A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mega Man: Fully Charged is an animated series based on a classic video game. It's all about Aki (Vincent Tong), a robot boy who can transform into superhero Mega Man and fight the many villains who attack his home of Silicon City. As you might expect from that description, violence and battles are frequent. Different villains use various sci-fi weaponry and powers: bolts of fire, giant drills, hypnotic mind control; Mega Man has the ability to imitate these powers and use them in battles. The show has many such battles, despite spoken messages like "fighting is a last resort" and "acting on anger is a choice we have to stop or no one wins." Mega Man is often called a hero, and parents may want to talk about that with kids who watch: Are his actions always heroic?
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What's the story?
Set in futuristic Silicon City with its half-human, half-robot population, MEGA MAN: FULLY CHARGED centers on the Light family: compassionate scientist Dr. Light (Garry Chalk), his human daughter, Suna (Caitlyn Bairstow), and his robot son, Aki (Tong). Dr. Light is a noted supporter of human-robot relations, in opposition to conservative political figure Sgt. Breaker Night (Michael Adamthwaite), who believes robots should be enslaved to the far superior human race. But even Dr. Light doesn't know Aki's secret: He has the ability to transform into Mega Man, a blue-suited superhero who can absorb and wield the powers of other robots, and who has dedicated himself to protecting Silicon City's innocent against the villainous intentions of Sgt. Night and his evil team of Robot Masters.
Is it any good?
With sparkling visuals and dialogue that's more thoughtful than you'd expect from a series sprung from a computer game, this animated series is intriguing, but rife with iffy messages. The problems are articulated right in each episode's opening voice-over: "What makes a hero? Someone who fights for unity." Ah, fighting for peace, everyone's favorite oxymoron -- and Aki is always game to strap on his Mega Man suit and subdue a bad guy with sci-fi firepower, despite his dad's statement that "War is ugly. Fighting is a last resort." How are young viewers to reconcile exciting scenes of battle and combat mixed with the idea that combat is so, so wrong?
The warring messages are compounded by the show's insistence on setting up each battle as unavoidable. Aki is always forced to fight to defend helpless victims from a big baddie rampaging around Silicon City wreaking havoc, so of course, his fighting is a last resort. It just doesn't feel like it, since the fight scenes are clearly a kick for Aki-as-Mega-Man. Still, it's hard not to warm to a show in which Mega Man hands off a crime victim to the authorities with the advice to give him "lemonade and serious comfort." And the show's setting, a half-human, half-robot city in conflict, is as fresh and interesting as the jokes, with plenty of dramatic possibilities. Mega Man: Fully Charged is a winner -- but families may want to have some pointed conversations about war and peace while the credits roll.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Aki a hero in Mega Man: Fully Charged. Is it his ability to morph into a superhero and fight off villains, or is it that he takes on challenges and asks for support when needed? How does a hero act on this show? In real life? Are the two different?
Is it ever OK to fight back? When are other responses appropriate? What do you make of the fact that Aki can imitate the powers of others? Does that make it more OK for him to fight fire with fire, sometimes literally?
Have you ever played the game this show is based on? Does watching the show make you want to? Do you think that's the reason this show was made?
For kids who love cartoons
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