Who is Kai Hiwatari?
Kai Hiwatari is one of the four central characters on the original three seasons of the TV anime, Beyblade. Beyblade is the millennia old game of spinning tops, and the twist in the anime is that the tops are possessed by sacred spirits which make the tops incredibly powerful.
Kai started out as the villain of the series, as the leader of a gang called the Blade Sharks. He is defeated by Tyson (the central protagonist) early on and Kai goes on to lead the central character team, The Bladebreakers.
As a child, Kai was born and raised in a Russian Abbey, where his grandfather trained him as a foot solider in his plan for world domination. Kai was never shown affection or love as a kid, and he comes off as aloof and cold to most people who meet him. Kai uses the Dranzer Beyblade, possessed by the spirit of a phoenix based on the real-life Kyoto legend of Suzaku.
How did I discover Kai?
I was a huge fan of the show while I was in high school and my early years at Parkside. My interest in Kai and everything about him bordered on idolization. Kai doesn’t speak much over the course of the series, but what little he did say I used as my mantras in life and how I saw the world.
“You can dream all you want but when you wake up, you’ll find that nothing has changed. The only way to make those dreams come true is to dedicate your entire life to your sport.”
This is the quote in my senior high school yearbook under my photo. I still believe in this.
When I first started watching, Kai very strongly reminded me of Archie Costello from The Chocolate War, which I had read the year prior to first watching Beyblade.
How does Kai inspire me?
Kai goes through quite a bit of evolution over the course of the three seasons. As I saw him evolve into a better person on TV, I tried to emulate that and grow for myself. Kai eventually confronts his past and deals with his inner demons. While I didn’t feel like I had inner demons to confront, I still used Kai’s struggle and his quest for strength and growth to fuel my own desire to “grow up.”
Kai is shown on the series to be a loner and an introvert. Kai spends as much time as possible on his own, practicing his skills and making himself stronger. Since I was idolizing Kai during the most crucial time in my own development, I picked up habits that I saw Kai doing on TV. It’s because of Kai that I identify myself as a loner/introvert, and my mind has shaped itself to function that way. Kai is at his happiest when he is alone, and I have psychologically grown to accept that trait about myself.
Kai is one of the most popular characters on the original series of Beyblade, and much of the public interest in him stems from his “cool” factor. Kai looks the most appealing of the characters, his few sayings are particularly witty, and he gives off the vibe that he can never lose, which everyone wishes they could say.
I’ve also found myself drawn to the Beyblade gear that Kai uses over the series as well. Back in those days, I would get incredibly excited whenever the next incarnation of Kai’s Dranzer would appear in stores. To a minor extent, it’s a hat-tip to my Power Ranger days when I’d get super excited about the next Megazord appearing in stores.
The two incarnations of Dranzer that I loved most of all were Dranzer V2 and Dranzer G, both of which appeared in 2004. This interest in “the latest gear” has translated over to my interest in technology. Getting the iPhone 6 that year was like getting Dranzer V2/G all over again.
Pictured above: Dranzer V2 (Volcano II).
Pictured above: Dranzer G. (Gigus) Also known as “what would have been my iPhone in 2004.”
When I went to Parkside, I made a pact with myself to grow beyond what Kai had taught me. Over the past several years, I’ve found new people and characters to look up to and model myself after, but Kai was one of the first. There are parts of him that I still look up to, and identify with, and I’ll probably have that forever.
Thanks Kai, for being an inspiration!