Manga / Shin Mazinger Zero
A God saves the world... Or a devil will destroy it?

Rage. Pain. Sorrow. Every emotion. Everything coming together. Flowing to the same place... To the Demon God of Demise. Inside every wish becoming zero. At my wit's end, I can just watch.

Shin Mazinger Zero (真マジンガーZERO) is a manga written by Yoshiaki Tabata and illustrated by Yuuki Yugo (the team behind Wolf Guy and Akumetsu), part of the Mazinger Z Super Robot Cash Cow Franchise. It debuted in 2009 at nearly the same time as the anime Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-Hen. Despite the similar titles, they are unrelated re-imaginings of the original 1972 Mazinger Z manga/anime by Go Nagai.

Kouji Kabuto is an Ordinary High-School Student. He has a beautiful girlfriend, he rides a bike, he has a certain Delinquent air, and the only unusual thing about him is his father and grandfather are world-renowned scientists. However, one day he starts having horrible nightmares that feel scarily real — nightmares where the world has been burnt to ashes by a huge, robotic, god-like devil named Mazinger Z, and a pretty but not-quite-human-looking lady offers him the chance to save the world... and then she kills him.

After one of these nightmares, he and his girlfriend Sayaka are summoned to Sayaka's father's workplace, the Photon Power Laboratory, to assist with an emergency. In short order, Kouji loses his father, his girlfriend, his grandfather and an arm, and his body gets absorbed by the mechanical devil he saw in his dreams. As he crosses the Despair Event Horizon with the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, a group of unknown giant mechanical monsters attack. Filled with berserker rage, his sanity slipping, Kouji goes to fight them... Ultimately, his nightmare comes true — he defeats the monsters, but the world is destroyed, and his body is almost completely consumed by Mazinger Z. Then the same not-quite-human lady appears to him, tells him to save the world, and kills him. Wait, again?!

Kouji wakes up and to his surprise he is whole and healthy, piloting Mazinger Z in the middle of a battle — and Sayaka is alive and in her own robot. Later, a new transfer student joins his class, and Kouji feels like he's seen her before...

