SSSS.Gridman – Ep. 9

What a ride this episode was. I dare even call it the finest episode of SSSS.Gridman yet. At the very least, it’s definitely the weirdest; weirder than a giant monster loli appearing out of nowhere which is not something I thought I’d ever need to write down.

Basically, Akane has decided to use a kaiju to put everyone to sleep, trapping them in their own individual dream world where they each like her in various ways. This, of course, includes our three main heroes though the Neon Genesis gang is apparently immune. So is Anti who tries to kill the kaiju to no avail and for our amusement (why didn’t he just transform into his kaiju form?).

You easily could just dedicate the whole episode to Yuuta’s dream and I’d still think this is Gridman at its strongest. That is an incredibly unsettling experience as you have Yuuta relive the events of the first episode albeit with Akane taking Rikka’s place and no Gridman or Kaiju in plain sight. There’s a lot of directorial choices that effectively set the tone. Gridman appearing in various reflections and signs is a great way to inform the viewer that what they’re watching is a dream sequence as well as to alarm Yuuta of his true predicament. Having Yuuta fully recover his memories in a cemetery (one of the graves even bearing Tonkawa’s name) with Akane says all sorts of things. The people who’ve died, the crimes Akane has committed, and not to mention all the lives that will be lost with Yuuta doesn’t wake up and reunite with Gridman.

Oh and did I mention that Akane is pretending to be Yuuta’s girlfriend? Because that sure was messed up, especially since she’s substituting Rikka (she even made Rikka’s mom recognizes her as her daughter too). How curious, however, that this is the approach Akane takes. If she really wanted Yuuta to be hers, why not just create a scenario from scratch instead of infiltrating his memories? The decision she went with comes across as an act of spite towards Rikka. Perhaps it was. I’m admittedly speculating here but maybe Yuuta was designed to be Akane’s boyfriend. It would certainly explain why she continues to be attracted to him. If that this is the case, it clearly went south since Yuuta ended up falling for Rikka more. That and, you know, he became allies with a giant robot trying to foil Akane’s plans.

The other dreams also hint at a lot on Akane’s intentions. Shou relives his run in with Akane back in Episode 6, only it now leads to them becoming friends who hang out and get figurines together. Since Akane has Yuuta as her boyfriend in a separate, I guess Shou is just meant to be a friend for whom she can gush over kaijus with. I feel bad for Shou as its his unrequited feelings for Akane that resurface and make him realize his time with Akane is going too perfectly and must therefore be a dream. Poor guy can’t enjoy his love life on his own terms.

Rikka’s dream is actually a new scenario, unless you want to argue that it’s based on the ED…which is possible now that I think about it. Essentially, she’s reliving the early days when she and Akane hung out a lot. We already know that she was designed to befriend Akane no matter what but her dream still shows the extent of how far that attribute can go. For crying out loud, she accepts Alexis’s presence as soon as Akane explains he’s a cosplayer. Now, that’s really giving someone the benefit of the doubt. The later scene where Rikka and Akane are on the bus with their classmates also sheds light on why the two seemingly drifted away. With so many people admiring Akane, it seems that Rikka started to think that her friendship with her wasn’t so special. Just another friend in a circle far too big and soon to be tossed aside. Once she also remembers that she was created to like Akane, it was all over for these two.

I wonder if there’s something deliberate with the fact that each member of the Gridman Alliance experienced their dreams separately. After all, why not just make them collectively dream the same scenario where they’re all happy together? With how she set everything up, there’s some conflicting intentions to be found. She want Shou to like her but she wants Yuuta to love her instead. She wants Yuuta to love her so she takes Rikka’s place and yet she still wants Rikka as her friend. Maybe this is all just a limitation of the kaiju’s power but I get the impression that Akane has a vision over how she wants people to be and even in a fabrication, is struggling to marry those ideas together.

As trippy as this episode is, you still get a fun tokusatsu themed fight scene. I do find it odd that the Neon Genesis students could combine into one whole being this whole time. Like, do they really ever need Gridman? They seemed to kick that kaiju’s butt very quickly once the monster’s intangibility wears off. Oh but who cares. The action is still a blast to sit through. Plus it let me see Anti call Caliber while he’s still in weapon form which is such a weird visual to go along with a pretty serious conversation that suggests that Anti has more of a heart than he’s willing to admit.

After all that has happened, it appears that SSSS.Gridman finally has an endgame in the works. Everyone wakes up from their dreams but Yuuta concludes that Akane is still caught in a dream. I have no doubt in my mind that Yuuta plans on saving her, even if Rikka reveals that they were all made by her which the ending seems to suggest. I just wonder how much Akane really deserves such salvation. This episode does shed light on her character. Deep down, she just wants to be loved by people. I understand that and I pity her but this doesn’t change the fact that she’s a murderous psychopath who barely values the lives of others. This is still something that’ll need to be treated very, very carefully in the last three episodes. With how Gridman has been faring though, maybe I can, for once, have faith that Trigger has this in the bag.

…Oh God, what if I just jinxed it? What have I done?!

Thanks for reading!

SSSS.Gridman is officially available on Crunchyroll & Funimation.

For all of my SSSS.Gridman Episode Reviews, check out the show’s archive page!

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