Kikaida, left, and Kikaida One battle Dark's evil monsters Sunday.

30 years later,
Kikaida remains
popular in Hawaii

More than 60 fans act
in a local stage show
about the superhero

The reason that television costume dramas, space operas and westerns (and samurai tales) do so well in rerun is that they never seem dated. As long as the dialogue snaps, the emotions seem genuine and the adventure continues to take your breath away, the shows will live on. Nothing seems as dated as a "now" show seen a year later.

Thirty years later, "Kikaida" continues to wow Hawaii, with original episodes airing at 5:30 p.m. every weekday on KIKU, and remastered DVD compilations continuing to sell well.

The adventure of Jiro, the Boy with the Red Guitar Who's Also a Robot, struck a chord in Hawaii when it first aired in the 1970s, and, according to JN Productions head Joanne Ninomiya, the 3- to 12-year-old demographic it appealed to then is still the primary audience today -- plus all those fans who have since grown up.

These older fans are the ones who have created a ritual around Kikaida, as evidenced by this weekend's "Kikaida Brothers Live!" extravaganza. It's a stage show featuring more than 60 players from all over Hawaii, such a huge production that Ninomiya thinks it's likely the last. How could it get any bigger?

Here's the description of the stage show, the plot of which was dreamed up by Bob Furukawa:

"DARK storm clouds mass over the Hawaiian Islands ... and a sudden wave of volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and tsunami ravage Hawaii, causing panic and terror among local residents. Authorities uncover evidence of a sinister plot to destroy the islands and are horrified at what they find.

"It's DARK! The terrible organization has secretly infiltrated Hawaii with plans to launch a terrible campaign of destruction. In his quest to hunt down Dr. Komyoji in Hawaii, the evil Professor Gill has set up a DARK base deep in the heart of Oahu. Ferocious DARK Destructoids lay waste to the islands. The people of Hawaii are in grave danger!

Joanne Ninomiya and actor Ban Daisuke, who starred as Jiro in the original "Kikaida" series, judged a Kikaida coloring contest Tuesday. Daisuke will appear in "Kikaida Brothers Live!" Sunday.

"Two brave souls stand up to the DARK menace. Malia, the spunky local cousin of Mitsuko and Masaru Komyoji, and Hattori Hanalei, a 4th-generation Japanese-American/Hawaiian relative of private detective Hattori Hanpei, race to find Dr. Komyoji before he is captured by Professor Gill's henchmen.

"But when Malia and Hanalei are captured, all hope seems lost. Who can save Hawaii from the clutches of DARK?

"It's Kikaida and Kikaida 01 to the rescue! Ikaika Kikaida! Imua Kikaida 01! The people of Hawaii are behind you!"

Plus, Generation Kikaida merchandise is for sale, free kids' activities, including make-your-own Kikaida mask and coloring activities, food booths, autograph sessions with original star Ban Daisuke and photo opportunities galore with various costumed Kikaida-heads.

It occurs three times Sunday at the Hawaii Okinawa Center in Waipio, and is a fund-raiser that will give the young Okinawans the opportunity to buy a lion-dance costume. There's also a Kikaida appearance and autograph session tonight at Shirokiya.

APPEARING IN the stage show are original actors Ban Daisuke and Ikeda Shunsuke, plus local enthusiast Stephanie Sanchez as Malia, the local cousin of "Kikaida" characters Mitsuko and Masaru Komyoji. Both Ban and Sanchez are also co-stars in the local martial arts-action TV series "Blood of the Samurai," which debuts next month. Colleen Fujioka -- another "Blood of the Samurai" actress -- serves as emcee.

"It's so big here, but after 30 years, there's nothing left of the original show in Japan," said Ninomiya. She and Ban were judges in a Star-Bulletin Kikaida coloring contest that ended Wednesday. "That includes costumes, so everything you see here has been made by the fans."

Kikaida was the first Japanese superhero to strike it big elsewhere, Ninomiya explained. "Part of the reason is that the stories were basically good vs. evil, so they were easy to follow, and the action was very quick and colorful, and the monsters were cute, in their own way. Blue Buffalo! Gray Rhino King! The music was also excellent and easy to sing along with -- but the other thing is, kids sort of felt sorry for Jiro. He couldn't help what he was. They empathized with him."

This is ancient history in Japan, where "Kikaida" is a dim memory among dozens of kids' shows. "But there was a lot of publicity recently in Asahi Shinbun," explained Ban. "A University of Hawaii thesis dissertation was devoted to Kikaida, and there were stories about it."

Kikaida was in a class by himself, said Ban, largely due to series writer and Renaissance media man Shotaro Ishinomori. "He took a lot from everywhere -- surely he was aware of marvel's Spiderman comics -- and kept the humanity central to the character. Now, you can see a lot of similarities to 'A.I' and 'The Terminator.'"

The event this weekend is likely to be the last extravaganza, sighed Ninomiya, but there will likely be some sort of event when the last DVD compilation, the ninth, is released next spring. "It will be like a graduation party for the Kikaida generation," she mused.

Kikaida Brothers: Live!

Where: Hawaii Okinawa Center, 94-597 Ukee St., Waipio
When: 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $13 ($17 at the door on the day of event only), with tickets available at the Shirokiya toy department through tomorrow, or charge by phone through tonight at 836-0361
Call: 836-0361

Kikaida autograph session

Where: Shirokiya toy department, mall level at Ala Moana Center
When: 6 to 8 p.m. tonight
Admission: Free
Notes: Receive a voucher for a free autograph by Kikaida series actors Ban Daisuke and Ikeda Shunsuke with purchase of the Kikaida DVD, Vol. 5.

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