It ended in 2012 after ten volumes, and is continued in Shin Mazinger Zero vs the Great General of Darkness (Shin Mazinger ZERO vs Ankoku Daishogun), introducing characters and concepts from Great Mazinger.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Arc Words: Remember when Kabuto's gramps says that Mazinger Z has the power to become a demon and destroy the world? he wasn't kidding.
  • Ascended Extra: Minerva X appeared in only one episode of the anime, here she's a major character.
  • After the End: The manga starts this way.
  • Apocalypse How: DYNAMIC FIRE!
  • Bad Future: Minerva X sends Kouji back in time to stop one from happening. Again and again.
  • Badass Grandpa: The Big Bad Dr. Hell is surprisingly, improbably huge and ripped for a 70-year-old. And besides watching from his base like he does all the time, he attacks the White House in person.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Hurting or trying to hurt Sayaka in front of Kouji is not the last thing you want to do. It is the last thing you will ever do.
    • Dr. Hell does not take it kindly when his underlings make him look ridiculous, either.
  • Action Prologue: The first chapter appears to be this, then the story resets again after the fourth chapter. The main story starts with chapter five.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: This actually happens to Boss, of all people.
  • Breather Episode: After two very grimdark timelines the chapters of the main timeline are lighter and comedic. Until things get dark again!
  • Broken Bird: Minerva X. She's gone through 2,798 cycles of time, witnessing the events where Mazinger becomes a demon in all of them, what can you expect?
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Minerva X. Despite (or maybe because) she was created by humans, several of her personality traits - mainly her conception of what love is - are completely bizarre. Because she was created to be Mazinger's partner in battle, she is in love with Mazinger in spite of she knows it is a machine and it is not sentient. She also treats the pilot of a Humongous Mecha like if it was another part of the mecha (presumably, the brain). Thus, she teases Sayaka because she saw Aphrodite (Sayaka's Fem Bot) fighting alongside Mazinger and got jealous, got... all bothered when she was inside Mazinger's cockpit, and she told her she loved Kouji... but she loved Kouji piloting the Hover Pilder even more, and above all she loved Kouji on the Pilder piloting Mazinger. Usually Kouji and Sayaka only shake their heads and accept her as she is.
    • Minerva's love makes some sense when you remember that she's the reincarnation of the same Minerva from the anime that fell in love with that continuity's Mazinger. Of course she would love Kouji especially when he pilots Mazinger because she's in love with it and without its pilot, Mazinger is practically lifeless.
  • Call Back: Tons of the flashbacks, which are important to the plot.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Sayaka. Even more than in the original series. Get her jealous and angry enough, and she is able to tear three Mechanical Beasts apart. At once.
  • Combat Tentacles: Professor Juuzo Kabuto in the first arc/second timeline.
  • Composite Character: The Demon Mazinger Z is a combination of classic Mazinger Z with Mazinkaiser.
  • Darker and Edgier: Might or might not be for every other Mazinger continuity. And HOW!
  • Despair Event Horizon: Kouji Kabuto in the first two timelines or rather 2,797th and 2,798th.
  • Downer Ending: This manga as a whole serves as one for the original anime and manga continuity.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: In the first arc Sayaka tells Kouji she loves him as she dies gruesomely. It was especially heartbreaking because in that timeline they had managed to go past the typical status quo in their relationship, as usually depicted.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Apparently, Mazinger Z itself has potential to become one.
  • Fanservice: It's based on stuff by Go Nagai, what can you expect? Especially (and constantly) true with Minerva X.
  • Fan Disservice: Sayaka's death in the second timeline: she's stripped, tentacle-raped and impaled.
  • Flat "What.": Kouji explains that Minerva X is not human but is actually a Super Robot created by Juuzo Kabuto to be Mazinger Z's partner. Sayaka has this reaction... also because Kouji and Minerva X are in Mazinger's cockpit with their faces in each other's crotches.
  • Foreshadowing: When Minerva-X sees Kouji fighting the Gamia sisters, she's amazed, since a human being shouldn't be capable of moving so fast or hitting so hard. Later on, she discovers that Kouji had become a cyborg in that timeline.
  • Freakiness Shame: After Kouji finishes utterly trashing a ten-foot robot with his bare hands in front of his girlfriend Sayaka, he freaks out and asks her if she was as terrified of that sudden show of inhuman ability as he was. Sayaka's response can be summed up as, "Hell no! That was both completely awesome and hot."
