Sit down kiddies, now have any of you ever heard of an allegory? You see an allegory is when something within a story is used as a representation for an idea that is theoretical or spiritual in some manner. Examples of such things and stories include both “The Matrix” and “The Lord of The Rings” having their main characters being an allegory for Jesus. That’s right, Frodo represents Jesus, try picturing that next time you watch those movies. The character I’m talking about today isn’t necessarily an allegory for anything spiritual but an idea. He is a representation of humanity but interestingly enough he isn’t human at all. He is a creation, a marionette, a false man wishing to be human. Essentially what I’m saying is Android Kikaider is Pinocchio.
To clarify quickly, the version of Jiro that I’ll be talking about is from the 2000 anime as well as it‘s succeeding OVA. While I would love to discuss the original Tokusatsu version of Kikaider I have not actually seen it. Even if I had, the 2000 anime version actually holds a special place in my heart as it was one of the few anime that I truly enjoyed when I was younger. While the story may feel dated to some, I would very much recommend it to any who have not seen it.
-Warning: There are things past this point that are spoilers. You’ve been warned, so don’t come complaining if something gets spoiled for you.-
First off, as I said in my opening paragraph Jiro is not human, rather he is an android. Jiro isn’t an ordinary android though, if there were such a thing, he has within him what is called the Gemini Circuit. A device that allows him to feel emotion as well as have a conscience similar to a human. Having a conscience means that Jiro feels the sorrow caused because of his actions. Unfortunately for Jiro his Gemini Circuit is unfinished and therefore he cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. This means that Jiro is susceptible to the influence of others, meaning that under the wrong guidance he could very well become the monster that so many fear him to be.
Personality wise Jiro is probably the least developed character I have analyzed. This is contributed to the fact that he was only recently built and activated near the start of the series, effectively making him little more than a newborn. While Jiro seems dull and lifeless, it’s not so much that he is without personality but rather in the process of developing one of his own. Now whether you believed me earlier or not, Pinocchio is in fact the main basis of Kikaider, that being said a lot of my comparisons will be between the two. Personality wise Jiro is not really anything like his basis, I mean he’s got a somewhat childlike spirit but it’s not of the same sort that Pinocchio has. Pinocchio embodied the general idea of a child, sweet, kind, naïve and immature, basically he‘s a young child. Jiro, however, isn’t so much childish as he is infantile, not really having much personality at first glance and just being rather silent and void of thought. This of course would not remain the case.
Jiro would quickly undergo much development predominately due to the hardships that he would face. The first major development would be his self-doubt. You see, Jiro in his human appearance is rather normal looking, never really standing out with the exception of the guitar strapped to his back. When he transforms, however, it becomes a different story as most of the human characters regard him as a monster. With an asymmetrical, unfinished, exposed and somewhat inhuman appearance, Jiro in his Kikaider form becomes unsettling to look at and simply frightening to be around. His unfortunate monstrous appearance is only amplified when he fights, as his innate combat abilities make him extremely deadly as well as terrifying. Due to his status among the humans as being a monster, Jiro often becomes self conscious of his appearance as well as his very existence. This grows to the point of forcing Jiro to go into seclusion, hiding himself from his “family” and seeking acceptance from anyone he finds that may not know his secret.
This all leads into Jiro’s second form of growth being his sorrow. Due to the way the humans treat him Jiro becomes frustrated and mistrusting towards them and this is were the main difference between his basis, Pinocchio, and himself lies as there comes a time when Jiro has no desires to become human. Jiro doesn’t know what is right or wrong and thus doesn’t know which side to take or whether he can even trust either and after seeing how un-accepting the humans are of him, Jiro reaches a point of loss and misdirection ultimately feeling that no one can really be trusted and thinking that if humans are untrustworthy then they aren‘t something he‘d want to become. Remember that he has just been activated meaning he isn’t used to how the world works. Jiro is lost, scared and incapable of dealing with the hypocrisy of humanity. Human’s aren’t just good or evil though, they don’t just fall to one side but are instead complex creatures and Jiro just doesn’t understand the idea of human’s being not just one but both good and evil.
Jiro, as I said previously, is susceptible to influence and as such falls victim to some of the “persuasions” of his enemies. Now yes Pinocchio was persuaded into doing things that were wrong but when I say that Jiro was persuaded I don’t mean it in quite the same sense. You see Jiro is victim to Dr. Gill’s flute which is capable of giving out such a frequency that it drives Jiro into a murderous rage. While it’s not necessarily a personality quirk it is still part of Jiro and is the source of much grief for him. Jiro doesn’t like to kill, even when fighting his fellow androids he isn’t fond of the idea of killing another thing. As such, Jiro experiences a great deal of anxiety because of this and is a part of the reason why he goes into seclusion. Being so susceptible forces Jiro to abandon the people closest to him so as not to bring harm to them.
