No Go Nagi

Hundreds congregated at the Cairo Opera House Tuesday night in hopes of attending a lecture by Japanese anime and manga master Go Nagai, creator of robot action cartoons “Mazinger Z”and “Grendizer,” to be followed by a screening of thelatest episode of Nagai’sMazinger Saga.

Nagai’snew Mazinger series,”Shin Mazinger Shougeki,”is scheduled for international release laterthis year. The first episodes of thenew series began runningon Japanese television inApril.

Nagai is nowon a tour of the region,wherehe has promoted his new cartoon production in Jordan, Kuwait and,most recently,Egypt. In Cairo,the event was organized by the Japan Foundation, the High Institute for Cinematography in Egypt and the Fund for Cultural Development.

Fliers issued before the event had promisedfree admission. Unfortunately, however, it later transpired that there were only a limited number free tickets,which ran out within a matter of minutes — to the grave disappointment of Mazinger buffs. While more than a hundred journalists and fansmade it inside,well over ahundred others were denied entrancedue to space restrictions in the conference hall.

Two journalists from the Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition were among those locked out of the event. “The hall is completely full,” they were told by security guards.”We can’t allow any more people in because there are no more seats.” 

“We can’t let anybody else in due to the health guidelines set bythe civil defense unit,”they announced, in reference to the ongoing swine flu scare.

At that point, an angry throng of fans began chanting,“We want to enter! We want to enter!” One hardcore fan even began beatingon the hall’s glass doors, shouting,“This is so unfair!”

“Why did they reserve such a small hall for such a big event?” asked one disappointed Nagaidevotee. “They should know that Mazinger and Grendizer enjoymassive followingsin Egypt and that hundreds of people would want to attend.”

Two other die-hard fansthathad beendenied entrance held up hand-written signs reading,“Will buy your ticket for LE20.” One of them, 19-year-old fine arts student Yousra el-Shouhdi, told the Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition that she wanted to attend the event at any cost.“We’re willing to pay LE50 — or more — to get in,”she said.

Mazinger Z first aired on televisionin 1972 to runfor a total of 92 episodes, followed by another series, Great Mazinger, in 1974,which ran for 56 episodes. The following year saw the release of Grendizer, or UFO Robot Grendizer,which ran for a total of74 episodes.

Bythe 1980s,the anime cartoons had achieved an international cult following and were translated into numerous languages. The cartoons were particularly popular in East Asia, Italy, Spain, South America, the U.S., Russia and across the Arab World.

“My favorite is Grendizer because he’s the most futuristic and powerful,” said 24-year-old real estate consultantand fanAlaa Eddin Abdallah. “I’ve been captivated by this cartoon since I was six years old.”

Nagai is scheduled to delivera second lecture to students at Giza’sHigher Institute for Cinematography on Wednesday.

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