Megaman: Upon a Star (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 04, 2005
What They Say
Dr. Wily has again escaped from the game world! Megaman must prevent the fiendish Dr. Wily from destroying Japan as we know it. Will Megaman and his pals 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?
After years of popularity, the OVA releases of the Rockman property finally come over in bilingual format.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The shows stereo mix is pretty simple but does have some noticeable moments as the characters zip across the forward soundstage and their action sounds are fairly distinct. The show has plenty of action so there are a number of moments scattered throughout but otherwise the episodes are pretty standard fare here with clean sounding dialogue that we had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track for.
The transfer for these three OVA episodes are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio and overall look pretty good. It's not so much that the show goes for a simple look with no detail but rather that there are just a lot of broad ranges of colors instead and a generally soft feel to the real world sequences as opposed to the sharpness of the gaming world. The colors themselves look good and mostly free of macroblocking but there's a touch of aliasing throughout that gives some shimmering here and there in the more detailed areas, such as shots of the entire city or regions. Cross coloration isn't an issue here at all and overall this is a decent looking transfer.
Going with its English language name since every other version of the anime has come out with that name, the cover is a very basic and kids-oriented piece that has a large cast shot set through the center with an indistinct background and all of them looking fairly happy and just gung-ho full of power and energy and mostly dismissible. The back cover has a similar layout and provides some shots from the show and a basic rundown of the property and listing the titles. The discs technical grid swaps to the top of the package here and provides the basics of what to expect inside. Unlike most other ADV releases, there isn't any insert included in this release.
Looking like the cover art with the split across the top half for the logo and character animation on the bottom that's put through a purple filter, you initially get what looks like a decent if minimal menu but then you look at it more and realize just how awful this looks. Each of the three episodes are selectable from the main menu and there's a block of video playing there, but it's done in a squashed mode and it just looks plain terrible. If the intent was to make the animation look like an 8-bit video game, it went further than that. A bit of music plays to the menu with the standard 30-second odd loop and since there's little here otherwise the menus are easy to navigate and quick to load. As is usual, the release read our players' language presets without issue.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Known as Rockman in Japan but changed to Megaman when the games came over in the late 80's and early 90's as part of Capcom's continual fear of exposing their market to things not-American sounding, this release contains three OVA episodes worth of the property and is presented in bilingual format for the first time when it comes to the animation itself.
Unfortunately, this release is basically nothing more than a port of sorts for the ADV Kids line. All the work done on the show itself looks to have been done outside of ADV and by Capcom itself. This leads to a strange dynamic with the way the release feels. The opening sequences for example all feature the Megaman English version logo and the end credits are all done in English (note: Ocean is credited for the dub and I don't believe the Japanese actors are credited at all). It's only thanks to the ADV added credits at the end with their own production information that we get the Japanese language cast, something I can easily imagine other companies just not bothering with considering this feels so heavily like shovelware in a sense.
To add to the confusion, the first episode's Japanese language version has the characters all referring to Rockman as Megaman but the second and third episodes refer to him as Rockman in that version. The English version refers to him as Megaman all the way through however and maintains some form of continuity with that. The opening episode to this series is a bit strange anyway until you really do realize just what it is; an educational video. Though it opens with the premise of the evil Dr. Wiley escaping from the video game when Yuuta ends up putting it on pause and falls asleep and having Rockman follow through after him to try and stop him, it's really a mixture of education and promotion. Rockman is just so clueless about life outside of the video game world that everyone explains everything to him in very simple terms but with the added emphasis on how Japanese the things they're doing are. School and cram school, studying at places until nine at night, Tokyo being the hub of Japan and then the aerial trip across all of the main islands of the country are all out of a promotional tourism brochure but seemingly aimed at educating the young American/foreign kids at the same time and pointing out the differences in cultures.
The other two episodes aren't quite as strong with those points, since they don't seem to be produced by the Japan Center for Intercultual Communications, and they focus more on the back and forth madcap adventures of Rockman and Dr. Wiley. Dr. Wiley's your basic video game villain in all of this as he tries to take over the world and does things by starting small, such as an amusement park where his robots run wild and then on to using volcanic energy to create even better robots, to eventually coming up with a space platform that allows him to hurl meteorites at the planet so he can cause massive destruction and really take over. But thanks to Rockman and his human friends such as Yuuta and those friends of his in the video game world who can now seemingly cross over at any time, they're able to continually beat him in just the nick of time.
While the more current TV series incarnation of Rockman appears to be a bit more entertaining than this, these episodes just don't do much to really excite or entertain, at least someone in my generation. If you want fun, amusing and fairly well written video game comedies like this, you're much better off watching something like Goemon.
The initial excitement of finally seeing unmolested Rockman is wiped away pretty quickly when the shows credits kick off and it's apparent that this release is really nothing more than a port of something that Capcom and others have done but with the added bonus of finally getting the Japanese track. Megaman's had some great games over the years and was one of those brilliant games during an onslaught of crap, but unsurprisingly, the anime side of the property has always been subjected to problems and less than stellar releases. Hopefully in the future when ADV licenses shows similar to this, they're more upfront about which line-up it's going in since if it was slated as an ADV Kids title from the start, more people wouldn't be quite as disappointed at the overall result.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: C+
Menus Rating: D+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Megaman: Upon a Star