "Tentacle Monster" and Boss (the large headed girl from last episode) is her target.

Huh, neat it seems that Team G has returned from the first episode and will be protecting this fishing hole.  It seems our swimsuit clade Tentacle fighter is very forward. Though lucky for them Jeeg-san (Steel Jeeg) voiced by Manami Tsuda is there to save them, with Pan-san (Pantheroid) voiced by Natsumi Koike. Both feel like pulp characters, fighting for justice and using gimmicks, but in this series they're more like cosplayers. They are then captured by the many tentacles of our friendly fish-themed fiend. Ge-cchan's butlers come out of nowhere and hold off the abusive attack, though with the distraction Pon-chan swings the absent minded villain into the car that the butlers were driving. Mushashi was the only casualty from this episode, he will be replaced with Benkei Kuruma… even though he's still alive under the car wreckage with the aggravator of this short. And with that this episode is over, though the ending credits featured Team G with the black background and muted colors.

Episode 03

I've always liked the theme song for this series, that was the trouble with the first part of the series since there was only three episodes, so the theme wasn't played as much as now. Also it makes me wonder who the Idol group was that sang this song. From what I've read our core leads of Robot Girls Z are the singers, I'm impressed, this was very well composed and executed.

The First Robot Girls Festival, this is how we open, a quick establish shot of the fair and the title of the event that will be the focus of this plot. Then they show the crowed once more and it seems that the villains from the last series have turned over a new leaf, or they need the money since they're venders at this even. It seems that this is either a battle or a challenge, kinda like Sports Day for schools in Japan. Challenging events for the student body to gain bragging rights and various rewards for the obstacles within the afternoon.

So it seems it's not a day of physical battles, but of stage performance, who's the better idol of the City. Team G or Z Team? Also Hayato (Jin Hayato) voiced by Takemoto Eiji, appears, and claims that both all-girl teams will not win. It seems that the crowd love Team Gou. The leader of this group is Gou-chan (Getter Gou) voiced by Mikami Shiori, the shy one of the trio is Shou-chan (Getter Shou) voiced by Hirayama Emi, and last the Motherly Lady Gai (Getter Gai) voiced Ozawa Ari. Then new challengers appear from below the stage, Triple Gai-chan (Triple Gaiking) voiced by Takaoka Kaori, Rai-cchi (Raiking) voice by Nitta Emi, Baru-chan (Balking) voiced by Oozara Naomi, they form Team L.O.D., also they are my favorite at the moment.

Team G and Z Team want to enter this battle after watching all of these introductions. They wont let new characters take the spotlight without a fight. Z Team attacks with a few words, though Team G comes in and introduces themselves to the crowd, letting our heroines sulk in the shadows.

Boss comes out of nowhere, since this is a comedy and we really haven't had any conflict. She swings toward the stage, though fails to compute her weight and the two children attached to her hips, breaking what looks like something important, falling to the stage with all the robot girls below. The magnitude of the crash was so large that it created an explosion, everything is in ruins from this clumsy being.

And with only minutes left in the episode they all make friends, since they don't have to prove to a crowd that they are the strongest or most popular. Then we get a figure that's standing above the announcement tower that is illuminated, though in shadows. That's the one thing that I really love about cartoon, somehow a person that's producing their own light can be lurking in the shadows. Anyhow, this is a two part episode with an aggressive girl speaking about true strength, about all these robot girls not know who the strongest is, and it seems the implication is toward herself. The ending credits pictures are of Team Guo, again the coolest of the robot girl teams, though is one of the youngest.

Episode 04

Moving to the last three episodes of the OVA we're on the fourth time of hearing the theme song and this is the first time I've noticed that all of the robot girls from the last episode and this episode are featured in this opening. It's a neat little bonus to see them all in action. Also the title of this episode is "The Robot Girls Army", seems like something big will be happening for the next 30 minutes. Well let's start watching this all unfold.

Oona Kulte showing us how to say "Hello", she learned this from a sleepy village on an island.

And like any action adventure it starts with an explosion of the announcement tower from the episode before. Standing in the wake of the destruction and in the middle of all the robot girls is a yellow illuminated girl with green hair and a blue "X" on her belly. Her name is Lightwave Girl Picudron (Lightwave Beast Pikadron) voiced by Akesaka Satomi, she doesn't think the Robot Girls are strong at all and her pointed teeth will embellish that she means those words.

Without any more words to motivate Team G moved into center and attacks, though the beam wasn't enough and Girl Picudron scans them for weaknesses. The attack was right on, and the girls are prone, unable to come back from such a strong belittlement. Girl Picudron attacks more of the Robot Girls, then comes across our core group Team Z, it seems that Grenda-san's weak-point is something they can't show on TV nor can the Lightbeast look at it without flailing in disgust.

Anyhow, they jump away (hammer space is a weird dimension) though Team L.O.D. are left for the bout. Team L.O.D. have revealed the Lightbeast's true intent and the suit she was wearing. It's a light robe, I'm guessing it absorbs energy, since all the beam attacks did nothing to her. Still she can't handle dirty comments or actions, so it throws her off and with that misstep we find that she needs power directly generated to her. Seems the vender that keeps getting his truck blown up has taken his revenge and with the help of the lady that's always with him and two other people that I've never seen they've formed a counter group to attack all Robot Girls. And with this reveal another villain is dispatched as is the truck that they drove in. The Robot Girls tease Ge-cchan about her clothes of choice when she's home. Then the credits roll with Team L.O.D. fading in and out with muted colors.

