"Swit-cheee ... on! One! Two Three!"
Kikaida actors draw hundreds
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Hundreds of 30-somethings -- many of them cutting out early from work yesterday afternoon -- sang along to the "Kikaida" TV show theme song as their favorite mechanical man and brother Kikaida 01 jumped onstage and threw a few faux fighting moves at evil sibling Hakaida.
It was the first official appearances by the Japanese television superheroes in Honolulu since 1977, when the "Kikaida 01" sequel series was at the peak of its local popularity on KIKU-TV.
A feature attraction at this weekend's All-Collectors Show at Blaisdell Center, Daisuke Ban, the actor who played Jiro (Kikaida), and Shunsuke Ikeda, better known as Ichiro (Kikaida 01), signed more than 250 autographs at $25 a pop within 45 minutes of their first appearance, show organizers say.
"I felt like a kid up there," said Greg Gabaylo of Pearl City, a juggler and magician. Like others in line, he remembered being at the Pearl City Holiday Mart (now Daiei) appearance by Kikaida in 1974 that drew thousands.
Gabaylo said the subtitles on the Japanese show helped him learn to read English.
On the other hand, the show helped inspire Jayson Tayros, 31, to learn Japanese, go to Japan and become an English-language teacher there for three years. Tayros, now a language instructor in Torrance, Calif., flew in for the weekend for the sole purpose of seeing the two actors he grew up watching.
Tayros is such a big fan that he has vanity license plates in California that read "KIKAIDA."
Blake Moritsugu, a 37-year-old Manoa schoolteacher, brought his most prized Kikaida possession to be signed: a boxed laser-disc set of all 43 original "Kikaida" episodes which he picked up for $600 when he visited Japan. It quickly drew the envy of other fans in line.
Ban and Ikeda will be signing autographs again today from noon to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. Brief appearances by the costumed Kikaida, Kikaida 01 and Hakaida occur at the beginning of each signing.
And the showroom yesterday was abuzz with rumors the syndicated show may return to Hawaii's airwaves soon.