I am a man who lives for art, storytelling, and entertainment. Since my childhood, I've been greatly fascinated by fantasy and make believe, and I've been a fan of many different media franchises, be they popular or obscure. And I have dreams of one day making an impact on pop culture through the things I do. I like to entertain people with stories and ideas, and I explore a variety of different ideas, be they original or from existing franchises. And I also do reviews of various pop-culture media ranging from TV series, video games, movies, and the alike. And I like to share my memories and knowledge with others. I'm also quite keen on Japanese culture. Especially with anime, which has been one of my biggest inspirations for engaging in art since my early childhood years, up to the present day.
Rules That I Live By:
1. Love your friends and family equally, no matter how they treat you.
2. Focus on the things you can do, and what you're capable of.
3. Life is as good as it gets.
4. You only live once in this life, so make the best of it while you can.
5. Nothing is guaranteed in this life except death.
6. Everybody and everything has potential to be something they're not.
7. Respect is given to people who deserve it. But not everybody deserves it.
8. Never resort to physical violence unless you absolutely have to.
9. Don't trust anybody unless you're sure you can trust them.
10. There's a difference between living in the past, and learning from it.
11. The future is never certain. But somethings are foreseeable.
12. The less you expect, the less disappointed you will be at an outcome.
13. It doesn't matter how old something is. It's what you do with it that counts.
14. Always be prepared for the worst. And expect the unexpected.
15. Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.
16. Everybody has to dedicate themselves to something.
17. Life is a journey, live it well.
18. Value your history, but always move forward.
19. If you disrespect others, expect to be disrespected back.
20. We never really know what to expect in this life.
21. Some people make an effort to open up and make friends with you, and some people mean you harm. And there are people who are simply neutral, and want nothing to do with you.
22. Our good deeds inspire others to greatness. And our evil deeds serve as a warning to all.
23. We all have our fixations and obsessions. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.
WARNING: If you troll or spam my page with petty insults just for your own personal enjoyment, I will block you without hesitation, and you can go bother someone else. I'm normally a reasonable and tolerant person. But trollish behavior will NOT be tolerated under any circumstances. You've been warned.
Hello and welcome, ladies and gentlemen. This is MDTartist83, and welcome to another retro review by yours truly. In the late 90s and early 2000s, good TV shows were slowly disappearing from television. Sure, there were a few gems to appreciate and enjoy back then. But there was so much mediocrity. And as time went on, great shows were becoming harder and harder to find. It also didn’t help that a lot of good shows got cancelled before they had a good run, or even saw a proper conclusion. In fact, that seems to be a reoccurring pattern with a lot of TV shows today. Which is a great pity considering how much potential certain series had. It’s a lot of wasted potential. Today it’s the same. There’s so much mediocrity, and so few gems in the midst of the shit storm. But I digress. While I have talked a lot about what I loved and cherished in the 80s and 90s, there were a lot of shows that I appreciated in the 2000s as well. Though not much. But “Android Kikaider the Animation” was one of them. But as usual, before I go over today’s subject, let’s get the history out of the way first. Kikaider started out as a manga and a live-action Tokusatsu series in 1972, which lasted for 43 episodes (quite an impressive run even for the time). The series was created by Shotaro Ishinomori, who also gave us Cyborg 009 and Kamen Rider. The show centers on the titular bionic superhero, who also goes by the name Jiro. A wandering drifter, Jiro rides a motorcycle, carries a guitar with him, and dresses in blue. When not fighting, Jiro assumes a human form to blend in with ordinary humans. But when the situation calls for it, he transforms into Kikaider to do battle with evil robots created by the DARK organization, which is headed by Professor Gil. Kikaider is one of the more well-known series in anime history. Although it didn’t get its own anime until decades later, which is more well known by American audiences than the live action Tokusatsu series from the 70s. And that’s where we go over the subject for today. “Android Kikaider the Animation”.
