Yuuta Hibiki wakes up in the room of Rikka Takarada and notices two things: he has no memories, and he can hear a mysterious voice calling his name from a nearby room. On further inspection, he finds a robot—which introduces itself as Hyper Agent Gridman—behind the screen of an old computer. Much to Yuuta's surprise, Rikka cannot hear Gridman, nor can she see the ominous monsters looming over a thick fog as it envelopes the town outside.
Another giant monster materializes in the city and proceeds to wreak havoc. Amidst the confusion, Yuuta is once again drawn to the old computer and merges with Gridman. Suddenly, he appears in the middle of the battle and is forced to fight the monster. Together with Rikka and fellow classmate Shou Utsumi, Yuuta forms the "Gridman Alliance" to defeat the monsters plaguing the city and find whoever is responsible for their emergence.
After 25 years since the original Gridman TV series debuted in 1993, Studio Trigger and Tsuburaya Productions, the company behind Gridman and Ultraman, have collaborated to produce the magnificent tokusatsu inspired reboot SSSS.Gridman. For those who are new to Gridman and tokusatsu entertainment, it is the Japanese term attached to any sci-fi/fantasy live-action series that uses an abundance of special effects. More specifically, practical effects; think people wrestling in rubber monster suits smashing through model cities and stop motion animation.
That leads us to SSSS.Gridman, the love child of first-time director Akira Amemiya and Keiichi Hasegawa, famed screenwriter of the 1990s Ultraman. It is overflowing with
references and callbacks to the live-action series, SSSS is a lovingly crafted modernized take on the original series. The new story takes a theme relevant to today’s audiences and focuses on the youth of Japan and their relationship to technology.
The show opens on Yuta Hibiki, an amnesiac first-year in high school who’s just woken up in the home of Rikka Takarada, a girl in his class. With no clue who she is, or who he is for that matter. His standard introduction no doubt had people rolling their eyes, including me, and it does detract from the story, at least until we learn why he lost his memory. Yuta sees hallucinations of a robot named Gridman in an old computer in Takarada's family store, later called ‘Junk’ in reference to its name in the original show. Afterward, he meets Sho Utsumi, his friend before getting amnesia. Sho helps him with his memory loss, which is more or less his role in the series, being Yuta's support. He's a decent character, with a minor arc and some development. Throughout the first episode, the information we’re being fed by the characters is incongruous with what we observe from Yuta’s perspective. Rikka and Utsumi easily accept Yuta’s amnesia and when he sees Kaiju looming in the distance they assume he’s joking because—like his Gridman hallucinations—he is the only one who can see them at first. In spite of the mundane reactions of people around Yuta, the directing of nearly every scene communicates dread. It constantly feels like danger is just off the frame and the next scene will change everything.
Amemiya lingers on long shots too long for them to feel normal, instead, they communicate anxiety, you constantly are waiting for something to happen that will break the mundanity. Lighting is oversaturated during the daytimes to convey the crushing heat of the summer, and at night is subdued with fog and the monsters are constantly shown looming in the distance over the heroes. In the first episode, a radio playing is placed in between scenes to shift the tone. It bears so much similarity to Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s no surprise considering the director is a Gainax veteran. No doubt, SSSS.Gridman's greatest strength is the tone, it balances the mundane life of high school students with the dread of a Kaiju attack. Eventually, when the Kaiju do attack, it is equally satisfying to watch play out. The three main characters are together in Rikka’s family store when the first Kaiju begins wreaking havoc on the city, forcing Yuta to work with Gridman fight off the monsters in giant robot form. Together they create the Gridman Alliance, dedicated to defeating any Kaiju that threatens to destroy their city.
Animation is fluid, characters are incredibly expressive, storyboards are filled with detail, shots are excellently framed. The camera work is dynamic making the action always exciting and even the CGI used during many of the fight scenes is superb. The sound design is especially amazing at giving audio feedback during these scenes, a vehicle being crushed, the ground crumbling under a monster, and all of the attacks sound so visceral and lifelike. From time to time the show's incredible opening is used as background music in fights, and this would typically grow tiresome but because the song is so good and relevant to the story it never bothered me. At times the monster's movements look janky, but it never feels unintentional, watching old tokusatsu series shows that this is how the monster/giant robot fights looked, they move in ways that make it seem as though someone is inside a suit navigating them. 2D animation could never have achieved the authenticity of the monsters they were aiming for here. Not every scene is exploding with action, but even when the pace slows down, the directing and intruiging storyboarding are still visually arresting. One qualm I would bring up is the overabundance of fanservice placed at awkward moments, this thankfully only happened in certain episodes around the midpoint of the show. All around, this show is incredibly faithful to the original series, visually, audibly, and narratively.
