「修 復」 (Shuufuku)

There’s definitely a weird feeling for me in watching SSSS.Gridman.  What’s straightforward is that I like it – really like it in fact.  A lot.  But I’m on edge all the time, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  If it’s “fool me twice, shame on me” what does that make fool me five times, or six, or whatever it is with Trigger now?  At this point I’m conditioned to expect the worst and if anything else happens, it more or lies defies credulity.

Here’s the thing with Gridman, though…  The only conclusion I can draw is that Trigger has been kidnapped and secretly replaced by another studio.  This series is so totally unlike the vast majority of their body of work as to be unrecognizable.  Gone are the self-consciously trendy “updates” of old-school tropes, the blatant otaku pandering, the stark misogyny and the self-aware posturing and humor.  Gridman simply is what it is.  It certainly isn’t trying too hard – the direction is minimalist, if anything.  It actually shuts up for two seconds and lets you take in the epicness and try to figure out what’s happening yourself.  The characters act sort of like you imagine actual people might under such extreme circumstances.  It’s a remarkable transformation.

So naturally, Western anime fandom mostly seems to hate it.

I suppose the sensible thing for me to do would be to not look a gift kaiju in the mouth and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.  There were many faces of Gainax, though hindsight tends to lump their vast body of work into one broad caricature of itself.  And SSSS.Gridman seems to come as close as any series to capturing the “disconnect”, side – the disassociation with reality that extreme situations (most famously – though not exclusively – mecha piloting of course) inflicts on a series’ characters.  That this element of the Gainax oeuvre should be absent from the Trigger one isn’t surprising, as Imaishi even at his best represented a very different element of Gainax’ repertoire.  But that changes with Gridman – and I think judging by its aggregator scores Trigger fans (many of whom probably don’t even remember Gainax existed) don’t know what to make of it.

This series attacks its premise with understatement at every step of the way. Even Shou’s “It hasn’t sunk in yet” reflects the way normal people – especially kids – will tend to deal with unbelievable situations and tragedy.  Empty desks – that’s how Gridman tells us five children are dead.  BGM is not used as a hacksaw, but a scalpel – there’s very little of it but when we hear it in key moments, it has an impact.  Most of the communication in the series is done with looks rather than words.  And the most iconic moments are the long still shots of the kaiju – gorgeous and unsettling exactly as they’re surely intended to be.

There’s a lot to praise here, to be sure.  I really like the way Rikka desperately tries to cling onto the mundane even as the world goes insane around her.  And while we don’t yet know the full story, the whole crisis seems to be an expression of Akane’s adolescent pettiness and spite – her “Gridman”, Alexis (Inada Tetsu), perhaps tapping into this inexhaustible reservoir of negativity as a way to achieve his own ends.  And I find the sloop-shouldered and shadow-eyed Samurai Caliber (Takahashi Ryousuke) to be a perfect complement to the setting – he too never says anything unless there’s something worth saying.  We can learn a lot about a character with very little fanfare – such as when Caliber quietly hands Akane a non-carbonated bottle of tea.  And to the end the ep the way Amemiya-sensei did – with the homeroom teacher apologizing for bumping into Yuuta as Akane watches – perfectly caps what’s happened and sets up what’s to come.

Of course this could all go to pot next week for all I know.  Maybe the mass-hypnosis spell will be broken and Gridman will turn all Trigger after all, but I kind of doubt it.  There’s a different sensibility to this show, and that’s not something that generally changes – I’d hoped that the fact that this was a staff mostly new to the studio would produce some sort of different result, but so far even my most optimistic expectations have been exceeded.  It’s too early to celebrate, but it’s never too early to hope.


  1. I’ve never really given the “Trigger” name much thought (and frankly I haven’t seen some of their recent shows like Franxx), so I approached this with now vague nostalgia of the original Denkou Choujin Gridman and Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad, and so far I like it in a reserved way, since for some reason there’s a few things that haven’t clicked with me yet regarding this adaptation/remake. Those obvious Obari-style storyboarding and animations though got me all giddy this episode, and hope to see more of those in future episodes.

    1. Heh, it’s more or less the opposite with me. I’m a huge Gainax-head and have been disappointed by Trigger over and over, but really have very little grounding in tokusatsu to speak of. Interestingly enough I’ve seen it proposed that this series is actually a straight-up homage to Transformers Shattered Glass, but I don’t know that show enough to say.

