The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Android Kikaider

Title: Android Kikaider aka Android Kikaider: The Animation
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sony Animation
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 16 Oct 2000 – 8 Jan 2001

Synopsis: Dr. Kohmyoji  — a renowned scientist and engineer in the field of robotics — is attacked at his laboratory by a hostile robot, just as he finishes his most powerful creation: Jiro, a physically superior robot with an artificial conscience. Dr. Kohmyoji’s lab is blown up and the doctor himself is presumably killed in the explosion, but Jiro escapes. He soon finds, however, that he is now the target of an antagonistic and mysterious organization controlled by Dr. Gill, a former associate if Dr. Kohmyoji. Jiro must juggle defending himself against the flood of robots sent by Dr. Gill to kill him, and struggling with his rapidly developing emotions.

The Highlights
The animation: Horrendous.
The characters: Shockingly bland, with a few exceptions.
Steven Blum: The only good voice-actor in the English dub, but goddamn does he make up for everyone else’s performances. 

AnimeKikaider01AnimeKikaider02AnimeKikaider03

From time to time one might find a gem of a series, well hidden by age and obscurity. Such a show might deserve greater popularity, but for one reason or another never got it. Usually, however, something remains obscure because it does not deserve to be popular — such is the case with Android Kikaider.

While I can’t call Android Kikaider bad, per se, it’s incredibly flawed. It has aspects that hint at how good it could have been, but also other aspects that are horrendously botched. Take the characters: Most are ludicrously shallow and archetypal, but some minor characters such as the creatively named “Gold Bat” are actually genuinely well-written for what they are (in Gold Bat’s case, a very minor antagonist) and have worthwhile dialogue. What’s more, Android Kikaider was written by Shogakukan Manga Award winning manga-ka Ishinomori Shotaro, so there isn’t any excuse for the main characters to be so bland and generic.

Another failure on the part of the writer is the world; there’s not much to say about it. In any good work of science-fiction, world-building is important, but in this series it’s almost non-existent. When Android Kikaider begins, we’re neither told nor shown much of anything about the universe in which the show takes place, and by the end we know precious little more. How can we, the audience, be expected to care about a villain trying to take over the world if know nothing about that world? Because of the poorly written and developed characters and basic world, the main conflict of the series fails to have more than a small modicum of tension.

Well, so much for the characters and the world, what of the rest? Not all that much better, but there are some acceptable aspects, not to say redeeming ones. I rather enjoyed the screen time of one of the main antagonists, Saburo, who is voiced in the otherwise mediocre English dub by the outstanding Steven Blum. As I previously mentioned, the aptly named Gold Bat is a charismatic and entertaining character, if only for his short two episode lifespan. There isn’t all that much wrong with the soundtrack; even if it is a bit uninspired, it doesn’t induce any headaches. The animation, however: ghastly. Simply hideous in every sense of the word. The character designs are terrible, the fights are stiff and boring, almost every episode contains stock footage, and the colors are washed out and ugly. This show is painful to watch for prolonged periods, and I had to break up my viewings into 2-3 episode groups.

Not everything about Android Kikaider is bad, but the one thing I can’t forgive in any TV series or movie is what the late, great Roger Ebert called “Hey, Wait a Minute Syndrome.” Hey, wait a minute, you mean to tell me that none of these casually dressed people looked twice at Jiro’s ridiculous costume? Hey, wait a minute, if Dr. Gill has laser pistols that can easily destroy Jiro, and both can and have been mass produced, why wasn’t he using them from the start? I could go on for paragraphs, but my point has been made already; I’d just be beating a dead horse. Some of the coincidences and bizarre phenomena in this show are mind-blowingly, dare I say embarrassingly, idiotic.

In the end, for all I said about it, Android Kikaider isn’t garbage by any means. Massively flawed, sure, but at times entertaining. It’s disappointing to me that this series so clearly has the potential to be great, but had its potential squandered by lazy writing and low-budget animation. Everything about Android Kikaider is just… dated. It might have demanded some praise in 1989, but unfortunately it was made in 2000, fully two years after Cowboy Bebop. I can’t really condemn it, but I can’t recommend it to anyone either; the show couldn’t hold the attention of audiences in the previous decade, and it certainly can’t now.

The Rating: 5
#/10

Reviewed by: CNile

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