The story is at times too standard to the genre and could have used more originality rather than reliance on the source material. It delivers it's story beats confidently and plenty self-aware of the nostalgia it's evoking, but the times it updates the script to a modern audience are worthwhile. Important information is shown to us rather than told, a characters motivation is never told to us before it is shown, a twist never comes that wasn’t foreshadowed heavily. This showing rather than telling comes across the most in Akane Shinjou's scenes, a classmate of Yuta’s. She offers the most exciting writing in the show. In the first episode alone, her scenes convey more fear than any of the Kaiju scenes. She’s subtle with her dark side and when she gets her quiet moments of angry reflection you get to see how bitter she is. Her psychotic tendencies and lack of care for others are made all the more frightening by how much power she proves to have.
Although Yuta's simplistic personality is explained very well in the narrative, Rikka and Akane get far more development than him. Eventually, they even take his place as the protagonists, and the show is much better for it. Rikka gets more development than Yuta and becomes a remarkably sympathetic character right away. While Yuta and Utsumi celebrate their victories against Kaiju she worries about the fallout of the city being attacked and if her friends are safe. She's the most nuanced character in the show, and it often feels like she is a normal person who was placed into the plot of a wild sci-fi kids show. Her apprehension towards conflict and her contemplation of the effects of what's occurring in the story are what makes her so believable. Yuta and Utsumi are at first, ecstatic to escape the mundane life of being a student, then the shock of the danger they’re in forces them to face reality and change their mindsets. Whereas Yuta accepts he has to overcome challenges at face value and follows through like a typical protagonist, Rikka is constantly questioning why she’s in such a dire situation and where her place is in all of it. Her development throughout the show is intertwined with Akane's and they both change in ways that are very engaging to watch play out.
The themes of Gridman are showcased throughout the story in the elaborate technology the villain has, all alone in her room, contrasted with the beat-up old computer the Gridman Alliance use. Yet even with basic technology, they prove to be formidable foes to the Kaiju, and they enjoy working together. What the screenwriter is trying to say is rather basic, but it’s nonetheless a well-reinforced theme and consistent throughout the show, you don’t need an abundance of technology to have good relationships and valued friendships.
[Final Score: 8/10]
SSSS.Gridman stands as one of the best mecha in recent memory. Stylistically it is much different than the rest of Studio Trigger's anime, but it is one of their greatest works yet. It wears its love for the original series and tokusatsu entertainment on its sleeve. The story is wonderfully nostalgic, and surprisingly enough, thought-provoking. Laden with subtle details building up to every twist, every theme, it is both visually interesting and endlessly analyzable. I look forward to rewatching it time and time again in the future.
Hey, are you feeling down because you have this great idea for an anime but keep getting rejected by every studio that you try to sell your pitch to? Well it's time to turn that frown upside down, because Studio Trigger will gladly produce your anime for you, as long as your anime contains a few specific things of course. Here are the three easy steps that you must follow in order to have your anime green lit by Studio Trigger!
1. Make sure to have a LOT of steamy hot fan service. It's best if your main source of
sex appeal comes from your leading female character, because being hot waifu material > having a personality and depth.
2. Have your main character (who has to be an edgy teen btw) fly around in a giant mecha all the time because BIG ROBOTS ARE AWESOME!!!
3. ADD ALIENS! Especially as twist villains for the final arc of your story, because there's nothing better than kids in giant robots fighting against aliens in FREAKING SPACE!!!
Follow these simple steps and your anime will be practically guaranteed to end up as Trigger's next unsuccessful imitation of great anime like NGE and TTGL just like SSSS.Gridman is!
...On second thought, maybe you should just try your luck with a no-name studio.
I'm starting to think that creativity died at Studio Trigger. Yet although they seem to consistently recycle the same exact ideas, I've still enjoyed their works. I loved Kill la Kill because it somewhat deviated from the traditional Trigger formula and was just a great and fun anime all around. I even really liked Darling in the FranXX up until they butchered the ending because Trigger just HAD to have aliens. But with StopSoundingSoStupid.Gridman (Seriously, are the four S's supposed to mean something?), it just felt hollow. I never got the impression that this anime was trying to stand out and make a name for itself, and it unfortunately ended up being painfully average because of it.
Interestingly enough, my score for this anime fluctuated several times throughout its run time. I actually did find some episodes to be enjoyable and even thought provoking, yet others were the embodiment of mediocrity equipped with bad character interactions and bland scenarios. The only things that remained consistent throughout were Rikka's sexy legs. But even those thick thighs weren't enough to salvage the dysfunctional plotline of this anime.