  • From Bad to Worse: In this picture, Kouji is dashing headfirst into the Despair Event Horizon after his father has been murdered, his girlfriend has been tentacle-raped and murdered, and he has been forced to kill his Mad Scientist of a grandfather, losing an arm in the process. It gets worse? Oh, yeah. Straightaway, an Eldritch Abomination dwelling in the body of a Humongous Mecha will possess his body and will use him to fight an army of Robeasts. During three months he will relentlessly fight Dr. Hell's Mechanical Beast army, gradually losing his sanity as the whole world falls into ruins. Finally his mind will snap, and the Eldritch Abomination - fueled by his negative emotions of rage, despair, madness, grief and pain - will go berserk and burn the world to ashes. The funny part? That is the first story arc.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Multidimensional Automaton Zillion Infinity Neural Generative Exterminate Reverter. Surprisingly, It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: in the first arc, one of Juuzou's reasons to rape and murder Sayaka was to make sure she would never carry an hypothetical child of Kouji. Yeah, this means it's highly likely that Sayaka dn Kouji were not just together, but already sexually active.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: In the first story arc Kouji has his arm ripped off. He picks it up and uses it like a Rocket Punch. (After all, he's the Trope Namer!)
  • Groin Attack: Dr. Hell walks into the White House and takes the President of the United States hostage by squeezing his balls. And lifts him above his head!
  • Groundhog Peggy Sue: The premise: "Groundhog Day" Loop + Peggy Sue story, to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Except it has gone wrong again and again.
  • Gut Punch: The first arc alone has multiple.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Kouji was completely heartbroken and devastated when he saw Sayaka getting murdered in a Time Loop.
  • Hope Is Scary: Minerva X has failed 2,798 times in averting the End of the World as We Know It. She does as much as stating all of those times she hoped, and her hope was in vain. However, in the current timeline she is stuck in, she is seeing signs that maybe things will finally be different this time around. So she feels a glimmer of hope... and she is afraid of being hopeful only for getting disappointed and heart-broken again.
  • Hope Spot: An especially cruel one. After failing nearly three thousand times, the heroes manage to save their timeline. The epilogue show them living peaceful, happy lives... but then Prof. Morimori makes a terrifying discovery before being murdered by Archduke Gorgon, and the last page advertises the sequel: Shin Mazinger Zero vs Ankoku Daishogun. Any remotely familiar with the Mazinger mythos knows the Earth is going to be a Crapsack World very, very quickly, and Mazinger Z is going to be destroyed, making Kouji's triumph over Dr. Hell useless and meaningless.
    • But then, enter Tetsuya and Great Mazinger!
  • Hot-Blooded: maybe even more than the original! In Chapter 6 & 7, Sayaka of all people becomes this after hearing some sexual innuendo.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Kouji's ones are even larger than his original incarnation's sideburns. It fits because he is even more hot-blooded.
  • Human Pincushion: In chapter two Sayaka died when her body was impaled by several dozens of iron rods.
  • Humongous Mecha: Take a guess.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Minerva X's reaction while the Pilder docked with Mazinger Z. While she was straddling Kouji, which was awkward for him.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • In one of the first chapters Sayaka was impaled by several huge, metallic rods.
    • Later, Toros D7 tries to impale Mazinger and Aphrodite.
    • Still later, Kouji is impaled with the Bardos Wand by Dr. Hell.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Minerva X boards the Hover Pilder and sits on Kouji's lap facing him, much to his embarassment and Sayaka's chagrin.
  • Laughing Mad: again, the 2798th cycle version of Kouji Kabuto.
  • Insert Song: The first theme song of the Shin Mazinger anime, Kanjite Knight, "plays" during the first time the timeline resets.
  • The Mole: The Gamia Q sisters infiltrated into Kouji's school to murder him.
    • Reverse Mole: Similar to the original series, Minerva X was designed as a partner for Mazinger Z by Juuzo Kabuto but the plans and materials were stolen by Dr. Hell. He built Minerva X believing she would work for him, but in reality she was always on the heroes' side and was only biding her time before defecting the first chance she got.
  • The Multiverse: It's revealed that the different timelines and alternate universes are part of a multiverse that includes all Mazinger series — and among others, the next universes: Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer, Getter Robo, Kotetsu Jeeg, UC Gundam, Gunbuster and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • My Hero Zero: Awfully subverted. Mazinger Z of Shin Mazinger Zero is an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Mystical White Hair: Minerva X.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Gamia Q sisters end up just like the original manga. one is killed by friendly fire, one is cut in half vertically and one is cut in half at the waist.
    • At some point Sayaka switches to a lewd bondage-themed pilot "suit" first seen in MazinSaga.
    • Kouji eventually becomes a cyborg similar to the Mazinger Z manga by Gosaku Ota - (using the same technology as Cutey Honey's).
