Shin Mazinger 03: Titanomachy

One of the things I like about Shin Mazinger is the realism.  No, I mean it!  Forget about the action for a moment, and just focus on the characters’ emotions.  Baron Ashura coming to grips with the reemergence of Zeus, “the traitor”.  We don’t just get a story, but we see them (I call Ashura “them” for obvious reasons) crying, repeating the same insults over and over, i.e. in a total state of shock.

Cocoon State Ashura?

Cocoon State Ashura?

In anime, as with fiction in general, Evil tends to be portrayed as either cold and calculating or fiery and reckless.  Seldom do we see Evil characters as normal folk who behave the way they do simply because they think it’s the right way to behave (leave that to the good guys).  Evil is usually either an extensive dehumanizing power (=devils, who are easy to reject because they’re not human) of an intensive dehumanizing power (=madmen, whose actions are easy to reject because when they occur the actor is not himself, not human).

Baron Ashura seems to have a deeply-held, justifiable belief that Zeus (so far nothing if not a hero figure) is the lowest of the low, and that’s refreshing to see!

Kouji’s first encounter with the Pilder was as hilarious as it was realistic in my view.  I guess if you even manage to get on a Pilder for the first time in your life, chances are you’ll crash and burn.  But then again the existence of a Pilder might seem unrealistic.

Therefore the way we should judge the realism here is in terms of the actual laws and rules of the show.  a) It’s pretty clear that Grandpa Kabuto has designed Mazinger with Kouji in mind.  b) Kouji is an ace at motorcycle riding.  c) The Pilder lands by itself when activated with the words “Pilder On”.

Much more importantly to me, though, Kouji is absolutely messed up in this thing.  He can’t seem to get over the situation, which adds realism to the story.  The scene reminded me a lot, although it’s completely different, with the first episode of Evangelion.  I like how both series focus on the characters bewilderment at the fact that this sort of crazy things is happening!!

Defender of the Meek, it seems

Defender of the Meek, it seems

Zeus’ backstory, the little that we’ve seen so far, gets curiouser and curiouser.  The War between the Gods is found in many religions including that of Ancient Greece.  In the Greek case, in the war of the Titanomachy, the older ruling generation of Titans is overthrown by the younger “classic” Gods.  Zeus is the leader of the victorious Gods, and he then becomes pretty much King of the Universe.

In this episode, Zeus is very well-respected but he is not running things.  After his side has won, he gets instructed to destroy the Earth for its resistance to the winning side.  All of the humans living on the planet will be collateral damage.

Now, I might be wrong here, but my understanding was NOT that the humans themselves fought the Gods, but that Earth was against the Gods, and as the humans belong to Earth then they too deserve to be destroyed.  This makes sense mythically because the Titans were generally associated with the Earth and the Oceans.  Plus the humans look very puny compared to these mighty beings, what help could they have given?

The simple fact that Zeus is supposed to obey an order from above distances the Mazinger Mythos from Greek legend.  But there’s an immediate reapproachment by a weird angle.  Zeus’ actions here resemble Prometheus in the original myths.  Prometheus was the Titan who befriended men, taught them how to make fire and was tied by Zeus (!) to a rock as punishment.  According to some sources, Prometheus had in fact supported the Gods in the Titanomachy and betrayed his own brood, so we get a “traitor” here as well!

Who's that Green God?!

Who's that Green God?!

My only disappointment with this episode was that we didn’t at least get the names of all of the Gods Zeus was beating up, whether Greek or made up or whatever.  It’d have been great to get a little label flashing across the screen as each God got crushed!  (Ares God of War…KAPOW!  Hermes the Messenger…BLAM!)  That would have been fanservice of legendary proportions!

~ by Haloed Bane on April 25, 2009.

6 Responses to “Shin Mazinger 03: Titanomachy”

  1. Quite a lot of pathos hangs around Ashura, even in her/his backstory in the original (well, judging from the summary I’ve read).

    My understanding is that in most versions (and I haven’t gone away and read Hesiod and whoever else you would check) the revolt of the younger gods against the Titans took place before the creation of humans, but I’m not one-hundred percent sure on that. I think some historians have suggested that the story is actually a remnant of the replacement of one pantheon by another during the hypothetical ‘Dorian invasion’, or some other migration.

    If I recall correctly, the Dorian migration is supposed to have ended the dominance of Mycenae, and I think it may be Mycenae that Dr Hell’s monsters come from and that Dr Hell and Ashura have some connection to. Which would be a nice, though probably accidental, link.

  2. Yeah, I did wish those goons Zeus fought had names, but they didn’t seem godly at all, anyway.

    And while Kouji was shocked shitless inside Mazinger, he still managed to defeat the enemy on his own (even semi-consciously!). Take that, Shinji!

  3. Yeah awesome episode is awesome. Interestingly enough, I can’t muster anything else except a few shat bricks because I just loved everything about the episode.

    Seriously I was so pumped, shouting at the screen. When Kouji called out his moves/attacks for the first time, I sure was shouting before, along, and well after the sequences.

    What The Animanachronism said about hypothetical religions replacing one-another which plays out in the mythological deicide is very interesting though, but I lack the brains right now to comment with any useful ideas. I can try this though,

    CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY MEMORY ONNNNNNN!!!

    Uh, I don’t think it worked.

  4. @Animanachronism

    I’d never heard of the Dorian invasion = new gods Theory, but it doesn’t surprise me. They say the same thing about the Aesir/Vanir; plus India shows traces of the same Deva/Ashura.

    In this episode, the Battle of the Gods begins before humans exist, but by the time it ends there are humans around. I guess it’s more exciting that way (although, in Greece, if there were no humans when Zeus won, then Hades’ abode must have been empty for quite a while, huh).

    @schneider

    Yes, Kouji didn’t pass out. And he didn’t have to see a heavily bandaged girl to get properly motivated. Kouji is more of a man than Shinji, for sure.

    @ghostlightning

    I think you commented on this before, the music is so cool too! I still would like to know how many eps this is going to be…

  5. Well, you know by now that I’m not watching for realism, and not seeing a whole lot, but episode 4 proved to be a bonus for Ashura backstory, especially as it relates to Grandpa Kabuto. This show is a monster!

  6. […] Violence of the Gods and Ashura’s pathos. (animekritik 2009/04/2009) […]

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