The Rockman OVAs

AKA: Megaman: Upon a Star

Dr. Wily has again escaped from the game world!

Japan is in grave danger!

Megaman must prevent Dr. Wily from destroying Japan as we know it. But how?

With a little knowledge of Japanese culture and geography, Megaman and his pals will try to stay one step ahead od the mad scientist. But will they be able to defeat Dr. Wily in time to save children's day? Or to avert the worst typhoon in history? Or to keep Mt. Fuji from erupting again?

Don't miss this trio of terrific adventures! This volume includes these action-packed episodes: 'Appearance in Japan,' 'Wish Upon a Star,' and 'Future Beware.'

Megaman, we're counting on you!

Back before this was translated but after the fandom learned of it's existence (as an old OVA that was about to be sold in Japan) we were filled with excitement. After the Ruby Spears cartoon and Captain N we were all ready for an official take on the "real" Megaman. At the time information was scarce. Sure, Rock "had a strong sense of justice", but other that that we had no idea who he was supposed to be.

And now ... we know. We kinda wish we didn't. Maybe it'd help to wish upon a star...?

Appearance in Japan

The video starts off well enough. MM blows through the MM 5 robots in the intro sequence. It's pretty impressive to fans of the series. The animation is all exactly like the games and you think it's time to kick some ro-butt. But ...

It turns out this really is the video game world. Megaman is controlled by Yuuta with his sister Akane standing close by. In a series of dramatic twists and turns, Yuuta leaves his NES on (yeah, he has an NES and not a Famicom - more on that later) and Dr. Wily escapes from the game world. Holy Captain N, Megaman, this story seems pretty familiar!

Yuuta's parents don't care too much. Yuuta has to go to school. Wily or no Wily, school is very important in Japan. Luckily, Yuuta's Dad goes to work in Tokyo, where Wily is sure to strike (as it's the biggest city in Japan). Megaman gets impatient and uses Rush (who can talk perfectly well) to escape Japan's crowded train.

Wait, why am I learning about Japan?

Oh, that's why. And, yes, all three OVAs were "presented by (the) Japan Center for Intercultural Communications".

... Dammit, Capcom! I dunno why they would go this route when making the OVAs. I guess they figured that Megaman just fighting robots wasn't quite enough. That we had to learn something along the way too.

Back to the story. Eventually Megaman gets to fight Wily, but not before we're forced to learn things. Wily creates the first interesting thing of the OVA. Namely ... a giant robot!

Bushido Samuraiman! Yamatoman, eat your heart out. He gets to kick Megaman's ass around a bit. I dunno if he qualifies as a tried-and-true Robot Master though, since he's a gigantic robot piloted by Wily and not Megaman-sized. So, like I said, he kicks Megaman's ass and Megaman goes to Yuuta for help. But Yuuta's in school right now, so Megaman has to wait. School is very important in Japan and ... DAMN! Well, after some pointless waiting Samuraiman goes to Megaman and Megaman just uses the Charge Kick to blast him apart (he's made of lesser MM enemies). It's actually a really short fight. In a great scene Wily turns into a ninja and runs off in a puff of smoke.

Yuuta finally decided Megaman needs some energy, so he takes them to the school cafeteria. Only, Megaman needs energy from the game world.

Unfortunately, Yuuta and all his friends have more school to go to. Tough break, Mega, you'll just have to wait some more. Akane finally shows a lick of sense and commands Yuuta to help Megaman. There's a pretty big problem with priorities in this OVA. MM has to take a train to fight Wily and gets his ass kicked in the morning. He waits all day and saves his friends ... and now they all want him to wait some more before helping him out. I mean, come on guys!

Well, they get MM home and Eddy pops out of the TV to help them out. Geez, I wish the games actually worked this way. Well, they do in the later titles, but that's mostly Rush in MM8. This is MM5. Eddy's a pretty chatty guy here, but he does his job and MM's back to full health.

It's time to take a tour of Japan and talk about how awesome it is again! Let the edutainment continue! You see, the fact that there's all sorts of climate in Japan, thanks to it's mountains and lakes, Japan's natural beauty ... DAMN IT! Sidetracked again. But I'm doing this on purpose to give you an idea on what the OVA is like. Anyhow, eventually Megaman gets on the subject of what the Japanese fear most and Yuuta mentions that it'd be terrible if the dormant Mt. Fuji ever erupted again. I suppose the Atom Bomb would be a little too close to home.

Turns out Yuuta is right on the money. Cue Our newest Robot Master: Magma Man! Or, as the English Dub would have you believe, Lava Man. Yes, his name was actually changed in the dub. It's clearly NOT Magma Man if you listen to the two times he's actually named. They even say "Magmaman" clearly in English in the Japanese version, so I really don't get it. Well, since Mega Man 9 took "Magma Man" away from this guy, I'll go with the alternative name.

