This is a curious tale I've been thinking of writing up for some time now, and was inspired by yesterday's Press The Buttons article about the "Capcom Turnaround." I referenced this account at the end of the report, and amazingly enough, more of you were interested in that last line than in the PTB article! So with this article I'll explore the phenomenon in depth. So what am I talking about? It's the strange fact that many Mega Man characters seemingly have no ability to separate their third and fourth fingers (that is, their middle finger and their ring finger). It all starts here:
As you can see, the middle finger and ring finger are practically fused together. It's really as if the artist had trouble drawing a proper hand with five fingers, and had to make one of them really big to imply two fingers together. This hand pose isn't present with all Mega Man characters, but many hold their hands in a fist, and some just don't have hands at all. But when a Mega Man character tries to open his or her hand, those two fingers just won't come apart. I'll show you some more examples.
Now look at this. By Mega Man 4, the series drawing style "evolved" enough to allow for more detail in the hands. There are five clearly defined fingers, but... those two danged fingers won't come apart! What's the deal!? Even by Mega Man 7, where the characters had really been eating their Wheaties, those two fingers always stay together.
By Mega Man 8 it seems they dropped the whole finger thing. Curiously, Mega Man 8 was an awful game. Coincidence?? It's as if Grenade is just saying "Why!?"
Many years passed before we'd get another numbered Mega Man game. You'd think they might have forgotten about the whole finger thing in that time, but not so! It's back in full force!
Even humans can't help it!
Furthermore, the classic series is not unique in exhibiting this phenomenon.
It corresponds to the early X series as well, although it's not as consistent here. While some characters certainly do present the trait, others can seemingly go against it. Perhaps, like deciding to kill all humans or deciding to walk away from the battlefield even though you're the most important Maverick Hunter and the series is named after you, it's a choice.
There may yet be other Mega Man series that exhibit this trait, maybe even other Capcom games, but I've not looked hard enough. However, I think this is more than enough to support my observations. Just what is the point of this hand sign? Frankly, I've tried it, and it's really uncomfortable and doesn't seem to serve any useful purpose other than being identified as a weirdo.
Of course, the reality is that it's just the style of the artist, likely Keiji Inafune himself, who began as a character designer. I presume many of these character images were created, if at least drafted, by him. Starting in Mega Man 8, Hayato Kaji became the head of illustrating as Inafune went on to take more production roles, which would indicate why the gesture disappears around that time. Then it naturally reappears in Mega Man 9 and 10, games which try to recapture that retro feel. You can tell they really paid attention to all the small details!
Who knows what this strange gesture, which I am naming the "Capcom Hand," really indicates. All I can say for sure is it's very Mega Man.