At this point, I think I should embrace the fact that I’m really digging SSSS.Gridman. Goodness, what a surprise this turned out to be. Was I too skeptical going in? Perhaps but maybe if Trigger didn’t clown around so much with Little Witch Acacdemia and had Darling in the FranXX simply not existed at all, I would’ve actually given Gridman the benefit of the doubt. But no matter, I’m enjoying the show now and that’s what matters. And even if it does end up jumping the shark, I think it’d have to try to beat FranXX in sheer stupidity (God, I hope I didn’t just jinxed this show).
If I had to pinpoint what broad thing Gridman is doing to win me over, I’d probably refer to its tone. No doubt, this is paying strong homage to tokusatsu. The action effectively captures the destruction and stunt work that one comes to expect with the genre (and this is Trigger so you know they’ll at least do visuals well). It also seems to be getting the absurdism right. A sentient, angsty kaiju boy. A group of mysterious humans who can transform into weapons or power ups for the main hero to use. Not to mention their conveniently timed entrance and one of them is literally a truck that turns into giant arms. It all feels par for the course and that’s in addition to the giant robot beating up a kaiju every week.
At the same time, I am sometimes surprised with what direction Gridman takes. Maybe I’ve seen too much Power Rangers but I was expecting to see wacky hijinks ensue for the Gridman Alliance at school. And yet, the school scenes are so much more grounded, mundane even. As odd as it might sound, it really just feels like school. There’s also the way in which Gridman seemingly embraces the gravity of its plot. Not once did I think Yuuta and Gridman had perished after losing to Anti (Kenichi Suzumura) but Gridman sure lets that situation sink. The world seemingly continues without them, Akane is free to do what she pleases, and all Shou and Rikka can do is grief. The lack of music drives the point home even further. It’s such a serious and even kind of depressing tone that I usually don’t expect to see in tokusatsu but it works really well here.
As time goes on, I am growing to like the members of the Gridman Alliance more and more. Yuuta is still the selfless hero though I admire the effort in showing that this trait can come to fault. The possibility of Anti being a human ends up weighing on Yuuta’s conscience and it’s that hesitation to defeat the kaiju that leads to his first loss in combat. Conversely, it was really interesting to see Shou react to this dilemma as well since he is the one who theorized that kaijus are originally humans. Even though he was joking, he nevertheless planted a rather troublesome seed and I hope the guilt this has garnered will compel him to take the situation more seriously.
Unsurprisingly, Rikka is still the best character out of the three. Maybe it’s Trigger’s tendency to empathize really eccentric personalities but I do love how normal Rikka acts. When it seems like Yuuta has perished, Rikka can’t bring herself to even check his apartment, afraid to see if the world may have covered his death up like it has with her classmates. It genuinely feels like a girl who has lost a few friends and can’t afford to lose another one.
There’s even a lesson to be learned here. No matter how safe things may seem, you never truly know what the future entails. Gridman even symbolizes that truth by having all those kaiju stand in the misty background. Everyone resumes their lives as normal but a select few know that there is a threat out there and it could attack at any moment. In this episode specifically, you have Rikka neglect to answer Yuuta’s phone call. A simple action that I’m sure we’ve all done but it’s one that Rikka ends up regretting when she thinks her classmate really did die. We could question how exactly calling Yuuta while he’s merged with Gridman works (I think it’s hilariously awesome that it does) but it fits thematically. Rikka learns that the last conversation she has with someone could indeed be the last and so by taking the gamble and call Yuuta, she’s now making every moment with her friends count.
I’m really curious what exactly Gridman aims to do with Akane because oh boy, does this anime really like showing how awful she is as a person. She pretty much treats Anti like a pet, rewarding him with food for a job well done and later throwing actual garbage at him when he fails. Believe me, I love it. I love what little tolerance Akane has for anything that annoys her and the extreme retaliation she dishes out is entertaining. All I’m saying is that if there is possibly a redemption arc on the horizon (the OP and ED kind of lean there), maybe start highlighting some kind of redeeming qualities before it’s too late. The list is already looking very slim.
Dare I keep covering SSSS.Gridman? To be honest, I’m still not over what a waste of time and sanity covering Darling in the FranXX ended up being but Gridman is proving to be a different and much better beast and the temptation to cover it is high right now.
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