Lava Man data file: "The first robot powered by volcanic energy." Like Samuraiman, I dunno if he counts as a real robot master. I mean, clearly there's more than one of these guys. Although they have some nice game-translatable attacks. Fire breath from their Iceman-inspired mouths. They can turn into rolling "rocks"too. And their weakness is the Water Wave, which cools them down and makes them drop in monochrome colors (although they get too hot for it to handle later on). This guy never speaks either (but none of the RMs do in the OVAs). So is he a true Robot Master? Or just up there with "Picket Man" and "Tox Man"?

Anyhow, Rush and akane (mostly Akane) brings in the cavalry: Beat and Protoman! By the way, Protoman's not Blues here and Beat talks just fine. So they do the standard "I'll take care of these guy" while MM goes off to fight Wily.

In a scene that's taken almost directly from Captain N's first MM-inspired episode, MM fights through all four Dark Men robots in a long hallway and then faces off against the MM5 Robot Masters. This is actually the best part of the OVA, full of action just as you'd expect. By the end of it, Yuuta brings in his TV and sucks Wily back into the Game World. It ends with Megaman appreciating Japan and Wily captured.

If you couldn't tell, they really tried to cram the Japanese lessons into this OVA to the point where the plot takes a real backseat to learning about Japan. It's actually pretty annoying. Maybe if I was a grade school student I'd find it fascinating, but I'm an adult and so, to me, the best parts are the very beginning and the very end, where Megaman fights the robot masters.

Wishing Upon A Star

The titicular episode of the three OVAs on the DVD. This time Yuuta's playing some unspecified Megaman game before Megaman's drawn into the real world. We actually see Wily's fortress from MM5 GB (the Wily Star) in the opening scene. The opening scene is actually pretty nice.

This OVA has the best animation of the three, with character nicely drawn and shadowed. If you look at the screens, you can really tell the budget was upped in this chapter. Here we meet the next big OVA-only robot.

Unnamed Oni-inspired Robot! So far he can shoot energy beams from those horns on his head. Anyhow, MM goes spastic because Yuuta and Akane are fighting. It;'s new years day and Akane is trying to get Yuuta to stop playing MM. This causes MM to be drawn right into the real world.

Wily is then teleported (for no real reason) into Dr. Light's lab. Yes, the cast of characters now includes Light and Roll! And they've just finished something. Wily gasses Light and Roll (even the robot Roll?) and Wily manages to steal the ... time machine? Yes! So we'll get to see Quint? ... No.

We get a real nice scene of Roll fighting Wily. So far this OVA is loads better than the first. And we haven't learned a thing yet! Well ... until we cut to MM celebrating New Years with Yuuta's family. Still, it's blissfully short because Wily teleports (conveniently) right outside of Yuuta's house to give Megaman the plot of the OVA.

Soon we learn that, not only did Dr. Light make the time machine space worthy, but that Wily's also planning to gather a bunch of meteors (using the time machine's teleportation capabilities mixed with time travel to gather meteors as they get close tot he Earth) to ram into the planet. You see, Wily has heard of Tanabata (when two lovers became stars and blah blah blah) where all the people in the country wish upon stars ... and he's taken personal offence to the holiday. Yes, just like X5 (which Wily was also behind), this is about meteors crashing into the planet. Unfortunately MM doesn't have any giant guns to help him out.

Anyhow, after Wily informs MM of what he's planning (and some edutainment), Light gives MM some goggles and a jet ski to help MM follow Wily through holes in reality he's made while traveling through time.

Wily uses his time traveling capabilities to travel to various Japanese holidays (think they're trying to teach us about Japanese holidays?) in order to ruin them for Akane and Yuuta's friends. That's when MM shows up behind Wily in the time tunnel in order to stop him. Megaman manages to rescue Roll, but Wily loses them both. They've landed during the boy's day festival.

Now it's time for the rest of the cast to show up. It's notable that neither Rush nor Beat have spoken yet and that, in the Japanese version, Protoman does not call Rock his brother. In this version Rock is known as Rock and not Mega too. Odd. Anyhow, Light and the others are set to prepare to battle in space as Wily completes another Wily Star (Wily loves Star Wars, I guess). The edutainment isn't quite as intrusive this time around and Mega's off to fight Wily .

So, it's time for Megaman & co to stop the rockets and fight Wily's newest, unnamed, robot! Actually, like the previous OVA, Proto and Beat stop the small potatoes (the meteors here) while they leave Rock to fight Wily's newest unnamed creation.

