Before I start the review I want to log a complaint as to how Cartoon Network is airing this show. We also saw it in Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles last week, the inability to produce a full half-hour cartoon. It apparently can be done. The first episode of Rise was a full-length story while the first episode of Mega Man: Fully Charged is also full-length but broken down into two parts. It seems like a waste to me, and it’s not like shows I grew up with didn’t make the same mistake. And yet on Boomerang it’s actually scheduled as a full half-hour show and not two 15 minute shows.
Anyway, on to the episode review. Mega Man: Fully Charged takes little from the Mega Man games, but considering how often the franchise has diverted from the original game universe I’m not even sure it matters anymore. Capcom itself has created like four or five different Mega Man continuities. You have the original and X game series, Legends, Battle Network/NT Warrior, Star Force, and at least one more I’m forgetting right now. It’s like complaining Robots In Disguise doesn’t match up with the original Transformers. That ship’s long past sailed on a slow trip to Japan.
Instead, Man Of Action, the collective of writers and creators behind the original Ben 10 and the animated version of Big Hero 6, among other TV and comics projects. You know the show is going to be good with that history, but how good is it?
The show takes place in the future (probably something with an “XX” in the number), years after the “Hard Wars”, a war between robots and humans. One of its heroes, Dr. Light, now promotes unity between humans and robots in Silicon City, having a human daughter named Suki and a robotic son named Aki. However, Aki is secretly the city’s protector, Mega Man, aided by Mega Mini, a little robot in his head. Only Suki and I’m guessing Aki’s robodog Rush know Aki and Mini’s secret. Meanwhile forces are trying to end human/robot unity and won’t stop until they’re at war again.
We’ve already established that Man Of Action is working more with the concept than any of the other continuities of the past, but this is closer than most of Capcom’s actual offerings outside of the main games and the various X and Zero period spinoffs. The whole secret identity thing isn’t new, as it happened in Dreamwave’s version of the original Blue Bomber, but there even Light knew who Mega Man was. They’re also avoiding the same musical naming gimmick, as we have Aki and Suki rather than Rock and Roll. I’m assuming they’re both adopted since Aki is a robot and Suki is black, unless at some point Light got together with a black woman and a…you know what, let’s not go there. They’re adopted, that’s fine, nothing to see here, moving along.
Okay, he could have been built by Light and Suki’s missing/dead mom and that’s why they’re siblings. Bullet dodged. Or plasma blast in this case.
But if this is so removed from the original games outside of Mega’s copy ability (more on that shortly) then what’s with all the 8 bit style graphics that pop up in tribute and the chiptune score and theme song? Is that production studio Dentsu Entertainment USA or DHX Media (the studio that bought up DIC’s library and Cookie Jar Entertainment) trying to justify the name? Don’t get me wrong, it looks and sounds cool, but it just draws attention to the original game series. Like I said, this franchise has numerous and wildly different continuities produced by Capcom itself but the originals have been the source of most recent games and I see plenty of people not aware of the larger franchise being disappointed. This just kind of rubs it in.
The style of the regular animation is quite good. It’s high action (typical for a Man Of Action production) but takes time to let us see what’s happening. We get a good introduction to the characters and the central conflict in the form of antagonist Sgt. Breaker Night, another hero of the Hard Wars (with the cybernetic arm to show for it) who is convinced robots are still the enemy. Aki is a typical boy who likes action but wants to defend others and continue the human/robot union. Suki is a bit more level-headed and may be his conscience. Dr. Light appears to be something of a pacifist after the war and while he shows support for Mega Man, Aki and Suki aren’t sure they want to tell him Aki IS Mega Man. That’s a first for the franchise I think. Also, we don’t see much but Aki has a friend named Burt Wily. How will that come into play, or did someone really screw up a reference?
Mega Mini on the other hand is a bit annoying. He seems to love running his vocoder at full burn. His job is to maintain Mega Man’s systems, since the copy ability also means dealing with power control. In this episode Mega fights Fire Man and has to keep his temper in check, while in a preview for a fight with Drill Man it has different side effects. This should keep the stories fresh as each power brings different problems, explaining why Mega Man doesn’t just go right to the copied weapon. Unlike the first Mega Man cartoon, he has to scan and copy the schematics through his buster, which takes a longer amount of time and costs him his weapon which is why he doesn’t go right to copying the power. I think the copy ability needs to go to long but maybe that will change as the show goes on.
He also controls the suiting up sequence and as I established yesterday I do enjoy a good suit up sequence. Mega Man’s “meganizing” scene is pretty cool.
Overall I very much enjoyed this episode and I’m looking forward to the series, even if it is more short stories. Hopefully we’ll get more continuity than we did with the further episodes of Rise Of The TMNT, and I’m thinking this could be a fun superhero show, with actual action. It’s a dying art, especially on Cartoon Network. As of this writing the first ten episodes (so about five shows worth) are up on Cartoon Network’s site but it may not work outside of the US. It is a good show and worth checking out if you can.