SSSS. Gridman – YAY #Mecha March!

ssss gridman

 

    • Genre:  Science fiction, mecha, action, adventure, kaiju,
    • Episodes: 12

 

Puberty is weird. You hit high school and all the sudden you don’t know who you are anymore. Well you do but you don’t know who you should be. Unless you’re Hibiki, then you literally don’t know who you are. That’s cause you just woke up one day with complete amnesia, no family members to fill you in and way too chill friends that don’t feel the need to explain your past to you. In fact, you’re also so extremely easy going as to take it all in stride. Even when it turns out you might be a giant robot of some sort that’s meant to protect the city from the free wheeling kaiju that have been appearing all over the place. But something’s not quite right here. Puberty is weird but is it supposed to be quite this weird?

I’m so psyched I got to at least take a tiny part in #MechaMarch

SSSS. Gridman went directly on my to watch list as soon as it came out because it came from studio Trigger. I have not watched the infamous Darling and the Franxxx however I’ve seen my fair share of their anime and I tend to like them. That’s the only reason SSSS. Gradman ended up on my list at all. The short summary and promo art didn’t really catch my attention. Without the Trigger name attached to it, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this series at all. After watching it there’s one thing I can say for sure. I tend to like Trigger studio releases… a lot!

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Trigger has some cute girl design!

I don’t think I will surprise anyone by saying that the production values here are exceptional. Everything is impressive and lush. Designs are great, colours are stunning and used in subtle but powerful ways. A lot of this series is a tribute to mecha anime as a genre and the soundtrack is carefully put together in accordance.

The voice acting was one of my favourite parts. It’s extremely deadpan and naturalistic. The delivery is not unlike a mockumentary (which tend to be more fluid than a documentary). When you layer that overt the incredible events and the increasingly hard to comprehend circumstances, it causes an odd breakdown. It constantly reminds you that everyone is acting too normal. The mundane interactions and reactions are highlighted by the minimalistic acting which in turn clashes and highlights the absurdity of the situation.

So yeah…Trigger knows how to make an anime. Big news!

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right!

I will say, the animation was wonderful, very fluid and fun to watch, but it did not have those signature exaggerated movements and elasticity that so many Trigger titles do and that I absolutely love. I understand why they might have chosen more classic animation techniques. It fits with the tribute nature of the series and the context of big heavy metal machines fighting that might not be too flexible. I still would have loved to see traces of it though. This said, the director did a great job and scenes with very little or slight movements are always shot in interesting ways. That made it up to me…

Also, I don’t know where to put this but every episode has a simple white title card with the name of the episode. I love those title cards. That’s some really beautiful font. I tried to find out what it was but couldn’t. If any of you know, please tell me in the comments. It would make my day!

I do that a lot. Imply that something goes without saying or doesn’t need an explanation then spend paragraphs explaining it.

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this neds no explanation

Like most of the Trigger titles I’ve seen, SSSS. Gridman can be enjoyed on a few levels… Oh you know what, let’s just dispense with the coyness.It’s probably already clear to you but let me spell it out. I really loved this series and I’m just going to gush about it. Maybe there are reasons you would not enjoy it. The general rating for the show is way lower than the one I gave. But You won’t find those reasons in this post. I can’t really think of any.

Where was I, oh yeah: Like most of the Trigger titles I’ve seen, SSSS. Gridman can be enjoyed on a few levels. On the one hand it is as I’ve mentioned a few times already, love letter to the mecha genre in anime. There are plenty of Easter eggs and winks in the designs and names. Gridman’s allies all study at Neon Genesis Junior High in one of the most obvious examples. Any fans of the genre will find plenty of references to smile at.

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oh yeah…Gridman!

It also weaves mystery throughout the action in a very successful way. You could easily watch it as a journey to discovering what’s happening and the secrets of Hibiki’s past. Episode 9 was probably pivotal in my watching. It mirrors the very first episode but with substitutions and changes that leave you scratching your head until you realize what’s happening.It’s masterfully done, and brilliantly paced as a classic thriller that had me on the edge of my seat. I was loving SSSS. Gridman until then but this episode made me realize it was a level above everything I though. Then it lays out the emotional core of the series. Which brings me to:

THERE WILL BE MILD SPOILERS HERE – YOU SHOULD AVOID THEM IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE SHOW. THE SURPRISE MATTERS IN MY OPINION….

But on a different level it’s a sort of slightly sad hug to fans of the genre as well. Shinjo is sort of an amalgam of the worst prejudices and most powerful illustrations of anime and mecha fans. We are all gods of our own worlds and lonely and trapped within them.

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a rich inner lief is important

The twist ending is foreshadowed early on. You see it in the garbage bags strewn across Akane’s room. You sort of feel it by how fragile she is and how, despite being superficially liked by all, she seems to have deep trouble connecting with anyone. Rikka is the only character with a family and her mother is often more of a background element. Neither scolding nor offering advice. There are no actual families in this world and when you see parents physically present, that becomes even more obvious.

SSSS. Gridman paints a slightly painful picture of the worlds we hold within us. Of how they can sustain us and how they can bring us down. Of what we owe to those worlds and the people within them and how we will unavoidably disappoint and fail them. Because we’re just human. We’re not hyper agents or kaiju.

