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In Mazinger Z’s world, Nissan reigns supreme

Sayaka Yumi rides brand’s cars in new animation film

Mazinger Z is back on the screen with a new (and serious) animation film. SCREENSHOT FROM TOEI ANIMATION

If you lived through the ’70s, you know who (or what) Mazinger Z is. But if you’re too young to remember, let me help you: Mazinger Z is a super robot whose anime TV series ran from 1972 to 1974 in Japan, where this giant mecha is actually more popular than Voltes V and Daimos. And in case you didn’t know, there is now a new animation film called Mazinger Z: Infinity.

I saw the movie last night and dozed off several times. Maybe it was the superfluity of dialogues. Maybe it was the mediocre quality of the English dub. Or maybe it was the rather slow pace of the story. But one thing I did notice: The obvious presence of Nissan vehicles, the first appearance of which is when Sayaka Yumi fetches the pregnant Jun Hono.

Subtle product placement right there. SCREENSHOT FROM TOEI ANIMATION

Mazinger Z fans will recognize Sayaka as the female protagonist in the original TV series, who was also the pilot of Aphrodite A. Jun, meanwhile, was Sayaka’s counterpart in Great Mazinger as the pilot of Venus A. In their first scene together, Sayaka picks up Jun and the latter’s companion with a Nissan van that looks like the Serena.

The brand advert isn't so subtle here. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOEI ANIMATION

At this point, I hadn’t yet suspected a Nissan sponsorship. While it was amusing to see the badge of a real-life Japanese automotive brand in a cartoon film, it wasn’t entirely odd, especially as the plot is set in Japan.

But then, a few minutes later, just as the bad mechanical beasts were attacking the city, this scene hit me like a YouTube ad from out of nowhere…

Mechanical beasts! Run for your lives! But first, a Nissan showroom!!! Yay! SCREENSHOTS FROM TOEI ANIMATION

Yep, a freaking Nissan showroom. The world is about to end and the audience is treated to a view of a Nissan dealership’s interior. There’s no way Nissan isn’t a sponsor of this film, I thought.

Toward the end of the movie, there was one last attempt to subliminally sell Nissan to me—that part where Sayaka avails of a ride-sharing service in what appears to be a more futuristic version of the Leaf.

Sayaka Yumi is only allowed by the film producers to drive and ride Nissan cars. SCREENSHOTS FROM TOEI ANIMATION

When I checked the credits at the end of the film, I wasn’t really surprised to see Nissan as one of the corporate sponsors (the other being Vaio). I guess the producers desperately needed funding to finish the project.

Well, at least they didn’t force Koji Kabuto to ditch his motorcycle in favor of the GT-R.

Koji Kabuto doesn't like ordinary four-wheeled vehicles, thank you very much. SCREENSHOT FROM TOEI ANIMATION

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.