Android Kikaida (or Kikaider) is making a comeback! Created by the late tokusatsu mastermind Shotaro Ishinomori, Kikaida made its debut on Japanese TV in 1972.
Tokusatsu is Japanese for special effects film, a term used to categorize works that uses liberal amounts of special effects techniques to tell a story, and is mostly used to denote works that originate from Japan. Examples include Godzilla, Kamen Rider (Masked Rider), and Super Sentai (Power Rangers series) − the latter two being creations by Ishinomori, which are still enjoying much success worldwide.
Kikaida was released about a year after the original Kamen Rider (which is celebrating its own 40th) and three years before the birth of Himitsu Sentai Gorenger (Secret Squadron Five Rangers). Its popularity in Hawaii has even spawned official, Region 1 DVDs with English subtitles, courtesy of the aptly named Generation Kikaida.
Distribution juggernaut Toei announced on 1/30 at an announcement conference that the ’70s hero will make a comeback in an original movie titled Kikaida REBOOT, which will be a remake of the show. While the hero was as popular as Kamen Rider back in its heyday, it only had one direct sequel (Kikaida 01), a feature film featuring Hakaida, anime series, and cameo roles in movies that showcased heroes en masse. While it seems pretty encompassing, it pales in comparison to the Kamen Rider series, which has spawned well over 40 works combining TV series and films.
A Toei producer Shinichiro Shirakura (Jetman, Kamen Rider Agito, Decade) was quoted that “the source material is very complex. Not necessarily the story on the surface, but the deep, underlying message that Mr. Ishinomori had created, and it made it difficult for us to tackle it.” After many proposals and rejections, an agreement was finally made to green light the project. The producer also added gravity to the announcement, adding that “in a way, you could say that Kikaida is the origin of Toei’s success.”
The film’s setting will be in the near-future Japan. Problems that are beyond human supervision are now being handled by the ARK PROJECT, which employs robots to solve our problems. The head of this group is Dr. Komyoji, who transforms Jiro into Android Kikaida; when the doctor dies a mysterious death, Jiro decides to take on the project which has gone on a rampage. Jiro will be played by actor Jingi Irie. Mitsuko, who becomes close and in turn helps Jiro regain his human heart, will be played by actress Aimi Satsukawa. Kazushige Nagashima, Hirotaro Honda, and Ryuji Harada will co-star. Ten Shimoyama of SHINOBI fame is set to direct. The script alone took two years of work, with producer Shirakura nothing “we could have made four Pretty Cure or two Kamen Rider movies in the same amount of time,” eliciting anticipation.
Bonus: Kikaida recently made a cameo in the movie OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let’s Go Kamen Riders. Can you spot Kikaida? (Click to zoom in; click here for the answer!)