Lan Hikari (Netto Hikari (光熱斗 Hikari Netto) in Japanese) is one of the two main protagonists of the Mega Man EXE series, along with MegaMan.EXE.
Lan is one of the Mega Man franchise's youngest protagonists, and still attends school, where he has a reputation for being outgoing, friendly, and a poor student who would much rather prefer to spend his time doing anything but studying. The games imply that Lan is actually quite intelligent and that his academic failures occur due to a lack of motivation; for example, a class assignment featured in the third game indicates that he actually achieved a higher score than his best friend Mayl Sakurai, who is much more studious than him. A running gag of the series is MegaMan dutifully nagging Lan to stop neglecting his homework.
Lan's interests lie in other areas, sports like soccer and inline skating; his absolute favorite pastime, however, is Net Battling. This is reflected in school, where he leads the class in Virus Busting, and his high grades here balance his other generally mediocre scores. It's here that Lan's natural enthusiasm and skill shine through, directing MegaMan in combat with great skill despite his lack of resources (he begins every game with a basic Chip Folder). As an operator, Lan is able to concentrate in a way he cannot bring himself to do in other situations.
For most of his life, Lan has lived a comfortable, risk-free life, and so is somewhat unequipped to deal with the sudden gravity of the situation when his pastime becomes an issue of mortal peril, though he finds it rather thrilling. MegaMan's uniqueness precludes Lan from restoring his Navi from backup data, which means that he stands to lose a great deal more than the average victim of net crime if he fails.
As a civilian, Lan behaves quite like a normal schoolchild might. He sleeps in (and is often late for class), has an enthusiasm for sports, and collects video games and action figures. His outlook on life is simple, and while he is initially mildly selfish and lazy, he grows a profound sense of empathy over the course of the series. He loves to eat, especially curry, and his mother is happy to indulge his appetite. While naturally curious and capable of impressive acts of deduction, his simple worldview often risks becoming too simplistic, especially concerning his lack of emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
When danger arises, however, another side of his personality emerges. Lan's deep well of boyish energy is refocused into sheer determination and sometimes anger. This does not mesh well with his flaws—Lan is reckless, and his desire to solve the many catastrophes he finds himself involved in often leads him to disregard his own safety. Lan also has a high opinion of his own skill, which he is aware is uncommonly good. However, he lacks the maturity to properly accept praise, and is sometimes prone to letting his Big-Fish status dangerously inflate his ego. He eventually learns that this usually means nothing beyond his schoolmates, especially in the face of those who want to kill him and the people he cares about. Indeed, it becomes a preoccupation of his to keep his friends and loved ones out of danger, leading him to try and separate them from the threats he has to deal with; when he fails, he may succumb to either desperation or fury.
His simple outlook on life also leads to several other problems, such as his emotional vulnerability, which can and has been exploited. Late in the third game, his vanity and then his trust are both abused in succession, and he is left believing that he is guilty for putting thousands of lives in danger, including his father's, causing him to fall into depression. When he finally arises, his worldview is tempered with a better understanding of evil.
Despite all this, and further despite his list of world-class accomplishments, many remain unable to see him as anything more than a child. (Indeed, it is a commonly deprecated element of the Battle Network series that so many people remain ignorant of Lan and his accomplishments). However, Lan rarely ever seems to mind this, perhaps being mindful of the incident in the third game, and he eventually earns the respect, friendship, and even admiration of a variety of men and women, including high-profile individuals like Creamland's Princess Pride and Netopian General Baryl.
In the adaptations, Lan's general characterization remains consistent, though each emphasizes his traits in a certain way. In the anime, Lan's inherent talents are deprecated (he and MegaMan are only just introduced in the first episode) and his growth in skill becomes an central aspect of his character growth during the first season's tournament arc. At the start of MegaMan NT Warrior Axess (and the shift in the show's genre), his character growth from the first two seasons is partly undone to allow him to grow into his role as a Cross Fusion hero. In the MegaMan NT Warrior manga, his talents and potential are noted early on, and instead his boyishness manifests as delinquent tendencies. Eventually he is recruited by the police for his skills, which allows him to put his love of Net Battling (which is normally illegal in common areas) to good use.
