I got a bombshell this evening after a long day of spending time with some friends; the first look at the new Mega Man that’s coming in 2017 from Dentsu Entertainment USA and DHX Media, executive produced by Man of Action Entertainment known mainly for their Ben 10 series. Let’s dig into their press and CAPCOM Unity release and give it a look…
Deadline Hollywood broke this story as well. Essentially, Dentsu will manage global rights for the cartoon in Asia, while DHX will handle the rest of the world. Aimed at children just under age ten, essentially young boys, and instead of rolling with the name Rock, his civilian persona is Aki Light. Protodude has a very short description on what the series will be about, and it looks like the show will be more generic than anticipated. It doesn’t help that it sounds like they’re going to add a stupid generic helper character, like Godzuki, to the franchise in form of Mega Mini. Mega Man already had a vast cast of characters to use, you’d only need to introduce the school setting.
I’m not going to talk about the logo though, there’s nothing special and I’ve been over that already. It’s just another re-design.
Here’s the thing; Mega Man is very hard to make as it is portrayed in the games. Hitoshi Ariga managed to weave a story around the games because he took the best parts of then, and made them nicely episodic. The Ruby-Spears cartoon did the same, but just made its own plots and it honestly was pretty good. However, for Western audiences, especially to North Americans, it is more approachable and easier to make a story about a robot boy trying to fit in and be a normal kid while hiding his super powers from everybody. Y’know, like with Spider-Man originally and loads of other masked heroes. For whatever reason, that clicks with them.
This isn’t the first time this approach has been used with Mega Man. Dreamwave’s Mega Man comic used this exact same premise, but only four issues were printed before Dreamwave folded. It was pretty close to the game designs, visually, but the content was very different, and Rock was renamed to Rocky. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad comic, just very generic child hero serial.
And that’s what I’m afraid this one will be as well, especially in wake of Ben-10 and the like. If Mega Man is to have a civilian personality and have that robot-human interaction, there must be better ways than this, more original and imaginative ways to utilise the setting. The thing is, that is Mega Man X’s story. X is the one that had the human element to him, the first robot ever to be able learn and was beyond anything that had been before. I like to give the example what X was compared to others through Iwamoto’s Rockman X manga; he was able to cry.
What was Mega Man’s story was simple; he was programmed with a strong sense of justice, of right and wrong and will to help those in need, and when he saw what the Robot Masters were doing under Wily’s rule, he felt a need to fight back, thus asked Dr. Light to convert his body into a that of a war machine.
But this is not my Mega Man. This is Mega Man for the new generation of children and I shouldn’t stand in their way of enjoying possibly good piece of entertainment. This does not negate the Mega Man I grew up with and played, those memories and games won’t go anywhere. Mega Man Classic had a good run, all things considered. I hope this new Mega Man can stand up to the challenge and as a franchise be superior in every regard. If not, then all of it has been useless. Make the old games and cartoons obsolete, make them look like pale shadows, that’s all I ask for.
But, let’s get to the meat of the design. If this design is what they will go with, or have some variation of it, it’s clear where they’re coming from. Aki Light Mega Man overall is the Classic Mega Man in proportions and shapes, with some cues taken from Mega Man X. Helmet design is the most prominent place to find X’s influences with extra ridges around the rim as well as having a gem on the forehead. From down from there, the torso is largely nondescript, similar to Ariga’s Mega Man in that there are added detail compared to the original. Shoulders have faux-pads, while the arms are largely ported from X directly, excluding the three energy bars. Classic Mega Man had yellow segments instead of blue, and I guess this could be used to indicate charge/energy levels. He seems to be wearing skin-tight boxers from the Classic, and the legs are very similar to Smash Bros. design revamp.
Personally, while the elements are there to make a good design, the way they are implemented look garish. Extremely so. The constant neon blue glow from every seam is overused and clichéd at this point in time, dating the design harshly instead of trying to make it timeless. As a friend put it, It looks something somebody drew in Flash in 2006 and he is right in that. Even now the design is dated. This makes the design look less like a real Mega Man, and more a Chinese pirate copy.
Add in the fact that Tron energy lines is overbearingly overused at this point, and you have largely a design that’s not just uninspiring, but also generic to a fault. He looks less like a character for Mega Man, and more something that could pop-up in Kingdom Heart’s Tron section. Maybe that’s their intention, but at least turn the lights off and give those blues lighter shades. The only reason those blues are so dark with black hands is that the neon lights would glow through.
To be completely honest, even when noting that this is a completely new Mega Man product and is to stand apart from the previous ones, this design doesn’t instill confidence. On the contrary, it makes me worry that they are aiming for a rather generic and flashy look, to have it be just a flash in the pan instead of impacting popular culture like the original games did. This new Mega Man has a legacy to stand up to. It doesn’t help that the neon light darker blue Mega Man was already done for Mega Man Universe, so its unique stance among all the designs is further diminished to near nil.
In 2017, Mega Man will live in a new form. I will give it a chance and will do design reviews as they drop in, and I will be fair. I’m not playing favourites, I don’t do that with âge’s pieces either, but I have been worrying about this series for a while now, and I really hope that it will be something phenomenal instead of run-of-the-mill action cartoon. Mega Man has potential to be more, we’ve seen it before. Despite them saying this show is also meant for the older fanbase, that is only lip service. We, the veterans, are only cashcows for to be milked with re-releases. This is meant to revitalise the franchise from grounds up, and by God I hope they do. Mediocrity is not tolerated this time. It needs to be damn good.
And I hope they won’t introduce X or later series’ characters. Just keep it Mega Man and no time travelling, please?