Eventually Jiro manages to grow close to Mitsuko and Masaru children of his creator, Dr. Komyoji. It’s because of these two that Jiro manages to develop a sense of love toward others as well as show a need to protect people. The more Jiro grows to like his surroundings and the people he’s close to the more he begins to hate fighting and killing. This development becomes his main dilemma when he comes face to face with Saburo, aka Hakaider. You see, Saburo only has one goal and that is to kill Kikaider, but it’s not so cut and dry. Hakaider wants to be the only one to kill Jiro even if it means wiping out the other androids and even Gill should they get in the way of that goal. Saburo revels in tormenting Jiro, pushing him into situations where he has to try and kill him. Saburo in every way is Jiro’s rival, matching him blow for blow and doing anything to make Jiro suffer, even taunting him to kill him when Jiro knows that if he does he’ll kill his creator. With each passing meeting Saburo pushes Jiro further and further towards being a monster and won’t ever stop until Jiro completely mentally breaks down, and he very nearly succeeds.
Jiro’s character hits its first major climax during the final battle with Gill, where he comes close to killing Gill with his own hands. It’s at this moment that Jiro realizes that if he were to succumb to those feelings of killing Gill then he would truly become the kind of human he fears. After the struggle within himself Jiro chooses to let Gill live as Gill’s lab explodes around them, presumably killing them both.
At this point we move into the 01 OVA which revolves around Jiro protecting a small child which turns out to be Gill’s son. During this time Jiro comes across two more Kikaiders in the form of his brothers Ichiro and Rei, Kikaider 01 and Kikaider 00 respectively. His brothers do not have Gemini Ciruits which forces Jiro to act as the more mature of the three, being more levelheaded. Over the course of these episodes we see Jiro show a much more calm and serene personality, being completely favoring of nature and the world he lives in. This happier, calmer demeanor is where Jiro finally starts to resemble the character of Pinocchio. Jiro at this point starts to develop a love for the world which, while not shown in as much of a childlike way anymore, closely resembles Pinocchio’s love for life. During this time we also manage to see a sort of family structure become slowly built between the three brothers as they begin to trust and rely on each other.
Unfortunately this would not last long as the group would soon run into a newly rebuilt Hakaider housing the brain of Gill, who was seeking out his son so that he may control a giant robot weapon. Eventually Gill traps the three Kikaiders and implants within them submission chips causing them to turn into berserkers under his control. Jiro however manages to resist his submission chip thanks to his Gemini Circuit, but this comes at a severe price. The conflict brought about by the evil from the submission chip and thee sorrow brought on by the conscience circuit causes Jiro to finally and for the first time know the difference between right and wrong. With evil thoughts now residing within him Jiro tearfully kills his brothers before crushing Gill’s brain in his hands. With this Jiro has finally reached the point of being human, knowing both good and evil in his heart. With tears in his eyes Jiro walks into the sunset, destined to struggle within himself for eternity as a human.
“And Pinocchio became a real boy, and he and Geppetto lived happily ever after. And yet, I wonder in becoming human did Pinocchio truly find happiness?”
The impact Jiro has on others tends to be generally negative almost solely due to his android appearance. People easily become frightened of Kikaider, seeing him as a monster. The few positive influences that Jiro has on people would be with Mitsuko, Masaru and his brothers. From the moment Masaru met Jiro he had looked up to him as a sort of big brother, ironic seeing as how Masaru is technically the elder of the two. Masaru’s opinion of Jiro never really changes throughout the series in fact it really only ever grows stronger as he chooses to go out on his own to find Jiro when his sister would not. Mitsuko was not so welcoming of Jiro, though, and would very slowly grow to become closer to Jiro to the point of falling in love with him. If Mitsuko learned anything from Jiro it’s to not discriminate against people solely by appearances. Ichiro and Rei predominately learned the importance of brotherhood and trust, after spending some time with Jiro the two began to see some of the errors in their judgment.
Jiro is easily the saddest character that I have yet to write about, having the saddest life as well as the saddest series ending. Now if you remember I referred to Jiro as an allegory and what I meant by that is that in a weird way Jiro is a good representation of the growth of humanity. We all start as infants and children being completely susceptible to the world’s motives and as we grow we slowly develop as human beings. We grow conscious of our actions and over time we begin to see the realities of good and evil. At the end of the day there is no one way or the other, every human has the capacity for both good and evil and every human will at sometime in their life display both qualities.
The goal of being human is glorified within the story of Pinocchio but as Kikaider clearly shows being a human does not always lead to happiness. Kikaider demonstrates the horrifying qualities of humanity such as discrimination, hatred, and even murder as well as the good qualities of love and peacefulness. The harsh reality is that the world will not always reel happiness for everyone and for every moment of beauty it brings to this world it brings an equally ugly moment as well. Kikaider is the demonstration of the harsh journey of acceptance through this world and the growth that comes with it. We all work our ways through the world and it’s hardships, working toward that happily ever after ending we so longingly desire.