The setting is quite bizarre. Our protagonist has come down with a rather unfortunate case of amnesia that is poorly explained near the end of the anime and finds himself in a city surrounded by a bunch of giant kaiju that only he can see. But he doesn't really seem too concerned about any of this. In fact, he doesn't seem to care about anything at all except for getting in Rikka's pants. And when other characters finally realize that our hero Yuuta isn't insane and see the kaiju too, they also don't seem to care too much about their situation. And that's one of the glaring issues with this anime. If the characters are completely nonchalant about basically everything, then why should we the viewers care about what's going on? Not that the story itself is anything exciting. It's just a typical monster of the week that Gridman and Yuuta beat up and then everything resets (the damage to the city and the memories of everyone who isn't an important character) because plot. And despite what you may be thinking, there really isn't much more to this anime than that. If anything, it just became even more confusing and convoluted by the end of the show.
For the most part, the characters are pretty stale. Gridman is the most bland sentient robot ever conceived and is piloted by the most uninspired kid imaginable. Utsumi is that typical freind guy who never does anything useful except crack a joke or two every ten minutes. Rikka is the attractive female lead who's personality unfortunately isn't as good as her looks. Alexis is some random alien that's randomly in this anime because Trigger has an alien fetish. The other characters bar one aren't even worth mentioning.
*This short segment contains spoilers as well as positive thoughts on this anime*
The one person who keeps this anime from falling into garbage territory in my eyes would be Akane. She takes the role of the antagonist, making all of the kaiju herself and trying to kill Gridman and people she doesn't like with them, and the anime literally revolves around her since she is, you know, a god. She seems like a fun and energetic girl at first, but after peeling away her mask, her true colors as a heartless, attention seeking psycho are exposed. And the anime even further sheds light on her intricate and delicate psyche later on in the show. The dream sequence episode, while weird, was one of my favorites from the anime simply because of how it portrayed Akane. She's just a really engaging character who I enjoyed watching. Her body is also pretty hot, I'd say even more so than Rikka's (Yeah, I said it). Akane is definitely the highlight of SSSS.Gridman for me.
*End of spoilers and positivity*
Despite my obvious displeasure with a decent chunk of this anime, it was still semi enjoyable to watch. Sure, the anime doesn't have much heart, but watching a giant robot beat up giant monsters is always fun, despite how repetitive it gets. And Rikka and Akane were a pleasure to watch (for more reasons than one~), so that's always a plus.
Show'sStorySeriouslySucks.Gridman is underwhelming. It never really went anywhere and just felt sort of pointless. A lot of things didn't make sense and when the anime did try to explain something, it usually just made it even more confusing. Let's hope that Studio Trigger is able to improve with their next project.
When SSSS.Gridman first began, people really didn’t like it. I think a lot of the surface-level elements turned people away, especially since the first few episodes were fairly slow and predictable. But once the show actually got going, the actual content there kept us coming back week after week, and it ended up being not just one of my favorite shows of its season, but of the year as a whole.
Gridman is a precarious mix of genres, balancing seemingly everyday school life against giant mecha fights. The former goes against what people expect from mecha anime, and is likely responsible for the show being labeled
as slow. However, these two disparate halves somehow built off each other, with the tension of the daily life feeding into the catharsis of the action scenes. Since it's the more mundane material that seems to have garnered the most criticism, that'll be the focus of this review.
Interestingly enough, this means I really don’t need to talk about Yuta. While he may pilot Gridman, his amnesiac protagonist bit gets in the way of him having a particularly interesting school life, and instead Rikka steps forward as the protagonist. Rikka is the more emotionally-driven of the two, and while she’s aware of all the kaiju shenanigans going on in the show, it’s never really her main drive.
Instead, Rikka’s conflict is her trying to reconnect with Akane, the antagonist of the series with whom she used to be close friends. Akane creates the kaiju that terrorize the city, and it would be so easy to just view her as the villain, especially since this is how she presents herself. But unlike the other protagonists, Rikka doesn't look at her through this lens. By refusing to play on Akane’s terms of mecha and kaiju, she is the one who is able to genuinely reach out to Akane and save her from her isolation. This story of reconnection could have been treated as secondary to the main action, but instead it’s given the same level of attention, receiving much of the show’s expressive animation and relatable character moments.
Also, the show absolutely nails atmosphere. Though everything seems mostly normal for the first half of the run, the show's use of its claustrophobic camera and tendency for long pauses serve to constantly instill a sense of discomfort in the viewer as they try to figure out why the world seems off. The summer heat is tangible and oppressive, and the rainy days are all the more miserable. The soundtrack goes a long way to sell these scenes, and the opening and ending are both fantastic.
