Further Misadventures in Japan

ROCKM-er, MEGA MAN OAV 2: Appearance in Japan

     Not long after posting my take on the first installment of Capcom's Rockman OAV (that's original animation video, if that acronym confused you the first time), the second episode went up for download at my favorite torrent site. Later the same day, the 34th episode of GaoGaiGar came out too, so it was a good day for fansubs. So, here we go again, with more of Rockman's real-world adventures in part two, "Appearance in Japan."

     The fansubbers placed a helpful bit of information at the beginning of the tape which tries to explain the intent of the OAV series: it was supposed to be a tie-in with the American cartoon, in spite of having nothing to really do with each other. Rockman is referred to as 'Mega Man' in both the subtitle track and Japanese voice track, which is definitely a nod towards a US release which didn't go through. Even though they say that the OAV's had a dubbed version, I saw the subtitled edition. Interestingly the credits at the end of the episode list all of the American voice actors, which proves that Scott McNeil can get jobs before the Japanese production even ends.

     Things start off on a high note, with Mega Man plowing his way through the Robot Masters of Mega Man V. It's a cool sequence, fast paced and pretty faithful to the feel of the games. Unfortunately, it turns out to be the little boy playing the game. Again. Yes, the second OAV effectively starts from the beginning, and actually feels more like it should have come first. This time, it's simply a school night and Big Brother has been putting off his homework and just playing Mega Man V all day. His mother orders him to bed, so he pauses the game and rushes to his desk to get started on his homework.

     A domestic scene between Mom and Dad takes place to establish the typical Japanese family's day- father comes home at about 12 at night, and I guess the mother of the family stays up all night fueled by caffeine and guilt. In the old days, the Japanese had to get by on guilt alone! Ah, modern convenience. The sum of this little diversion is that they decided not to check in on the kids. Which means that when we cut back to the bedroom, their decision will have no effect on what's about to happen. Meaning the dinner conversation was just padding.

     Or foreshadowing.

     So anyway, Big Brother (incidentally named Yuuta, which is quicker than typing our Big Brother every time) finishes his homework, and instead of going to bed decides to try his hand at finishing the game. Seriously, Capcom- plug the product as much as you like, but this kid's fixation on that game is downright obsessive. Yuuta must have grown up to make those some of those fifteen-minute power-play NES movies circling the net. (This from someone who played Star Tropics overnight as a kid.) As Mega Man's about to make the final shot, Yuuta finally collapses from exhaustion and somehow manages to pause/freeze the game while falling over. Again, this kid's got a problem.

     Meanwhile, on the flip side of the screen, Wily is taunting the paused Mega Man, and takes advantage of the situation to kill him. I mean, escape from the game world. Which he does without any sort of freak lightning storms or jostling of the physical console, you know, the usual things that cause people to jump from your TV screen. Wily emerges in Yuuta's room, and stealthily flings himself out a window. For a mad scientist from another dimension, you'd really expect him to have a more elaborate escape plan, or at least some rope. Villains always have rope handy for tying up heroes/heroines.

     Not long after this, Yuuta discovers the Wily-shaped hole in the ground outside his window and comes to the only logical conclusion: Dr. Wily jumped out of the TV and into the real world! And fortunately for him, he's in the one situation where that could conceivably be the answer. So, he unpauses the game, and both Mega Man and Rush appear in his room. That much accomplished, we get some more fun exposition and flat jokes as Mega Man meets Yuuta's parents, learns that Tokyo is the biggest city in Japan, and rides a train to Father's office halfway before jumping out a window and riding Rush to the middle of the crowded city. A friendly but thoroughly confused policeman gives Mega Man directions to the amusement park, where Wily is having a conveniently televised rampage.

     On the scene, we see hundreds of lesser Mega enemies (Metools, Sniper Joes) uh... 'rampaging.' By which we mean standing around in the open. Or frolicking on the rides. Wily, you sick bastard. After some lame attempts to attack our hero, all of the enemies group together around the ferris wheel and start merging into one giant robot. "BUUUUSHIIIIDOOO!! SAMURAI MAAAAN!"

