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Kikaida and Kamen Rider V3 are are back in the Islands, and not only keiki will be lining up to see their favorite superheroes. Toh!
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Ban Daisuke and Kikaida greet the fans;
thousands of fans mobbed Daiei (then
at Pearlridge) to catch an appearance
by Kikaida in 1974
If you were a kid growing up Island-style in the mid’70s, chances are you were heavily influenced by the scores of chop-sockey flicks to hit local theaters back then. More specifically, you were probably among the legion of followers of the Kikaida cult, in which wearing all things red and blue was considered “righteous” and performing double chops, flying kicks and screaming “Toh!” as your kamaboko slipper sailed off a foot and smashed into the mouth of an unsuspecting girl on the playground, bloodying her lip and, as a result, leading to your oneway trip to the principal’s office - were the norm.
(Well, maybe everything but the last part was the norm. By the way if you’re reading this, sorry Wendy!)
Thirty years later, not much has changed for these rabid fans of the Japanese made-for-TV jinzo ningen (super android) series. They may have grown bigger - but did they ever grow up? Did they ever “changee”?
Nah. Kikaida’s still ichiban in their middle-aged minds.
Take Hilo artist Layne Luna, for example. At 41, the fish taxidermist still bleeds red and blue, devoting much of his spare time to fashioning some the finest outfits and masks of his Japanese superheroes found in the entire world. So committed is he to his craft, in fact, that he once shed 60 pounds just so he could don the cyborg Kamen Rider V3 outfit and perform alongside his childhood heroes in the locally staged “Kikaida Brothers Live Show” three years ago.
“Definitely one of the biggest thrills of my life,” says Luna, who recently celebrated his yakudoshi and received as part of a slew of “good luck” gifts the complete 43-episode CD collection of Kikaida.
“Being part Japanese, I was always interested in learning about my culture - even as a kid. And to be able to grow up at that time and see a hero who was Japanese meant a lot to me,” adds Luna, who was raised in Mililani before moving to the Big Island at the age of 10. “I mean, what better role model could there be?”
For Aaron Yamasato - a local film producer whose movie Blood of the Samurai garnered Best Film honors at the 2003 Hawaii International Film Festival - no childhood superhero had a greater influence on him than the humanoid robot.
“As a child (in the ‘70s), I remember wanting to have all things that were Kikaida,” says Yamasato, who freely admits to playing dress-up (as Kikaida, of course) with his daughter, Lia, and performing for fellow family members in his living room. “Even now as an adult, I have a hard time trying to resist buying any Kikaida stuff that I see. In fact, I recently bought two small Jiro and Kikaida action figures in Japan. It was something that you could buy in those toy machines placed in front of stores. I also bought some cool vinyl Kikaida action figures that were being sold at Toys R Us Japan.
“So when I see something Kikaida, that kid inside of me is still saying, ‘Cool! I wish I had that!’”
Both Luna and Yamasato figure to be among the throng of fans to greet actors Ban Daisuke (Kikaida) and Miyauchi Hiroshi (Kamen Rider V3) this Sunday when the Japanese superheroes make yet another appearance at Shirokiya at Ala Moana Center. The event, which includes autograph signings and a karaoke contest, runs from 2 to 3:30 p.m., and is expected to draw hundreds - if not thousands - of lifelong admirers of the tokusatsu (special effects) series.
“I’m amazed that the same audience is still here - and now with their children in tow,” observes Walter Watanabe, director-store manager at Shirokiya. “(We’ve) had numerous Japanese super-hero appearances at the store, and each time have managed to draw large crowds of grandparents, parents and children.
“The staying power of these characters is just
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