Series Recommendation: Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z

Shuppatsu shinkou!
Zetto Gattai!

Riding on the amazing success of the Shinkalion anime, Takara Tomy made a sequel series hoping to recreate the hype that the og series achieved, to replace the somewhat lackluster Kizuna Earth Granner series. Shinkalion Z is only 41 episodes, which is a far-cry from the original’s 76. But still, the series has many pros and cons as a series on its own.

Shinkalion Z feature an all-new cast of characters, well mostly the main ones – and we get some returning side characters at the Ultra Evolution Institute. Instead of a single protagonist, we’re getting deuteragonists for Z in the form of Abuto Usui and Shin Arata (literally mean New New, which is also a pun like Hayato Hayasugi, the og series protag). A new ancient evil appeared and is threatening the world (of course), and the Ultra Evolution Institute is tasked with combat them with a new Shinkalion system. New super fast choo choos, new gimmick and a new cast, but is the new threat the ONLY enemy?

+ Plot: After the pretty conventional story in Shinkalion, the new series took a different approach to things. Despite being a kid series, Shinka Z have some twists and turns that you wouldn’t really expect in Shinkalion. Interestingly, Earth Granner also had a similar plot element and that was one of the best thing about the series, so Shinka Z doing it is even better. While the first part is still the usual Monster-of-the-week, Shinka Z quickly pick up steam (not a pun) and slip the main linear arc into the story. Z really stood out from modern Takara series with a little darker tone and some actual going through pain, conflict and growth. Z as a series of lesson may actually have a bigger impact than the original series, however, the rushed ending and some parts show that they are trying a bit too hard might contribute to the lower overall quality of the series compared to the original series.

+ Animation: This might come as a surprise, but Shinka Z animation quality is actually slightly below the original series. OLM might have been busy or outsourcing a bit too much, but Shinka Z lacks the fluidity and dynamic of the original series. The combination sequence however still looks pristine and the VFX are still amazing, but many fights just lack the impact that we feel from the prequel. Also the very few dynamic finish after the fight is also a sad reduction from the series. Well, the slight quality drop was made up for with some great story-telling.

+ Mechanical Design: Shinka Z pretty much take the core of Shinkalion’s design and add on new stuff. The introduction of the Zyliner and Z Gattai system is pretty interesting. Of course, leave it to Takara – the master of toys – to come up with exciting and creative ways to employ one single gimmick. With just a normal basic combination system, Shinka Z introduces many variation of the original line-up with some very fun combos. The Shinka Z unit lineup is pretty much just upgraded version of the original Shinkalion lineup, but of course Takara put their creative minds to work and came up with something entertaining.

+ Music: Actually a surprisingly unique part of the series. The OP is of course, from Boys and Men, with an energetic tune to get the viewers going. However, the ending dance a different tune. While the first ED is actually by a V-tuber group that fits the naïve and bright atmosphere of the first part. The 2nd and 3rd ending actually look and sound much…darker than normal. The tone of the color and music would make you think this is some teenager mecha series about war and losses. It’s a very surprising move from Takara which set Shinka Z apart from its predecessor.

+ Conclusion: Overall, Shinka Z is essentially the Gundam Seed Destiny to Shinkalion’s Gundam Seed but more loosely and no protag-snatching. Shinka Z distinct itself by introducing new and creative gimmicks to the already established solid mechanical design of Shinkalion. While Shinka Z at its core (from the executive perspective) is to ride the success of Shinkalion and sell some merch, but it managed to tell a compelling story that is actually very meaningful and has a deeper profound impact for a child than other recent Takara series. While much shorter-lived than its prequel, Shinka Z still deliver a solid experience on its own.

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