Android Kikaider: The Animation (TV series):
(人造人間キカイダー: The Animation, Jinzou Ningen Kikaida, lit “Artificial Human Kikaider: The Animation”) or just “Kikaider” as we Americans refer to it as, was a Japanese animated TV show that was created by Sony Animation, and was based on Shotaro Ishinomori’s franchise of the same name. It first aired in Japan and North America in 2000, and ended in 2001. When the show was brought to America, it was broadcast on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Mainly due to violent content. Originally, the series was only 13 episodes long. Which is not much of a run now that I think of it. But despite how short the series was, it told a genuine story, and it ended with a proper conclusion before the show ultimately came to its end. But in 2003, the show was backed up by a sequel called “Kikaider 01”, which consisted of 4 additional episodes. So in total, the series lasted 17 episodes. Still pretty short, but it’s better than the typical 13 (Oh how my heart bleeds for Road Rovers). Anyway, Android Kikaider was a dark and gritty take on Shotaro Ishinomori’s manga, as it told a grim story with a lot of drama and death.
Interesting piece of trivia; Kikaider’s name comes from the Japanese word for machine (機械, Kikai). And the “der” at the end of his name comes from “Rider” (as in a motorcycle rider since he rides a motorcycle). So literally, “Machine Rider”. This seems to be a common staple with Shotaro Ishinomori’s other creations, as Kamen Rider shares this trait as well, being associated with riding a motorcycle and all. But Kamen Rider’s name literally means “Masked Rider”. But he is based on a grasshopper. But that’s a subject for another time. Anyway, the story in Android Kikaider begins in a strange laboratory on a dark stormy night. Kind of like a classic Frankenstein movie. And an aging scientist named Dr. Nobuhiko Komyoji, who is a genius in the field of robotics, has just finished constructing his latest creation; a robot named Jiro, who is one of three Kikaider robots created for combat purposes. Komyoji built Jiro to be strong, powerful, versatile, and adaptable. But along with bestowing his creation with great destructive power and near invulnerability, the professor also blessed his creation with a special gift which no other robot before or after him possesses; a “Gemini Circuit”, which is basically an advanced artificial intelligence that enables Jiro to have the ability to think for himself, make his own decisions, and be able to distinguish right from wrong. In the midst of his experimentation, Dr. Komyoji’s daughter Mitsuko is reading her younger brother Masaru a bedtime story. Particularly, the story of Pinocchio (this is common throughout the show as Kikaider references elements from Pinocchio). But Mitsuko sees that Masaru has fallen asleep. So she tucks him in bed and closes the windows. Back with Komyoji, something goes wrong with his experiment. And then suddenly, he is attacked by a robot, which destroys the entire laboratory. Running for his life, Komyoji runs into Professor Gil and some of his robot henchmen (who remind me so much of the Mavericks from the Megaman X series due to them being animal themed). Komyoji manages to escape, and he mysteriously vanishes. The next morning, as authorities are trying to figure out what became of Dr. Komyoji, Jiro is somehow activated, and finds himself out in the countryside of Japan. Though how he ended up out in the wilderness is beyond me. Understandably, Jiro is confused, and has many questions. Questions such as “Who am I? Where am I?” Back with Mitsuko, she finds a USB drive that was hidden inside a framed photo of her family. And as she accesses it, she finds the blueprints for Jiro. And after his first battle with a robotic rhinoceros (which he easily destroys), it is discovered that Jiro was built by Dr. Komyoji to protect Mitsuko and Masaru from Professor Gil, who seeks to obtain possession of Jiro and to reprogram him to work for the DARK organization. Mitsuko, who possessing half of the knowledge that her father had on robotics, teaches Jiro about his Gemini Circuit and why it was created. However, Jiro’s Gemini Circuit is incomplete. While he