SSSS Gridman ep10 (4)

some days I’m a Kaiju

But ultimately, the show tells us that that’s alright. That we all have the potential of being heroes and monsters in turn within us and that’s what makes us limitless and frightening and worthy. Of course I’m a reckless optimist. That’s the message I got out of it. I’m also a person who deeply enjoys living in my own worlds so I sympathized and related to the characters. I can tell that there’s a much more pessimistic way of taking in this story.

In the end, SSSS. Gridman was a beautiful and nostalgic tribute to things that obviously mean a lot to the studio. The genre where it’s roots lie and the fans that have kept it going. It embraces both the good and the bad. It doesn’t shy away from the cheesy. And I liked it….a lot!

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ok, just need to dd Calibur now

Favourite character: Anti and also Calibur and sometimes Utsumi and Rikka, oh of course Shinjo…

What this anime taught me: You are responsible for everything you create

Every loaf of bread is the tragic story of grain that could have become beer…

Suggested drink: Agent Orange

  • Every time a character’s eyes aren’t blue – take a sip
  • Every time Junk shorts out – sigh
  • Every time Akane smashes something – take a sip
    • if it’s a screen – take another
  • Every time Gridman gets a new accessory – take a sip
  • Every time Utsumi gets kicked – ouch
  • Every time anyone orders something form the diner – get some coffee
  • Every time Rikka gets left out – awww
  • Every time we see a “special dog” – get a snack
  • Every time there’s a soft 4th wall break – take a sip
  • Every time something looks like a motherboard – take a sip
  • Every time anyone worries about Simon – take a sip
  • Every time we see the scenery kaiju – Wonder if you could find a nice figure of one of them
  • Every time Rikka side eyes – take a sip
  • Every time Calibur shows emotion – just sit there and take it in, it doesn’t happen a lot.
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yay, Calibur!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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16 Responses

  1. Now THIS was a good show. Incredible, actually. Probably my second fave of 2018. Glad you were also to get so much out of it!

    • Irina says:

      I absolutely loved it and maybe because I wasn’t expecting anything, it delighted me even more. Like discovering a new favourite pizza or something

  2. (Agent Orange…? What a scary name for a drink.)

    Gridman is one of the shows I’ve watched through twice and my thoughts have been fairly consistent, probably because I thought they’d lean into the computer angle more than they did (also to blame: my lack of experience with Gridman in general, aside from the Japan Animator Expo short that birthed the series). The fixer ray is a bit of a “pulled from their butthole” thing, too.

    • Irina says:

      Well everything is “pulled…” right? It’s an imaginary town after all that is build on emotional vulnerability rather than narrative integrity.

      Drinks often have darkly humorous names.

  3. foovay says:

    Mecha? Kaiju? *Drops everything and runs to VRV*

  4. Dawsntorm says:

    I almost didn’t watch this. I’ve never seen any Gridman, and I was a little tired of all those reboots, too. I like the odd mecha show, sure, but it’s not my favourite genre, and so the nostalgia doesn’t really work on me. So, meh, who knows. I dismissed the show and didn’t even try episode 1.

    Then the reviews came in, uniformly positive, from everyone. And the screenshots were pretty. So when episode 2 (episode 3? no longer sure) dropped, I watched all available episodes… and was reminded why I should give everything a chance.

    I really loved the backgrounds. Shinjou’s messy room, Rikka’s somewhat rundown family shop, cityscape with kaijuu… I quite liked the characters. No favourites stood out, but they were are really good combo all together. Fun show; I’m glad I gave it a try.

    • Irina says:

      I am too, although I knew I would. The characters seemed incomplete. Not underdeveloped but like there were holes in them. Which I guess is kind of the point. They work only as part of a cast,

  5. I really enjoyed this series a lot, I think my only real problem with in it is that it just didn’t blow me away as much as other Trigger shows. A lot of the episodes felt a bit too restrained or formulaic, I even guessed the big twist episodes before it was revealed. There were lots of cool designs and great ideas though and I’ll probably watch the series again, I’ll just watch the likes of Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia first.

    • Irina says:

      Well that seems like an unfair comparison… I would rewatch Gridman before Kiznaiver…

      • Fair point. i would too, though that makes it sound like I disliked Kiznaiver, but that was a good show too. I don’t think there’s a single Trigger show that I haven’t liked, unless there’s one I’m forgetting.

        • Irina says:

          I like Kiznaiver too. What I’m saying is that Gridman is probably more in line with the average from Trigger then with the best of the studio. But the average f Trigger is still pretty great in my book.

  6. I loved how this series looked, but couldn’t get into it at all. Every episode ended with some new unfounded or developed skill that they just pulled out of the air, most notably the “fixer ray” in the final episode.

    Maybe it’s because I never watched Power Rangers or the likes, but this really wasn’t one that I enjoyed. I’m also yet to find anyone that agrees with me so, I guess it’s just me…

    • Irina says:

      I loved it – the cheesyness of the original Gridman series was really embraced but classic mecha tropes are definitely an acquired taste. I’m sure you’re not the only one who felt it out of place, after all it was a tribute to very outdated stuff.
      I did love all the isolation and escape through imagination aspects of it. It was sad but ultimately hopeful to me.

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