A recent question I got was about the Mega Man series – in particular, the term “Robot Masters”. In the English releases, this term generally refers to the boss robots at the end of each stage, but what are they called in Japanese? I’ve been curious about this for years (and have had my own hunches), so I decided this was finally a good time to look into it!
First, I decided to try and find the first instance of the “Robot Master” term in the English releases. To my surprise, I couldn’t find it in the instruction manuals for Mega Man 1 or Mega Man 2. The first manual to use the term is Mega Man 3:
And here’s another example from the manual:
The phrase also appears on the back of the Mega Man 3 box:
Well, in one instance it actually calls them “master robots” instead, but close enough 😛
Anyway, it’s still possible that the term “Robot Master” could’ve appeared before Mega Man 3 – I’m sure there was a ton of promotional material and such, but so far I haven’t been able to find any earlier uses of the phrase. If anyone out there finds instances of the term “robot masters” prior to Mega Man 3, though, let me know!
Okay, so back to the original question – what is the Japanese term used for these boss robots?
After looking through Japanese manuals and sites it looks like they’re called… nothing at all. Well, nothing special, at least. They don’t really have a special term at all; they’re referred to as “bosses”, “boss characters”, “powerful robots”, and things like that, but there’s no special term they go by.
Here’s a look at one of the Japanese manuals, for example. It uses the term “boss”, “boss character”, AND the English word “BOSS”:
So it looks like “Robot Master” is a product of English localization, possibly entirely invented by whoever worked on the Mega Man 3 manual and box. I always felt this was probably the case, similar to the Mega Man phrase “Blue Bomber”, and now I’m more convinced than ever. But if anyone has any more insight or info on this, let me know!