Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Get Your Recommended Daily Allowance of Giant Robots

Has anyone else been watching Kikaider on Cartoon Network? (Midnight EDT). It's the story of an android (he's called Jiro, but his more robotic form is known as Kikaider) marked for destruction because he has one horrible new feature which can't be allowed -- a conscience. Meanwhile, he is sought by friends as well as enemies, but his friends don't know what to do with him any more than he knows what to do about himself. Especially since he's fallen in love with a human woman, who to both their horror, just may be falling for him as well.

This series, based on a classic Japanese manga series, blends the original "Speed Racer"-vintage character designs with today's animation styles. It's disconcerting at first, but the story more than overcomes any oddness in the art. It has some violence -- mainly giant robot battles -- though that's not as cartoony a violence as usual, since the androids and robots are Kikaider's brothers and sisters. It's moody, melancholy, and hopeful as well. It's edgy without having to resort to extremes of nudity, violence and bad language because it makes you think and feel. I really hope this series gets aired in prime time; this is the kind of stuff that's not made for young young kids, but which slightly older kids ought to get to watch.

Btw, keep an eye out for the return of The Big O at midnight in August. It's set in a city where, forty years ago, amnesia struck everyone. (People still go to church and celebrate Christmas, though they don't remember why. One of the oddest and most touching Christmas episodes ever, with a great deal to say about faith and the usual odd Japanese perspective to make your head hurt.) It's a dapper noir negotiator and his android friend Dorothy against the corporation that rules the place and may have caused the amnesia. And it's the negotiator's giant robot which we are told was "Cast in the name of God." An interesting alternative to the usual Buddhist/Shinto settings of anime.


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