Mega Man: Upon a Star Model Sheets Up for Auction

Depending on the franchise, you can find many different kinds of collectors. While the most common is perhaps the type of fan who will collect anything they can get their hands on with the property's logo on it, there are others who pick and choose what they want to share their living space with. And then, beyond those, you have people who might focus on a particular aspect of collecting: all of the manga from a series, or all of the model kits and action figures made available. And then there are those who have an affinity for animation model sheets. For those unfamiliar, Protodude explains:

Model sheets are sort of a middle ground item, common on a number of auction sites. However, Upon A Star sheets are quite a sight. As you can see, the sheets boast sketches of the show's characters; animators would use these materials as a reference when animating the show. The depiction of characters in a number of poses and gestures helps the designers to standardize the continuity of a character's appearance one scene to the next.

Of course, whether that is your preference, or you just want anything affiliated with Mega Man, there is a pretty sweet deal going on over at Yahoo! Auctions Japan. For a starting bid of 100 Yen (about $1.18 USD), you can own 20 model sheets "in great condition" from the once long-lost Rockman/Mega Man anime, Upon a Star. Of course, with Rockman Corner (and now us) reporting this, the bid won't likely stay that low for long.

The auction can be found here, but unless you are also in Japan, you'll need to secure the services of a proxy such as Rinkya, who is willing to bid on your behalf, albeit for an additional price.

As for the sheets themselves, you can check out some of them from the auction below.

"What do you mean, 'there's no Rush?' I see him right there!"

So, if Mega Man is a bit over four feet tall, then that means The Big Show has to look up to Dad."

I can't tell which I like better... sad Wily or happy Wily. Except happy Wily is bad and sad Wily is good. I'm confused now.

A Video History of Mega Man Battle Network

As we noted yesterday, the Mega Man Battle Network series has reached the big one-oh. That's right, ten years of PETs, NetNavis, Battle Chips, Cross Fusion, Beast Outs, and more fun than should be allowed on the internet for kids under the age of 12. Today, we are following a little inspiration from Protodude's celebration of this occasion, and giving you a sort of "video history" of the Mega Man Battle Network series. Or rather, given the Japanese origin of the vast majority of these, "Battle Network Rockman.EXE."

First up, we have the television commercial for the very first game, which appeared on the Game Boy Advance:

Compared to what would come later, the style seems a little rougher, perhaps more manga-ish somehow, but it was still cool to see the characters animated at this point.

Only months later, the second game in the series would be released, introducing the highly-marketable Style Changes to the series:

This game brought several improvements over its predecessor, and became one of the most beloved installments. Similarly, the art featured in the commercial also seemed a little more polished and traditionally cel-like than the original. In addition, Mega Man Battle Network 2 began the tradition of the games typically being released in North America during the summer months, when school would be out and kids were left with lots of time to NetBattle.

Following the success of the first two games (and undoubtedly well in the works before the second was ever released), Capcom teamed up with ShoPro to deliver the first-ever Rockman anime to be released (sure, there was Upon a Star, but that wasn't released until later), Rockman.EXE:

(Strangely enough, we couldn't find a video with just the opening sequence, so here we have an entire episode attached.)

The show began airing on March 4th, 2002, and produced just over a year's worth of episodes, 56 in total. And while the characters were on-model (unlike some other versions) and the stories were often influenced by the events in the games, the anime would go on to forge its own path. And once the 56 episodes were finished, new series would continue the adventure until September 30th, 2006, as the series would end its run with a total of 209 episodes.

In addition, the series saw a relatively brief and heavily localized version of the show released elsewhere in the world under the title MegaMan NT Warrior:

(Again, couldn't find a stand-alone intro. Really, YouTube?)

The dub seems to have earned itself a fanbase, even including some who have never even played the games (the disparate branding probably didn't help), though fans of the original Japanese version have often been known to be... let's say, "unappreciative" of the localization efforts of Viz/ShoPro, which included numerous name changes, among other grievances.

For more on the anime, be sure to visit our affiliate, Rockman.EXE Online.

Just before the third game in the series would be released (well, one version, as far as Japan goes. More on that in a bit), the franchise took a bit of a departure as Capcom would release Mega Man Network Transmission for the Nintendo GameCube:

Borrowing elements of the anime, Network Transmission would distinguish itself from its Game Boy Advance progenitors by attempting to merge the characters and gameplay elements of the Battle Network series with the core gameplay mechanics of the classic Mega Man series. How well the two meshed would seem to be a matter of opinion.

