There’s my obligatory culture festival episode. And big surprise, Akane hates that this event is happening so take a wild guess what she plans to do about it (spoiler alert: it involves a kaiju). You’d think she would’ve done something like this to begin with but I guess that’s tokusatsu villain logic for you. Besides, it’s not like Akane is the sanest person on the planet.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, it’s pretty interesting to see everyone interact while knowing who’s really who. Akane makes a very bold taunt at the Gridman Alliance by showing off her latest kaiju model in class and that of course makes our heroes very anxious. You also have everyone in the team divided over how to best deal with the threat though, to be honest, some of their decisions made me scratch my head. Given Shou’s crush on Akane, I’m surprised by how quickly he turned around and agreed that she needs to be stopped, and with force no less. And Rikka, meanwhile, acts too lenient and would rather try and talk Akane out of the conflict. It’s understandable in that she’s trying to come to terms with the truth but 1) Akane isn’t the one getting beaten up and 2) literally everyone else she knows at school could die here.
To be fair though, the writers do come up with an interesting justification. While trying to convince Akane to surrender, Rikka finds out that their friendship is actually one of Akane’s creations. She’s compelled to like Akane and give her a pass because she’s apparently “programmed” to. This admittedly does open a can of worms. Knowing this, you have to wonder how Shou or even Yuuta were affected in anyway by Akane’s programming. And for that matter, if this world is some sort of simulation, are any of the people living there real?
For now, I think this scene works very well on its own. The effect this revelation on Rikka’s character has some potential. With how normal and sensible this girl, knowing that even the most normal aspects of her life and very being were shaped by someone else should really shock her to the core. On top of that, this scene is one of the best directed efforts in the entire anime so far. I haven’t brought this up very often but Gridman has incorporated a strikingly sparse use of music. It largely letting the silence sell methodical, slice of life tone and let the OST kick in when it would most count, particularly during the action. The same trick is clearly in effect here as the eerie choir reflects Rikka’s realization that she’s not talking with a friend but a god.
There’s a lot of fun details in place for the action this episode. Yuuta’s strategy is especially clever; appearing as Gridman before the monster of the week even shows up and effectively evacuate the school campus as a result. Also a solid strategy is shrinking Gridman’s size so that Junk has enough RAM to summon all the Neon Genesis students. I’ll admit that I’m not entirely convinced of the threat level presented here. If you ask me, that Lion Turtle from the swimsuit episode really set the bar high. Still, I’ll accept the conflict for what it is if it gives the staff an excuse to finally show off Gridman’s fully combined form. Design-wise, it’s pretty spectacular. I really like how each vehicle enhances one specific body part. Alone, Max seems like a pair of oversized arms while Vitt becomes a pair of oversized legs. Now, the proportions even themselves out when everyone’s together.
I wonder if this episode marks a turning point for the series. It kind of feels like it what with Akane suffering her most humiliating defeat yet (in front of Alexis’s allies apparently) and Rikka now needing to come to terms with one hell of a truth. Not to mention, it seems that Anti has sort of put his fight against Gridman on hold and maybe even accepted that he’s not welcomed by Akane. With only four episodes left, there surely must be an endgame in store.
Thanks for reading!
For all of my SSSS.Gridman Episode Reviews, check out the show’s archive page!
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