SSSS. Gridman [Anime Review]February 6, 2020
Note: Review copy supplied by Manga Entertainment
Anime Studio: Trigger
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Released: February 3rd, 2020
Language: Japanese / English
You’re not alone. Whenever, forever. Yuuta Hibiki is a first-year student in high school living in Tsutsujidai. One day, he wakes up without his memories. Yuuta later meets Hyper Agent GRIDMAN who is inside an old computer. GRIDMAN tells him to fulfill his purpose. Yuuta’s quest to understand the meaning behind those words and to find his memories begins. While all of this is sudden, Yuuta has helpful assistance from his classmates, Shou Utsumi, Rikka Takarada, and Akane Shinjou, but… Those peaceful days are destroyed mercilessly by a monster that suddenly appears.
Trigger is a studio with a very distinct style, and in that regard, SSSS. Gridman is instantly recognizable as part of their roster. What that means is that the things you expect are all present: on brand character designs, decent animation, and a soundtrack that fits the series well. Visually, there’s nothing to really complain about here. The characters look suitably different from one another and there and plenty of little nods to previous kaiju releases. The battles themselves look good, and they leave behind a nostalgic glow, even if you’re only exposure to robot vs. monster series are the Saban recut releases Power Rangers and Big bad Beetleborgs.
Where this series shines is not in its aesthetics though, but in the writing. The thing that I found fascinating was that it was clear that Yuuta was the main character, yet he wasn’t really presented as the star of the show. Despite his ability to become Gridman and the amnesia storyline being key components to the series overall, the spotlight was more firmly on Rikka and Akane. The girls were given plenty of moments to grow and reveal their motivations throughout, and the result of that was that they stood out far more than anyone else in the cast.
The downside to this is that the other characters kinda fall to the wayside. Yuuta is relatively bland for the most part, though I feel like that is by design. He’s supposed to be that representation of the ‘normal average boy’ that I suspect the series is aimed at. Others get dragged into the situation he finds himself in, and outside Rikka, they kinda just fit into their roles pretty quickly.
That’s no to say that it’s badly executed, mind you. Like I said, the writing is a strong point here. There are enough self-aware moments (such as the Neon Genesis Junior High Students) and genuinely intriguing plot points for it to feel compelling. The series is absolutely focussed on delivering a satisfying story, and it’s all the better for it. It’s just a shame that the characters didn’t all get the same level of focus and development.
For me, this was a step below Trigger’s previous hit, Darling in the Franxx overall. However, it’s still one you should try to catch. It features fun, self-aware battles and story beats, some well-executed characters, and decent technical work. Your feelings about the genre and its 90’s equivalents may colour your enjoyment, but if it’s up your street, it’s well worth a look-in. This gets a solid 3.75 out of 5 for me.
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