In addition, Network Transmission would prove noteworthy for introducing the NetNavi version of Mega Man X series fan favorite Zero in a side-story set between the events of the first two Battle Network games.

Some would say that the Battle Network titles took more than a few cues from Nintendo and Game Freak blockbuster Pokémon, and one of the things Mega Man Battle Network 3 may be best known for is the reinforcement of that notion with the release of two different versions. In Japan, the original version was released on December 6th, 2002, and was followed by a special improved version called Rockman.EXE 3: Black on March 28th the following year. Both versions were released simultaneously elsewhere as Mega Man Battle Network 3: Blue and Mega Man Battle Network 3: White.

Another game, Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge/Rockman.EXE N1 Battle, came out in Japan on August 8th, 2003. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a commercial for this one, or at least not one readily available.

Prior to the release of the fourth game, promotion began with the release of the second anime, Rockman.EXE Axess. Now, instead of obtaining different elemental powers, MegaMan could now obtain the powers of fallen foes through "Double Soul."

Following is the MegaMan NT Warrior Axess opening, which is mostly the same; it's a little sped up and features different music, however:

While the initial Rockman.EXE anime did have some differences from the games, Axess took it to a whole new level by allowing NetOps to perform "Cross Fusion" with their NetNavis, a henshin-styled process which combined the two entities into a new, more powerful form which could exist in the physical world, though this had to be done in certain areas created by special generators.

To hear the Japanese theme music, click here.

On December 14th, Japanese fans had not one, but two versions of Rockman.EXE 4 to choose from: Red Sun and Blue Moon, each containing unique (yet similar) stories, as well as unique Battle Chips and characters:

Apparently, people liked having two versions. Though many fans will say it is the worst of the series, it was nonetheless a bestseller, moving 1.35 million copies worldwide as of the end of 2008. This makes it part of a rather elite club among Mega Man titles, one of only four to move over one million.

Just as in the year before, the release of Mega Man Battle Network 5 would be foreshadowed by the release of a new season of the anime, Rockman.EXE Stream on October 2nd, 2004:

Despite the success seen by Battle Network 4, Capcom would return to a release schedule set months apart for Battle Network 5. Team ProtoMan was released in Japan on December 9th, 2004...

...whereas Team Colonel would be released on February 24th, 2005.

Both versions would be released simultaneously in other regions, and then again together in the two-in-one Nintendo DS release, Rockman.EXE 5: Twin Leaders/Mega Man Battle Network 5: Double Team DS:

On March 12th, 2005, Mega Man went to the movies for the first time ever in the animated feature Rockman.EXE Stream: The Program of Light and Dark, which featured the return of Dr. Regal and a Double Soul fusion of MegaMan.EXE and the extraordinarily powerful solo NetNavi, Bass.EXE:

On a personal level, I enjoy how this opening sequence of the movie combines the animation with still shots which don't look entirely unlike the style used in the commercial for the very first game, above.

It is also worth noting that The Program of Light and Dark was promoted and shown as part of a double-feature with a Duel Masters movie:

Though the promotions made it appear to be a crossover, the two films actually had little to do with one-another, besides being shown together.

The first day of October in 2005 would see Rockman.EXE Beast take to the airwaves, setting things up for the sixth and final entry in the Battle Network series:

rockman exe Beast opening - ดูคลิปทั้งหมด คลิกที่นี่

Each iteration of the Rockman.EXE anime had a tendency to introduce its own interesting elements to the series, and Beast was no different. In addition to allowing NetNavis to interact with their NetOps as small holograms, the anime exclusively featured Trill, a child NetNavi whose powers allowed MegaMan to "Beast Out."

Returning to what worked so well for Battle Network 4, Capcom would release < a href="" target="_new">Mega Man Battle Network 6's two versions, translated as "Cybeast Falzar" and "Cybeast Gregar," on the same date of November 23rd, 2005 in Japan:

Though it introduced the beast transformations for MegaMan and the Battle Network version (warning: spoilers) of Mega Man X fan-favorite character Iris, Battle Network 6 is perhaps best known for marking the end of the successful Capcom franchise, and providing closure for the characters fans had grown to enjoy over the years.

Though Battle Network 6 marked the end of the games, and Beast the end of the anime... well, things aren't quite as simple as that.

