Hitoshi Ariga's penultimate volume of his Mega Man Gigamix series finally hit North America a couple weeks back. For the uninitiated, the Gigamix series represents Ariga's third Rockman manga adaption, preceded by Mega Man Megamix and the yet-to-be translated Rockman Maniax (fingers crossed). Gigamix, however, proudly stands firm as the first major project from Ariga in a little over a decade. In spite of the long break, Ariga's ability to captivate readers hasn't faltered in the slightest -- Gigamix 2 proves this.
From the get-go, you can tell Vol. 2 is going to be nothing short of epic. With Gamma defeated, a spectacle is unfolding in outer space. An asteroid streaks across the sky, accompanied by what can only be described as a light show. From the depths of the asteroid, an ominous robot emerges... on a collision course with the Blue Bomber himself. Impact
. Piece by piece, Mega Man is devoured -- ripped to shreds before a horrified Roll.
End dream sequence. Holy crap.
Ariga wastes no time in getting readers on the edge of their seats; the action that follows, however, will leave you on the floor.
Whereas Volume 1 was a bit sporadic in term of a centralized plot, Volume 2 presents a tale that is far more consistent, solidified by mounds of fan-service, nods, cameos, and feverish action. As one could guess from the cover art, the Star Droids are the major players this time around. The Mega Man V
baddies run amok on earth, causing all kinds of frenzied chaos.
Rather than being mere plot devices, each Star Droid has been given that trademark Ariga flare -- both in design and personality. Ariga has taken the blueprints of the bots from MMV, and molded them into well developed characters. Mixing things up a bit, Ariga has gone and made the Star Droids actual aliens, whereas in the game, they were but another product of Dr. Wily. The whole alien aspect comes makes the bots come off as really sinister... vicious, even, as they blaze a trail of terror and destruction across the blue planet.
Volume 2 is just oozing in style and substance. Ariga's artistic ability hasn't wavered one bit since his Megamix
days. The ten year break has done the man good -- a sentiment that can't be said for all comic/manga artists. Characters are just as detailed as they have always been, and the Star Droids? Man oh man, unbelievable designs. The action segments are chock full of details; vastly dynamic. Pretty to look at, but I will admit things did become a little difficult to follow on occasion. However, that's just Ariga's style. Fortunately, your eyes will become accustom to the experience in no time.
Ariga has weaved a tale that you simply cannot miss. The story is well defined, moves at an excellent pace, and its all wrapped up nicely with top notch art and action. One read through simply isn't enough: you'll be picking up Vol. 2 mulitple times just to scope out all it has to offer.
Volume 3, the final Gigamix chapter, can't get here soon enough.