I enjoyed the 13-episode series Kikaider: The Animation. I wouldn't call it the best anime ever made, but it was nicely done and offered a dark, gritty adaptation of the story of a classic manga/tokusatsu superhero.
I wish I could say the same for its sequel, Kikaider-01: The Animation.
Running a scant 4 episodes, this is pretty much one for the die-hard fans - most of which live in Japan or Hawaii. It assumes that you are/were a big fan of the Kikaider manga or the Kikaider-01 tokusatsu series. Although I am a member of neither camp, it doesn't take much to realize that this OVA is a confusing mess.
Our hero Jiro (hey, that rhymes!) is seen careening down the road in his Sidemachine motorcycle, carrying a young woman named Rieko as well as a young boy named Akira. It turns out Akira is the son of Professor Gill, and the remnants of the Dark syndicate - now forming another organization called Shadow - are after him so that they may carry out their Evil Secret Plan. That paragraph tells you all you need to know.
Along the way, Jiro runs into an old monk, Fuuten, who was once an associate of Jiro's creator, Dr. Komyoji. Fuuten introduces Jiro's "brother," Ichiro - a.k.a. Kikaider-01. Ichiro has no conscience circuit, which means essentially that he's a cocky, amoral fighter. Soon after, they run into Bijinder, a female android who can (and I'm not kidding) shoot lasers out of her breasts, as well as Rei, another male android who transforms into Kikaider-00.
Hakaider is also back, and he has a trio of color-coded clones as his flunkies. Now, he possesses Gill's brain. In the previous series, we could take Hakaider seriously as a villain. In addition to being a badass, the fact that he had Dr. Komyoji's brain implanted within him was a source of dramatic tension. This new set of Hakaiders is about as menacing as a swarm of gnats and also about as annoying.
I don't think that I'd have such a problem with Kikaider-01's plot line if it didn't have such an asinine way of presenting it. This series is much more action-oriented than its predecessor, and being a shorter series, that doesn't leave a whole lot of room for anything else. Yes, you get lots of explosions, and the visuals remain mostly true to Ishinomori's retro art style. But the plot-exposing scenes are barely connected together with the action scenes, and it's frustrating to watch them because of the way the show makes assumptions about its audience. It's nearly impossible to relate to these characters since the show makes such a half-assed effort in that department. Sometimes I wonder if everyone in this show has mechanical parts in their heads.
If you're looking for glitz, Kikaider-01 has it in spades. Just don't go into it expecting it to be anywhere close to the standards of the first series.
Axem's rating: 3/10
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