For starters, Rockman.EXE Beast ended early-- at least, compared to previous seasons. The last episode aired on April 1st, 2006, but this was no joke. The following week, on April 8th, Rockman.EXE Beast+ began, and was a scaled back version of the previous show. Episodes ran about ten minutes each, roughly half the normal running time, and it shared its timeslot with Saru Getchu (Ape Escape) as a part of the half-hour Oha Coliseum program:

Beast+ was marketed as a stand-alone series, but contained story arcs featuring the long-overdue appearance of Zero.EXE from Network Transmission, as well as the final boss of the cellphone game Rockman.EXE: Phantom of the Network.

Finally, on November 12th, 2009, past and future collided as MegaMan.EXE met the MegaMan of the far future from the Star Force semi-sequel series in Rockman.EXE: Operate Shooting Star:

(Edit: Apparently, this commercial we had here previously isn't the genuine article, but a fan creation by MidniteW. It's still nicely done, and can be found here.)

Unfortunately, as we would eventually learn, Operate Shooting Star would prove to be a bit lacking in content. For the most part, it was a straight Nintendo DS port of the first Battle Network, with a bonus multiplayer mini-game. The big team-up turned out to be a short story scenario near the end of the game, after which players could then use Star Force MegaMan.

The game did not do very well in Japan, and the last word from Capcom was that they were not planning to bring the title to the West, thus making it a bit of a sad swan song for the series.

One mustn't lose hope, however. At the very least, UDON has just released the Mega Man Battle Network Official Complete Works art book, and the Mega Man Star Force Official Complete Works art book is soon to follow. While that may not lead to more games in the near future, at the very least we know that interest in the series is still there, and as long as the fans remain interested, Capcom will probably give it another look.

Inafune Would Like to Make Mega Man Game with the Fans, Responds to MM9 Mystery

As promised, Capcom has come through with the second batch of questions for Mega Man mastermind Keiji Inafune, as posed by members of the Capcom Unity.

6) Snppls asks:

What is your stance on fan made material? Like fanart, sprite comics, remixes, fangames or the Rockman movie currently in production in the US. Do you like it that fans are so into your creation or does it bother you that they are using copyrighted material? Do you watch it sometimes or sometimes even get ideas from it?

Inafune: I totally welcome all sorts of Mega Man-inspired-art created by the fans. I really would like to create a game with the fans. I have had the desire since the Robot Master Contest, and the fans’ Mega Man art come from the same inspiration. In reality, there are copyright issues and that puts me on a tough position as a member of a company, but I truly believe that Mega Man has come this far with warm supports from the passionate fans and their creative art work.

7) Samuel asks:

Will there be a new megaman anime series from the Starforce side, Battlenetwork side, or the megaman operate starforce? (Please answer I've been waiting for some new megaman animated goodness)

Inafune: I am ready to witness exciting Mega Man action in the animation, too. I would love to try it out when I have a chance, and in fact, I have been thinking about specific ideas on this, too. I will do my best to make this happen and hope to surprise you with the news. We will definitely need your support to make this happen!

8) ibehv asks:

Why is zero's appearance in megaman zero different from his appearance in megaman x?

Inafune: Zero is one of the most important characters for me. Initially, Zero was created for the Mega Man X fans as well as for fans new to the series. But rather than making a game with Zero as a main character in the established storyline, we wanted to create a brand new storyline for him with a completely new game design. Thus, Zero you all know now was born. The story of the Mega Man Zero game also tells you the secret behind the Zero’s appearance change. So if you haven’t played the game yet, please try it out!

9) The Blue Badger asks:

What direction would you like to see the Mega Man franchise go in the future?

Inafune: I’ve never stopped thinking about the future of Mega Man series! I want more people to get to know Mega Man and fall in love with it. And I am always thinking about the best way to attract more people to play the game. But instead of us guiding you the direction where we go, I would collaborate with the fans and decide where we go. It would be fantastic if you and we can together create a new direction for Mega Man.

10) Monochrome Twist asks:

What are the chances of us seeing a Mega Man Powered Up 2?

Inafune: Many people have asked us about that. I too feel very passionate about making it happen. But as a reality, there are so many things I want to do and Mega Man Powered Up 2 is one of the projects that is still patiently waiting for its turn…

11) Zepper asks:

It's been 1 year since the release of Mega Man 9, but until then, we're inside an endless quest for something "extra". Even with a lot of recorded gameplays, tricks and so on, it's said there's still an undiscovered secret or a little surprise. Could you point us to a certain direction?