has a free will and conscience of his own (which no other robots have), he is still vulnerable to Professor Gil’s advantages. As all Gil has to do is play a particular tune with his flute, which corrupts Jiro and gets him under Gil’s control for a short period of time. Similarly, Saburo/Hakaider (one of Kikaider’s rivals) is able to do the same thing by whistling the same tune that Gil plays on his flute. Throughout the series, Jiro struggles to find answers to his questions and meaning to his existence since he doesn’t blend in with human beings (despite being able to assume a human form at will), and because he potentially puts Mitsuko and Masaru’s lives at risk. Gil would stop at nothing to have Kikaider in his possession so that he can control the world. Throughout the series Jiro is faced with each of Professor Gil’s robots, who are tasked with either retrieving or destroying him. Each episode features a different story, with some interesting characters, intense moments, and intense battle scenes. I mean its no surprise by this point in time that the Japanese are known for their dark storytelling. Because like I said in my review of “The Little Mermaid” (the Toei film. Not the Disney film), is that the Japanese are the masters of drama. And Kikaider is no exception. Despite being a robot, Jiro is in a way, Mitsuko and Masaru's brother (as Mitsuko is the daughter of Dr. Komyoji, who in turn is the creator of Jiro/Kikaider). However, since Jiro is undereducated on the world around him, he often turns to Mitsuko (and other humans) for knowledge and wisdom. But because Jiro is a robot, he feels he doesn’t fit in with Mitsuko or Masaru. And other humans reject him. So he runs away out of shame and self-loathing. In many ways, despite his superior strength, abilities, and advantages, Jiro feels inferior to human beings. But he always finds his way back to Mitsuko, who confesses her love for him. Because in a way, Jiro is basically family to her and Masaru. Oh, and I forgot to mention there’s also Inspector Hattori Hanpei, who is a close friend of Kikaider and Komyoji’s children, and plays as sort of a comic relief character, similar to Chief Tanaka from 8-Man, and Boss from Mazinger Z. And accompanying Hattori is Etsuko. But she doesn't really do much in this series.
So anyway, with each of Kikaider’s battles against Professor Gil’s robots, he destroys each and every one of them, but his battles leave him with deep sorrow and regret, as each of the robots are his brothers (they were all designed and built by Komyoji to serve Gil). However, what each of the robots lack is the Gemini Circuit which Jiro has. Granted, the robots do have a considerable measure of intelligence and strength. But they can’t make their own decisions, and are programmed to be loyal and obedient to Professor Gil. In other words, they only have as much freedom as they are built with. But with each battle, Kikaider slowly learns of the existence of Professor Gil and the DARK organization. But one of his most prominent adversaries is Saburo, AKA Hakaider, another robot built by Dr. Komyoji to serve Gil. As I said before, Hakaider is one of Kikaider's rivals. And as such, he often causes trouble for him throughout the series. In a later episode, Jiro, Mitsuko and Masaru find their long-lost mother, who seems gentle and well-meaning at first. But she was later revealed to be in cahoots with Professor Gil, and that she married Dr. Komyoji and bared Mitsuko and Masaru under the orders of Gill to learn more about Komyoji’s work. She even attempted to kill Mitsuko and Masaru, but Jiro protects them from her gunfire. However, in the end, she was wrought with overwhelming guilt because she used Komyoji and took advantage of him, and she was never a true mother to her children. She gives them the location of Professor Gil’s hideout, and commits suicide by shooting herself in the head with a gun. A very dark episode indeed. And so later, as Hakaider makes his presence known by taking control of Kikaider and forcing him to go on a violent and destructive rampage throughout the city, he reveals himself, and forces Jiro to strangle Mitsuko. But Jiro manages to fight off Saburo’s control, and battles him.
