We're six months into Rockman EXE's 20th anniversary. Although we continue to wait for additional, special announcements, the past half year hasn't gone entirely eventless.
But now, instead of looking to the future we're taking a look into the series' past. For your consideration, we're pleased to bring you an freshly-translated interview between Coro Coro Online and Ryo Takamisaki from March 2021. Takamisaki needs no introduction... but for those not in-the-know, he's the mangaka behaind the Rockman EXE manga and the Rockman 11 One-Shot.
You can read the interview translated by our friend Sidier after the break!
He serialized the manga Rockman EXE from 2001 to 2006 in the monthly magazine Coro Coro Comic. Other major works are Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! and Peach Demon Buster Myth Momotaro-kun as well as others. He also wrote other Rockman manga, such as the one-short Rockman 11: The Gears of Fate!
What led to the EXE manga's serialization?
Thank you for accepting the interview! Our first question is: this year marks the series’ 20th anniversary but please let us know how you feel about it!
Man. You don’t really feel it, you know.
Even after serialization was over, I felt like Netto and Rockman remained inside of me. We grew up together; a family that reached adulthood. I’m happy that many fans remember the series and look at it once again.
Guess that’s why it doesn’t feel like “it’s been a while!”, then.
It feels like they’re always beside you.
I’m drawing new content for the reprints from Fukkan. But it feels like the characters are moving very smoothly.. that’s my own vision of it.
Please tell me how you ended up being in charge of making the EXE manga!
I applied for Coro Coro GOTTA* and the now Editor-in-Chief of Coro Coro, Mr. Akimoto, reviewed my work.
I was working on the “Godzilla vs Megaguirus” manga and then they asked if I would like to draw something Rockman-related. Back then, they only told me that “the contents have yet to be decided”. I wa asked to join Mr. Akimoto for a visit at Capcom Home Office that autumn. Before I knew it, everything was moving along and decided upon.
Truth to be told, even now I’m not sure how I ended up being chosen.
*A brother magazine of CoroCoro Comic being sold at the time.
In your author’s profile, it does say you worked on the "Godzilla vs Megaguirus" manga for another Coro Coro magazine.
That’s right. That was my first work with Coro Coro.
That manga was pretty well recieved so I thought that's why I was asked to do this job… Or so I though. When Mr Sakami, the then Editor-In-Chief, replied “Huh? You made a Godzilla manga too?” that made me stop and think, “Huh?! That’s not it!?” (laughs).
Talk about an enigma (laughs). By the way, did you publish anything in Coro Coro GOTTA?
I did some work for a car manga. At that time, Coro Coro Comic was recruiting for the newcomer award, but I couldn't find the "bring-in" recruitment page.
But Coro Coro GOTTA did have that option so that’s what led to me applying there. Before that, I worked the “King Of Fighters” manga as part of Shinseisha’s “Comic Gamest”.
The CoroCoro Editors knew my previous work with video game-based manga. Maybe they thought, “I think he’ll be up to the challenge”. Perhaps that's what led me to being put in charge of EXE.
▲From the 2001 Monthly Coro Coro Comic February Issue
Why is the manga a story of its own?
Next topic: while the Rockman EXE manga borrows elements from the games such as the Saito Style and Soul Unison… i t has a story of its own, too. Was this structure decided from the start?
A Capcom employee told me something right before the manga project began:
“Following the game storyline literally isn’t interesting. Please try to add as many original ideas of your own as possible”. That was their request.
They also told me, “we want people who’ve already played the game to have fun, and also allow those who don’t know the games to dive into the world of Rockman. Make it appealing!”
But if I did something totally different, the readers would be left feeling, “Huh? This is very different from the games”. So that’s why I used the game's setting as a base to build up an original story.
Did you feel that Capcom left all these aspects up to Coro Coro?
They did tell us “we don’t mind if you decide how to progress the storyline”.
I guess that Capcom were actually looking forward to seeing what kind of product I would make. I guess it depends on the maker, but I felt that Capcom gave us plenty of freedom.
▲The drama between Operator and Navi is a charm exclusive to the manga!
I see. So that’s what led to all those “original” stories. By the way, did Capcom share character settings and such before you began work?
I got a copy of press materials shortly before the game released. I used them to think about the manga's story. And then when the game came out, I played it right away… if I found anything that could be contradicted, I’d go on fixing it… that was the flow of my work.
Unlike the games, Netto in the manga is quite the mischievous boy (laughs). He’s a very good kid in the games and anime, but I remember that the editors suggested, “it’s fun so let’s make him more rogue-like”...
You’re right, when looking back at it you can tell he was very reckless (laughs)
▲He even hijacked a shinkansen the school borrowed. Talk about crazy!
Did you determin which characters appeared? Or, rather, did Capcom give you guidelines?
That almost never happened. But as the series progressed, the amount of characters increased so it was hard to make all of them show up.
So I did ask Capcom, “I’m about to begin the next arc. Do you have any character you’d like me to feature?”
Their reply was, “let’s see… if you ask for a must, maybe this girl character". But the magazine was pushing for energetic boy characters so I wasn’t sure how to satisfy both (laughs).
That must’ve been hard (laughs). Do you remember any surprising reactions from the readers?
I don’t know much about that, but I did think I wanted to create something that would make all readers feel motivated!
We’ll dive into the charm of the manga, the relationships between humans and Navis, and cool characters!
