First issue to get out of the way: these are not episodes of Tranzor Z or Force Five. Before either of those shows existed, Toei tried the experiment of hiring an English dubbing studio (M&M Communications, in Honolulu) to dub some of their shows to try and crack the US marketplace. These dubs are interesting in that they stick very closely to the original scripts (unlike, say, Tranzor Z or Force 5). The voice acting is a bit amateurish, but in that way where the actors almost make up for their lack of experience by really putting their hearts into it.
Second issue to get out of the way (and the one that explains why this is an April Fool’s release) is that I’m (to put it mildly) not a fan of English dubbing. This doesn’t just extend to anime…for just about any film or television show made in another language, I’d much prefer to watch it in its original language with subtitles. The whole “subbing vs. dubbing” debate has already played itself out in fandom for the last few decades, so I’m not trying to re-start that debate…pretty much everything has already been said on both sides. One thing I will say is that seems somewhat ironic that for someone like myself who considers most English dubs to be equally unwatchable, I actually kind of have a weird affection for these M&M dubs. I’d be willing to bet that for the people who can distinguish between what they call a “good dub” and a “bad dub” would be likely to put these in the latter category. But you know how it is, different people like different things.
Third issue: both of these series are available with English subtitles from Discotek (highly recommended by me!), and as many of you have noticed I generally don’t release stuff that’s commercially available in North America. But of course these dubs are rare, and not featured on those box sets, and I don’t really see them as competing with the official releases.
For the Mazinger episodes, big thanks are due to Beta8 for somehow finding the rare English soundtracks, and Chili for remastering them to a DVD source. I got the Gaiking episode in a VHS trade many years ago, and it’s the only one that I know of to exist in the hands of collectors. For now Gaiking is presented as a grungy multi-gen VHS rip, but if anyone wants to help me remaster it to the DVD version, that would be much appreciated.
Supposedly Toei also got M&M to dub some Grendizer episodes as well but I have never actually seen an episode. Who knows what other shows from their 1970s output got the same treatment. If anyone out there who worked for M&M or has any other source of information about these rare dubs, I’d be very interested to hear about it.
This release is dedicated to the late Jerry Fellows, a really nice guy who sadly taken from us way too soon. It was Jerry who first told me (at a con, natch) about the existence of this Toei commissioned Mazinger Z dub, and I still remember how hard I laughed when he told me that Dr. Hell’s Kikaiju were referred to as “evil mechanical brutes!”