Now, similarly with Kikaider, Hakaider's name comes from a Japanese word. In this case, his name comes from the Japanese word for destruction (破壊, hakai) So literally, “Destruction Rider”. Hakaider’s role is similar to that of Bass from the Megaman series, as he serves as a mortal foe who posses an imminent threat to the main protagonist, and wishes to challenge him in battle with the intent on destroying him. In my point of view, Saburo/Hakaider is like if you were to combine Protoman and Bass together. Like Bass, Hakaider wears black armor (and black clothes in human form), and is cruel, vicious, and ruthless. And much like Bass and Megaman’s relation, Hakaider sees Kikaider as competition, and wishes nothing more or less than to kill him with his own hands. But, similar to Protoman, Hakaider (when in human form) wears dark glasses, a yellow scarf, and has a tendency to whistle when announcing his presence. Like Bass, Saburo/Hakaider is very cocky and arrogant. But he is also highly intelligent and has a cool and tranquil personality. Not to mention he has some of the best lines of dialogue in both English and Japanese. What's creepy about Hakaider is that in robot form, his head displays an organic human brain which is encased inside a glass dome. And I forgot to go over this earlier. But Jiro was voiced by Dave Wittenberg, who has a nice youthful voice, and I think it was perfect for the role. For some reason, I always imagined Megaman being voiced by Wittenberg. Because I believe that he would have done him justice. And also, Saburo/Hakaider, was voiced by Steve Blum, who I know best as the voices of Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, Roger Smith from Big O, and Starscream from Transformers Prime. And I always thought he sounded familiar because right when I heard his voice, I thought to myself “This guy is Spike from Cowboy Bebop”! However, while Hakaider is pretty much one of the main villains, he is a generous fellow who believes in a fair fight, and wants to fight Kikaider when he is pushed to the limits and when he is in full strength. Because after his initial fight with Hakaider, Jiro is left without an arm, but Hakaider states that he does not want to fight Kikaider when he’s handicapped. This seems to indicate that he did have some measure of mercy. And also, Hakaider reveals to us that inside his head is the brain of Dr. Komyoji, which was removed from his body and placed inside Hakaider. Which means if Kikaider kills Hakaider, he will also kill Dr. Komyoji. Later however, when they cross paths again, the brain of Dr. Komyoji takes control of Hakaider’s body, and enjoys a short reunion with his daughter and his creation (who I guess you could say is his son because he created him and all). However, Komyoji states that while he is in control now, he may turn back into Saburo at any moment. So they have to take advantage of this time to infiltrate Professor Gil’s headquarters. However, Gil soon realizes that Komyoji has taken over Hakaider, and sets his robots out to destroy both him and Kikaider. But soon, in the midst of their battle, Saburo regains control, and attacks Kikaider. But Gil, having no further use for Saburo, disposes of him by having his robots blow off his head. Then he launches rebuilt models of all the previous robots who Kikaider fought and destroyed throughout the series. But Jiro is able to defeat them with surprisingly little effort. Then, Jiro confronts Gill, who tries to gain control of him. But Jiro is able to fight Gil’s control, and proceeds to strangle him. However, he cannot pull himself to kill Gil despite everything that’s happened. Gil taunts Jiro, saying that despite the emotions he feels due to his Gemini, that he is still just a mere machine and he will never be human. But then the headless body of Hakaider appears on the scene, and strangles Gil to death for betraying him. And then the whole place goes up in flames, and Gil and Hakaider are both killed in the explosion. In the aftermath, Mitsuko and the others manage to escape. But she didn’t see Jiro escape the collapsing fortress. However, Jiro does escape, but he disappears, and hasn’t been seen since then. But even so, Mitsuko retains her hope that Jiro will return home someday.
