The adventures of the Hakaida Squad (part 1 of 2)

September 4th, 2009
By

DSC00601

Back in July, a group from Hawaii entered Anime Expo’s Masquerade and performed a little skit as members of the Hakaida Squad — a performance that ultimately earned them the convention’s Master Craftsmanship award. You can watch a video of their performance right here. Among the participants was Oahu Anime Explorer president Kell Komatsubara; I’m pleased to present part 1 of his essay about the experience here. As for part 2? You’ll have to wait until early next week for that. Oh, the suspense!

Last year I participated in Florencio L.’s Neon Genesis Evangelion skit. If you remember the article I wrote last year, we did the Eva skit because things happened and we could not get the costumes and props done for the original skit. However, this year would be really different.

I told Flo after the 2008 masquerade that we need to get started on it again right away so we could get everything ready in time. He agreed, and the process that began in January 2008 was restarted. Flo actually had this skit in the planning stage for about four years before I started talking to him about it, and last year made five. I really wanted to get this done this year in the worst way. Flo wanted to keep this a secret from everyone until we did it, and since it’s now a part of Anime Expo history, we can now talk about it.

For all those who grew up in the 1970s in Hawaii, Jinzo Ningen Kikaida was part of the local culture. Many people my age spent their Saturday nights at 8 watching the show on KIKU TV. Within the series Kikaida met up with his “evil brother” Hakaida, a name derived from the Japanese word hakai (destruction). Flo seemed to have taken a fancy to this evil brother in those days, and when the second season, Kikaida 01, came about, seeing the Hakaida Squad in formation etched something in his mind. For those unfamiliar with the Hakaida Squad, after Jiro/Kikaida (the series’ titular human/android hero) destroyed the DARK base, there were several scientists who survived and to save Professor Gill (the series’ villain), they put his brain into Hakaida. In turn, they also created three copies of Hakaida and put their brains in those robots. So along with “Gill” Hakaida, there were “Red,” “Blue” and “Silver” Hakaida, each with his specialized weapon: Red Hakaida had a crossbow, Blue an energy whip, and Silver a power staff.

Attendees congregate at Anime Expo in Los Angeles. (photo courtesy of Kell Komatsubara)

However, with the Anime Expo audience comprised of mostly mainland attendees, the Hakaida Squad is not really well known, except for those who had watched the anime version of Kikaida 01. From the start, Flo would tell me, “Don’t expect to win anything, as this is not a mainstream skit and maybe only a few will know who we are.” I kept making the joke, “We will have two reactions. One will be, ‘Wow, that is so cool!’ and the other will be, ‘Who are those guys?’”

Danielle D., one of our group members, kept telling me, “All the work we are putting into this, we better win SOMETHING.”

I kept telling her, “It would be nice, but I’m in it more for the fun of this all.”

We originally planned to have the four Hakaidas, Saburo (the human form of Hakaida), Mari (the human form of Bijinda, one of the central androids of Kikaida 01) and a DARK android henchman. During the year however, a lot of strange things happened. One of the original cast members decided he didn’t want to do this skit, as there was going to be a lot of money spent creating the costumes and props. So we ended up switching around roles, thinking we made our only cast change.

Then Angela C., who played Misato in the Eva skit, felt her upcoming pharmacy school exams were going to be especially tough and thought she couldn’t afford to dedicate the time it would have taken to make her costume. She did say, though, that she wanted to still be a part of the skit and would be there as a “stage ninja” for us. Another member of last year’s skit, Sara Z., was serving as an Anime Expo volunteer and also didn’t have enough time to spend prior to the masquerade, but she said she would help us as a backstage ninja.

The next big blow came when another friend, Kevin K., found a new job that would not let him attend Anime Expo this year. That left us at a loss for who would play Blue Hakaida. But my friend Ethan S. from Arizona, who was going to play Saburo, stepped up and took over the role.

Over the course of a year I had tossed all of the weapons I made before Anime Expo 2008 and started over. I started playing around with the light strings and tape that my friend, who worked at local car shop Race Factory, had. I began to wonder how to use this in cosplay and started experimenting with them.

The first weapon to be completed was Blue Hakaida’s energy whip. I then built the crossbow of Red Hakaida, and since it was going to be my weapon, I wanted to make it as flashy as I could.

I came up with several ideas, but I was talking to one of my other friends who asked me about fishing line and how it could be used like fiber-optic cables to make Christmas tree ornaments. It got me thinking about how I might be able to “super size” this idea and make something even wilder. Two weeks later, I had a crossbow that had light-up rocket arrows!

A look at the interior joints of the Hakaidas' chest armor. (photo courtesy of Kell Komatsubara)

Then it was on to building Silver Hakaida’s power staff. Utilizing the light tape, I made the staff glow from end to end. I also started to learn leather-working a bit and started crafting the Hakaidas’ chest armor. It came out okay for my first attempt, but the hardest part was dying the leather to get the right colors. To me, I could not get it quite right, but it was going to have to do.

Even though Kevin was at his new job, he was still making Hakaida’s primary weapon, the Hakaida Shot. While he was working on it, he ended up in the hospital and found out he would be having major surgery shortly. With Kevin out of commission, I had to find some way of filling the void. I began to complete the gun, and at the same time I found a 99-cent used NERF gun at a swap meet and got some PVC pipe and leftover Plexiglas from the crossbow and made a second gun as well.

During all this, Danielle was making the masks and the jumpsuits. Danielle made hers first, thinking we’d all make our own. But we can’t really sew yet (I’m in the process of learning and can only do basic stuff right now), so she had to pick up the slack and make the other three as well. It was January by the time everyone got her their measurements, and she ended up crafting each helmet one by one, each a little different and a little better than the first one.

Finally, on June 19, I started shipping things to California. Then a week later came the big surprise.

Our armor never showed up.

To be continued …

3 Responses to “The adventures of the Hakaida Squad (part 1 of 2)”

  1. AniMatsuri:

    So that’s what Flo’s been up to since leaving the islands.


  2. Otaku Ohana » Blog Archive » The further adventures of the Hakaida Squad:

    [...] Back in July, a group from Hawaii entered Anime Expo’s Masquerade and performed a little skit as members of the Hakaida Squad — a performance that ultimately earned them the convention’s Master Craftsmanship award. Among the participants was Oahu Anime Explorer president Kell Komatsubara; I’m pleased to present part 2 of his essay about the experience here. Part 1, of course, is just a click away. [...]


  3. Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com:

    [...] Komatsubara was kind enough to provide an account for Otaku Ohana readers. (You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.) Kell and the gang returned to Anime Expo earlier this month for a return [...]


Leave a Reply