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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Kikaider

Android Kikaider (人造人間キカイダー), or simply Kikaider, is the 1972 series that was created by Ishinomori and is one of the quintessentially iconic tokusatsu shows, being one of the first to air in the West.

It sees the android Jiro fight for justice, and revenge for his creator, against the despicable DARK and their Dark Destruction Corps. It’s basically another Kamen Rider except this one looks really, really daft.

kikaider rhino

I know I’m supposed to give the show the benefit of the doubt because of it’s age but I’ve put up with a lot of Ishinomori’s nonsense over the course of these past two months and having to watch his best idea but worse isn’t exactly endearing to me.

kikaider entrance

I will say that Jiro, played by Daisuke “Battle Cossack” Ban, looks good in the role and I now have more of an appreciation for Rento Makina, the Rider homage to Kikaider in Kamen Rider Zi-O. They nailed that 70s denim and flairs aesthetic that looks really cool for some reason. I can’t really speak to the other cast members because they’re not given a lot of lines to work with.

The fight choreography is really stilted and that’s a massive drawback for me. I’ll forgive a lot of nonsense for cool action but Kikaider’s got nothing in a fight except a lacklustre chop. You’re a machine man, throw a punch! I did like the rhino monster and the stylised tease of the monsters we can expect as the show goes on but I wonder if Kikaider suffered from monster recycling like more modern toku does?

kikaider end

Kikaider is an iconic tokusatsu that you will no doubt recognise from look alone so while you’ve got access to a subbed version, I recommend checking it out so you can say you’ve watched it at least. You might as well, eh? Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Kikaider 01, which was due to be reviewed by me but since it has no English subs (not even auto-generated), I skipped it in favour of this show.

You can now find Kikaider, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Gambare! Red Vickies

Ganbare! Red Vickies (がんばれ!レッドビッキーズ), or misspelled as Gambare! Red Vickies on the Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel, is a youth baseball show that doesn’t have explosions, rubber monsters, or any kind of panache or flair. In short, this was boring!

red vickies girl

Have you ever seen a sports movie? Literally any of them? Mighty Ducks, Cool Runnings, Rookie of the Year, Bad News Bears, Angels in the Outfield, A League of Their Own, Little Giants, et al? Then you know what Red Vickies is and oh boy is this an arduous watch, let alone write about.

red vickies coach

This 1978 series stars Hiroko Hayashi as Reiko Esaki, a high school girl who loves baseball but is denied access to it because A) she’s a girl and 2) this is a sports movie in need of an inciting incident. Fresh off of the 70’s “family friendly” brand of sexual harassment, Reiko decides to become the coach of a little league team and wastes no time in recruiting a team of no-hopers, tropes, and obvious ringers.

red vickies cutin

The show features these cute cut-in title cards drawn by Ishinomori himself, which are meant to reflect the characters’ emotions which I guess works because all the child actors are bad. They scream their lines and all have that one face children have when told to read lines.

red vickies fail

The show does set-up a lot of the ancillary characters that we’ll be seeing throughout the show like the other baseball coach who tells Reiko to disband the team and the comedic owner who’s son is on the team, I appreciated that most of the characters got a little something to1 establish their schtick for the series to come.

red vickies punks

Because this is an Ishinomori show, it’s understandable why it’s on the TTW channel but it’s definitely not one for the standard tokusatsu audience but it’s not particularly bad so it’s there if anyone is curious!

You can now find Gambare! Red Vickies, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Review: Machineman

Seiun Kamen Mashinman or Nebula Mask Machineman (星雲仮面マシンマン) is another offering from tokusatsu godfather, Shotaro Ishinomori. Broadcast on Nippon TV in 1984, Machineman ran for 36 episodes. The series follows Planet Ivy resident, Nick, after he arrives on Earth in his spaceship. Nick is visiting Earth to complete his university thesis – studying humans – and while here will go by the name Ken Takase because apparently Nick wasn’t quite “Earthy” enough. He has a companion, Ball Boy; a baseball with arms and legs that is also a boy, evidently. Good to know that America’s pastime has made it out to the Pleiades system. As part of his study, Nick becomes interested in Maki Hayama, a photographer and journalist at Shukan Hit newspaper and sends his Ball to follow her, which isn’t creepy at all.

Enter the head of evil organisation Tentacle, Professor K (Hideyo Amamoto), and his dastardly plan to kill all of the world’s children. Pleasant chap. Amamoto is well known to tokusatsu at this point having played Dr. Shinigami/Ikadevil in the original Kamen Rider series as well as roles in various Ultraman series and Godzilla movies. He has a pet mechanical parrot that, well, parrots his schemes back to him but I think some fun could be had with this bird as the series progresses and Prof K begins to fail consistently.

Machineman is rumoured to have been inspired by the DC’s Superman and, although this was never confirmed by either Ishinomori or Toei, the comparison is easy to make. Yes, it’s Machineman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. With his sweeping haircut and thick framed glasses, Nick is Clark Kent if Clark Kent was born on Japanese Krypton. Maki Hayama is, of course, his Lois Lane, and Nick wastes no time in reenforcing that by carrying her in his arms mid flight after she fell of a building, as you do. There’s no real reason for the Machineman suit to have a cape either, but it does because, you know, Superdude. Things are different enough to not have the lawyers at DC Comics at the door but the similarities are undeniable.

This show uses a lot of repeated zoom shots, which actually hurt my brain a little, but other than that holds up quite well to other tokusatsu of the eighties. If you like the Toei big three – Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Metal Hero Series – then you’ll like this. The arriving/transforming out of a rocket powered car is pretty neat and unlike any other toku of the era. It’s definitely worth trying out the first two episodes, at least.

You can watch the first two episodes of Machineman now on the official Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel.