Kiyoshi Nagai known as Gō Nagai is regarded as one of the greatest authors of Japanese comics and animation. He created a universe of characters which accompanied entire generations: Ufo Robot Grendizer, Mazinger, the manga cult Devil Man, Cutey Honey, Kotetsu Jeeg, Violence Jack.
He began his career in 1965, but only two years later he created his first manga work Meakashi Porikiki.
In 1968 he founded the Dynamic Production with which he produced his masterpieces. We need to mention in 1971 Mao Dante from which he began his exploration towards religious and demoniacal themes; the author declared that he was inspired by an edition of the Divine Commedy illustrated by Gustave Doré.
That same year he published Devilman, one of the most eminent and influential works of the seventies. Nagai introduced situations on the border of splatter with an apocalyptic ending that leaves dumbfounded. A TV series dedicated to this manga was also developed with less violent contents and explicit recalls to the iconography of the western superhero.
The 1972 was a very important year for the japanese animation. Nagai, great innovator of the Mecha genre, gave birth to Mazinger Z, the first Japanese anime which saw as protagonist a super robot controlled by a human. The idea of a steerable big robot came to Nagai while he was driving in city traffic, thinking what might have happened if the car was equipped with mechanical arms for overstepping the others vehicles. This work was published in several comics versions, the most important of which was the one written by Nagai and illustrated by Gosaku Ota, that follows closely the plot of the TV version accentuating the violence and introducing many innovations. The character of Archduke Gorgon was included in the course of the comic-book and the TV series, the first member of Micenae Empire to fight against Great Mazinger, the successor of Mazinger Z.
In 1973 he created Cutie Honey, the android girl living under the secret identity of the blonde Honey Kisaragi, but that in case of need may appear in different identities, each one with its own aspect, powers and special equipment. Cutie, the main identity, is a red-haired definitely malicious heroine, far from the Japanese female standards, who often mocks her male friends and ridicules her enemies during the fighting. It is here that Go Nagai has joined heroism with eroticism.
In the same year it began the very long epic of Violence Jack, a series in which the Kantō Peninsula is isolated by a cataclysm and becomes the scene of furious struggles for survival. Nagai repeatedly interrupted and resumed the series until its conclusion in 1990.
Returning to Great Mazinger, in 1974 this TV series deepened and polarized the contents of Mazinger Z: this time the mecha pilot is a real soldier trained for the achievement of a single aim: the defeat of Micenae Empire, enormous robotic monsters with human heads set into the belly.
Also in 1974, Nagai gave evidence of his genius creating the ‘’combinable mecha’’ with Getter Robot. In this series makes its return the theme of ‘’ the enemy which comes down from the past ‘’, the Dinosaur Empire, a civilization of reptile-like humanoids, they have lived many years in hibernation and now they reclaim the Earth. From the TV series to the comic-book version one more time exasperating the violence present in the cartoon and changing the personality of the characters. That same year Go Nagai wrote and illustrated the manga comic book Kekko Kamen, yet another fusion of heroism and eroticism where the female superhero fights the crime dressed only in a red, rabbit-eared mask, with matching gloves, scarf, and boots.
In 1975 he published Getter Robot G, the sequel of Getter Robot and especially two series much loved in Italy, Kotetsu Jeeg and Grendizer. The themes this time are more ‘’classically’’ sci-fi, with a real and proper alien invasion.
Grendizer had much success particularly in Europe, where especially in Italy it gave rise to a real cultural phenomenon, even studied at the faculties of sociology. Grendizer officially marked the entrance of the anime within the television programming. A strong impact, as there were many differences with regards to design, animation techniques and themes. The italian theme-songs created by the duo Luigi Albertelli – Vince Tempera soon became very famous.
Furthermore Grendizer has shown with great evidence how many of Go Nagai’s characters belong to the same narrative universe: in the series appears Koji Kabuto, pilot of Mazinger Z, at the controls of an innovative flying saucer. Later, we find the giant robots of Nagai joined for a common cause in several films and OAV such as Great Mazinger vs Grendizer, Mazinger Z vs Devilman, Great Mazinger vs Getter Robot and the magnificent team-up Grendizer, Getter Robot G and Great Mazinger vs the Dragosaurus.
In 1976, Nagai collaborated in two series perhaps less original, but which have also been broadcasted in Italy with a good public feedback: Gaiking: Legend of Daiku-Maryu and Gakeen Magnetic Robot. A dispute over Gaiking rights led to a violent quarrel between Nagai and the Toei Animation that until that moment had been producing all his series, and the consequent separation.
From here onwards the career of Nagai has taken a curious turn: besides producing new works, he dedicated in an almost maniacal way to the ‘’rewriting’’ of the works that made him famous, often helped for drawings by Ken Ishikawa and recently by Yu Kinutani. In this manner is started the rereading of Mazinger (God Mazinger, Z Mazinger, Mainstage, Mazinkaiser), Getter Robot (Getter Robot Go, Shin Getter Robot, Shin Getter Robot: The Last Day, Shin Getter Robot vs Neo Getter Robot, Getter Robot Ark) and Devilman (Neo Devilman, Devilman Armageddon, Devillady, Amon - The Darkside of Devilman, Strange Days - The Apocalypse of Devilman).
In confermation of the greatness of this Japanese author there is the fact that he and his characters have become, just like international stars, also objects of super deformed parody, we talk about CB Chara Nagai Go World, in which are present all characters of the most famous series.