Lan has brown eyes and untidy brown hair, which he keeps out of his face with a bandana bearing the Hikari family symbol. His upper-body attire consists of a white long-sleeved shirt with black squares on the elbows under an orange vest. From the waist down, he wears black shorts with yellow stripes on the sides, black ankle-socks, and orange shoes with black stripes. He carries detachable roller blades that allow him to instantly modify his shoes. He will often be seen with his backpack.
He almost always carries his PET with him, and the later versions usually come with a pouch or a strap to carry it with.
Biography and Relationships
Lan lives with his mother and father (though the latter is often away at work) in the suburbs of ACDC Town, next door to his best friend, Mayl, who he sometimes walks to school with. He also lives in the same neighborhood as his other close friends, Dex Oyama and Yai Ayanokoji, and lives only a block or two away from Higsby's Chip Shop.
Lan's family life consists mostly of him, MegaMan, and his mother. His father, Yuichirou Hikari, is a laboratory chief at SciLab, and spends significant amounts of time away from home, either at the lab or sometimes overseas. While they miss him, neither Lan nor his mother complain too much, instead choosing to celebrate the time he is able to spend with them. In the anime, Lan has been known to receive gifts from his father while the latter is away (including MegaMan.EXE himself), while in the manga, Lan secretly misses his father a great deal, and once abandoned class in the middle of the day and in front of Ms. Mari his own teacher for a chance to see Yuichirou as soon as he could, only to become sorely disappointed when he discovered a delay at work kept his dad from returning.
Lan and his friends all attend the same class and often hang out together, both on-line and off (usually on-, as it allows their Net Navis to spend time together as well). Secretly, he has a crush on Mayl (enough to dream of her, even); but while the first half of the series establishes that the two of them share mutual affections, if only by stating them indirectly, the fourth game treats Lan as though he is completely oblivious to Mayl's feelings for him. In the early anime, he is accompanied primarily by Mayl and Dex; after her introduction, Yai is usually found at their side, but is also the most likely to break off from the group for some other pursuit. The anime also integrated Tory Froid into his group of friends, but after the beginning of Axess, his role was deprecated to a recurring cameo, usually alongside Ms. Mari and Rush.
Lan would probably live a normal civilian life if not for the remarkable circumstances that occur around him, many of which are tied to the fact that he has a direct connection to the highest levels of SciLab. In the first game, for example, his first run-in with a World Three operative initially seems to be part of a pattern of arson spreading across ACDC Town, but the arson wave is revealed to be a cover for a strike directly at the Hikari household, where Dr. Hikari had hidden a secret elemental program.
As the youngest member of the Hikari family, Lan is also part of a generations-long (one-sided) feud between his family and the self-styled Lord Wily, which began when Wily turned to revenge after being abandoned by the scientific community in favor of the network technology championed by Lan's grandfather, Tadashi Hikari. In fact, almost every major incident Lan and MegaMan face can be traced back to Wily in some way. Interestingly, the three generations of Hikari men represent three different aspects of Wily's attempts to annihilate Network Society—Tadashi gave root to the modern era and is the foundation of Wily's desire for revenge; Yuichirou is the emblem of that era and of network society, which Wily seeks to destroy; and Lan and MegaMan are always the chief obstacles to his plans. In the anime, Lan's connections to SciLab and Wily are downplayed; SciLab and Yuichirou don't become particularly significant until the PharaohMan incident, but once Axess begins, however, Yuichirou and SciLab become the base of operations for the Cross Fusion recruits. The manga treats Wily and SciLab almost as though they are insignificant: once imprisoned, Wily becomes irrelevant, and Lan spends most of his time working with the police force; however, once the Darkloid arc begins, SciLab and Yuichirou entirely displace the police department and Commissioner Oda.
Several of Lan's relationships are studies in contrasts; his relationship with the Official Eugene Chaud being the foremost example. While they are both very similar in several respects—both are accomplished and intelligent children with impressive Net Battling skills and equally impressive pedigrees—their differences are just as significant. Lan spends much of his life out of the public view with his friends and loves both of his parents, while Chaud spends almost all of his time in the public eye, has always been isolated from other people, and has a strained relationship with his single father. Naturally, Lan and Chaud clash during many of their early meetings, especially as Lan labors under his civilian status and Chaud refuses to acknowledge him any further than that distinction requires. With time, however, Chaud eventually begins to recognize Lan's skill, and even to make a few attempts at conversation. By the events of Blue Moon and Team Protoman, he and Lan are acknowledged equals, even if they don't always see eye-to-eye.