Inafune: Well, let me think… I am guessing that most of the tricks and secrets have been discovered by now as there are so many good players out there and they have revealed their great Mega Man 9 skills. So I would rather love to see you try it out and surprise me with your cool techniques and hidden elements! Very looking forward to seeing that!

Hmm, so even Inafune himself doesn't know. Very curious, indeed.

Mega Man: Upon a Star Now Up on iTunes

For those who have been unable (or too cheap) to get the Mega Man original video animation "Upon a Star," you're in luck. That is, if you have iTunes. And why? Because all three episodes are now available on iTunes (obviously). They are being distributed by The Anime Network on the service for a mere $1.99 a piece. What's more, if you purchase the first episode, you'll be privy to some special Mega Man wallpapers and themes.

The app is supposed to be compatible with both the iPhone and iPod Touch, with a WiFi connection required for "additional content," whatever that may be.

News Credit: Protodude's Rockman Corner

FUNimation and Mega Man: Together at Last?

It seems that Anime Boston has brought some new and unexpected news to the world of Mega Man. Word has it that FUNimation, most famously (as well as infamously) for their use of the North American Dragon Ball anime license, reportedly announced at the convention that it has acquired the distribution rights for the Ruby Spears Mega Man animated series, which has been held by ADV Films, who has released the series on DVD twice over. "The license entitles Funimation to release the show online and possibly on DVD," says Protodude.

In addition, it seems that FUNimation may also be taking the reigns of the other ADV-held Mega Man license, which is for the OVA Upon a Star. "According to Sylar, a Funimation representative implied the acquisition at Anime Boston," Protodude reports.

"Both the RS cartoon and Upon a Star were said to re-release in late 2010."

From the sound of things, FUNimation has been gathering a number of different properties, around 30, from the company. It should be interesting to see if FUNimation might do anything more with the cartoons, or if we might simply see the same releases we've been treated to for the past several years.

Anime Insider Closes with Mega Man Cover

Earlier today, I discovered some sad news as I made my usual daily round to Topless Robot (no, there isn't any hardcore Roll or Alia action... under normal circumstances, anyway). It seems that the longtime Wizard publication, Anime Insider magazine, has unceremoniously seen its last issue published, with the editorial staff laid off. It is the end of an era, albeit a modest one, lasting about eight years. You can read more about it here, and leave your own thoughts as well as read those of others. So, why am I mentioning this here? As it happens, the final issue has a slightly ironic twist: To the best of my knowledge, Mega Man has never graced the cover of Anime Insider, not even with MegaMan NT Warrior. And yet, on the final issue's cover is none other than Geo Stelar's MegaMan from Ryuusei no Rockman 3. The blurb for the accompanying story is as follows:

GAME FACE 2009 is gonna be a busy year for anime gamers, so here’s a cheat sheet to get you safely through it and to the hottest games on the horizon. By Matt Hawkins

We had seen previous rumors of an online resurgence for the NT Warrior and Star Force anime series earlier this month. With any luck, this may shed a little more light on the subject.

We'll keep an eye out for the issue, and report any findings. In the meantime, how often does Mega Man grace a magazine cover any more? You might want to grab this one for collectability's sake. You can learn more about the issue at Wizard's website.

Rumor: Return of MegaMan NT Warrior & Star Force Anime Online

Recently, I lamented my inability to see the Mega Man Star Force anime, as a result of it being confined to the US-only and now-defunct Toonami Jetstream website, with the DVDs only being available in Europe's Region 2. However, it seems that there may still be hope for people like me, who would love the opportunity to see this and more of NT Warrior, as the following news comes in from Viz Media's appearance at Wondercon:

"Just got back from Wondercon, my last stop was at Viz's booth were they talked adding an assortment of licensed anime to Cartoon Network video such as Naruto, MAR, and suprise...Megaman Nt Warrior/ Star force! An official annoucnement is suppose to be coming soon, they didnt specify a date when the video service would launch." -- 102b, to Protodude's Rockman Corner

Of course, whether or not this only means the episodes that have already aired previously, such as MegaMan NT Warrior, MegaMan NT Warrior Axess, and Mega Man Star Force's first season, or further episodes from Rockman.EXE Stream and Beast, or later seasons of Ryuusei no Rockman will be aired remains unknown.

