REVIEW: KIKAIDER REBOOT

CAST

Jingi Irie  (Absolute Boyfriend)
Kazushige Nagashima (Ponyo)
Satsukawa Aimi (The Samurai I Loved)
Yûto Ikeda (The Whispering Star)
Ryûji Harada (Werewolf Warrior)
Shingo Tsurumi (The Age of Shadows)
Maryjun Takahashi (Becoming Mother)
Daisuke Ban (Ring)
Renji Ishibashi (Audition)

Kikaider REBOOT HakaiderWhile not every classic tokusatsu hero has proved to have the staying power of Kamen Rider or Super Sentai, one way or another many of them have been revived over the last few years. The Metal Heroes’ Space Sheriffs received continuation in the form of a new movie and a handful of v-cinema spin-offs, while the likes of Inazuman, Space Ironmen Kyodain, Azumaizer-3 and La Belle Fille Masquée Poitrine have all found new life in recent Kamen Rider movie outings. But other than a quick cameo in OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let’s Go Kamen Riders, Kikaider and company haven’t had a live-action project since 1995’s Mechanical Violator Hakaider. This all changed in 2014, with the arrival of Kikaider Reboot – a brand new cinematic reboot of the popular Shotaro Ishinomori hero. Kikaider REBOOT MariIn the not too distant future, the brilliant scientist Doctor Kohmyoji heads up the ARK Project – a plan to advance the field of robotics and create machines that can help resolve the problems humanity faces. Shortly after disagreement with fellow scientist Gilbert Kanzaki and Japanese Defense Minister Tsubakiya over how these robots should be used, Kohmyoji is killed in an accident and the project is taken over. One year later Kohmyoji’s children Mitsuko and Masaru are targeted by armed men, saved only by the intervention of Jiro (aka Kikaider) – the Doctor’s prototype robot who inexplicably went missing following his death. Built with a Conscience Circuit to help him learn human behaviour and the difference between right and wrong, Jiro’s mission is to project Kohmyoji’s children – who unaware to them hold the secrets of their father’s research. Hunting them down is not only this armed force, but also the deadly female android Mari and Hakaider – the ultimate vision of Professor Gill’s work.KikiderRebootThere’s always been a colourful and campy charm about tokusatsu/henshin heroes, making gritty, serious and/or realistic remakes not something tried very often. But if the manga and anime prove anything, Kikaider is one of the few franchises that lends itself to this approach very well. Reboot completely runs with this idea, ridding itself of some of the more improbable concepts that were a staple of the original idea. The cliché evil organisation Dark is gone, not replaced by a terrorist organisation but instead a government project twisting Kohmyoji’s original ideals.This is a pretty big change that spurs the story of Kikaider in a different direction, even though its still fundamentally telling the same story.Kikaider-Reboot-images-dcf88395-7e18-42bc-9b70-8808c1eef44Likewise Reboot and actor Jingi Irie’s interpretation of Jiro/Kikaider is rather different from the original, playing up the robotic side of the character more than his human tendencies. In my eyes this makes Reboot Kikaider feel like a less advanced version of the character, fitting in well with the attempted “realism” of the whole piece. BmMCddDCUAA8GCSMost importantly, Kikaider Reboot is an incredibly stylish film. Very often tokusatsu/henshin hero movie projects can end up simply feeling like extended episodes rather than big budget outings, but Reboot feels like a movie project from start to finish.  The new Kikaider and Hakaider costumes are gorgeous, and the fight sequences suitably flashy. Kikaider may not have any fancy transformation sequence in this film, but enough flare has been packed into every other ounce of it to make up for things. Kikaider Reboot is a really enjoyable that otherwise encompasses everything that makes the Kikaider franchise so great. It genuinely feels like a spectacle to be awed at, and with such an ambiguous ending (not to mention that mid-credits sequence) it would be a massive shame for this renewed universe not to be revisited.

 

 

 

 

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