October 23, 2010

Toku Spotlight: Jinzo Ningen Kikaida

Jinzo Ningen Kikaida, or Android Kikaider, is a tokusatsu series that ran from July 8, 1972 to May 5, 1973 for a total of 43 episodes.

 Created by mangaka Shotaro Ishinomori as a tribute to his mentor Osamu Tezuka's creation Astro Boy, the series also was influenced by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It was also one of the first tokusatsu series to air in the United States.

 Jiro, also known as Kikaider, is a humanoid robot secretly created by Dr. Komyoji to stop DARK, an evil organization that has held him prisoner. When Professor Gill, the head of DARK, discovers this, he sends androids after Komyoji, and a fire separates Komyoji from his children and Jiro.

 With DARK steadily pursuing Jiro, Komyoji's children Mitsuko and Masuru, and a now-amnesiac Dr. Komyoji, Jiro transforms into Kikaider to protect the children and fight the androids-of-the-week.

 A problem Kikaider has is that due to the incompleteness of his conscience circuit (named "Jiminy", a reference to Jiminy Cricket), great pain can be caused by the playing of Professor Gill's flute. Kikaider combats this by using a louder sound to overpower it. To announce his presence in a battle, he plays a guitar and uses a motorcycle called the Sidemachine.

 The main characters are also joined by a comic relief P.I. character by the name of Hanpei Hattori (descended from the real-life ninja Hanzo Hattori), nicknamed "Hanpen" (Japanese for "pounded fish cake"). He wears crazily comical clothing, and has a Subaru 360 that constantly breaks down (in real life, the Subaru 360 was exempt from regular automotive safety standards due to it weighing under 1000 pounds), using ninja magic and other techniques to keep the car functioning. Reminds you of Inspector Clouseau and his Silver Hornet, doesn't it?

 Later on in the series, Dr. Komyoji was recaptured by DARK and forced to make another robot, called Hakaider, also known as Saburo. The twist is that Professor Gill had Dr. Komyoji's brain placed in Hakaider under the control of an evil circuit. The cyborg needed periodic blood transfusions from Komyoji's body to survive. Upon discovering this, Jiro feels he cannot fight Hakaider.

 The series was (and still is) exceptionally popular in Hawaii. In the comments section of a Kikaider YouTube video, you're way more likely to find commentors who watched the series in Hawaii than those who watched it in Japan (okay, there's also the language barrier, but still...). Daisuke Ban, the actor who played Jiro/Kikaider, has made public appearances in Hawaii for the show's DVD release.

 The series was followed by a sequel series, Kikaider 01, which sees Hakaider reawaken with the brain of Professor Gill, and Kikaider returning to fight him, alongside a new android, Kikaider 01 (also known as Ichiro) and later Bijinder, a female android. In 2000, an anime adaptation combining the stories of the two series (with a few minor changes) was aired. To conclude that series, a team up OVA with Inazuman (a character also created by Ishinomori and played by Daisuke Ban) was released, though unlike the anime series, it was not aired in the United States.

 Here's the original's theme song:

 Kikaider 01's theme:

 And the Gemini theme from the anime:

Thanks to damicuis for uploading this video.


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