Manga / Shin Mazinger Zero
A God that saves the world... Or a Devil that 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 Great General of Darkness (Shin Mazinger ZERO vs Ankoku Daishogun), introducing characters and concepts from Great Mazinger.

Mazinger Zero appears in Super Robot Wars V and Super Robot Wars X, the former of which is implied to take place after the ending of Shin Mazinger Zero vs Great General of Darkness.

This manga provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • After the End: The manga starts this way.
  • Apocalypse How: DYNAMIC FIRE!
  • Arc Words: Remember when Kabuto's gramps says that Mazinger Z has the power to become a demon and destroy the world? Let's see what happens when that comes true.
  • Ascended Extra: Minerva X appeared in only one episode of the anime, here she's a major character.
  • Back from the Dead: Kouji himself after being impaled by Dr. Hell, as a full body cyborg.
  • 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.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: This actually happens to Boss, of all people.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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: Mazinger ZERO's design is a combination of the classic Mazinger Z with the Fewture Mazinger model.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The 2799th cycle seemed perfect in every way. Juuzo Kabuto was a nice grandpa instead of a monstrous mad scientist, all of Kouji's friends are alive and well, Mazinger Z is a beloved hero, and life in Atami is peaceful and idealistic. Then the events that led to this point are revealed in an in-universe documentary: Dr. Hell's army took control of the unmanned weapons and nuclear missiles of the entire world using Bardos Wands, turning their own weapons against them. None of the world's nations were able to stop them, and every world leader who surrendered were simply rounded up and slaughtered like animals (though it later turned out what happened to them was much worse than death). Five billion people died within ten days, and much of the planet was reduced to radioactive wastelands. The only thing that kept Atami peaceful and idealistic was the photonic energy barrier projected from the Photonic Lab, protecting the surrounding 200km radius from Dr. Hell's forces. The area under the barrier was literally the only refuge for humanity left, and almost the entire Mazinger Army (including Kouji himself) sacrificed their lives just to buy enough time for the barrier to activate.
  • Darker and Edgier: Might or might not be for every other Mazinger continuity. And HOW!
  • Deconstruction: Of the whole concept of the Super Robot Genre: A Humongous Mecha more powerful than anything else in the world. What happens when that power goes out of control?
    • Many tropes from the original Mazinger Z are also deconstructed, such as the reason why Dr. Hell seems to target Japan exclusively, the reason he only sends two or three Mechanical Beasts at a time, and why he only sends them on a weekly basis.
  • 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.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Gordon Hell, the final boss of Shin Mazinger ZERO, first appears in Chapter 4.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Apparently, Mazinger Z itself has potential to become one.
  • Empathic Weapon: Near the end of Shin Mazinger Zero, Mazinger Z is revealed to have a personality of its own, something not even Minerva X has seen before in her countless timeloops. This personality has a strong sense of justice, and refers to Koji as his friend.
    • Unfortunately, that personality is overwhelmed by ZERO's when it awakens in vs Great General of Darkness.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: As it turns out, Dr. Hell actually does care about Baron Ashura and Count Brocken. Before beginning his final assault he holds a short funeral for them, even crying and remarking that their loyalty put his mind at ease. Of course, Brocken's head survived his body's kamikaze attack, but Hell doesn't know that.
  • 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!
    • A Double Subversion happens earlier in the story, in the first timeline where Kouji becomes Mazinger Z's pilot. Throughout many battles between Mazinger Z and Dr. Hell's Mechanical Beasts, Juzo actually began to develop genuine love for his grandson, abandoned his ambitions of world domination, and decided to put an end to Dr. Hell for good... Then Dr. Hell sent two of his strongest Mechanical Beasts, which killed Sayaka, forced Mazinger Z to self-destruct, and survived the resulting explosion completely unscathed. Fortunately, Kouji survived thanks to the Pilder ejecting, and was taken away by his Not Quite Dead father Kenzo, as well as Tetsuya and Jun, to a secret location. Kenzo explained that he's been secretly building a Mazinger that surpasses Z, and Kouji was about to board it and destroy Dr. Hell once and for all... Then the timeline was reset by Minerva X.
  • 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.
    • Sayaka, and by proxy Artemis A get one due to the... intimate, placement of a couple of the cables that make it a Motion Capture Mecha.
  • 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 embarrassment and Sayaka's chagrin.