  • New Transfer Student: Dr. Hell sends Minerva X to Kouji's school so she can kill him. However, Baron Ashura sends Gamia Q on the same pretense, in order to please Dr. Hell after losing face.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Kouji and Minerva X are together inside Mazinger Z's cockpit during a battle. After Mazinger is knocked down, Minerva ends up upside down on Kouji with their faces in each other's crotches. Sayaka, who has just destroyed three Mechanical Beasts in a fit of jealous rage, sees them in the cockpit. They try to explain, but Sayaka tries to murder them anyway.
  • Offing the Offspring: Juuzo does this to his son Kenzo. He then tries to do the same to his grandson, Kouji, and kills Sayaka just in case Kouji has impregnated her. He really wants the Kabuto line out of the way.
  • Oh Crap!: Kouji and Minerva X find themselves in an awkward position in the Pilder and make tremendously alarmed faces when Sayaka sees them.
  • Posthumous Character: Juuzo Kabuto dies soon after he gives Mazinger Z to Kouji, and this is the case in the original series and the main timeline of the manga. In the first arc however, there are... complications.
  • The Professor: Lots of them: Juuzo Kabuto, Kenzo Kabuto, Gennosuke Yumi (Sayaka's father), the Three Professors. Even Dr. Hell was one before he turned evil.
  • Refusal of the Call: Kouji Jumped at the Call in the original series. In the first timeline seen, he refused the call and we got to see the outcome. It was not pretty (unless your definition of pretty includes the planet scorched away and the humanity wiped out by Mazinger Z).
  • Reincarnation: Everyone, but most notably Kouji, before the start of the manga. Minerva X is shown to be one of her giant robot namesake from the original show.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot Girls: Minerva X and the Gamia Qs.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Both Kouji and Minerva have it. However Kouji's memory is faulty, and he only remembers what happened in former timelines through dreams and sudden flashbacks, and they are so vague and so random -and seldom he has them when he needs them- that they are all but useless. On the other hand, Minerva remembers with utter clarity how they failed thousands of times in averting the End of the World as We Know It, and how her beloved, her friends and the whole humanity died several thousands of times because she failed.
  • Robeast: Dr. Hell's Kikaijuu (Mechanical Beasts) and the Mykene Sentoujuu (War Beasts) in the sequel.
  • Shipper on Deck: Minerva X ships Kouji/Sayaka in spite of being a Clingy Jealous Girl.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Look at this page. Mazinger goes berserk, its mouthplate splits, the Humongous Mecha roars and it chewes a Kikaijuu. Pretty blatant Neon Genesis Evangelion, would not you say?
    • Kouji's school teacher in chapter 5 is a character of Harenchi Gakuen, another Go Nagai series.
    • In Chapter 6, Sayaka, after hearing the words "Gan gan gan gan" says that this is not Getter Robo.
    • In Chapter 9, they visit a hot spring. The men's side has a statue of Devilman (like the original manga), while the women's side has a statue of Satan.
    • Honey Kisaragi appears as an Idol Singer. And later she does transform into Cutey Honey to help the heroes.
    • The President of the United States is black... and has the design of Jim Mazinger from Violence Jack, where Go Nagai reimagined Mazinger Z as a blind black man.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: As said above, one of the triggers for Kouji's transformation in a nightmare-ish Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds is Sayaka's murder. So one of the Minerva-X's goals is to help them defy the trope.
  • Stealth Sequel: At the beginning it seems an alternate universe or retelling of the original Mazinger Z... and then it is revealed that it is a sequel to the original series, in which the characters are locked in a perpetual time loop.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: As a transfer student, Minerva X assumes the name "Minerva Ecks".
  • Techno Babble:
    • Mazinger is an acronym for Multidimensional Automaton Zillion Infinity Neural Generative Exterminate Reverter.
    • And in chapter 6:
    Sayaka: Aphrodite A, immediate activation! number 1. Number 2. Number 3. Check! All green! Retention bolt, begin release!
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Kouji actually died a year ago in battle against Dr. Hell and was rebuilt as a full-body cyborg. The Kouji Minerva meets maintains his appearance using an Atmosphere Element Fixation Device like Cutey Honey.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Oh dear god... hehe, god...
  • X Meets Y: Mazinger Z meets Neon Genesis Evangelion.

This is the memory of meeting Sayaka again after ten years... Remembering... Throbbing in my heart until then... Pounding... I thought at the time... People don't think with their head, they think with their heart... Everything wasn't inside of this meeting... But. That... Disappearing... everything... everything... Disappear... ing... What is it in there? My body? Then the me that's seeing... is who? Mazinger... My rage. Sorrow. Pain. Every emotion, being swallowed by Z into one... No, becoming ZERO. Disappearing. Completely vanishing...