Mega Man NT Warrior[note 1] or Mega Man Battle Network, known in Japan as Rockman.EXE (ロックマンエグゼ Rokkuman.Eguze?), is an anime and manga series based on the Mega Man Battle Network video game series. Despite the common ground, the game, anime, and manga versions of the Battle Network series all diverge heavily from each other.
The series focuses on Lan Hikari and his NetNavi, MegaMan.EXE as they build their friendship while dealing with threats from various NetCrime organizations. Along with Lan are friends Maylu Sakurai, Dex Ogreon, Yai Ayano, Tory Froid, and their respective Navis: Roll, GutsMan, Glide, IceMan. Although the series originally remains fairly close to the games in terms of storyline, it begins to diverge greatly partway into the series. For example, there is no evidence showing that Lan and MegaMan were twin brothers in the anime, unlike in the games where it is revealed near the end of the first Battle Network game.
The Rockman EXE anime first aired on TV Tokyo March 4, 2002. It spawned four sequels, Rockman EXE Axess, Rockman EXE Stream, Rockman EXE Beast, and Rockman EXE Beast+, as well as a feature film within the Stream storyline. Three of these four sequels and the film were never adapted in English. Axess was the only sequel adapted.
Licensed by VIZ Media (formerly ShoPro Entertainment before the two companies merged), the English adaptation (titled MegaMan NT Warrior) originally aired on Kids' WB in the United States and TELETOON in Canada. Axess aired on TV Tokyo in October 2003, while the English adaptation (titled MegaMan NT Warrior: Axess) aired in January 2005 in the United States and April 2005 in Canada. Stream aired on TV Tokyo in October 2, 2004, Beast on October 1, 2005, and Beast+ on April 8, 2006. Kids' WB dropped MegaMan NT Warrior off the TV block at one point and revived only to complete the final episodes from Axess before dropping it again.
Like many English adaptations of other anime series, MegaMan NT Warrior is edited due to Americanization and the shifting of the target demographic toward a younger audience. Among one of the more notable edits made was the editing out of words such as "fire," "bomb," and "napalm," which were thought to be inappropriate for younger viewers. As a result, the names of FireMan, BombMan, and NapalmMan also changed (while the original names were retained in the English games). Other inconsistencies between the English game and anime resulted from similarities in name to American superheroes. For example, AquaMan's name was changed to SpoutMan in the English anime to avoid confusion with the DC Comics superhero of the same name. In addition, swords are blurred, and scenes of MegaMan pointing his buster at the screen are removed in earlier seasons. Curiously, subsequent airings of certain episodes reveal that some of the original edits were changed back—most notably, the FireTower Battle Chip originally edited as "FlameTower" subsequently reverted back to "FireTower". As with WB's other dubbed series (such as Pokémon and Cardcaptors), some episodes were aired out of order, edited together, or skipped entirely. Viewers elsewhere saw the series in its entirety in the correct order. The first series (EXE) has been released on DVD and a few earlier volumes on VHS, but in an edited format only.
EXE is roughly split into two separate storylines. The first concerns the original WWW (World Three) and Mr. Wily's (Dr. Wily) plan on finding the Ultimate NetNavi, culminating in the N1 Grand Prix, a NetBattling tournament. At its conclusion, the Ultimate NetNavi PharaohMan awakens from his slumber and proceeds to claim the net as his own, deleting MegaMan in the process. PharaohMan would eventually be weakened by the two tournament finalists, ProtoMan and a newly-rebuilt MegaMan, leading to his capture by Wily. The second half of the season has the characters take on Grave (Gospel), a NetMafia syndicate spearheaded by Wily that seeks to create a virus beast with the capability to destroy the net. The last several episodes of EXE would serve as a lead-in to Axess.
Lan's father, Yuichiro Hikari, curiously absent for most of EXE, completes his research on the Synchro Chip, a device that enables Operators and NetNavis to become one through the use of Cross Fusion. This development coincides with a plot by Nebula (led by the notorious Dr. Regal) and the Darkloids (headed by ShadeMan and later Laserman) to take over both the human and cyberworlds. It is at this point that events involving Navis become secondary to the action that takes place in the real world (rather than the cyberworld), which has led critics to label it a generic Henshin series. The storyline in Axess is considerably darker, and many EXE regulars make only sporadic appearances.
