Kikaider 02 is a new manga by CMX Manga, which is owned by DC Comics. Kikaider 02 is an updated take on the old 1972 Kikaider TV show in Japan. Kikaider is a cyberpunk manga that is clearly influenced by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Writer: Shotaro Ishinomori
Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 5.
Their Take: The Countdown to the destruction of Earth has begun! Japan is plagued by a series of mysterious plane crashes, building explosions, and assassinations-all acts of terrorism committed by D.A.R.K.’s unleashed robots. Meanwhile, Komyoji Mitsuko has returned to her relatively peaceful life, but soon becomes a pawn in D.A.R.K.’s plan to draw Jiro out of hiding! Mitsuko is about to discover the truth about the Gemini circuit that her father built-but will she be able to handle it?
Jiro/Kikaider: An android created by Dr. Komyoji to stop DARK. Unlike the first two Kikaider models (00 and 01) created before him, Jiro, the third model, has emotions due to his GEMINI Conscience Circuit which simulates real emotions and distinguishes between right and wrong. Jiro is tormented by not being human yet being able to have human emotions such as love and anger, to learn and grow like a human. Jiro acts to protect Mitsuko and Masaru Komyoji.
Jiro is able to transform into his combat form, Kikaider, by pressing the switches on both of his shoulders. Due to the incomplete Gemini chip, Kikaider is also incomplete in appearance with an asymmetrical form, Kikaider is half-blue and half-red (he would be blue if it were complete). Blue represents good and red represents evil. It is that latter side, the dark side that Professor Gill tries to exploit in him.
Mitsuko Komyoji: The daughter of Dr. Komyoji who has had a tough and lonely childhood ever since her mother abandoned the family. Determined to find her father and put together the missing pieces of her family history, Mitsuko gets help from Jiro.
Hinano Komyoji: Mitsuko’s half-sister. She has no memory of anything before meeting Mitsuko. Hinano holds a secret pertaining to the destruction of mankind and, therefore, is a target of D.A.R.K.
Dr. Den Komyoji: A famous scientist in robotics. He was captured by DARK to help them build an army of murderous robot monsters. After finding out Gill’s plan to conquer the world with these robots, he secretly develops the conscience circuit that is built into the body that can help differentiate between good and evil.
Saburo/Hakaider: Another android, considered as Jiro’s “younger brother” as he was also made by Professor Komyoji. While Jiro was made by Dr. Komyoji voluntarily, D.A.R.K. forced Dr. Komyoji to make Saburo/Hakaider with the mission to destroy Kikaider.
Kikaider 01: Jiro’s “older brother”, the first Kikaider built by Komyoji in case of dire emergencies. He has a faulty Gemini chip and is the reason Komyoji instead strived to create the “perfected” Jiro.
Professor Gill: The leader of a terrorist organization called D.A.R.K. He once funded Dr. Komyoji’s research. Gill hates Kikaider, seeing him as an abomination of robots due to his Gemini System (not to mention a threat to his ambition), and wants to destroy him as a result. Gill uses a giant pipe organ that can control his Dark Androids (and partially affecting Kikaider as well).
In Volume 2, Mitsoku is captured by the first Kikaider android. He captures her to draw out Jiro so he can find out who is stronger. The first Kikaider tells his horrible story to Mitsoku about how his Gemini chip failed and how his “father” Dr. Komyoji turned his back on him and shut him down and then transformed him into a terrible killing robot.
We see Gill talking to Saburo, who makes it clear he is not Gill’s errand boy. Saburo is merely fulfilling his purpose which is to destroy Jiro. Gill also explains that D.A.R.K. exits to bring the end of the world. That mankind is cancer on the earth and must be gotten rid of in order for the Earth to survive. Only by killing off environmental scientists can D.A.R.K. ensure that the Earth falls into a cataclysmic state in which all of mankind is killed. Then after lies dormant, it should then be able to create a more superior form of life compared to that of Mankind.
Jiro eventually makes his way to Mitsoku and battles his “older brother.” During the battle, the building they are in sustains heavy damage and explodes. Jiro makes it out alive but tells Hinano that he could not save Mitsoku or his “brother.”
As the smoke clears from the building we see Saburo in Hakaider from holding Mitsuko’s unconscious body.
The Good: First, let’s deal with the art. I like Meimu’s style and it fits this manga well. He draws nice mecha and has a cool style. Meimu’s art looks similar to “old school” manga art, but with a totally modern twist. I like it.
Second, Ishinomori is crafting a very entertaining story. He combines plenty of action along with plenty of drama and dialogue. Ishinomori has created a delightfully complex universe that pulls in the reader. I love that D.A.R.K. is not just a bunch of raving lunatics. They actually see themselves as protectors of the Earth. I like the complexities with the different androids. The first Kikaider is wonderfully tragic and full of sorrow. The story of his creation and “death” and “rebirth” is excellent and chilling. Jiro is intriguing with his acknowledging that he is not human but him still possessing a “soul.” The third one, Saburo, is more of a loose cannon. Very powerful and is going to do things on his own terms. Very confident and sure of himself.
The basic theme of the manga is from the Blade Runner (Phillip Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep?) vein of Sci-Fi stories that all originally hail from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I find it intriguing and I think that Kikaider 02 brings a new twist to an age-old question of what is “life” a “soul” and “god,” and at what point does science try to replace the Devine?
Ishinomori is able to pull off action as easily as he can a very introspective contemplative scene. The characters are all well defined and have clear motivations. The Revolution is interested in Volume 3 and seeing where Ishinomori goes with this story.
The Bad: Meimu’s art may not appeal to everyone. I like it, but I can see where some people may not like the “old school” manga art influences.
Some readers may be turned off by the fact that Kikaider 02 is treading on grounds that have already been addressed by various movies, books, and manga. However, in the long run, we all know that there really are no truly new or unique ideas. Almost everything is a re-tread of some type or another.