Episode Reviews

Snapshot: Kikaider 01 Episode 1


The last of the snapshots before Kamen Rider Amazon kicks into gear is here! Kikaider 01 is the sequel to Jinzo Ningen Kikaider, but it actually plays out like something you can watch on its own.

Deep in the mountains of Japan, Hakaider is awakening his new army, hidden away in the rocks. The army consists of foot soldiers and three generals called the Haikaider Trio. The trio consists of Blue Hakaider, Red Hakaider, and Silver Hakaider. As you can tell, they’re color coded, each has colored chest piece that reflects their name. The leader, plain ol’ Hakaider, tells his newly formed army that the time has come for them to make their move and the only thing standing between them and world domination is a young boy by the name of Akira. Hakaider and the Hakaider Trio head out to hunt the boy down.

Akira himself is wandering around aimlessly near a nuclear plant. The boy has no idea how long he’s been wandering around, and we’re not just talking about hours. He doesn’t know if he’s been wandering for days, weeks, or months. When the boy takes time to stop for a drink of water, the Hakaider Army arrive and kill pretty much everyone in sight as they realize the boy is around there somewhere. They decide to just blow the place up…cause, hey, why not? Whatever works for your purposes, I always say!

Sensing that some bad mojo is going on, Kikaider 01 is awakened and bursts out from a statue he had been encased in three years ago. Kikaider 01, also known as Ichiro, races down to the scene of the explosions in his snazzy bike while the narrator extolls about our hero – he’s a really cool guy out to stop some pretty bad people. While Ichiro is making his way to the scene of destruction, Akira is being chased around by the Hakaider Army, though at some point he runs into a pretty scary old woman who he runs from…straight into the clutches of the Hakaider Trio. Ichiro appears, making a pretty cool speech, and transforms. After a short battle, where we learn that this Hakaider isn’t the same one from the previous series, rather the mad scientist who has taken his brain and placed it into a Hakaider body, our hero books it with the kid in tow and they’re off hiding in the woods.

After asking Akira a few questions, Ichiro is starting to realize this kid might be missing some of his memory. Ichiro is able to notice strange black marks on Akira’s back but before he can ask him about them, he hears a woman screaming and races off to the rescue. We see the old lady being beat around by one of the Hakaider Trio and she’s definitely in need of some help. Kikaider 01 appears and takes on Blue Hakaider while a reporter watches on from a distance, snapping shots of the fight as it progresses. Once Kikaider 01 manages to take down Blue Hakaider, the goon races away and then our hero notices something strange – the old woman isn’t an old woman at all, she’s wearing a mask! Ichiro takes the mask off and sees a beautiful woman underneath. The reporter randomly shows up out of nowhere and without so much as an introduction, she’s left in the care of the bumbling reporter by our hero, who races off to Akira.

Unfortunately, Akira’s been kidnapped by the bad guys. Somehow the reporter has managed to figure out where their lair is and he overhears them talk about having placed land mines all over the field leading up to the lair. Our hero zooms in, dodging the explosions with his bike and basically crashing his way into the lair while fighting off the Hakaider Trio at the same time. Here is a hero who can multitask. Ichiro manages to save Akira yet again asks him a couple more questions, things any kid should know, like who his parents are. The boy doesn’t seem to have a clue, neither does he know why he has a photograph of himself and a woman named Reiko, the women dressed up as an old lady. Ichiro decides he’ll need to protect Akira personally until he can find his parents and the two race off into the sunset as Hakaider watches on.

It might be a little strange that I decided (and choose to have as a potential review) to start with a series that’s actually the sequel to another one, but this is where I think Kikaider 01 shines. The show, while being a continuation of the original Kikaider, brings a lot of its own meat to the table. This is a sequel that, whether or not you saw the original, would have a ton of mystery going right from the get-go. The world is the same, but the players are vastly different, even if they do look like the enemies and hero from the previous series. I kind of love that the show plays with the idea that these guys look the same, but they aren’t at all. Doing this allows the show to keep that iconic look but at the same time helps it move on and become its own thing and that’s something any sequel needs to have as a goal.

So who are the main players here? First we have Akira, a very quiet kid, I don’t think he says a single word in the entire he episode. The actor in the role does a good job of making you get the feeling that this kid is lost and, like a kid, doesn’t quite see what the big deal is. At least that’s my read. When Ichiro asks him questions, he just sort of shrugs. I guess not having your memories would make it difficult to care about them at all, at least from the perspective of a child.

In addition to Akira, we’ve got Reiko, the mysterious woman who disguised herself as an older lady. We don’t know too much about her yet, but that photo proves she’s somehow linked to Akira. We’ve also got a cameraman / reporter whose name I didn’t catch. He is definitely the comic relief of the show. This guy makes some amusing remarks and has wild body language compared to everyone else. I kind of love that he just saunters up to Kikaider 01 after the first battle and like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Here is a guy removed from reality.

Next are the two biggest players, Hakaider and Ichiro. Hakaider is, for the moment, a generic villain. He wants to destroy stuff and we don’t know much else, but I’m sure there’s got to be more to him. And, man, having him read the episode title in place of the narrator? That was awesome. It’s a nice, chilling way to get the series started.

Finally we come to our hero, Kikaider 01 / Ichiro. This guy is suave, he’s the epitome of it. He walks around like he’s in charge of every situation and at the same time has such an amiable personality, he really does feel like the older brother type. This is one of those guys you can totally believe as a hero and as someone you can rely on. What I love is that this cool personality isn’t as deep as his character goes. Ichiro knows something is odd about Akira not remembering…well, anything. He has some serious inner monologues that help show him as not just a cool hero, but someone who analyzes situations. When you watch Ichiro, played by Shunsuke Ikeda, you’re seeing someone who puts on a mask of confidence while he’s working things out in his head.

Visually, the episode is…a little underwhelming. I think it did what it could and that battle in Hakaider’s lair was pretty sweet, but nothing stands out and grabs you. The Hakaider Trio don’t exactly come off as the most creative of designs but I don’t think they’re meant to. (and a reason I didn’t mention them in the characters bit is because we really have no idea who they are) The fights aren’t anything to write home about but every now and them some interesting concepts come into play.(Specifically that really awesome scene with the Hakaider Trio going to town on that nuclear plant) Based on this episode alone, one would think this is a series that stands out better when you’re dealing with the drama scenes rather than action, which is a bit of a shame. But this is only the first episode, so I think you can give it some slack and hope that this an area that sees improvement in the not too distant future. (relatively speaking) The designs are awesome for what they are though, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Hakaider design and I think Kikaider 01 is a drastic improvement over the original as a suit.

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