Mega Man Cartoons: Faulty Upgrades

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I’ve heard the Blue Bomber is getting another shot at the small screen to celebrate the upcoming 30th anniversary. We know how the franchise has done on consoles, but it had a good on-and-off presence in the realm of cartoons as well. I remember seeing his first excursion in 1989 as a member of the video game character ensemble that headed up Captain N: The Game Master. There he was, a short thing with a husky robot voice shouting, “mega hi,” and was rarely allowed to actually shoot anyone, but he was close to his depiction in the games and the episodes that centered on Mega Man were usually fun. I knew then that I wanted to see this Nintendo hero get his own full show.

Thankfully that would happen in 1994 when Mega Man would star in his own series as the titular character and get a revamp. There was an OVA series in 1993, Mega Man: Upon a Star, but I’ve never been able to find a dubbed copy of that. Now armed with a cannon he’ll actually fire, the ability to steal other robot master’s weapons, and some odd looking pecks, Rock was ready to raise some hell. His voice may be a bit lighter now, but he does some pretty badass things, and this new intro gets me hyped at the beginning of each episode. The animation and voice acting is really good, and it has a great cast of villainous robots who were out at the time. The show has its humor and a few goofy plotlines, but was really damn enjoyable, not to mention probably the best representation Mega Man has had in television so far. I wonder why this one didn’t get more than twenty-seven episodes, as Neilson ranked it the top rated kids television show at one point. Probably needed more Snake Man…

Making The Jump To TV

Mega Man would get several new video game series, so it made sense that the shows would follow, as MegaMan NT Warrior came out in 2002.This show drastically changed the world of our hero, getting rid of some familiar mainstays and putting all of the robots as programs that engage in net battles. It’s only a slightly better version of Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad. The show has much more of an anime style and is quite a bit goofier in its initial humor, but that doesn’t mean it slacks off. Some of the story elements are interesting and Wily seems much more menacing this time around, but overall it doesn’t hold the same presentation and showmanship as the last one. This one also goes for a bit more of the same formula that a lot of anime or Super Sentai / Power Rangers style shows like. It isn’t a hard pass, but not as good either. Somehow though, it received double the episodes.

Mega Man DS Years 

NT Warrior was the first of several shows that were made in Japan and sent over, and the next iteration to was Mega Man Star Force, which was based off of a Nintendo DS game. This 2006 show started as soon as the previous series ended, but changed up the concept a mega ton. Not only does it add aliens and require two people to form the titular robot, but it also takes NT Warrior’s idea of fighting in the internet and tries to complicate that even more as well. I haven’t watched a lot of this one because of its limited release in the US, and I’m not sure I want to see much more than what I already have. It feels so removed from the original Mega Man show that I barely recognize it—I would think this is a sequel to Digimon before anything else to be honest. There is even another follow-up series called Mega Man Star Force Tribe that looks like it messes things up even more. Maybe I’m missing something, but the animation doesn’t seem like anything special and the story does nothing for me.

There Is Still Hope 

Those following along with the trend here won’t be surprised that I am not looking forward to the new show. Don’t misunderstand, I like the character a lot and am open to change when it makes sense. I don’t hate some of the weirder game ideas and even have enjoyed the Mega Man comics Archie does, but the information we know so far about the new show just doesn’t sit well.

A new version of Mega Man will debut on Cartoon Network sometime later this year or early in the next. It’s a 2D animation being done by DHX Studios in Canada and written by Man of Action Studios in an attempt to retell the classic series for a new generation, children six to eleven. That all sounds promising, until the idea that they will introduce an alter-ego for Mega Man, a schoolboy called Aki Light, who is of course a robot with something called nano-core technology that allows him to transform and save Silicon City. Like many, the initial artwork did throw me off a bit, but it looks a bit better in motion. What really concerns me is how much they will focus on his school life and Mega Man trying to be human sounds unnecessary, but this isn’t enough for me not to give the show a chance.

Not Alone 

Recently, Adi Shankar, who is a producer of the upcoming Castlevania series for Netflix, said that he would love to do a hard-R Mega Man movie, which also throws up a couple of red flags as well. I want something in between these two if possible, but more importantly with good writing and possibly some rock music? What I really want is to find out who I have to shoot with a buster to get a full-fledged Mega Man X cartoon. No, that one episode of the 1994 show doesn’t count, but I did appreciate the short OVA fans got with the Mega Man Maverick Hunter X game. Until then, if we can just get something as entertaining as the 1994 cartoon I’ll be happy. Honestly though, I’m just glad that there are still Mega Man cartoons being made, as there are several other classic characters who deserve the opportunity and are not getting it.

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One who writes for different places, waking up late in the day to struggle with commas, broken controllers, and nightmares of Silent Hill and Yo! Noid.

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