     Mega Man tries using Star Man's shield against it, of all things. Needless to say he fails, and is forced to run away while Wily takes the opportunity to deliver about three minutes of stock villain chatter. Mega finds his way to Yuuta's school and bangs on the window to ask him to turn the game back on so he can recharge his weapon energy. Yuuta is of course, stuck in class, so Mega man sits on top of the building and ogles Akane (Little Sis) and the other girls in their burumas. (Gym shorts.) Soccer and baseball are sure popular in Japan, he deduces from watching a single group of kids on a playground for all of two minutes. Then Samurai Man starts approaching the school, having followed the same plot points that lead Mega Man there in the first place (having no idea how Tokyo was laid out, or where his school would be having gone with the father instead.) After Wily scares off the kids, Mega Man uses the Charge Kick to unwittingly reference the war crime that is Mega Man Soccer and somehow break apart Samurai Man. In spite of his earlier claim that he was out of weapon energy.

     Wily hasn't been on screen for much of the episode, so you might be wondering when he does something stupidly improbable. Well, when cornered following the defeat of Samurai Man, he suddenly reveals his secret- "Didn't you know that I'm a Japanese ninja!" With that, he throws off his lab coat and changes into a ninja costume, then escapes with the aid of a couple smoke bombs.

     If I may quote Duke Togo: "..."

     Either passing out from expending too much energy, or by some effect of the gas (as we saw in the previous episode, robots are as susceptible to sleeping gas as be-fleshed humans), Mega Man is saved by the kids. They try to feed him to get his strength up, but Yuuta remembers he has to eat from energy cans. So, after way too much thought on the matter, they skip after-school study (juku) and carry him home for reinforcements.

     Eddie/Flip-Top leaps from the TV and delivers both annoying banter and energy cans. Then Mega Man begins to search for Wily, with the help of Yuuta, who suddenly becomes a tourist's guide. They sightsee up and down the entire main island, spouting off facts like "Because Japan is long, different sections have different seasons!" and "There aren't any samurai here!"; and light-heartedly knocking over skiers(!). Mega Man pauses to wink at some kimono girls, too. After this ten minute tourism commercial, they finally realize that Wily is probably at Mt. Fuji. Which is about where they started. Way to sightsee while the world is in crisis, guys. Actually, wait- this IS Dr. Wily we're talking about. He may build some diabolical robots, but he'll end up locking them in their rooms. Take your time. Have some Taiyaki or something.

     At Mt. Fuji, Wily predicts correctly that Japan will be the first country controlled by robots. To celebrate the advent of Aibo and Asimo, he creates magma-powered Magma Men, who then run amok in the general area around the volcano. Mega Man shows up and fights them to a head with the Tidal Wave blaster, while Akane calls for more game world reinforcements in the form of Beat and Protoman. Whoopty-doo. After escaping and leaving the rest of the Magma Men to Protoman, Mega Man blasts into Wily's fortress and makes short work of all three Dark Man robots (The guy who impersonated Protoman in Mega Man V, if that doesn't ring a bell) and fights to Wily's lair, where he has a good old fashioned session of indiscriminate killing vs. the Robot Masters again.

     Trumped, Wily reveals his escape rocket and proceeds to well, escape. Yuuta shows up with the TV and Famicom, however. As the rocket blasts off, Protoman and Beat just turn it around and send it flying back into the TV. Yeah, without killing anyone. I'm disappointed too. Wily returned to the game world, we're free to have a nice dinner at home and the usual farewell as they return to the cartridge themselves. And once again, as our heroes wave to the kids, Wily sneaks into the picture and waves too, with his usual "Not even I really know what I'm gonna do next! 'Cuz I'm CRAZY!" grin.

     And, in a suitable conclusion, the end credits roll over Megaman walking along to the tune of an indescribably lousy song called "LOVE FOR ROCK" by Andy Koyama. It's kind of a slow, rock anthem-y number with lyrics mainly about doors and the power to open them.

When I'm feelin' down
And have nowhere to go
Just can't find a way
To open the door

(Then) They came along
To help me and to go
To give me courage
To open every door

     Your guess is as good as mine. So, I can only wonder what's in store for us in the third OAV installment. Wily will probably put on a dress since he hasn't already. Still, the Rockman OAV's thus far are heads above the Darkstalkers and Street Fighter cartoons.

Once again, everyone takes the little boy in his underpants with a gun for an arm pretty much in stride.

Wily's diabolical Samurai Man.

From Tokyo, they go down and back up the length of the whole island to find Wily at Mt. Fuji. At least there was plenty of nice scenery!

Even in a country so deep-rooted in tradition, I have to imagine that fish-out-of-water comedy gets old.