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SSSS.Gridman – 04

「疑・心」 (Utagu Kokoro)
“Doubt”

I just can’t help loving SSSS.Gridman. This show is so damn much fun. What strikes me is that (for an old-timer like me at least) it’s both comprehensively familiar and quite unique. There’s no question that stylistically this series is a major throwback both to vintage Gainax and anime in general, but Gainax (and anime in general, to my memory) never did a patchwork quilt of the genres that make up Gridman. This is a show that’s keenly aware of its genetic makeup but not a slave to it, and that’s always a good base to build upon.

I wonder if that sense of familiarity is a big reason why the show is going over so much better in Japan than in the West. The current disc-buying market in Japan is not immune to trends by any means – they’re the ones who set them, and it’s because of them that isekai LNs and CGDCT shows are omnipresent. But perhaps their memories are a little longer when it comes to anime than the average Western fan (though not necessarily readers of this site), and they have a nostalgia for the style of anime Gridman represents that most Western fans don’t. They also have a basic awareness of tokusatsu and even the “Gridman” franchise specifically to a much greater degree than most Western viewers do.

As I said last week, none of this would matter if SSSS.Gridman didn’t have the style and general chops to pull this off in entertaining fashion. I loved pretty much everything about this episode. The interactions between the kids (especially Yuuta and Rikka) were great, and the fact that they mostly play out in the absence of BGM is really refreshing. The Shinseiki Chuugakusei Squad are displaying delightful personality quirks of their own (though Calibur remains my favorite) and getting involved in myriad ways. Even the banter between the rest of the cast and Rikka’s mom (shame on me for not mentioning she’s played by Shintani Mayumi) is hilarious in a totally old-school way.

The cast in general is doing a great job, and I can’t get over how much Hirose Yuuya is putting me in mind if Miyu Irino both in terms of his voice and his performance (high praise, that). It’s been clear for a bit now that Yuuta and Rikka have mutual feelings, but what had been hinted at – there was a history there, pre-memory loss – was pretty much confirmed. Yuuta agonizes over his inability to remember what might have passed between them in the past and how to approach her now, and this catches the eye of Max (who’s revealed to be the “strongest” of the weapons). Max takes a sort of big brother tack with Yuuta, and notes how observing the interaction (and lack thereof) between he and Rikka is both irritating and amusing.

Meanwhile, Akane has almost sussed out that Hibiki-kun is Gridman’s partner, but decides she needs to confirm it. This means getting close to Rikka, who she senses likes him. I quite liked the way Akane manages to hold the facade of being relatively sane for a while, but occasionally her sociopath side slips out. The two of them end up going on a group date with four 21 year-old college guys calling themselves “Arcadia” who the girls’ classmates apparently consider celebs because of their vlog. But they keep getting in Akane’s way by hitting on she and Rikka (which in case you’re wondering is seriously creepy), so eventually Akane bails (leaving Rikka trapped in a nightmare) and decides she’s going to off the four of them in petty revenge.

What’s interesting about this is that Anti refuses her order to kill the quartet, even though it might have gotten him back in her good graces, on the grounds that he was born to kill Gridman. In fact, he intervenes when the kaiju Akane creates to take out the college guys (successfully with three of them) squares off with Gridman – though only because he wants to take Gridman down himself. I don’t think Anti has any loyalty to Akane, really – he just wants to do what he believes he’s destined to – so it probably won’t take much more pushing before he dumps her altogether (though where he goes from there is a bit more complicated).

Also of note here – “Junk” apparently lacks the processing power to handle all of the Chuugakusei weapons at once, as it freezes (and so does Gridman) when they try and jump in together to help Yuuta (this is how we learn Max is the strongest). Rikka manages to get Junk restarted by doing an ultra-hard boot – which makes Utsumi apoplectic – and with Max’s help Gridman does a gettai and finishes the job as Anti reverts back to shota form. Back at the base Yuuta finally works up the nerve to ask Rikka out, but – either intentionally or not – she plays the dense role and misinterprets his intent.

If it seems like a lot happened this week, that’s because it did – but for me, the episode didn’t seem rushed at all. There’s a laid-back quality to Amemiya Akira’s direction (yes, it’s very Anno-like) that makes SSSS.Gridman feel relaxed even when it’s going full speed. Again, style trumps all, and all the little elements here really work – the squid IC card, the quirks in the weapons’ personalities coming out (Bora – who by the way was confirmed to be a boy by Aoi Yuuki, despite some confusion caused by the dub – is snarky, Vitt a smooth talker), the fabulous reaction shots and kaiju iconography. It’s getting harder and harder not to buy what this series is selling, despite all the reservations I had going in – it’s all clicking at the moment.

October 29, 2018 at 3:49 am
24 comments »
  • October 29, 2018 at 4:30 amVale Till I Die

    I just started this series earlier today and it’s super enjoyable. Granted, the references fly way over my head because I’m not familiar with Gridman or Ultraman but oh well. The action is great, the characters are so much fun to watch and there’s a highly interesting and unorthodox antagonist as well.

    I also didn’t expect a mecha x kaiju anime to focus so much on romance, which was a pleasant surprise. Rikka and Yuta are fucking adorable and I like how they already established that they like each other in this and last week’s episode. The rest of the gang teasing Yuta and Utsumi and Max giving the former advice and damn-near forcing him to just admit his feelings for her was hilarious and refreshing. Hopefully our boy will regain his memories soon and score that date on the next attempt.

  • October 29, 2018 at 4:35 amPosh Josh

    https://randomc.net/image/SSSS%20Gridman/SSSS%20Gridman%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2018.jpg

    I like that Yuta already admitted that he likes Rikka. Hopefully this stuff is all real and he actually confesses properly or something.