Lan's relationship with MegaMan.EXE is unique among all others. While Lan is often recognized for his skill, many of his achievements might not be possible without the high specifications that MegaMan was built to, including MegaMan's incredible powers and abilities. Outside of combat, Lan and MegaMan are as close as brothers; MegaMan often behaves as the dutiful older brother, reminding Lan of his obligations and trying to serve as a voice of reason and sometimes even his conscience. The close bond between the two actually forms the basis of one of MegaMan's strongest powers, Full Synchro. All of this is quite fitting, given MegaMan's true nature.
Lan Hikari was born little more than a decade prior to the events of the Mega Man Battle Network series, along with his older twin, Hub Hikari. Their early life was happy, untouched by the epoch-making Net-related events of the same period, until Hub fell victim to a fatal heart condition known as HBD. Hub succumbed to the disease, and Lan was forced to grow up without his brother to accompany him. Lan also was told of his grandfather, Tadashi Hikari; the two had never met, however, because Tadashi died before he and Hub were born. His life remained fairly uneventful, still managing to collect friends and maintain a cheery disposition, though he received a certain degree of comfort when he met MegaMan prior to the first game.
In the series epilogue, Lan achieves his goal of becoming a scientist from SciLab, and bonus content from Mega Man Star Force 2 reveals that his research lays the foundation of the Link Power system. He marries Mayl, and lives with her in his old house in ACDC Town; together they have a son named Patch. Patch has a NetNavi whose data is a mix of MegaMan's and Roll.EXE's.
- "Hikari" is the Japanese word for "light", which makes the Hikari family as a whole a reference to Dr. Light from the classic series. In fact, Tadashi Hikari is Dr. Light's incarnation from the series; "Tadashi" is the Japanese word for "correct" or "right", and is a tease aimed at the original confusion that occurred when dubbing the classic series into English. A direct translation would make Tadashi Hikari into "Right Light".
- Netto and Saito double as puns on "Net" and "Site" (English loanwords used by the Japanese for the Internet and any individual Website), while "Lan" and "Hub" are both networking terms.
- Lan indirectly cameos in Mega Man Star Force 2; having a Mega Man Battle Network game inserted in the w-gate slot of a Nintendo DS will unlock a bonus sidequest that will send Geo Stelar and Omega-Xis around the world collecting Lan's diary entries, which refer to events following the series epilogue in the sixth game.
- In one of Lan's diaries, he mentioned his bond with MegaMan, and how it has granted them an "almost miraculous power" that helped them pull through hard times. Lan puts forth his research on this power at SciLab and calls it the "Link Hypothesis". He believes that bonds contain an incredible power and that it will benefit the world. Lan also holds true to the belief that future generations will be able to use it to create an even brighter future for all. This is a reference to Geo making good use of this power to its full potential, which is known as Link Power in Mega Man Starforce 2.
- In the anime adaptation, Lan invents the forerunner of laser jack-in PETs, the wireless jack-in port, at only 11, which foreshadows his aptitude as a Net Scientist.
- Lan's favorite food is curry. In the fourth game, he samples Flave's five-star curry and manages to insult the chef by declaring he prefers his mother's. In the anime, Lan frequents the World Three curry-shop MaHa Ichiban, and in Rockman.EXE Beast both participates in and judges curry contests. In the MegaMan NT Warrior manga (Ryo Takamisaki), Lan's favorite food is his mom's Curry Rice.
- In the anime, Lan is usually accompanied by an associate that serves as his partner and second: Mayl in the original series, Chaud during Axess and Stream, Iris during the latter portion of Beast.
- In Network Transmission, Lan's last name is misspelled "Hikaru" instead of Hikari.
- During the finals of the N-1 Grand Prix in the anime, Lan defies Chaud's attempt at calculating odds by declaring that math is his worst subject.