Monday, October 13, 2014

Kikaider: Reboot!

A friend of mine just brought this to my attention - and yes, it's kinda late but... it excited me so much I wrote a post about it. Wanna read it? Here it goes...

It's westernized spelling is Kikaider, but the katakana for it says "Kikaida." The poster for it says:
 Kikaider Reboot!!!
JN Productions, Inc. has announced a licensing agreement with Toei for the subtitling and distribution of the new Kikaider reboot movie. 

My favorite childhood TV series is getting a movie reboot! "Kikaider: Reboot" was released by Toei in Japan back in May of this year, and this week it's being screened in Hawaii - the first time it has been seen outside of Japan. This kicks off what is billed as the North American Premiere of the movie. Ban Daisuke (the actor who portrayed the original Jiro in the series) has a small part in the movie as a mentor of sorts to Jiro. I also noticed that the character Mari is in this as well. In the original series, Mari was Bijinda's alter-ego.
Created by tokusatsu/manga author Shotaro Ishimori, the story could be compared to "Frankenstein" or "Pinocchio," with Dr. Komyoji creating a "monster" or even a living puppet, in the character of Jiro
The original story was about an engineering scientist named Dr. Komyoji who was kidnapped by the evil Professor Gil, and forced to create robots to do... well... evil. Komyoji created a robot in the image of his eldest son (who is deceased), and was working on a "conscience circuit" that would enable the robot to override the evil programming. Fearing discovery, Komyoji rushed the installation of the incomplete circuitry into the robot he called "Jiro." Although the circuitry was flawed, it worked - most of the time. The sound of Professor Gil's flute could cause the circuit to malfunction, forcing Jiro to commit evil acts.
When it was discovered that Komyoji was working on his own robot to stop Professor Gil's DARK project, Gil flew into a rage and attacked him. Jiro's programming kicked in, and he changed into Kikaida. Saving Komyoji (and destroying the lab in the process), Kikaida got him out of there - but not without incident. During the ruckus, Komyoji hit his head on a rock and was knocked unconscious. When he woke up he had amnesia and wandered off alone and unnoticed.
The rest of that series is spent in the adventures of Jiro/Kikaida and the Komyoji children, Mitsuko and Masaru, as they search for their father. They occasionally come across him, but with his amnesia he keeps wandering off and getting lost again. A bungling detective named Hattori Hanpei also joined the search. He at first looked at Jiro as a possible suspect in the kidnapping and then possible murder of Dr. Komyoji. Although Hanpei was supposed to be the comic relief, he eventually became an ally to the Komyoji children and to Jiro - guarding his secret Kikaida identity and on one occasion, rescuing him from the effects of Gil's flute.
The "Kikaider: Reboot" plot is essentially the same, with only a few tweaks that don't take anything away from the original story. The basic plot of the reboot is that Komyoji headed up a project called ARK to solve world problems peacefully. When he dies, his project is taken over by someone else who uses it for personal gain. In order to save the original project, Jiro/Kikaida must rescue Komyoji's children, who are somehow connected to the project and hold the key to it. has a few hi-res pics from the movie - the site and material posted there is copyrighted, but linking to the site is allowed. To any fan of the original series, these pics will be like chum for sharks. They look nothing like what the original series looked like, yet to me they look EXACTLY like what the series looks like in my head. It all came back to me like a long-lost teddy bear that is still very much treasured!
Watching the original series now, the special effects can't compare to today's technology. However, the story was well-written, and very well thought out. There are little references to cultural symbologies. Jiro's frayed jeans are just one example of that - in kabuki, a character wearing frayed garments had no soul. A lot of the costumed stunt actors were from the Japan Action Club, a school for aspiring actors and stunt people started by Sonny Chiba.
So far, JN Productions has not announced anything yet as far as plans for distribution to theaters on the mainland or for release to DVD/Bluray. I can only hope and wish and dream and maybe if I'm good, it will turn up on my birthday or under the tree or in my stocking on Christmas!
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