What is it?
Magnos is an American adaptation of Magunerobo Ga Kiin (Magn-Robo Gakeen), a 1976 super-robot show by Toei Animation. The series is set in an alternate Earth, where alien invaders are making a power play for global domination. Wealthy scientist Sir Miles Nevers holds the key to the planet’s salvation in a pair of magnetically-charged robots that can punch through the alien’s defenses. While his daughter, Lady Ester, is able to pilot one, Sir Miles finds that competent pilots are in short supply. Frankly, competent staff in general seems to be in short supply, as the entirety of his staff seems to be comprised of gluttonous, lazy, or outright stupid individuals that would be better off making macaroni art in some place that doesn’t keep sharp objects.
Before we go on: yes. Yes, he is consistently referred to as Sir Miles through the entire feature. Any other questions? No? Awesome.
Where was I? Oh, yes. The planet’s fate shifts, and the scales are tipped in humanity’s favor, when Sir Miles enlists world karate champion and part-time JC Penney model Janis. His inner strength and honed reflexes are just what Sir Miles needs in a pilot. With Janus and Lady Ester at the helm, the two robots can combine to form Magnos: a magnet-powered, alien-crushing machine. However, will it be enough to fight against the forces of Xerxes “Tire-Iron” Dada?
Yes, “Tire-Iron.” I’ll let that sink in a moment. Are we good? Great! Now, let’s move on.
No, Really. What the heck is it?
In Japan, the title was basically an also-ran. It was a show created to capitalize on the sudden boom in super robot shows, due to the success of Mazinger Z and Getter Robo. The show ran for 39 episodes, but never really captured the hearts and minds of the country like UFO Robo Grendizer, Getter Robo G, and Time Bokan, all of which aired around the same period.
In America, though, Magnos is something special. Century Video Corporation, a Beverly Hills-based production company, hired American Video Factory to edit together several episodes of Gakeen into a feature-length title. While it’s clear that the companies sought to create a sweeping, dramatic, and ultimately merchandisable experience, the final product was a mess. The plot makes little-to-no sense, the voice acting is hammy, and the characters are useless to a fault.
The villains, specifically Tire Iron, is little more than a walking stereotype, as he sports a giant green afro, a broad nose, and lips that would make Mick Jagger jealous. The monsters he controls are, for lack of a better word, stupid. His creations are little more than silly mash-ups of a pair of animals, with the occasional mechanical part thrown in to make things “futuristic.” They sport names like “Batroacher” (half-bat, half-roach! Hah! Hah! Haha! …I need a drink) and “Parrodactyl”, and generally look as silly as they sound.
The film’s worst sin, though, is that the titular robot is possibly the lamest contraption to walk the planet. This is a robot, which is made out of two flying robots, that somehow cannot fly. Instead, it must grasp a pair of jet-propelled gauntlets to perform the task. To even form him requires an order of events that will make most peoples’ heads spin:
- First, the pilots descend in an elevator, where they do a hand-jive transformation sequence.
- Next, the two backflip into a pair of jets, which propel them skyward.
- The two jets combine with their respective robots after an extended take-off sequence.
- Once the two robots are ready, Janis and Lady Ester eject from the craft to meet in mid-air
- When the two meet, they combine to form the belt buckle of Magnos, as the rest of the robot forms around them.
The entire sequence takes a good few minutes, and it occurs at least three times through the film.
And you want me to watch this WHY?
Quite simply, Magnos is pure cheese. It’s laden with unintentional humor that seems to bubble to the surface at every possible chance. Dramatic moments are utterly spoiled by the flat acting, horrific dialogue, and funky musical score. Action sequences are a parade of laughs, as Magnos and his foes brawl ever-so-slowly, and the titular robot is pushed into hilariously awkward poses. The entire experience is campy, it’s silly, but it’s somehow incredible all the same.
The entire experience is like a train wreck. The show itself is so terrible, so horrific that viewers simply can’t bear to even think about looking away.
When and how long should I screen this for?
Magnos is best served as a beginning-of-the-night ice breaker. The title is goofy, silly, and really sets the mood for the entire evening. However, I rarely recommend screening the entire film. Most people can take just a small dose of this, due to either the horrible acting, or simply the overall cheesiness of the title. Because of this, I recommend screening just the first 20 minutes, which should get viewers through the first major arc.
There are a few fun scenes that you may want to highlight, though, which occur at the following times:
- 29 minutes: Janis’s teammates literally strip our protaganist in the most awkward manner, in order to get him into a uniform
- 43 minutes: Two minute segment in which Paradactyl causes Magnos’s ankles to overheat, leading to an overly long (yet somehow hilarious) segment that involves the robot rolling until he hits a rock. When Magnos sits up, he’s spread-eagle, giving many opportunities for a freeze-frame and a quick joke.