Okay, since I pretty much covered the whole series in a nutshell, I guess this is where I should stop. But no, in order to do it justice, I have to go over some of the show’s other material. Now, I already mentioned that this show is based on an old Tokusatsu series from the 1970s. And the basic premise revolves around Jiro, who was built by Dr. Komyoji to protect Mitsuko and Masaru from the threat of Gil and his evil robots. And all the while Jiro is struggling with his emotions as he desperately searches for his place in the world. Now, I wanted to get this out of my system. But I noticed a lot of similarities between this and Megaman. Jiro himself is a lot like Capcom’s Blue Bomber in some ways. He has the same hairdo, he has a similar personality, he’s unsure of himself, he's insecure, he has questions about everything, he wears blue, and he fights an evil scientist and his legions of evil robots. In fact, because Kikaider shares so much in common with Megaman, I couldn’t help but to call him “Megaman K”. And then there is Ichiro, who was introduced in the sequel series "Kikaider 01", who despite being one of the good guys, is similar to Ruby Spears Protoman in terms of his cocky and sarcastic personality. While Ichiro doesn’t come off as totally despicable, he is a bit of a wise-ass and a show-off. And unlike his younger brother Jiro, Ichiro doesn’t care about anybody else but himself. And not only that, but Ichiro is also short-tempered, arrogant, and is more violent. In fact, he is quicker to resort to violence than Jiro is. And Saburo (the first Hakaider), like I said before, is kind of like if you were to combine Protoman and Bass together. Dr. Komyoji is basically Dr. Light, and Professor Gil is basically Dr. Wily in a way. But keep in mind, Kikaider existed LONG before Megaman was even invented. Because Kikaider was invented in 1972. So he's MUCH older by comparison. However, it is speculated that Astroboy and Kikaider were the two main inspirations for Megaman.
And now this brings me to “Kikaider 01”, which was the sequel to “Android Kikaider: The Animation”. Taking place directly after where the last episode left off, Jiro wanders the land alone. But he soon finds himself involved in protecting the lives of Rieko and Akira, who are both being pursued by legions of machines. It is revealed to the audience that Akira is the son of Professor Gil, but they don’t know exactly why the boy is being pursued. Akira has no spoken dialogue, merely crying, whimpering and muttering on occasion due to him being in a traumatized state the entire time. It is also in these four episodes where we are introduced to two other Kikaider robots named Ichiro and Rei. Ichiro is revealed to be Jiro’s older brother, as he was created before Jiro, making him the first Kikaider. However, unlike Jiro, Ichiro does not have a Gemini Circuit, which means he only has as much freedom as he is programmed with, he does not have feelings, and he has little to no regard for the safety of those around him. However, Ichiro is basically like Ruby Spears Protoman; he’s cocky, arrogant, and likes a good fight. In English, Ichiro was voiced by Derek Stephen Prince. And then there is Rei, the third Kikaider, who’s story is revealed to us by Futen (who in the past was a college of Dr. Komyoji). Rei was an incomplete experiment that was scrapped until Futen completed his design. Like his two brothers, Rei is powerful, versatile, and formidable. But like Ichiro, Rei is simple, and does not have the Gemini Circuit that Jiro was blessed with. However, unlike Ichiro, Rei does not share his cocky and arrogant attitude. Simply a machine, Rei is quiet, cold, and has no emotions. He acts simply on his program which is to fight off any enemies and to protect his brothers and comrades. He’s basically like Golgo 13 in a way. In English, Rei was voiced by Crispin Freeman, who many of us know as the voice of Alucard from Hellsing. Joining forces with his brothers, Jiro and the two other Kikaiders fight to protect Akira. But Ichiro and Rei question Rieko’s story about her fleeing from the robots that were after her and Akira. Later, it is revealed to us that Professor Gil was somehow resurrected as the second Hakaider. Saburo is dead, but Gil had his brain transplanted from his dead human body into an identical body to the original Hakaider. So basically, Gil Hakaider is a cyborg. How this happened, I have no idea considering the entire fortress was destroyed in the last episode. But I do have one possible theory for this. And that is someone had to have done it for him. But how Gil became the next Hakaider and who exactly revived Gil in this condition is never revealed. I mean Gil couldn’t have done it all by himself. Accompanying Gil Hakaider are his three colleagues, Blue Hakaider, Red Hakaider, and Silver Hakaider, who all have the brains of Gil’s assistants. And it is also revealed that Gil Hakaider wants to use his son Akira to power his latest