At the very least, this seems to indicate that Viz has not forgotten the property, and will hopefully capitalize on it with some new DVD releases. Combination subbed/dubbed DVDs might be a bit much to hope for, but who knows? At least hope is alive. Discounts Mega Man Star Force DVDs

If you're a fan of the Mega Man Star Force series, don't mind Viz's dubbing jobs, and either have a region-free DVD player or live in the UK, then you're in luck. Because if you fit all of that criteria, has the Mega Man Star Force DVD set for £11.08, marked down to almost half of its regular £19.99 price. Not a bad deal at all, especially if you were holding out for a price drop.

Now, if they'd just release the blasted things here in North America-- not all of us were able to watch it on the now-defunct Toonami Jetstream, so a reasonably-priced DVD set would be just the thing. But I suppose we'll just have to put that down on the wishlist next to box sets of NT Warrior with subbed versions of the original episodes, as well as anything from the Axess season and beyond.

News credit: Protodude's Rockman Corner

Anime Ethics

We live in a rather questionable time as far as ethics go. The internet has made everything digital, and everything accessible. It's hard to distinguish what is right and wrong in the view of the law, and more so what is right and wrong in the view of our own personal moral structure. The two do not always conform to each other. The buzz this past week has been the Rockman.EXE anime, which premiered in Japan this past Monday the 4th at 6:30 PM. Personally, I was amazed by the speed at which it hit the internet full force. In two mere days, the anime was up on the internet and available for download. Another day saw the translation of the script, and immediately teams went to work in making an unofficially subtitled version for download so American audiences could watch.

Of course, American audiences already had been watching it. Many didn't understand a word of what was going on, and I was amongst them. But the point is that it was Rockman anime, with very impressive animation and an easy-to-follow plot, even if the words were indecipherable.

Is it legal for us to have downloaded this cartoon for our viewing pleasure? To this I answer, who cares? The law is not the issue here. Despite countless net denizens who have claimed to know the full legal ramifications of this particular issue, the point is overall moot. Chances are unless one of our readers is also a lawyer, no one fully knows the law of it. That is why I don't mean to argue the legality. The question here is, is it ethical? That's a completely different issue.

For one thing, the only reason that many fans were downloading the cartoon in the first place is that they knew there was no other alternative. When it comes to more cut-and-dry black-and-white issues such as ROM distribution, or handing out episodes of a show that's easily accessible to an American audience that's willing to simply cough up the money, the answers are much simpler. But this particular cartoon is impossible for American audiences to view. The crime, if there is one, is a crime of passion; the passion behind a little blue bomber that people love enough to wait for hours to download a 25 minute movie of.

More so, not only are no profits being made by the distributors of this anime, but it seems implausible that any profits are being lost by Capcom from the distribution of it. The TV is shown on a public channel; no one in Japan has to pay to see it. The only profits made by Capcom in the airing of a TV show broadcast on a public station is through advertisement. Considering those downloading the anime were mainly Americans, it seems unlikely that we'd do anything to contribute to the products and services advertised for during that 30-minute block. If we would have no plausible way to contribute to these advertisers, then the advertisers in turn would not suffer and therefore Capcom would not suffer.

And an unfortunate fact of bootlegging is that, for all intensive purposes, nothing can be done. If it is in fact illegal (which I'm not disputing one way or the other), little can be done to stop it. As stated before, everything is accessible. There will always be a way, somewhere out there on the far reaches of the internet, to grab it. This isn't a proclamation of pride, it's merely a fact. ROMs are very illegal and have been for some time, but despite the efforts of many game distributors to shut them down, they are still spread like wildfire across the net. Piracy will always exist, a grim fact that companies must come to terms with and think of alternative solutions to.

There are no easy answers, legally or ethically, to the questions raised in this column. They must be searched and decided on for each and every one's own self. One thing that must be remembered, however, is the importance to not push your personal convictions on others. You will do no good to your cause, and will most likely simply make yourself a social pariah.

Our hope now is that this anime is brought to the US in some more traditional form, such as being aired on our TV stations with official dubbed voices, or being brought over in DVD form as has been done with many other popular anime series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Trigun, or Cowboy Bebop. One thing that can be tried is to fill out the Mega Man Manga Petition, in hopes that Capcom will see the interest in America for these kinds of treatments to our favorite little blue bomber.

-Reeve, seeing various shades of gray