Mega Man Star Force
Mega Man is one of those franchises that seem to last forever, there’s been various TV shows based off of the mega-series by Capcom, and the videogames just keep on coming as well. Mega Man Star Force is the latest anime in the series, and follows the 2006 DS “Star Force” series. With many echoes to Mega Man Battle Network, Star Force is somewhat familiar.
The year is 220X, technology has rapidly advanced since the age of the Internet and it’s lead to the creation of more varied ways of transportation, futuristic cities and trancers. Three satellites: Pegasus, Leo and Dragon, orbit the earth and these satellites alone control and link all forms of communication, and all EM Waves. Without these satellites there would be no EM Waves, and without the EM waves there’s not futuristic means of transportation, communication or workable trancers.
With the advancement of modern technology, the criminals have advanced with it and all is not well in 220X. Criminals are manipulating the EM Wavelength, which is invisible to the human eye, with EM Wave Viruses. These Viruses cause technology to fail, sometimes with near catastrophic consequences. Our Hero: Geo Stelar, has been given a device, created by his missing father, that allows the EM Wave Viruses and the EM Wave Length to been seen by the human eye. One night as he looks up into the sky, he notices that the EM Wave Length is looking a little odd, and before he knows it an extraterrestrial falls out of the EM Wave Length and fuses with him.
This creature is known as Omega-Xis, and he has betrayed his home planet of FM Planet. He has been searching for someone to fuse with so he is able to save the Andromeda Key from the other FMians. Now that Geo and Omega-Xis have fused, they are able to perform the EM Wave Human, which transforms the pair into Mega Man. To further add insult to mystery Omega-Xis knows Geo’s father, but claims to know nothing of his disappearance.
Our Hero: Geo has few friends and since his father’s disappearance in space he hasn’t been to school. That is until Omega-Xis and his class president, Luna Platz turns up to force him into school. Whilst there is turmoil in his school life, Geo has to contend with ever more frequent visits from aliens who want to attack Omega-Xis for the Andromeda Key. Throughout the series humans are fused with the FMians in crass ways, and it becomes obvious to Geo and to Omega-Xis who is a real human and who isn’t. It also becomes clear to the audience as well.
This somewhat clichéd storyline is expected from this type of anime, as the original material is a videogame and does not give a lot of substance for an anime series. However, the anime does it’s best to stay fresh and not all of the episodes end in the FMians being banished back to planet FM. This slight variety is welcomed at all times, as the series can be a little dull otherwise.
In the original Japanese version of the show, the episodes were each around ten minutes long, whereas the English release has merged episodes together to create thirteen twenty-minute episodes. This has been done well, and the episodes feel natural. There have also been changes to the names of the characters. In the original Japanese format the lead character is called Subaru Hoshikawa, Hope Stelar is Akane Hoshikawa and well, almost all of the characters have had parts of their names changed. Fortunately the changes work fairly well and they feel natural when the characters speak. None of the Japanese music has been kept in the show at all, for in show, opening or closing scenes. Yet, all of the original sound effects have been kept in from the Japanese edition.
Visually, it’s clear that the anime was made for a younger audience. With basic characters designs, and standard colours it’s clear that the show was made on a tight budget. As with many animes targeted at a younger audience, the production values are less than that of Naruto or animes aimed at the teen and above audience. However, even with the standard colours, everything is still distinct and nothing blends into each other. The EM World is a welcome addition to the show as it’s vibrant and memorable.
Unfortunately, much of the cast isn’t. There are a handful of good voice actors, such as Geo and Lunar, it’s just the majority of the acting is very wooden and sounds contrived. The quality of the audio is good, and through surround sound the DVD is fairly good. It’s not optimised for surround sound, but this doesn’t make the quality of the audio poor.
There’s no option for the original Japanese track with subtitles, which is disappointing. However faithful the translation hearing the original Japanese work is always a good comparison to how well the show’s been done in English. Strangely there were no added extras at all, no promos for other Manga Entertainment shows or even character artwork.
Children will love this show, especially those who enjoyed Sonic X and the later Digimon series. However, for many older viewers this show is clichéd and contrived.