「恋人みたいって、なに？」 (Koibito mitai tte, nani?)
“What’s Lover-Like Mean?”
After a pretty lights-out episode last week this was a bit of a step down for SSSS.Dynazenon. Probably the weakest ep of the series on balance, though that’s quite a high bar at this point. I’m struggling to remember if Gridman had a pool/onsen episode though I suspect it must have, given that it’s a tradition in the Gainax style of this franchise since the olden days (edit: indeed, and it was also Episode 5). This one did move the plot forward and it didn’t gratuitously flog the juvie fanservice, so on the whole it was better than most.
The pretext here is Chise winning tickets for the water park (which is probably the most popular route, on the whole). Chise in fact has a bigger role in this episode than any before. She gets in her one-liners (“What’s a day off to the unemployed?”). She gives us a little intrigue, as Yume’s fixation on her sleeve suggests she may have had issues with self-abuse in the past. And she’s back in the cockpit and doing what I expected in the first place, proving quite adept at it. I still sense she threatens Yomogi’s place here, though she could end up going over to the Eugenicists too. Stay tuned.
In point of fact, there was a general sense of unease about this episode belying the nominal theme. You had the Chise foreshadowing, and then we have Yume sort of generally dealing with her trauma, which the water park trip causes to spark up at odd moments. Yomogi does in fact accompany her to meet her sister’s sempai, whose video is not too illustrative except that Kano was smiling a lot (not looking suicidal, at least). Then there are the obvious moments at the pool where the falling fear comes over her when prompted by events.
Yomogi does see the inherent possibilities this day offers to advance their relationship, even with Shizumu tagging along and popping up at every turn. As Gauma’a hapless (“Don’t run!”) obsession with capturing him provides most of the comic relief, Yomogi tries to edge a little closer to Yume. The churro scene is classic Dynazenon – long still shots with no BGM are so rare in anime these days that they always stand out as uncomfortable (which is the point here). There are always suggestions of competition (like Shizumu) but ultimately I think Yume and Yomogi are either a couple or alone – there’s no triangle or harem issues in play here.
The kaiju this week is a bit of a pushover, metal-melting ability aside. Chise and Yomogi both in the cockpit is an interesting development, though she doesn’t seem to actually involve herself much – yet. Especially with the notion of Dyna Soldier and Dyna Striker combining (Chise’s idea) becoming prominent, her role in the pilot rotation seems sure to become more prominent. Even the Eugenicists seem more interested in getting back to the onsen for a soak than in this battle, and it ends without too many fireworks.
That just leaves us with the cliffhanger at the end of the episode, where the club V-P makes contact and Yume and Yomogi (I think it’s a good sign that he seems to be a fixture for these outings now) meet him at the mall. He’s clearly about to share the rumor that Kano committed suicide. Which frankly makes the idea that she actually did seem very unlikely to me – this is just too obviously misdirection. There are really only three possibilities here – suicide, accident, or murder – with each impacting the plot in markedly different ways. And I think the third one is the most consistent with the genre and the direction of the story so far.