At the beginning of Axess, Lan manages to use the then-untested Synchro Chip to Cross Fuse with MegaMan and defeat the Darkloids that materialize in the real world with the aid of Dimensional Area Generators. Because of this, Lan is invited to become a NetSaver (Net Savior), an Official NetBattler charged with protecting the net. As a result of Cross Fusion, MegaMan loses his Style Change option, but instead gains the ability to use Double Soul (Soul Unison) with which allows him to combine his powers with other NetNavis, harkening back to the original Megaman's Power Copy ability. Cross fusion also multiplies Megaman's power level (For example, the megabuster does much more damage in cross fusion), while making Lan lose his energy. Much of the series is devoted in dealing with the problem of the addictive Dark Chips and the criminal syndicate, Nebula who is controlled by Dr. Regal.
Stream continues the storyline set by Axess by introducing Duo, a being from outer space who seeks to destroy humanity after witnessing the chaos caused by Dr. Regal. Intrigued by Cross Fusion, he decides to spare mankind temporarily, bestowing a test upon the main characters to assess whether or not humans truly merit survival. He sends his subordinate, Slur, to Earth, where she hands Navis possessing the powers of Duo's asteroid to unsuspecting people to observe what they will do with such might. Lan (Netto) and the other net saviors must work together to foil Duo and his subordinate. In the process, Neo WWW is formed by Tesla Gauss (Tesla Magnets) to cause havoc. Dr. Regal also returns during the movie, and again towards the end of Stream, with the focus of Stream shifting to time travel.
Beast introduces the warring Cybeasts Gregar and Falzar, as well as the Navi Trill. Pitted against the newly-emerged Zoanoroid armies of the Cybeasts, Lan, MegaMan, and a select group of their partners, find themselves drawn into the parallel world of Beyondard. Guided by a mysterious girl, Iris, they join the human resistance in the fight to claim the "Synchronizer" powers of Trill, with which MegaMan is able to "Beast Out". Nearing the end of Beast, the android brain belonging to Wily of Beyondard reveals himself along with his lackeys, Blackbeard and Yuika, hoping to acquire the victor Cybeast as his new body. Ultimately, the two merge together into the Super Cybeast Grezar, which becomes Wily's vessel with assistance from Trill's powers. MegaMan and Trill merge together and lend their strength to Lan to form a "Juuka Style," giving him the strength to destroy it.
Beast+ continues from where Beast left off, though it is marketed as a stand-alone series. Episodes are reduced to approximately ten minutes in length, airing in the thirty minute time-slot Oha Coliseum alongside the Saru Getchu anime. Beast+ consists of a string of arcs beginning with the appearance of the Professor and Zero (both from Mega Man Network Transmission). An ex-WWW member, the Professor recovers the remains of Grezar, intent on reviving it for his own purposes. Following its deletion and Zero's decision to break ties with his master, the second arc takes place. Stranded in the world that they perceive to be opposite of their own, Blackbeard and Yuika band together with Darkloid BubbleMan, committing various crimes in a Team Rocket-esque fashion. Shortly thereafter, MegaMan gains the abilities of Cross System. Zero then returns in the subsequent arc, befriending both GutsMan and MegaMan. The vengeful Professor, however, also resurfaces, unleashing a new subordinate known as Zero One. Moved by the kindness that has been shown to him, Zero sacrifices himself to put a stop to the Professor once and for all. The storyline then continues toward its finale with the introduction of Cache, the final boss of the Japan-exclusive mobile game, Rockman EXE Phantom of Network, who threatens to consume the world with the aid of Phantom Navis and cache data. Beast+ concludes the series, ending September 30, 2006.
