INTERVIEW: Hitoshi Ariga on MEGA MAN: GIGAMIX!

On a recent trip to Japan, Chris, Erik, and Steven Cummings of UDON had a chance to grab breakfast with MEGA MAN MEGAMIX and MEGA MAN GIGAMIX manga creator Hitoshi Ariga. Our breakfast was on the very day that Mega Man Gigamix Volume 3 was released in North America, the finale of Ariga-sensei’s massive Mega Man epic! Ariga-sensei was kind enough to answer a few questions for us on the end of Gigamix, and his future plans for the character.

UDON: Mega Man Gigamix has just finished publishing in North America with the release of volume 3. How long ago did you complete your work on Gigamix?

ARIGA: I finished the last page around the time of the Toronto ComicCon last year, which was in August, I think.

So you finished Gigamix and then got right on a plane to come to Toronto, Canada for the first time?

Basically right away, yes.

How did you feel about completing the story? Because it’s an epic story… were you glad it was finished or were you sad it was over?

I first started the story about ten years ago, so I kind of felt relieved that I finally got all the way to this point, to be finished. I actually came up with the finale of the book back in ’98, so more than 10 years ago.

When I was working on the book there were times when production on the videogame would pause, and then it would start up again. For instance, there was a long period of time between Rockman 8 and Rockman 9. So the publisher said, ‘because the game is not coming out, we don’t really need to make a new manga.’ Also, the magazine that was originally publishing my manga stopped carrying Megaman all together, so that was another delay.

What was your favourite part of the Gigamix story?

My favourite part is where the Earth robots fought the space robots. Wily and Light, they are basically enemies. But when a bigger enemy showed up, they had to join forces and fight together to defeat it. It’s a very difficult nuance, to explain the relationship between Lightand Wily, the ties that bind them together.

Like Magneto and Professor X? They were friends and now they’re on opposite sides but they still have that dynamic of friendship, that respect and understanding, in their relationship.

Something like that. Wily and Light, they’re friends but then they’re enemies, and yet even as enemies, there’s a way in which they’re sort of friends.

What new projects are you working on right now?

At this moment, I am working on a couple things that I can’t really mention, unfortunately. I’ve also been helping on some game work. I am looking forward to doing more Mega Man stuff, but there is nothing that has been announced yet. And of course, it is important to me that Gigamix has reached a North American audience at last.

Do you have a message that you’d like to send to your North American fans?

When I was working on Megamix, I was thinking to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could release an English version?’ Since Rockman and Mega Man are popular in North America, I kept thinking it would be really great if this manga could be released so those fans could read it

In fact, the reason why I titled the book Megamix was because of the “Mega”, since I had the American Mega Man in mind. Originally the book was supposed to be called Rockman Remix, but since I had that North American Mega Man in mind, I went ahead with using Mega in the title instead. So I am extremely, extremely happy that I was able to get it delivered to the fans in North America.

Hitoshi Ariga poses with the UDON editions of the Mega Man Gigamix Manga, at Denny's in Ikebukuro!

UDON has released Mega Man Megamix volumes 1-3 and Mega Man Gigamix volumes 1-3 in English in North America. Gigamix 1-3 are currently available, and new printings of Megamix 1-3 will be available in February/March. Our thanks to Hitoshi Ariga for agreeing to the interview, Steven Cummings for translation, and Shaindle Minuk for transcribing.