Reviewby Carlo Santos, Nov 17th 2004
MegaMan NT Warrior
DVD 1: Jack In!
In the year 20XX, kids prove their coolness by challenging each other to Net Battles on their PET (Personal Terminal) handheld computers. Everyone's got their own NetNavi, a personal avatar that does the fighting in a virtual environment. Fifth-grader Lan Hikari becomes the coolest kid on the block when his dad sends him a new NetNavi program that turns out to be a powerful little guy called Megaman. But Megaman isn't just there to help Lan beat his friends on the digital playground. An evil organization called World Three, led by the scheming Dr. Wily, is trying to take over Lan's high-tech hometown by infecting their computer systems with viruses. When the guy inside your computer is a classic video game icon, there's no question as to who gets called in to save the day.
Even by the standards of children's anime, Megaman NT Warrior (titled Rockman.EXE in Japan) falls terribly short. How long can we withstand the trend of grade-schoolers dueling each other by proxy? Pokémon brought the genre to the forefront, but at least the show had a kooky sense of humor; Digimon made its mark by focusing on a sweeping storyline; even Yu-Gi-Oh! with its elements of Egyptian mythology has some sort of redeeming quality. MegaMan NT Warrior, on the other hand, is a case of animation being neither art form nor entertainment--it's just there to sell the toys.
The monster-of-the-week formula is a much-maligned beast in anime, but even within that formula there are good and bad applications of it. MegaMan NT Warrior definitely falls on the bad side, with LAN and Megaman solving crises in ways that are neither clever nor thrilling, and most times they're highly improbable. Sure, for a kids' show I'll believe that an 11-year-old boy can stop a wayward train, but the way in which adults just step aside without questioning him is stretching logic too far. Worse still, there's little excitement to Megaman's fights--he floats around in a CGI digital world and fends off cutesy-looking viruses with his arm cannon. After that, he defeats the main boss of the episode and Dr. Wily throws a hissy fit about being thwarted yet again. If Megaman got seriously hurt once in a while, he might actually be an interesting character. But as things go, he's just the usual stalwart hero and companion to LAN in a series of adventures so predictable that you can get up, fix a snack, and come back still knowing exactly what's going on.
The visual style of MegaMan NT Warrior is a textbook example of generic children's animation. LAN's world is a flat, shiny neo-urban training ground for artists working their way up to better shows. The character designs are typical for the genre: big vertically-oriented eyes, simplified features, and clothes that never change. (Either these kids have several of the same outfit, they do the laundry every day, or they smell really bad.) Equally simple is the animation, which--while reasonably smooth--shows no sign of the animators challenging themselves. The only moments with a strong dynamic feel are the "jack in!" sequences where the characters send their NetNavis into the battlefield. Beyond that, there's some tolerable CGI that would probably be more striking if it didn't look like all those other "traveling into cyberspace" sequences that have entered anime in the past few years.
Imagine my surprise upon discovering that the two audio tracks on the DVD were in English and Spanish (clearly a concession to the show's Kids WB audience rather than fans of the Japanese original). Lacking the language skills to critique the Spanish dub, all I can say is that the English dub is the usual Saturday morning cartoon fodder. The overexcited voice actors turn the dialogue into a farce, which isn't too hard to do with the available script. Gag lines such as the villain Elecman saying "I'm going to shock their world!" are exactly that--lines that will make you gag. On the music side, everything sounds like it came out of a video game. And not a game with a sweeping orchestral score, but programmed techno beats and blips. You know how watching your friends play video games without letting you in on the action can get really boring? That's exactly what the music feels like.
As if to remind you of the real reason why this DVD was released, the extras on the disc consist of promotions for the new Megaman graphic novel, collectible card game, and GBA games.
Purchasing MegaMan NT Warrior might be defensible if you were getting it for a 7-year-old, but even then, there are plenty of better anime titles to expose kids to. This release, intended as part of a greater marketing ploy, will certainly help to sell the toys and games, but those looking for actual entertainment will not find it here. Chalk this one up as another failed video-game-to-anime conversion.
Overall (dub) : F
Story : F
Animation : D
Art : D-
Music : F
+ Will keep restless children occupied for a couple of hours
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