So starting off this Mega Man X marathon is the anime special that supposedly details the events prior to the first game. Aptly named The Day of Sigma, this special was a warm welcome for a fan of the franchise like me. I mean we get to see the events that led us onto that bridge with the burning landscape behind us in the opening stage of Mega Man X. They are going to give us well needed background to Sigma and X’s battle and why it happens in the first place! This is all so exciting! Then I realized that it was the only thing like it, only one episode. There is no sequel series, nothing after it to give a fan more to bite into and it leaves us on a rooftop overlooking the mayhem below while Sigma laughs triumphantly. I began to wonder whether or not a special like this is really necessary to have if its brief existence can be explained in a few sentences.
The Day of Sigma is exactly as I said above, detailing a bit about why Sigma and X are against one another and why Mega Man X starts off like it does. We see machines turning maverick, the term for rebellious robots, and we see the Maverick Hunters face off against them. This entire special boils down to an almost cyberpunk neo-noir which if it had better animation, a slightly different style and more time on its hands could have been done relatively well. Instead the story of how Sigma attacks the city and goes maverick takes the forefront and is completely rushed with little understanding about his character. We see a small mystery unfold that is obvious since we already know Sigma is the big bad of the franchise and that everything is of course his doing. We don’t care so much about the how, but rather about the why and this story gives elements of that but nothing concrete.
This is rather simple stuff with a simple execution, but it also gives us information on X without amply shoving it in our face in the beginning. X has a decision to make, he needs to destroy the maverick machine yet the machine is holding a hostage in the way of its core. He hesitates and that is where Commander Sigma comes in slicing through both the machine and the Maverick Hunter’s arm. The hunter comes out alive, and X is questioned as to why he doesn’t shoot since if Sigma didn’t attack just then more lives would have been put at risk. This to me sets up X as a character pretty well, giving us an understanding that he fights these mavericks but understands and contemplates the scenarios rather than reacting to situations. In this small situation we can gleam that he is different for various reasons. Plus there are some nice moments with X and Dr. Light at the end of the special.
Sigma is a bit of an enigma even within this story that is supposed to explain part of his rationale. We understand that he fears X and his capabilities, yet it never gives us the why or what that means to him. Has he himself become sentient as well with a deeper understanding? Why is X having a different thought process scary to him. We understand the whole “He’s different and change can be scary” aspect yet Sigma just ends up revealing himself to be some egocentric gloating megalomaniac which feels like a complete 180 to who he was in the beginning. Fans of the franchise will understand the reason as he was infected by a virus when he first discovered Zero, but this entire special plays against that fact. Heck it plays against canon as Doctor Cain, a scientist seen in the different Mega Man X games in the original trilogy is apparently killed off by an explosion. This special wants to explain things yet at the same time makes things more of a confusing mess.
In the end this episode lacks proper reason to exist besides giving us a few Dr. Light memories with X and Dr. Cain talking to Sigma about X. Those are the only things I believe are a bit substantial when it comes to the series. The games use minimal amount of information to tell a barebones story that always leads up to the same conclusion no matter what. This was the time to learn a bit more than that, a bit more about why this is happening and fleshing out the two main characters. Yet they do and they don’t and they leave far more questions than answers. This will not offer anything to those really uninitiated to the franchise, and nor will it satisfy those who would want answers to some questions. Yes it answers the cosmetic question of Sigma’s design with the scars on his eyes, but besides that point we are left on a note that feels unimportant.
This feels like something that was planned for a longer runtime, but cut short. It is not particularly bad in the sense of a starting episode to a series but it leaves much to be desired as a one-off. So it really poses the question of “is this necessary to exist?” Does it have a drive to be and in the end I think that question is no. Not because it was bad or anything like that, the quality of it is not something I consider when thinking about it as a means to exist. Rather I think the most important aspect is whether this feels like it adds anything to the Mega Man X mythos and I would say it doesn’t and complicates it more than fleshing it out. As a fan there are no answers given finality here and this doesn’t feel necessary in a game that never really had the most complicated plot to start off with. It gives us a random scene with Sigma and Vile, offering a glimpse into Vile’s mindset but in the end it is pointless because it answers nothing about his character besides him going maverick. It gives us a lot of the how we already could easily glimpse from the games, but nothing warranting a closer look.
It is shallow in that regard. Should something that should be added into the game or be in the game inherently be made separate from its source? It retells us what we already basically know about the characters only adding on elements like when did it happen or how did it happen. Superficial information that feels more like shameless padding for fans that want something more from Mega Man X. I appreciate the thought of giving us more to the story, but I would have wanted something more substantial. They added in Chill Penguin and Storm Eagle, giving them a little more to their identities rather than just being bosses, yet there was nothing beyond a few choice lines of exposition really. There was also this pink-haired communications female reploid who…wasn’t in the games to my knowledge. At least in the originals and her inclusion felt a bit odd, again cementing in my mind that they may have had more in mind for this than this initial special.
Specials like The Day of Sigma feel like they are capitalizing on fans desire to see more from their favourite franchises, but in the end only offer surface value. If there was cool fight scenes or well shot sequences it would add to its value, but this had more talking about certain aspects than anything regarding great action sequences. Video game adaptations like Resident Evil, Prince of Persia, or even Mortal Kombat offer a type of entertainment value. Specials like The Day of Sigma lack even that aspect and in the end become forgettable among the masses. I’m sure there are some that offer more than this, but for something as shallow as one thirty minute special it shouldn’t even have made it off the ground but used more as a proof of concept to get executives to give them more time to make something good. This was used for public consumption instead and I for one feel like I wasted thirty minutes of my time that I could have just been playing the original game for. Its disappointing because they have the building blocks for a good Mega Man X show in here…
Well…that’s not a good not to start on! I was really hoping to blast off right from the gate into something I would be able to praise. While I did enjoy this special (I mean seeing anything of X is nice these days), I have to admit that a lot of that comes from my nostalgia of the franchise. I can only hope that the live action Mega Man movie being made by Hollywood can do well. Yes that is right they are doing that.
So have you heard of The Day of Sigma? What do you think of these types of one-off specials for video games, do you think they are worth watching? Feel free to comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a fantastic day!