The manga based on the live action Jinzou Ningen Kikaida series, was published as the series aired and kept running until the Kikaida 01 series ended. It included several arcs from the Kikaida 01 story.
Android Kikaider is another manga created by the master mangka Ishinomori Shoutaro, displaying his amazing skill in creating super hero stories, laying the basics to many that came after. This manga was based on the live action by the same name also created by Ishinomori.
Kikaider is a story about a robot with a human conscience, basically incomplete one because instead of being only good he can do also evil (much like the human heart). Firstly the story deals with the conflict of humans and robots, the difference between them and what it means to really be human. Ishinomori deals with such heavy themes very easily,
not diving too deep and keep it superficial, just enough to make you understand and think about them, but not giving us anything new or groundbreaking on the subject.
Although it is interesting to see the main character, Jiro, deals with his guilt as being an incomplete robot and learning to accept being who he is, the story quickly develops in a different direction, a more familiar ground for Ishinomori-Shapeshifting robots, poses, battle scenese and enemy who wants to rule the world. This change of tone is both weird and expected at the same time.
It's also where the story takes a nosedive in quality, being much like a regular super hero show, it has unexpected (bad) twists and villains without real ambition other than "be the ruler of the world". Robots fight each other, blow each other up and the subject of robots as humans and "the heart of robots" is barely brought up again. There is some comedy in the manga (mostly exaggerated facial expressions) but the comedy is the weak side and luckily, doesn't appear much.
The ending to the story is very interesting though, if only just because it is pretty weird and shocking, in a way.
The characters, much like the story, are pretty shallow and lose their edge after the first part of the series. The hero Jiro starts as an emotional robot, falling in love with the human girl Mitsuko and trying to deal with his incomplete nature, accepting it and seeing himself as he is, with all the good and bad traits. The story is kinda clumsy in his development but there is a real one there, advancing in his thoughts and emotions.
Later on, the characters become much more dull and one dimensional. Every one has some trait to them which define their characters-Jiro becomes even more righteous and typical "hero of justice", his brother Ichiro is a loud, quick to fight kind of character. His other brother Rei is the cool, strong type. It's the same as the villains-in the start the villain want to get ton of money, later on control of the whole world...
Let's talk about the best part of the manga. After saying these stuff on the plot and the characters you must think "why should I read it?". The art is definitely something you should read it for. Ishinomoro art is beautiful, with an amazing attention to details and paneling. Wether it's a forest, city, the sea, space there is great attention to the small details and to the texture of the objects. The explosions are vivid and feel so real, almost popping out the screen (or paper?). The character design is a weak point, looking like the general cartoon style made popular by Tezuka. But the robots design, customs are all really cool and good looking. I should emphasize the word "cool", as Ishinomori manage to make everything look cool, from the robots, to the poses and to the fighting itself.
Kikaider is a manga that is very fun to read. It's enjoyable, in a cartoon style, making you nostalgic for the morning cartoons. Powered up by it's amazing art and the great ability of the mangaka to suck you into the story, even if it's not so good, make the reading an enjoyable experience and something thats worth your time.