The MegaMan NT Warrior manga was authored by Ryo Takamisaki. In Japan, it was serialized in Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic. The manga was published in English by VIZ Media and retains its right to left format. The English manga, for the most part, uses the new set of names and terms that were established in the English anime (instead of retaining the original Japanese names), and since the English manga was released more quickly than the English anime, any new characters that did not yet receive English names in the anime instead retained their names from the English games. Following suit with the conclusion of the Mega Man Battle Network games, the manga officially ended at Volume 13.
The movie, MegaMan NT Warrior: Program of Light and Dark (ロックマンエグゼ 光と闇の遺産(プログラム)」 Rokkuman Eguze Hikari to Yami no Puroguramu?), was shown alongside the Duel Masters feature film, Duel Masters: Curse of the Deathphoenix, as part of a double-billing March 12, 2005 in Japan. Although the two films are independent of each other, promotional material for the double bill seemed to indicate a fictional crossover (such as a Duel Masters Battle Chip in Battle Network 5) between the two series.
Merchandising for the Rockman.EXE series was heavy in Japan with a variety of toys. Toys ranged from action figures and plush dolls to board games and trading cards. Many toys were originally released by Bandai, including an electronic Plug-In PET replica of the PET used in the original EXE, but Takara took over with merchandising starting with Axess. Electronic PET toys have since been released with every new model used in the show: Advanced PET and Advanced PET II (Axess), Progress PET (Stream), and Link PET and Link PET_EX (Beast and Beast+). Battle Chips for use in the PETs are often packaged with other merchandise, including action figures and even Japanese installments of Battle Network video games.
Most of the merchandise remains Japan-exclusive. However, to help promote the English version of the anime series, Mattel created a line of original MegaMan NT Warrior action figures for the U.S. market. The series were released in two waves with a third wave planned but never released. The action figures featured many prominent characters from the anime with detachable limbs—interchangeable with other figures—so that Battle Chip weaponry could be attached. Mattel also released all twelve DoubleSoul MegaMan figures (featured in Battle Network 4 and Axess) with detachable armor, as well as various miniature figurines (usually depicted in battle) and a few taller figurines, including a talking CrossFusion MegaMan figure.
Furthermore, the Advanced PET toy (featured in Axess) was imported in three available designs: blue/gray (MegaMan), red/black (ProtoMan), and black/purple (Bass). The Advanced PET II model was planned but never released. English Battle Chips were packaged with nearly every piece of MegaMan NT Warrior merchandise, but chips could also be bought separately in booster packs. Japanese and English Battle Chips will work on either Japanese or English versions of the PETs, although only the Progress PET featured backwards compatibility with previous generations of Battle Chips.
Decipher also distributed a trading card game in the United States. However, it was not a translation of the pre-existing trading card games in Japan. The card game has since been discontinued.
In Japan, various soundtracks have been released featuring background music and theme songs used in the show. Also, every episode of the anime has been released across sixty-five DVDs usually containing three episodes per disc. In the United States, thirteen DVDs have been released covering the original 52 episodes of EXE. The first six volumes were also released in VHS form. The English version of Axess has yet to be released on DVD.
Other merchandise includes a life-sized Mega Buster that fires foam darts, an original MegaMan NT Warrior-themed board game, and MegaMan.EXE Halloween costumes.
The MegaMan NT Warrior: Program of Light and Dark and Duel Masters: Curse of the Deathphoenix double feature ranked fifth at the Japanese box office for the weekend ending March 20, 2005 with a gross of $1,093,870 USD. The following week it dropped to seventh place with $559,800 USD and a cumulative box office gross of $6,178,840 USD at three weeks of release.
- List of television shows based on video games
- Mega Man Battle Network
- Personal Terminal
- Rockman.EXE Catan
- Mega Man Star Force (anime)
- "NT" means "Network Transmission"
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- MegaMan NT Warrior official website
- ShoPro's Rockman EXE website (Japanese)
- TV Tokyo's Rockman EXE website (Japanese)
- TV Tokyo's Rockman EXE Axess website (Japanese)
- TV Tokyo's Rockman EXE Stream website (Japanese)
- TV Tokyo's Rockman EXE Beast website (Japanese)
- Rockman-exe Online fansite
- MegaMan NT Warrior (TV) - Anime News Network