  • Insert Song: The first theme song of the Shin Mazinger anime, Kanjite Knight, "plays" during the first time the timeline resets.
    • The second theme song The Guardian "plays" during the first fight between Mazinger Z and Dr. Hell's army in the "Mazin War" documentary.
  • Laughing Mad: again, the 2798th cycle version of Kouji Kabuto.
    • Both Juzo and Dr. Hell are found of this as well.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The first cycle where Dr. Hell successfully creates Mechanical Beasts is full of these. Since Dr. Hell does not want to conquer the world without defeating Mazinger Z first and promises to leave the rest of the world alone if he's allowed to fight Mazinger Z, the United Nations, powerless to stop Hell, drafted a law that limits the area of combat to the outskirts of Mount Fuji. Under this law, Mazinger Z and Dr. Hell's Mechanical Beasts fight every Sunday at 7pm, which is broadcast live across the globe. Because of this, Mazinger Z surged in popularity, leading to the creation of toys, mangas, and other merchandise featuring Mazinger Z and even the Mechanical Beasts... That's right, the Mazinger Z franchise exists in-universe!
    • This is also the first cycle where Kouji becomes the pilot of Mazinger Z, referencing how Mazinger Z was the first human-piloted Humongous Mecha in anime history.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Played terrifyingly straight. In the very first timeline where Mazinger Z became active, it managed to overpower the combined military forces of the entire planet in fourteen days, ten hours, and thirty-four minutes. Even Juzo himself was so underwhelmed by this that he simply asked Minerva X to reset the timeline in order to give himself a real challenge. They aren't anymore useful in the other timelines either, where they are easily destroyed by either the berserk Mazinger or Dr. Hell's Mechanical Beasts.
  • 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.
  • Monster of the Week: Invoked. When Minerva X was worried that Mechanical Beasts might attack, Boss flat out said that they only attack on Mondays. Turns out, the reason is that it takes a week to tear a hole in the photonic energy barrier large enough for Mechanical Beasts to fit through.
  • Mood Whiplash: Perhaps one of the greatest cases on record during Kouji's revival. After using his Airborne Element Fixing Device to restore his body over his Cyborg Endoskeleton, Sayaka rushes to hug him. However...
    Kouji: Wagh! S-Sayaka! I'm glad you're so overjoyed at the revival of the great Kouji... But my dick's on full display right now and...!
  • 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, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and even Pacific Rim.
  • My Hero Zero: Awfully subverted. The titular Mazinger ZERO is an egotistical Eldritch Abomination who refuses to accept the existence of super robots other than itself.
  • 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).
    • All of the weapons used by the Mazinger Z seen in the flashback scene are from the original Mazinger Z anime, including Finger Missiles, Cryo Beam, EM Wave Attack, and Missile Punch (Kouji and pals even lampshade its ridiculously big ammo capacity, as well as its Nonindicative Name).
  • Never Trust a Title: Shin Mazinger Zero vs the Great General of Darkness: After Mazinger Z turned into Mazinger ZERO, it took him about thirty seconds to beat the Great General of Darkness into a bloody pulp. He then became the primary antagonist for the rest of the series.
  • 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 Hyperbole: The Arc Words of Mazinger becoming either a God or a Devil depending on how you use it. Dr. Kabuto was definitely not joking, and in one timeline, he is definitely the latter.
    • The lyrics from "Shugoshin ~ The Guardian": "All life on this planet believe in your power" becomes literal during the final battle with Gordon Hell.
  • 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 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".
  • Take Over the World: Deconstructed. Dr. Hell wants to take over the world, but he has no interest in ruling the world. Therefore, he simply slaughters everyone, including those who surrenders to him or was captured by him or turn them into mindless cyborg soldiers. The result is just as horrific as it sounds: five billion dead in ten days.
    • According to Ashura, when Dr. Hell said "world", he didn't mean Earth, he meant the entire universe.
  • 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!
  • Undefeatable Little Village: Atami, the Last Bastion of humanity against Dr. Hell's army.
    • It later turned out that it's not the only one of its kind. There are other survivors, scattered across the world, who survived the nuclear onslaught by hiding inside nuclear bunkers.
  • Victory Is Boring: In the first cycle where Mazinger Z was completed, Juuzo easily crushed the combined military forces of the entire world. However, he found the lack of challenge to be boring, and asked Minerva X to reset the timeline and give him a handicap by sending his research across the world. This allowed Dr. Hell to resurrect the Mechanical Beasts, finally giving Juuzo the challenge he wanted.
  • 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...

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...