Episode 05

I'm still not tired of the theme song, though it does tax the amount of time they have to each episode, though it's fun and light so it's a relaxed problem.

We start with a classic establish shot, though it's a very large building that we're in and there seems to be all the same looking men and women, each in a line on either side of the hall that the robot girls are entering. It's Nurse Joy level of clones in this room. From the implication Team Z and G Team are getting awards for being preservers of Justice. They meet the mayor of the City, her office and view are just as beautiful as the creators of the show want her to be. She congratulates all of the Robot Girls and emphasizes that Z-Chan's work has been without a doubt the reason they are all there. This is a sweet homage to the giant robot that Z-Chan represents, though it's an obvious trap. Since all of the medals are over in a corner of the room. Since last episode they should know that the City is out for Robot Girl Heads, who represents the City more than the mayor?

The medals are a stack of paper, certificates giving thanks, though the papers are super heavy. Heavy enough that a giant robot magical girl can't lift them. Then a giant basket slams shut, I'm not sure how they didn't see the giant wicker basket above the reward, also the stick holding it up, kinda was a red flag.

The other Robot girls are revealed to have been captured too. Then the mayor shows her true self, a form that one was expecting, since the City of Nerima wants peace and not wanton destruction. The mayor outwitted them, since none of the Robot Girls can vote, also she's from Space, she's a Damdomian. The mayor's true name is Super Space Beast Gigilgan Gilgil Ganko, voiced by Mariko Kouda, she's also declared herself the permanent Mayor of the City.

She calls her spaceships to the City, the citizens don't really know what is happening, though she is making an announcement, calling this "Nerima Banishment" and placing it on the heads of the Robot Girls. The animation goes bizarre for the rest of the episode, from rotoscope to sketchy, it's interesting, since it show a little more of an organic creative spirit, like it's living within the emotion, though it's not at the same time, since it needs to read as the characters and not look like a mess. Though this too is a two part episode, ending with an explosion that destroys the floor of the building that all the Robot Girls were on. The credits are of G Team, the end theme is still fun, though again I mentioned this that it feels like it has a melancholy undertone, but still a J-Pop melody. Something about it makes me worry about the final episode, since the last final was their best in the series.

Episode 06

This is the final episode of the series, well for the time being, there hasn't been any talk that I know of about continuing the series, though there's always hope where there's a popular series that has the potential of hitting an international market and making money. So there's always hope, but I'll hold out for the next Go Nagai inspired series "Violence Jackie".

We pick up where we left off, the building's top floor destroyed and with it the building falls under the great power of the Mayor. The Mayor claims her victory and looks into the crowd of those in the City, but then back at the rubble and sees someone (or someones) have shielded the Robot Girls. Though it is only Team G that gained this protection, but all the rest fainted from the explosion.

With one explosion comes another in the form of Z-chan's emotions, her rage is burning and the Mayor is her target! And like any action paced final episode we see that the Robot Girls all attack together, with the ROCKET PUNCH leading them into the fray. And like last time it's turned around and punched back to its owner, the attack has been deflected and shown to take no energy to do so, though it has stopped our hero. And the same fist has taken out two more, then a kick blasts another two off into the distance. This time it's Ge-cchan that takes a fist to the face, though comedic at the moment the brutal effects of this savage attack are seen on her person.

The battle seems to have taken its toll on the Robot Girls, the battle seems over, though Dr. Yumi appears. Then give Z-Chan a special device, that looks like Devilman. There was a crossover movie, so this could be an homage to this feature film. The beacon of light plowing into the heavens is Team Z as Z-Chan exclaims "With the power of the Devil, we are Robot Girls Team Z EX!" and with that mouthful there seems to be hope that they may continue the series. Their costumes are very flashy and some more provocative than the others. And with this deus ex machina their powers combined Captain-- sorry, they fire the Dynamic beam! It's an amazing attack, though unlike most villains the Mayor moves to the side and isn't attacked by this final blow. And like any comedy the added joke character is the one that saves the day by doing something joking and dumb. I miss the first last episode, that was a lot darker and had a moment that built emotion and fear, it felt real within the mortality of the character her real fear, her real sense of death, a wonderful acting job on the villain, the hero, and the storyboarder. This was a parody of that, this was more about the gag and less about the dramatic source material.

Then with the big villain done and the final joke said, all the robot girls celebrate with an open ending that implies that there could be much more coming in the future and this poor ending will only be a black mark on this fun and entertaining series. Credits roll with Team Z fading through the end theme.

Overall this was a fun series, a series that I felt was a wonderful way to give homage to such an eclectic Mangaka, who not only made amazing comics, but also played with every genre. This too mirrored the wonderful man and his accomplishments, though the focus loosened toward the end of the series and devolved into something that felt rushed, that it wasn't about Go Nagai anymore and it was about Robot Girls. Now that's not a bad thing, since they should play within their own world, but it lost it's way from the first series to this series. It's hardened characters, it's plots driven around characters, emotions as a device to help along the plot. This was all gag based and perverted, not saying that's a bad thing, but it did make the series less intriguing and integrating the source material. It became something else in its self, a journey to make the series it's own, though losing what was at it's core. I'm a bit disappointed with the ending, but the introduction and integration of the secondary characters was wonderfully executed. Even with the characters and the plot this took a fun switch from the dramatic Mazinger series and gave us a cute magical girl adventure, it's worth a watch, since the episodes aren't long and the animation is well drawn, but it needs to get back to its character driven roots.

I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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Keep well and Stay well.

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