Briefly, I’ll talk about how the show handles homage. I think a lot of the criticism leveled at the show is based on it being too steeped in references to other shows, to the point that animator for the original Gridman Obari Masami complained that they weren’t doing anything new with the material. With that said, I don’t mind having these callbacks as fanservice to fans of the original, especially since they don’t conflict with the story being told. Plus, how upset can I really be over all of the character designs being based on obscure Transformers? That’s adorable.
In conclusion, Gridman is just really good, you know? If you’ve been on the fence about watching Gridman because of the initial negative reception, I'd say it's worth trying for yourself. I'm still not entirely clear why so much of the community is down on this show, but I absolutely loved it, and I hope that more people will give it a chance.
SSSS.Gridman is an anime inspired by the old tokusatsu series Denkou Choujin Gridman. It takes what's interesting about the genre and adjusts it to fit the modern day's standards. Thanks to that the final product turned out to be an interesting mix of old and new. Add to it the outstandingly good execution and you get a masterpiece that can keep you glued to the screen with every episode.
The main character of the anime is Yuuta Hibiki - a high school boy that wakes up at Rikka Takarada's home having no memories at all. At the Junk Shop, which belongs to Rikka's family, there's an
old computer called Junk. And inside of it there's Gridman - the Hyper Agent telling Yuuta there's a mission he needs to fulfill. Yuuta lets his school friend Utsumi in on what's happened and when huge monsters called kaijuu start attacking the city, these three form the Gridman Alliance and with the help of the robot inside Junk, they start fighting said monsters and begin the journey to discover the truth about the city and everyone in it.
Since the very beginning there's a feeling that there's more to the show than it might appear at first. In what could be labelled as a naive show targetting the younger audience there's always the feeling that something is off and with every episode the eerie atmosphere becomes more apparent, which only makes the experience better. I loved the mysterious atmosphere of the weird, closed off city and the scenery filled with giant dormant monsters reminding you that even the calm days aren't how they should be.
What adds to the atmosphere is the background music, or rather the frequent lack thereof. Because of that (and of the animation) some scenes look pretty slow, but I wouldn't call it a bad thing in this particular case. The music does always appear during the fight scenes, though, and it's fitting and good. I also liked both the opening and ending song. There's a song I liked even more, though, and namely Yume no Hero - the original Gridman's opening song - which the original version of we can hear in the last episode and there was also a rearrangement of it played before.
As for the fights, what's much more outstanding about them than the soundtrack are the visuals. The fight scenes are super good and in my opinion they only get better with every episode. The CGI used during them looks clean and good quality and it also makes Gridman and the kaijuu look kind of heavy like they are supposed to be. We also get to see lots of cool transformations and gattai. Many cool combinations appeared throughout the show.
The visuals are great not only during the fight scenes. There are rather many still frames, but I perceive them as an artistic move, which I like. But when things are moving, the animation is fluid, especially when there's a lot of action going on. The backgrounds are full of details, the characters have nice designs (I also love their eyes) and there is nothing about the visual side of the show that I could complain about.
I found the characters to be another really strong point of the anime. Our main trio is totally likeable. Although devoid of some super unique traits, they feel genuine and their actions are understandable. And that's exactly what I like about them. They are just a group of normal high school kids whose everyday life changes because of the strange events happening. One could complain about the main character being bland, but there's a reason behind that, and it's more than just the fact that he has no memories. There's also Akane Shinjou - the girl everyone loves and a friend of Rikka. The Neon Genesis Junior High Students are a crazy but lovable and useful bunch, whose eccentricity doesn't fail to make the viewers smile. There's also a certain kaijuu boy that grew on me over time. The supporting characters are also fine.
As for the references - there seem to be many of them, but as someone that has never been into tokusatsu shows, I can't say much about them, unfortunately. I feel like I'm missing out a bit, but it's not like being knowledgeable about this kind of thing is necessary to enjoy the show. I'm sure the references will add to the experience for people that are more familiar with that stuff, though. I also wanted to mention one thing I looked up before, and namely the background of a certain girl that played an important role in the episode 6. If you are interested in that, I recommend looking up a kaijuu named Anosillus. It's quite moving. Episode 6 is also the one the aforementioned rearrangement of the old opening song was played in.
To sum it up, I see SSSS.Gridman as a show made of love and care for details. In spite of it taking inspirations from other things, it feels like it has its own identity. The quality of the anime is super good. To me this show is one of a kind. Simple, yet interesting and satisfying. I found it to be extremely enjoyable and I highly recommend giving it a try!