Generation Kikaida -
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November 5, 2001

Over the years, there's been a running debate over whether Hawaii's favorite mechanical superman should be called "Kikaida" or "Kikaider." During its original run on KIKU-TV from 1974-75, the station's translators referred to the superpowered android as "Kikaider."

"You know, I sort of like 'Kikaider,' because it was there from the beginning," said Joanne Ninomiya, KIKU-TV president. "We translated it as 'Kikaider' just like 'Kamen Rider,'" Ninomiya explains. "But if you go by the katakana," she continues, "it is 'Kikaida.'"

Veteran KIKU translator Alvin Hamada has a different take on the nomenclature debate. Twenty-seven years ago, he thought that "Kikaida sounded kind of 'pidgin.'" But now Hamada concurs with the "-da" ending "because the kids used to imitate Jiro and say, 'Change! Henshin . . . Kikaida!'"

"Jiro never said 'Kikaider,'" notes Hamada, who translated the "Rainbowman" superhero series that aired on the station 27 years ago.

Over the years, the debate has continued--at collectors' shops, via on-line message boards, and everywhere else where Kikaida (or is that Kikaider?) fans congregate. On balance, most Hawaii fans seem to prefer "Kikaida."

Local expat Jason Tayros prefers "Kikaida" "because it reminds me of the fact I'm from Hawaii." "I kinda cringe when people want to pronounce it 'Kikaider,'" says Tayros, who now lives in Los Angeles.

Pomai Souza, who moderates an on-line discussion forum devoted to Japanese live-action superheroes (, also prefers "Kikaida." "All the Hawaii fans say 'Kikaida,' because that's what's being spoken verbally," says Souza.

Souza does note that the Japanese toy companies that produce Kikaida action dolls label their boxes with the "Kikaider" moniker. "'Kikaider' was their way of Westernizing the name," he says.

To Kikaida expert Greg Chang, "It's always 'Kikaida."

Chang, who wrote comprehensive episode synopses for the entire 43-episode series in the now-defunct fanzine Kaiju Review ("The Journal of Japanese Monster Culture"), recalls, "One of the first things I did when I learned Japanese, when I learned hiragana and katakana, was to learn to write Kikaidaa, and so that's how I remember it."

"'Kikaider' just goes 'clunk,'" he concludes.

KIKU's Ninomiya has resigned herself to Superfan sentiments.

"Even back then, everyone was saying, 'Kikaida,' so 'if you can't lick 'em, join 'em,'" says Ninomiya.

"The fans have spoken," sighs Ninomiya. "And they take it very seriously!"