Oni-robot datafile: He throws bombs that are attached at his waist (they have a lazer-beam spread) and he can also launch his hands (which are attached to his arm via a large cable). Rock is able to destroy the robot by firing into his arm while his hands are detached. He finished him off by firing at the crystal in his belt. This also takes out Wily's Star Wars ripoff. Megaman then destroys the time machine ... except he then tapes it back together to get Wily and the others back. Wily then wishes upon a star that he returns safely. So does Megaman's friends.

After that it's back to the game world. and now Megaman's learned that japanese people keep their ancient traditions in their hearts and ... blah blah blah, cheesy goodbye.

This OVA is much better than the first one. We're forced to learn about Japanese holidays, but it doesn't feel quite as forced as the first OVA. There's no long "time outs" where the plot stops and the learning takes center stage, both of them walk hand-in-hand. Wily also steals the show with some clever over-the-top antics. His petty thievery during Girl's Day was chuckle worthy. The animation is also clearly superior.

Future Beware

This is the very last Rockman OVA. If you're familiar with the other 2 OVAs (as you should be, since reading this article) this last one's plot comes as no surprise. This time the beginning has some Pipis in the beginning. MM fights his way into Darkman 4's fortress to find ... Roll!?

She wants to fight too! No way, kid. Not until Marvel VS Capcom anyhow. And not wearing .... that. Protoman comes in to say he's waiting for Megaman as well (acting very much as if Darkman wasn't in the game at all) before Rock and Roll are both called into the real world at Akane's and Yuuta's whim. They wanna celebrate a festival with their friends.

Cue the edutainment! Of course neither Yuuta nor Megaman has learned from the last two OVAs because they leave the NES on and Wily escapes just like before. But not before kicking Protoman's ass, just like he would in Rockman and Forte.

First we've seen Pipis and now we see Wily's Machine from Megaman 1. And he calls it a "Skull Car" (even if it doesn't have a skull). The dub calls it a Skullker, just like in the RS cartoon. At this point we can se the production for the MM TV show has begun. Wily threatens MM and MM heads home to talk to Light and get the OVA moving.

The nest day they "search all of Japan" ... which is just an excuse to throw us some education. They head home after wasting time and end up talking to Light again. Light has fixed the time machine and now they're heading to the future.

Megaman X!? No, no MMX. That'd be too ... entertaining. Instead they arrive in a rather bleak future one year later. It has shades of the MM cartoon ep where MM travels to a Wily controlled future. All of Japan has been destroyed and Wily's made a huge floating city that's coasting above Japan.

Wily soon finds MM and sicks ... the city on him!? WOAH! The MM5 Robot Masters show up for a cameo, so I guess that's still the latest game when this cartoon was in production. MM, in a rare moment of intelligence, realizes that fighting Wily here won't matter, so he heads home with Roll in tow figuring to stop this from happening.

MM travels one month into the future for some more edutainment. We learn that typhoons are a natural occurrence in Japan. MM and Roll leave after learning a bit about them. Edutainment! And they arrive just in time to learn a bit about Japanese kid's school activities. At this point, Right chimes in and tells MM that Wily's made a typhoon robot. Of course!

He brings a large fan to Right who "strengthens" it by making it completely different. It works, but Roll's jumping headlong into the typhoon totally wrecks the time machine. No do-overs this time, Megaman. Not that going in time was interesting, so it's not really a big loss.

More edutainment! We learn something about another festival and Roll dresses up in a kimono. But there's no time for education! There's a typhoon! And of course it's Wily's doing.

Cue the supporting cast! And just in time. Building are flying into the air and gigantic waves are flooding the country. Protoman copies the fan off Megaman and stays behind to fight the typhoon. Rock uses Beat to get through the rough weather by hanging on to his small legs.

Continuity alert: In the dub Beat says "Beat Beat I'm okay" but he doesn't talk in the Japanese version. Anyhow, MM lands in the just-started robot city that he saw in the future. And the robot masters start to attack him. And we see ... this guy:

Elecman! And we also see some Octopus Batteries, another Pipi, and a Bullet from MM1 during the fight scenes. Those are the last of the MM1 character models. They're odd to see when everything else is MM5-based. Cue Wily's newest unnamed Wily Bot: The Typhoon Robot!

Kinda reminds me of a gigantic Airman. This guy wields the Typhoon Buster and shoots energy blasts from arm cannons on either arm. Wily kicks MM's ass using this robot for a while until proto shows up. so they team up and use Light's fan and a Rock Buster at the same time to destroy the Typhoon robot. Rock saves Wily from falling off his own floating island. Rock forces Wily to clean up Japan for a month and, at the end, we see Wily and Rock play Santa. Wily says he might try to conquer Japan with a santa robot and Rock happily lends his support to such a jolly creation. Guess Rock never saw Futurama.

