Mega Man: Fully Charged airs on Cartoon Network, Sundays at 6am est
Considering this cartoon hid from the shadows for a calendar year after long-time fans of the Blue Bomber shifted from laughing at his design to prepping an armored tank assault faster than a mood swing, Mega Man Fully Charged (The most late 90’s named cartoon title I’ve heard since Extreme Ghostbusters), with a retconned universe, finally debuts. And after the long wait, what’s presented so far is about what I expected: it’s okay…but why??
My feelings on Mega Man nowadays are not very well received by the public, especially regarding the upcoming Mega Man 11. I still think that game looks like a slightly more polished Mighty no.9 that offers nothing I haven’t played before or already seems better. For better or worse, his games have been the same for 2 decades.
He only exists now as a shallow spokesperson Capcom uses to calm down the masses who grow impatient with the company, but won’t take off the nostalgia shades and see the franchise has been bypassed by Shantae, Shovel Knight, and the slew of indie side-scrolling action platformers that do Mega Man way better than Mega Man. People actually forgot that period where they were sick of Mega Man and rightfully held him accountable for mediocrity. This was before the retro mentality overtook everyone’s sense of rationality that what once worked in the 1980’s is rendered obsolete by 1998 if it fails to challenge anything new. This has been my problem with a franchise like Mega Man: people would rather remember how great it is to THEM instead of taking it on with a nuanced mindset. If you just accept formality because a company convinced you it doesn’t have to change, your expectations plateau and you can be suckered into buying anything. Oh, and before I’m told:
“Mega Man’s better than Shantae and Shovel Knight because it’s the originator. Without it, those games wouldn’t exist.”
Okay, sir or ma’am. If the first of something is always the best, then why aren’t more of these on the road? That 2017 Hyundai Elantra you’re comfortably today driving wouldn’t exist without it.
Look, I’m not making this about Mega Man 11, nor am I trying to be some kind of deterrent. The game will probably be more than fine and I’m confident lots of people will enjoy it. Go play it and have a grand ‘ole time to your heart’s content. I felt that needed to be established before I talk about why I preferred to look forward to Fully Charged with more enthusiasm.
Fully Charged’s (that’s grammatically incorrect as hell. Charged’es? Charges’?) two-part debut, Throwing Shade. It dove right into the action, giving me the impression that its intended audience was people who already knew about Mega Man.
I didn’t see Roll, so I assumed the new girl, Suna, would supplant her…uh, role…as Mega Man’s sister. May not be familiar, but she’s essentially the same character. Not much was established about her origins, but I like her color scheme. I’m going to try and keep this from being all over the place, but the art style sticks out like a sore thumb. Compared to another currently running CGI animated cartoon, Zak Storm Super Pirate, Fully Charged is missing a significant amount of detail and expressiveness to their character models. Mega Man himself is much improved over that initial rough draft of his new look, but he seems rather reserved and doesn’t convey many facial animations.
The action is fine, and the redesigns for some characters like Dr. Light aren’t bad (Dr. Light, voiced by Garry Chalk in this cartoon, which might be my most favorite thing about it so far), and what I’ve seen of the Robot Masters seem neat. The rest of the world comes off rather plain. It looks like Paw Patrol in many shots.
And then there’s some it’s more critical changes. Dr. Wily, the series’ long-running antagonist and sworn enemy to Dr. Light and Mega Man is now BURT Wily, Aki’s ginger school buddy, who looks more like Penn Zero Part-time Hero than anything else. I can’t imagine this change sitting well with Mega Man faithful. What’s probably likely to happen, if I’m predicting this correctly, is Fully Charged’eses’ current bad guy, Sgt. Breaker Night (who looks like the lost Mishima son) will serve as the villain to fight for season one. Then something might happen that will cause Burt to become distrustful of robots and declare Mega Man as the bane of his existence. Honestly, with the tone these first couple of episodes are conveying, that might be a little too heavy.
Breaker sets up scenarios where the Robot Masters attack the populous and creates propaganda of how out of control they are. He has all the subtle nature of being clobbered in the face with a cinder block. Doctor Light serves as the ambassador of robots and speaks on their behalf. This moreso ties a little bit of Mega Man X’s lore with humans and reploids, as in this universe, people seem pretty okay with robots. Doctor Light, by the way, looks less like the delightful old Santa figure of the games and boasts a more barrel chested physique. What’s very bizarre is Doctor Light, who I assume built Aki, doesn’t know that he’s Mega Man or is capable of using those abilities. That begs the question of how Aki stumbled upon them within his own software. It may be explained later, and light will understand why Mega Man has to fight after learning of this revelation.
A lot of jokes fall really flat for anyone over the age of 8, I feel. What’s probably the very worst aspect of Fully Charged, and probably a reason people may be off-put by it, is Mega Mini, a small robot that…lives in Aki’s head, I guess. He tries too hard to be comic relief. Imagine in Miraculous, Tikki and Plagg talked like Artie Lange dubbed by Joe DiMaggio and spouted nothing but unfunny one-liners.
Because that’s his entire purpose. Mega Mini is an unnecessary element that takes what is already a bit of a mediocre package thus far, and drives it into utter annoyance the very second he opens his mouth. In between the hokey, out-of-place New Jersey accent and his knack for constantly repeating failed, derailing gags, he’s a stand-up comedian that’s bombing on stage and is left to die up there. Even the worst comedy Disney sidekick is more tolerable.
Comic relief isn’t easy, having one character that provides a bit of levity to a situation is far from a bad thing. But Mega Mini’s humor is a relic of a bygone era that’s like pouring rusty screws in Cheerios: what I had was fine, now you’ve made it needlessly unpleasant.
One of the things that’s pretty interesting about Mega Man’s copy ability (he gains powers by scanning Robots rather than defeating them) is he inherits their anger and frustration. This, I like, and it’s a trait not uncommon with Man of Action produced shows, there’s always a crux and a catch-22 to their heroes’ abilities. It reminds me of how Ghostfreak in Ben 10 began to grow more unstable with each use before breaking free from Ben and the Omnitrix’s controls. That could be a rather fascinating story down the road and it would be interesting to see how Aki handles scanning these powers.
These may be a lot words to dissect a mere 19 minutes of cartoon. Mega Man Fully Charged doesn’t come off as a series I think older audiences or hardcore fans of the games will particularly enjoy, but children may like it to an extent. Among the pluses are the action. The fighting is pretty fun and isn’t wanton destruction for the sake of it. The retro music samplings, while passe, and its screen transitions are fairly neat. The efforts to land punchy lines of dialog try way too hard to appeal, and the characters themselves are just not interesting enough. If anything, This series didn’t try to place meat on a bone that’s far too big, but barely serves up something that will retain and audience’s interest for far too long, even with the cute callbacks to the video games. I could be wrong, Sonic Boom had a lackluster season one, but redeemed itself with an excellent season two. Whether that’s in Fully Charged’s (I give up) future, it’s a very long shot, since its intended audience.