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.
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!!
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!
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!