weapon; a giant robot called the “Armageddon Lord”. We also meet Bijinder, a female robot who at first is an enemy to the Kikaider Brothers. And she packs quite a punch, as she was powerful and formidable. Bijinder’s name comes from the Japanese name for “Beautiful person” (美人, Bijin). So literally, “Beautiful Rider”. Later however, Gil Hakaider reveals to Rieko that she was a robot built by him to act as Akira’s guardian and to monitor him. But she followed her program unintentionally. Mainly because she believed she was human due to Gil installing her memories of another person with the same name. Her android form is similar to Bijinder's form but with two shades of gold with her 'hair' modeled into a sort of swept up bun. As a result of this, Bijinder has a change of heart, and sides with the Kikaider Brothers to protect Akira. However, Gil Hakaider kills Rieko, and takes Akira with him to complete the weapon. With the Armageddon Lord activated, it begins to ravage a major city, destroying everything and killing everybody in sight. As the Kikaider Brothers (who along with their new ally Bijinder), attempt to infiltrate the Armagedon Lord to save Akira. But Gill captures Ichiro, Rei, and Bijinder, and corrupts them. They also manage to capture Jiro. And Gill plants a submission chip inside him. However, instead of enslaving Jiro, the submission-chip subdues his Gemini circuit, allowing him to lie to Bijinder and destroy his enslaved brothers. In other words, there was no saving them. So Ichiro and Rei are both dead now. And then, Jiro kills Gil Hakaider by crushing his brain just as the Armageddon Lord's generator explodes. Bijinder, with the last ounce of her strength before death, leaves Akira in the hands of Futen and the real Rieko to raise him and look after him. And after that, Jiro then proclaims that having now committed such horrible acts, that he is now human and that his heart will forever be in "eternal conflict" as he walks away into the sunset.
There was also an extra episode titled “The Boy Who Carried a Guitar: Kikaider vs Inazuman”. I only recently discovered this episode. But I’m not so sure if it was shown here in America, as I can’t find an English dubbed version anywhere. So I’m guessing this was a Japanese exclusive. The story once again revolves around Jiro, who after having defeated Gil Hakaider and his minions (not to mention being forced to destroy his brothers), is fighting Gil’s corruption. Jiro, overwhelmed with guilt for killing his siblings, fears that if he encounters Mitsuko and Masaru again, he will kill them both. Inspector Hattori is in search of Jiro to reunite him with Mitsuko and Masaru. But instead he meets with a bunch of school kids. He mistakes one of the boys, "Saburo Kazeda", for Jiro while Jiro is talking with Sabu’s girlfriend Miyoppe. But when Hattori finally finds Jiro, Sabu and his friends also arrive to the scene. Suddenly, Jiro goes berserk at the presence of Sabu, and puts everybody to sleep with a guitar tune. Kikaider and Sabu (who is revealed to be Inazuman), engage in a one on one fight to the death. But, with Inazuman’s help and persuasion, Jiro manages to fight off Gil’s corruption and free himself from his berserk state. However, a strange creature suddenly attacks Inazuman. Jiro saves Inazuman from the creature. And with that, the two are now on good terms with each other, and make amends. The episode ends with Sabu with his friends going about with their lives, and Jiro is still wandering around the world in hopes that he will have the strength to return home to his family.
Many years have passed now since this show was brought to America. But still, the memory remains fresh in my mind to this day despite the years that have elapsed. And I have to admit, Kikaider was a great show. It had a lot to offer in terms of dramatic storytelling, hardcore action, and the story revolving around Jiro. I used to watch this show when it was on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. And I still remember every episode I saw. But like I said before, I didn’t know about the extra episode “Kikaider vs Inazuman” until years later. But still, it was a real treat for me. And while its not exactly a perfect ending, it was a nice little extra. I have many fond memories of this show, and to this day, it retains a special place in my heart. I consider “Android Kikaider” to be one of the gems of the early 2000s. And I’m glad I saw this show when I did. It was an entertaining show, it really had me engaged, and was totally worth the time I spent watching it. And I did not regret it one bit. And I’m also glad that I got this review out of the way because I have been wanting to review this series for years now. Though its hard to believe its been almost 20 years now since we had this show. Bottom line, I recommend this show for any anime or robot enthusiasts. Its worth seeing. And with that, its time to end this. This is MDTartist83 signing out. Thanks for reading.