      I think you’re going to see plenty of the same styling in future – it’s clear the folks behind this series are huge fanboys for Obari (they even gave you an Obari pose) and it’s co-produced with the original Gridman studio. Whatever one thinks of the story, the visuals for this series have been fantastic.

  2. Akane’s pettiness and Gridman’s Assist weapons were mainstays of the original Gridman series.


    Like Akane, original series’ villian Todo Takeshi was motivated by trivial anger to create cyber-kaiju that laid waste to cyberspace. However, SSSS’s reveal that Akane’s creations are killing actual people in the real world, and her revelling in it, adds a level of psychopathy to her pettiness.


    In the original, the Assist weapons were PC programs created by the MC’s friends to help Gridman in battles. The weapons as sentient beings in human form outside of battle is new to SSSS; how this ties in to the overall mystery of Gridman and Alexis remains to be seen.

    1. I really hope Akane isn’t redeemed at all. She’s killing people purely out of spite without actually having a reason for it. Hell, she might have been the one to wipe Yuta’s memories and wipe everyone else’s memories of whatever Yuta and Rikka had.

    2. Hm actually, my first thought is that maybe they aren’t even in the real world so to speak. The whole world could be some kinda matrix-like simulation that Akane has control over. Hence the “Guests” and how easily everything is restored. It would also explain why Akane is so callous about casually killing people. She’s the player character in a game acting exactly like how some people do in open world games.

  3. Much better this week. Feelin it a lot more than last week. There are more entertaining character moments from both the heroes and antagonists, I really like the craziness of that pink hair girl. Of course I thought the memory-erasing thing would only apply to Yuta and now we know it apples to MANY, which only makes it more confusing.

  4. It didn’t hit me until I saw the wrist thing that back in the mid 90’s I actually watched the original Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad show as a kid. I had the wrist toy and a few action figures.

  5. I think one of the reasons this show feels so different from other Trigger shows is because of the writer. Keiichi Hasegawa is writing SSSS. Gridman and he’s a familiar name for a lot of tokusatsu fans. He was the head writer for Ultraman Nexus, a more dramatic and somber take on Ultraman, has written some standard but very fun Ultraman shows, has written some really great episodes of Kamen Rider. He’s also done anime in the past. I think having someone who knows both worlds lends itself to a more even series. He’s able to convey the character drama and interaction that goes on in tokusatsu in a manner that appeals to anime fans.

    (and I dunno where you’re looking but almost everyone I see talking about this show loves it)

    1. The aggregator scores on review sites are terrible. And I’ve seen plenty of negative reviews in the well-travelled anime forums out there. But it does seem to be going over pretty well in Japan, at least if the very tentative disc presale numbers are to be believed.

      Hasegawa is definitely one reason Gridman feels different from the usual Trigger show, though in general there are a lot of key staff who were not creative forces behind other Trigger shows. Of course Hasegawa also wrote Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis, which is a bit scary since that shows started out like a house on fire and jumped the shark in a huge way.

      1. Funny enough Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis 1st season was pretty bland in my opinion. The second season has become one of my most enjoyed shows in the last few years. Did you watch the second season?

      2. I wouldn’t have made that comment if I hadn’t. I blogged it in fact. I thought the first cour of Genesis was great – better than the first season (which I liked more than loved). I thought the second cour of Genesis fell apart completely around some horrifically bad writing choices to the point where it became basically unwatchable.

  6. This was a much better episode than the first so I am cautiously optimistic I might stick with it. We will see what happens at the decider 3rd episode. Characters were more empathetic this time around and they acted more realistically (barring Rikka as she was fine from first ep). The bit that sticks out as a sore thumb for me though is why they don’t just ask Gridman/Samurai guy what the heck is going on and get the full story – THAT would be the normal thing to do. They just keep running along with the zany things happening with no clue and seemingly little interest in the who/why/what/when…I know its anime and I am probably thinking a bit too much about this but still…

  7. The second I saw the school was undamaged at the end of Ep. 1, all I could think was “Fuuzetsu” and yup, it’s exactly that, but with everyone having died a while ago instead of being completely erased.


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