First off, I still love SSSS.Gridman. I love all its weird quirks, its restrained style intercut with moments of extreme pandemonium (and BGM). I love Amemiya-sensei’s directorial choices and the cinematography, and the epic kaijuu shots. And the Gainax explosions – fucking glorious (why does no other explosion look like that?). If I live to be a thousand years old I will never, ever tire of Gainax explosions in my anime.
The funny thing is, though, I find myself loving what’s going on in itself while finding myself- well, bemused, let’s say – with the direction of the series as a whole. Yes, Gridman is poised to be a big commercial hit and will almost certainly have a second season at some point, but the writing staff didn’t know that when they planned it (and in fact, this series apparently wrapped far earlier than most anime do – leaving the staff tweeting about actually having free time). With that in mind, where in the world are they going with this? I don’t mind that it’s repetitive, because what’s being repeated is some of the best anime of the season. But we don’t really seem to be advancing much.
With that in mind you’re going to have to forgive me if I say some of the same things I’ve been saying for the past two months, because that’s what we’re getting on-screen. Akane is still by all appearances a terrible person, and Rikka is still making allowances for her (even Yuuta is casting her as a victim of Alexis). Akane is still making kaijuu, and Gridman is still finding ways to beat them. We’re still getting hints about what’s really going on here in dribs and drabs, but even if you’re not knowledgeable about the franchise that seems to be more or less what you’d expect. The Shinseiki Chuugakusei are still endlessly entertaining, and Yuuta is still in love with Rikka.
So what’s new? Well, I did ROFL at Yuuta’s horror when the junior high squad showed up at school – because they were in outside shoes. There’s a culture fest coming up, and Akane sees that as the perfect opportunity to trot out her strongest kaijuu yet, and she basically dares the SSSS to try and stop her. What comes out of this is disagreement amongst the squad, with Shou and Yuuta adamant (and quite rightly, I would contend) that Akane needs to be taken down while Rikka clings to the notion that it’s wrong to fight a classmate. The spat between her and Shou is interesting – even if she’s in the wrong, Shou was a total dickhead in the way he called her out for it. But maybe this was a lesson Rikka needed to learn on her own.
While Rikka and Shou do eventually apologize to each other, my pet peevish side would like to know why the both of them never apologized to Yuuta for how they treated him last week. And the headline is probably that Akane as much as tells Rikka straight-out that she’s a NPC – that she (and by extension, all the NPCs in the city) was “set up” to adore her. I’m not going to take anything Akane says as a given, though in general terms she seems to be a truthful sociopath. But if Rikka is indeed not “real”, what does that say about Shou – and maybe even Yuuta?
Meanwhile, Anti-kun appears to have hit rock-bottom – mutilated, famished and desperate he shows up at the junk shop looking for Rikka, only to find the Chuugakusei Squad in hostile mode. Rikka’s mom is sympathetic, and so is Max – maybe even Calibur, who gets Anti’s phone number (that’s a Chekov’s gun if I’ve ever seen one) but Anti isn’t quite ready to join the good guys yet (his expression while watching Gridman take out Akane’s kaijuu is implacable).
Yes we do get another fight, though there are some twists to this one. It’s Yuuta who comes up with the strategy of using Gridman to terrorize the school and force an evacuation before Akane’s super-kaijuu can attack the festival. It’s also Yuuta’s idea to decrease the output of the weapons (basically downsize everyone) so that the entire JH squad can do a zen-gettai with Gridman without overloading Junk and freezing the system. With that on-board Gridman once more manages to foil Akane – who must be realizing by now that for a “God” her won-loss record is pretty piss-poor. Kaijuu defeated, the festival (and the cross-dressing) can go on – but sooner or later something has to give here. And with only four episodes to go, we don’t have a whole lot of “later” left.