Mmm… yeah. This is an easy series to read, because there’s not a lot of dialogue and the art is quite good. On the other hand… there’s really not much going on. There are… er, deep philosophies at work, but the actual story is a little lacking.
Most of the dialogue focuses on what makes a living being alive, and whether or not the robots that are being made here are alive or just machines. There’s also an environmentalist message brought into things here, since the villian starts killing off scientists researching various aspects of environmental protection. Apparently this guy… wants to wipe humans off the face of the Earth so that the Earth can then set about reversing the damage humans have done to it.
Mitsuko doesn’t really want to have anything to do with the sentient robots anymore, but she’s sort of in the thick of things. One of her dad’s failed robots kidnaps her, a humanoid one with a failed Gemini chip like Jiro’s, but one that failed early on so that the scientist made his alternate form some sort of bat robot. There’s also a scorpion robot that Jiro takes out of commission, but we don’t actually get to see Jiro’s transformation again this volume.
There’s also a sort of evil scientist setting the mood, and some sort of rogue riding around putting things right… the type of character that is mostly evil, but does some good things.
Eh. I didn’t actually enjoy this volume that much, but I’ll keep reading.
I decided to go back and try this series after having read the last volume. I read few enough series about robots fighting one another that it would at least be a novelty. I’m not entirely clear on the origins of the Kikaider franchise, but from the essay in the front, it sounds like Shotaro Ishinomori originally devised the plot to be a tokusatsu show, so I’m not sure if there was an original manga, or if this is based off the show, or if the manga and show ran concurrently and this is based off a loose manga adaptation. In any case, it’s an extremely literal interpretation of the source material. I kind of think it was based on the show only because the plot develops faster than would be natural in a manga series, or the original manga was based on the show rather than the other way around, if this is a retelling of the manga.
Most of the volume is actually fighting between robots. There are some interesting ideas developed in the prologue which harken back to Astro Boy (which I see has more of a homage since Ishinomori was an assistant to Tezuka) and apparently take a lot of inspiration from Pinocchio, which I have not read. The prologue sets things up with the main character’s estranged father asking her to perfect his conscience circuit so that his ultimate creation will be good rather than a mix of good and berserk, like he is now. The robot happens to look like her older brother, who was murdered when she was younger and was named Tobio Ichiro. I think much will be made of the conscience and the dynamics of good and evil, but parallels are drawn between God creating man as life and man creating robots as lifelike as possible. Lots of parallels are drawn to Christianity, actually. Some of them are interesting, but a lot of them are pretty typical anime-type fluff.
After these plot preliminaries are explained away (and she picks up a younger sister, who is also clearly a robot), a bunch of huge robots attack, and the malfunctioning robot beats them all up. There are a lot of big robots, and the battles go on for quite some time. There’s also an antagonist that shows up that I assume will be spotlighted later.
It’s a good thing that Mitsuko is actually a robot scientist that can work on Jiro, the robot, but I’m not sure how much she will need to since the conscience circuit seems to work except when Jiro is in battle. Even his wounds are something he can fix himself since he regenerates with nanotechnology. Basically, I think Mitsuko is just going to play keep-away with Jiro and her sister from the bad guys with lots of epic robot fights in between. I’m game, though. It’s not very long, and, like I said, I don’t see robot fights that often, so I’m all about trying this out.
This is another ARC from CMX. I don’t actually like reading series unless I can start from the beginning, but for some reason I had it in my head that somehow this series started over at volume 7. I’m not sure where, why, or how I came upon this impression, because this is the last volume of the series.
It wasn’t that hard to get into, and that was my backup plan – if it didn’t start the series over, I figured the plot wouldn’t be overly-complicated. I read the character descriptions at the beginning of the volume and felt pretty comfortable the rest of the way through. Gotta love those character descriptions. Basically… there are boys who can turn into robots. Some of the robots are going up against each other. There are two scientists who are… at odds, I think. The three most powerful robots are at least partially human. There’s lots of fighting with other robots, and one guy gets his head torn off. All this is pretty cool.
I liked it a lot, despite the fact I knew nothing about it and it seems to have a pretty basic story (though, to be fair, I’m pretty sure I’m just seeing the resolution to everything, for all I know there’s been some hard stuff going on in the past 6 volumes). This could be because I’ve been reading a lot of superhero comics lately and this type of story is appealing to me at the moment, and it probably helps that I like sentai series a lot, though this is a much straighter take and seems more like a tokusatsu. It helps that its got really attractive art and character designs. The art is always the thing I have the hardest time figuring out in these ARCs because they’re sort of low-quality roughs, but the drawings in this series are pretty amazing, and that can sometimes make up for a lot of other things story-wise. Not always. I’m looking at you, Alichino.
The only two things I can think of to say against it are that sometimes I had a hard time figuring out the fight scenes and I suspect I wouldn’t have liked the ending had I read the series all the way through. I liked it reading just this one volume though, because it does what it does and gets it over with, and I thought it was kind of funny the way it left everything… even though it wasn’t supposed to be. The difficulty I had with some of the fight scenes may have had something to do with the ARC, again, since I was looking at two low-quality pages at once, so it may actually be a lot clearer what’s going on in the actual book. Plus, uh… I didn’t actually know who the characters were, so I couldn’t tell which robots I was supposed to be rooting for, and it took me a long time to figure out one of the characters transformed into the brain-bot. That likely didn’t help either.
I immediately felt the need to go back and read from the beginning when I heard that the inspiration for the story was Pinocchio, and that it was sort of hinged on the question of “was Pinocchio happy when he became a real boy?” I’m… not really sure the question is answered in this series, but it’s awesome all the same. I also just found out that this is pretty much a straight retelling of the older Shotaro Ishinomori series (he’s credited as the writer, and I was kind of wondering how that worked), so I know that it was probably heavily influenced by/ripped off from Astro Boy. I liked Kikaider a lot better, but that could have a lot to do with the art and maybe some tweaks too, I’ll have to see when I go back and get the rest.
So yeah, I thought it was awesome, just judging from the last volume, but I can see how if you’re not interested in robots fighting and whatnot you may not be into it.