Rise of the giant robots: how ‘Mazinger Z’ spawned a genre

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It’s hard to think of a more quintessentially Japanese contribution to animation and science fiction than the giant robot. For the millions of kids that grew up outside Japan in the 80s and 90s, shows like Voltron, Robotech, and later Gundam Wing were an introduction to a whole new style of cartoon. Sure, they dealt with a lot of the same themes as Transformers, but underneath there was some darker, more serious storytelling going on. What you might not realize is that if you follow the giant robot timeline back, a lot of the elements that we associate with the genre can be traced to a single comic — Go Nagai’s Mazinger Z. By the time the series debuted in 1972, readers had already been dazzled by incredible robots like the…

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