  • October 29, 2018 at 4:39 amShounenGuy

  • October 29, 2018 at 4:45 amRyodo Ish

    Synopsis of the next episodes: https://i.imgur.com/YnHi9W9.jpg

    Show Spoiler ▼

    • October 30, 2018 at 7:06 amCrimson7

      Yo, maybe think about spoiler tags?

      • October 30, 2018 at 7:21 pmGuardian Enzo

        Fair point, and sorry I didn’t catch that sooner. I don’t think to be as vigilant about spoilers with original shows.

  • October 29, 2018 at 4:52 amSevenNight

    https://randomc.net/image/SSSS%20Gridman/SSSS%20Gridman%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2013.jpg

    The comedy and action this episode was top notch. Yuta and Utsumi stalking Rikka with the Grid weapons was hilarious. They all have great chemistry together, whether it be Calibur being a weirdo, or Max giving dating advice to Yuta. Trigger is known for some great supporting casts, and SSSS.Gridman is no exception. The battle was awesome as well. The score when Gridman landed the Super Lighting Kick elevated that scene to incredible heights. Poor Anti, getting attacked not only by Gridman, but the kaiju as well.

    • October 29, 2018 at 5:51 amOne Pinch Man

      Anti is getting smacked by Akane too. Poor boy just can’t catch a break :(

      • October 29, 2018 at 9:18 amzztop

        The issue is that Akane sees Anti as a pet at best, who should only follow her orders without question. And when has ideals of his own (like him being Gridman’s sole slayer) then she gets mad.

  • October 29, 2018 at 5:36 amSMinstrel

    This show is indeed surprisingly fun.

  • October 29, 2018 at 6:26 amRuneGrey

    Of interest this time around is that Anti seems to have run out of power a bit faster. It makes me wonder if our tiny transforming Kaiju needs to be fed regularly to operate at full power, given the emphasis on food with him last episode.

    …any bets on Rikka feeding him aoon?

    • October 29, 2018 at 6:40 amGuardian Enzo

      That seems like a strong possibility. Certainly it’s been foreshadowed.

    • October 29, 2018 at 10:12 pmKLA

      I interpreted Anti’s running out of energy so quickly to stem from Akane running two kaiju at once.

      Similarly, Gridman probably ran low on gas due to the earlier attempt to load the whole Neon Genesis Junior High.

      At some point, probably both Junk and Akane’s capacity will get upgrades!

  • October 29, 2018 at 6:50 amHenrietta Brix

    https://randomc.net/image/SSSS%20Gridman/SSSS%20Gridman%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2036.jpg

    I want to caress those flully smooth cheeks and get myself smothered in between those awesome smooth thicc tighs

  • October 29, 2018 at 7:19 amRenaSayers

    Everytime I watch the new EP I enjoy it up to the point I see Akane, I don’t understand her deal. Why is she trying to destroy the city since the first episode you don’t really see a back story to cruelty.

    Are Shou and Rikka suppose to be moral support cause I don’t see them contributing to Yuuta’s victory beside being cheerleaders.

    This is like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but in Anime form really digging this show.

    • October 29, 2018 at 8:41 amzztop

      @RenaSayers – Akane isn’t trying to destroy the city per se; more that she’s trying to kill random people who’ve pissed her off with giant monsters she made, and if the rest of the city has to go down to placate her anger at these few people so be it.

      That said, her pettiness is a plot element brought over from the original Gridman series. In that one, petty-minded student Todo Takeshi would create kaiju-shaped PC viruses (with the help of evil program Kahn Digifer) to wreak havoc in the digital world (which resembled mini cityscapes), and it was up to the main characters to defeat said kaijus.

      • October 29, 2018 at 4:58 pmRenaSayers

        That explains why I have a hard time accepting Akane’s presence. When she takes action her purpose for her response and the response themselves are really weak.

  • October 29, 2018 at 8:46 amstarss

    For 3 episodes straight we saw NO scenes that Rikka and Akane shared. One minute into Episode 4 and they’re acting like they known each other when they were babies. It’s like the writers are saying “see?? YOU DON’T remember this?? Ha! Well then you must be STUPID!” Not to mention we know Akane’s actual intentions, which only makes her extra face-punchable.

    • October 29, 2018 at 9:06 amzztop

      Maybe not in the main episodes, but I think the ED sequence was meant to foreshadow their previous friendship.

  • October 29, 2018 at 9:05 amzztop

    Gridman audio drama Ep 4.4 is out.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iEH5ZTcDsU&t=8s

    Full translation here.
    https://barnnn.blogspot.com/2018/10/ssssgridman-voice-drama-episode-44.html

    It takes place after the gang goes out for dinner. Rikka seeks advice from her mother on how to deal with the deaths of people you don’t know very well; she still feels guilty over not telling Yuuta about the 3 dead Youtubers he failed to save from the kaiju.

  • October 29, 2018 at 11:34 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    “Once again, I don the gigantic gauntlets! Let me KICK the enemy!” lol

  • October 29, 2018 at 4:00 pmDude

    I weep at the lack of screenshots of Rikka kneeling on the counter.

  • October 29, 2018 at 6:17 pmsealouse

    I really liked how subdued this episode seemed minus the action scenes. Even the action scenes didn’t seem too straightforward. Seriously though how is that city not missing half of its population by now? That big kick nearly looked nuclear.

    • October 29, 2018 at 6:47 pmGuardian Enzo

      Did you notice that there were never any other passengers on the bus?

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