Mega Man Gigamix, Vol. 1By Hitoshi ArigaUdon Entertainment, 224 ppRating: Not Rated
Hitoshi Ariga's manga adaption of the Mega Man games continues with Mega Man Gigamix, Vol. 1. Created nearly ten years after Mega Man Megamix, the volume kicks off with Mega Man forced to team up with his arch nemesis, Doctor Wiley, in order to unlock the secrets behind alien technology discovered in deep space! The story returns to earth as Mega Man and friends find themselves taking part in a transcontinental car race, but when Doctor Wiley gets involved it becomes less like the Indy 500 and more like Death Race!
The story is pretty straight forward and actually something of a let down. At the end of Mega Man Megamix, Ariga had introduced some surprisingly complex themes and concepts about identity, free will and humanity. In Mega Man Gigamix, Vol. 1 those seem to be absent, and instead the entire volume feels like something of a return to the classic good vs. evil concepts that are prevalent in… well, mass media in general. Still, there are some fun moments and the opening story, a loose adaption of the third Mega Man game, is pretty fantastic and exciting to read. Likewise the race story that dominates the second half of the volume has some decent moments, but neither quite reached the surprising amount of depth of the first series. In fairness though, Mega Man Megamix, Vol. 1 started off in a fairly similar fashion with the deeper themes growing and blossoming in the later volumes, so it wouldn't be surprising to see something similar happen with this series.
Hitoshi Ariga's artwork continues to be absolutely gorgeous! It's cleaner and more bombastic here than in the earlier Mega Man Megamix series, and features some lovely two page spreads worked into the otherwise short fight scenes. Short though they may be, they're also fun, exciting and Ariga's explosions look absolutely fantastic in this volume. It may seem like an odd thing to say, but it's true and it's hard to ignore how sharp they look. The cartoony nature of the visuals don't take anything away from the emotional impact or dramatic moments scattered throughout the volume, while at the same time allowing for some wonderfully goofy and comedic scenes that don't feel intrusive or destroy the tone and feel of the overall story.
While the story feels like a bit of a step back from the fantastic ending of Mega Man Megamix, Mega Man Gigamix, Vol. 1 is still a very fun book, and with two volumes left there's plenty of time for the story and themes to reach the heights Ariga brought them to in the first series. In addition, Ariga's artwork has done nothing but improve in the years between the two series. I get the feeling a lot of people have probably overlooked this, since video game adaptions generally aren't the highest quality pieces of work, but Mega Man Gigamix definitely bucks that trend, making it something of an overlooked gem.
Mega Man Gigamix, Vols. 1 are available now from Udon Entertainment.