Before this interview, I read over the manga again. I felt that the attention and charm you poured into depicting the friendships between characters, not just Netto and Rockman, was amazing.
I did mark “friendship” as an important topic from the start! Rockman has always been about robots, hasn't it?
They did exist as “individuals” but in the “EXE” series, you’ve got this hero image of Operator and Navi working together.
So I did interpret the friendship aspect to be very different from previous games. I put emphasis on it, choosing for it to be the main theme of the work.
Because they combine their efforts.
But even though the Operator and the Navi are connected by a "bond," there is a definite barrier between the real world and the Cyber World, respectively.
That’s what led me to make those relationships stronger in terms of scene setup.
In terms of characters, I think the adult-like “Rockman Saito Style” was also a charming aspect of the manga. What kind of reaction did it cause back then?
They were all like “it’s so cool” and it was popular, along with Forte. When thinking about my childhood, children easily pour their emotions into life-sized characters but they also longed for cool adult-like characters, like Kamen Rider.
I think that such aspects are part of Saito Style’s popularity.
However, if you make it too adult-like, then it might not fit into the atmosphere, hence why I made sure not to overdo it.
You were aware of the fact that children want characters to long for.
Saito Style’s personality is due to wanting to make it easily visible that this “transformation” is “different from the usual Rockman”, something that has impact and charm.
I also poured a lot of qualities that I think makes characters cool, like Forte.
Thank you, sir. Next question. If you have a certain chapter about your work that impacted you, please tell us about it!
That’s a hard question, it makes you hesitate… (laughs). If it’s a question of “which volume, which episode” then I’d say that the Forte extra chapter was one of my favorites.
You mean that episode that illustrates his past?
Yes. I wish I had more pages to draw more, but… I think I did pretty well despite the shortcomings.
He’s an aloof character so I depicted him so that he would be contrary to Netto and his friends, who get along.
▲The Total Autonomous Model Net Navi, Forte. He’s blamed for an indiscriminate rampage incident and ends up intensely hating humans.
Thank you. Following up with the previous question, could you tell us your favorite characters? Or maybe your favorite combinations?
Let’s see… Well, apart from the obvious choice of Netto and Rockman, I also like Forte a lot!
There’s also Enzan, Blues, Serenade and SearchMan! SearchMan had an impactful debut, I remember that the ladies who were fans of the series had an amazing reaction to it!
Huh!? Is that so!?
Yes. I like the character, too, but given how he was also heavily featured in the anime, well, I guess that led to his huge popularity too.
▲The Military Net Navi SearchMan. At first he was an enemy, but once the misunderstanding was solved, he helped Rockman in his battles.
Things that didn't happen during serialization!
Yet another question. Are there certain events that didn't pan-out during serialization? Concepts or ideas that were discarded due to various reasons or?
There are indeed!
In Volume 8, there’s a chapter depicting the battle against “Rockman DS (Dark Soul). The Soul Unison, Blues Soul, debuted there but at first I wanted the story to center on Rockman FUSING with Forte to beat the enemy!
▲A Dark Navi identical to Rockman, Rockman DS (Dark Soul)
Fuse with Forte!?
Yes. Both combine and their Soul Unison “Forte Soul” would defeat Rockman DS…
I was saving that for the climax of the story. However, it turned out that the impending movie adaptation of the anime would feature “Forte Cross Rockman”. Capcom told me, “it’s a bit too soon to use that plot device”! I was like “okay, how do I continue this storyline, then!?” (laughs).
You just happened to have a similar idea, too
Turns out that Capcom already thought of that idea!
So the next thing I wanted to do was use Forte Cross Rockman during the Nebula Gray battle as the finishing blow… But the editors came in saying “they’ll soon announce Rockman EXE 6 so please draw Beastialize (Beast Out) Rockman!” (laughs).
A video game manga adaptation might be asked to change or do things differently in some cases. It’s a hassle, but looking back, it’s a fond memory!
▲Forte Cross Rockman, the fusion of Rockman and Forte!
So that’s why you used Beast Out Rockman to defeat Nebula Gray!
Seeing so many elements fuse together as the story moved on, that makes game to manga adaptations fun to read.
▲Beast Out Rockman, who absorbed the power of the Cyber Beast Glaga
By the way, did you have any scenes that you wanted to draw but couldn't?
Plenty of them, obviously! I had plenty of things I couldn’t make back then; there were even ideas I had after the serialization eneded!
About 4-5 years after Fukkan republished the manga, I was asked to add new chapters to them. There are many things I’d like to draw but I hope I'd get another chance like that.
The new chapter I'm working on now is something I've been wanting to draw for a long time.
Will this be part of the 20th Anniversary Treasure BOX?
Yes. It’s something to commemorate the anniversary so I’m putting a lot of energy into it. Please look forward to it!
Thank you, sir. I’m also looking forward to seeing it, too!
Now, the last question. We’d like you to deliver a message for those readers. What do you say?
Well, it’s part of what I’ve been saying during this interview interview, but… I’m currently making new chapters. So I hope I can partake in some kind of special event for the series.
I’ve got no proof, but maybe the fans will have a chance to meet Netto and Rockman of the games again! I’m also looking forward to that!
Thank you very much!
If you are in the mood for more Ryo Takamisaki, don't forget to check the new One-Shot he drew for the 20th Anniversary Treasure Box called "Runaway Blues".
You can find the fan translation here!