For almost 12 years, I’ve been hoping that someone would finally get their mind in the right place to see that the Megamix series, drawn and written by Hitoshi Ariga, needs to be translated. I think its good that they took their time, because over the years, Ariga’s Megamix series had undergone a lot of changes and “reprints” for reasons I can’t often imagine.
Ariga started his take on Rock Man in 1996 with the release of RockMan Remix. It comprised of three stories (one of them actually being about RockManX from the MegaMissions card series.) Here you can see a page I scanned for comparison. At the time, I could only get my hands on the Chinese/Taiwanese version of the books. The book was followed by two other volumes called “RockMan Megamix.”
In 2002, Ariga decided to “remake” the introduction of the series, as the books following “Remix” started right after RockMan 2 and 3, thus his refurbishing. As you can see, he’s clearly made changes since, and for reasons unknown to me, the beginning story involving the RockMan 2 characters was changed completely. The book denies existence of the RockManX MegaMissions tale AND the original opening story surrounding RockMan 2, but includes the Yellow Devil story titled “Metal Heart.” Therefore, its not exactly a “reprint” but more of a retelling. And that brings us to Udon’s translation of the same, exact reprinting.
I’d first like to observe the size of the book, which is a phenominal 6in. x 8in. “A5″, a vast improvement over the original japanese releases of 5in. x 7in. Comparatively, the books are practically the same, given the same covers and content, and it is GRAND.
What can I say? The book is a fantastic take on the series as a whole. At first, All I could really think to myself was: finally! We “non-linguist” types can appreciate the story along with the pretty pictures. The story is given a much darker and action-packed take, as we are more akin to the younger audience target featured in the games. But let’s face it, we WANTED it to be taken more seriously, and Ariga certainly delivered. The story can be a bit linear, but everything is at least given more meaning aside from “shoot-shoot bang-bang” as characters who were once “bosses” are now given some character.
See, this is what I always wanted in my stories It doesn’t treat the audience like a bunch of idiots. Many television series and comics today often “pussy-foot” around particular issues, never honestly taking them seriously and axing them on first mention. Here, we have real sense of danger and violence to a degree where its not over-the-top and bloody (thought really, they ARE robots.) As “anime” as the characters are, they at least have limitations and don’t take the (OVER 9000!!) approach, each are given their own unique parts of a whole.
But after two chapters of explosions and chaos, the third chapter is given more of a humorous take on the instances FOLLOWING the story of Mega Man 3. The robots in this story are obviously more silly, but the story itself still ends on a heartwarming, more emotional note.
Though the book is fantastic, there is a little nitpicky thing that bothers me. Though I know video games are often very hard to handle in other media, I think what bogs it down the most is familiar mentions. Like for example, characters spouting out their special weapon powers before shooting. For me, I like it when the hints to the games are more subtle, such as Mega Man drinking out of an E-Tank for some energy while in flight. While, yes, I am being a bit harsh on this, I still feel that’s a point on trusting the audience. But this fact of the matter is very minuscule, and doesn’t really hinder the experience.
Ariga’s art style is well suited for the series, and his take on the characters is both creative and unique. We aren’t given the “usual” style that was provided for us in the classic NES games (drawn by Keiji Inafune.) The entire book is basically a “re-envisioning” of a very popular series done both in a traditional sense and creative sense. You honestly can’t say the same for that Ruby Spears tv show they made back in the day.
Despite all the observations I pointed out, the book seems to stand true to the original with no noticeable changes unless I practically spent days and nights trying to spot anything. Udon did a fine job, and it came as no surprise. Their translated releases have been very well preserved, it shows that the translators actually try to keep true to the original without changing much more then the regional name changes (RockMan/MegaMan.) In fact they even state on a disclaimer that Dr. Light’s name is Right in Japan, that’s why you see “R’s” on all of the robots’. There also seems to be a little added bonus, as the front holds a colorful, fold out mini poster of Mega Man and the first six robots together. Was a nice surprise, but those sort of things often just stay in the book (tear too easily if I try to take it out.)
I honestly can’t wait to read the next volume, due out in April (I’m VERY impatient with this fact…) and Volume 3 will soon follow. However what bothers me is… Why this reprint? Why not the Megamix collections that were re-released in Japan not even a year ago? (sampled above.) Perhaps they were far too thick compared to the others, as the reprints are literally three volumes compiled together in only two volumes. Ah well, still, we’re not missing anything (as they ARE the same stories,) and I certainly hope to see Udon translate the Gigamix books already in progress. Definitely get a copy as soon as you can if you’re a big fan, and if you’re not, I suggest looking into it just to see what all the hub-bub is.