Shades of Rockman Rocket Christmas, I think. This OVA is a little better than the first, but not as good as the second. The culture bits are just a shade less intrusive as the first OVA's and the animation quality is just a hair worse than the second's. All in all, this segment is okay, but only okay.

All in All

One thing you'll notice if you watch a lot of anime is that the Japanese tend to be very target-specific with it's animation. Unlike American shows like, say, Fairly Odd Parents or Animaniacs, which try to appeal to both young and old fans, anime talks to one group to the exclusion of others. This can be good in some cases, but it has it's drawbacks.As an adult, I feel bored by the simple plot and the overbearing edutainment of the OVAs. It's pretty obvious who they're target audience is, and that isn't adults.

Source material from later on would go on to show that the Rockman creators feel that the best audience is children and the plot along with the art style of the games would only become more juvenile as the series progresses. In the NES days it was hard to tell who the audience is supposed to be, as good graphics transcended most audiences, but later games (such as 7 and 8) along with other products would show us the age group Capcom is aiming at. It doesn't help that they didn't aim their targets higher as time went on, so they were fine with losing their older fans (thinking they would move to MMX) while keeping the origional series strictly kiddy fare.

The OVAs have, basically, the exact same plot between all three, just in case you haven't noticed. Much to the disappointment of MM fans, Capcom isn't interested in exploring MM lore by using Quint (an evil MM from an alternate future) or a wider selection of robot masters. It's MM5-specific (probably since that was the latest game when they started production) even though the last OVA has a model or three from the first two MM games.

Links to the Ruby Spears MM Cartoon

It's pretty obvious that the OVAs came in the early stages of the MM cartoon that would become the Ruby Spears TV show we all saw here. These were produced a year before the show came out.

There's a rather famous promo video that was made to promote the Ruby Spears show. It doesn't really take much argument to connect the promo to these OVAs. Based on the appearance of Elecman, Wily Machine 1, and other enemies, I'd say this promo was made after the final OVS. After and not at the same time, because the final OVA does not feature robot masters from games other than MM1 and 5 while the promo features robots from all over the original series (of the time). The animation is also specific to the promo although you might mistake the city setting for Wily's floating city in OVA3, it's clearly different.

There's an example of the "Megaman shoots" animation sequence in OVA3 and the RS series, as well as Megaman references in the first OVA. Also, in the third OVA, Protoman gains MM's typhoon-fighting power through touch; a process that should be very familiar to viewers of the RS cartoon.

Capcom made three cartoons and they were all made with the intent of teaching American children about Japan (going as far as to include the revamped NES and the *Mega*man 5 cart). Maybe they made three for testing purposes (pilots) or maybe there was another event these were made for (in addition to being a pilot for the MM TV show), but, clearly, the promo was made to show TV stations to promote their product and these OVAs were made to test markets. Well, the cartoon we got took the Japanese right out of the show, so I can only conclude that they thought that was the problem with the OVAs. In the end being "presented by (the) Japan Center for Intercultural Communications" worked against them. I think they just should have tried for more of an "all ages" cartoon rather than targeting the preschoolers.

Before the OVAs there were the Rockman commercials. When watching these, it seems pretty clear that they were looking at game art and not standard animation models (with the exception of the Rockman 7 commercial). The poses are fairly static and generally conform pretty tightly to the poses we've seen in the manuals or other promotional items straight from Capcom. If you look at them side by side there's no mistaking animation from a Rockman Commercial for animation from the OVA. However, by Megaman 7 the animation takes a leap forward. While it's difficult to tell thanks to the low quality, Wily looks somewhat like the model used in the Rockman OVAs.

Meanwhile, Super Adventure Rockman's animation looks very much like the OVAs. It was done about four years afterwards, but it's clear that they used the same character models. Furthermore, there's character turnarounds in the Rockman 20th anniversary Artbook that corresponds to both project, however when these turnarounds were made and for what project is unclear to me. They weren't used for most of the commercials, but were definitely used for both the Rockman OVAs and Super Adventure.

I'm mentioning Rockman 8 because it's well known for it's animation sequences. However, it's clear that all-new animation models and an all-new style were made specifically for this game.

Well, that's the Rockman OVAs in a nutshell. Are they worth buying? They're a must-buy for Rockman nuts, but only because it's the clearest view of how Capcom would make a game-true Rockman TV show. Unfortunately, that vision is for boys ages 5 - 10, which leaves us older fans in the lurch.

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