Anime Review: SSSS.Gridman

By Drew Hurley 27.03.2020

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SSSS.Gridman (UK Rating: 15)

The Ultra series has long been a mainstay of Japanese culture, but unlike many of its contemporaries, it has been unable to break into the mainstream in the west. This classic Tokusatsu sees generations of "Ultraman" face off against Ultra Monsters, often in kaiju sized battles, with Japan suffering from the fallout of the battle. The company who produced the Ultra series branched into some other series, one such was the basis for this story. A Tokusatsu in 1994 entitled Denkou Choujin Gridman, and now, by collaborating with the legendary Studio Trigger their transforming Gridman for a new generation. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, this full collection is available from February 3rd. Yuta Hibiki awakens in his classmate's family shop, with no memory of how he got there. Worse, no memory of his friends, his life, even who he is. His classmate Rikka thinks he may have even more issues when he starts talking to the blank screen of an old computer. Within it he sees a robotic figure calling himself 'Gridman,' who tells Yuta danger is coming, and that Yuta needs to complete his mission. That's not the only thing on Yuta can see - stepping outside he sees a gargantuan Kaiju standing motionless above his city. Yuta returns to his life, and with the help of his friend Shou, he tries to restore his memories but finds his hallucinations bursting into real life, as a Kaiju starts laying waste to the city around him.

 
By interacting with an old computer terminal, Yuta transforms to the hero Gridman, and is able to take out the towering Kaiju, though not without some collateral damage. Their destruction ruins much of Yuta's school, and even ends up killing some of Yuta's classmates. It seems Yuta's hallucinations are not so imaginary. He gets ready to deal with the fallout in school the next day, but finds the damage undone. His school restored, and the whole event wiped from the memories of his schoolmates. Though, some schoolmates seem to be absent. The kids who were killed are gone. No-one remembers them in class, and when checking with their parents, they all believe their children died long ago. Yuta, Shou, and Rikka form the 'Gridman Alliance' to keep their city safe, to stop others from dying, and to get to the bottom of the memory loss. Not just Yuta's apparent amnesia, but of the reset of the populous after each attack. Their enemy is revealed right from the start as the cute girl in their class. One Akane Shinjou. She too has a robotic character she speaks with inside a computer, guiding her in the destruction and creation of her world. Akane is both the Rita Repula and Finster of the series. She creates the Kaiju that tear her city to pieces, modelling them from clay, and having the figure in her computer, who she calls Alexis, bring them to life. Akane is more than what she seems. It turns out, she's at the heart of all this. She is the God of this world. The cause of the Kaiju and the memory loss. She uses Kaiju to craft the world how she pleases, sending them to destroy what she doesn't like, and then using them to repair the damage. She's easily the most interesting character in the cast, though a close second is one of her creations. Named Anti, this Kaiju is unlike any other. Able to speak, and able to transform into a human body. A young boy who is constantly, ravenously hungry, and driven by an obsession to overcome his rival, Gridman. It's unlikely that three school kids are going to be able to take on a God. Thankfully, the trio is joined by a group with more knowledge of Gridman. This begins with a creepy looking guy stalking the trio. Sunken eyes, all in black, scruffy hair, and a host of scabbards on his back. He may look sinister, but this man assists them in strengthening Gridman, going as far as to join Yuta in battle, travelling through the same machine, and materialising as a gargantuan sword for Gridman to wield. Shortly after three more members join, each with the same ability to join Gridman in combat. Travelling through the computer to transform into vehicles, with each being able to combine with Gridman, in a classic, Sentai fashion. They dub themselves the 'Neon Genesis Junior High Students.' The series seems like it could be a lighthearted romp, this group of friends fighting against giant monsters, with Trigger's signature style to deliver a dynamic and explosive fresh take on the classic Tokusatsu, but there is a surprising depth and darkness to the story. Akane's drive to perfect her world takes a twisted turn. The truth of the world, and the mastermind behind Akane and the development of the eponymous Anti, all builds to a glorious conclusion. Anti-heroes and villains often become fan-favourites, and it's easy for both Anti and Akane to take centre stage here. Anti is a wonderful character that feels straight out of Kamen Rider. Akane feels like a combination of Rita Repulsa, Haruhi, and a hardcore Kaiju otaku. This complete collection contains all 12 episodes, with both an English and Japanese dub along, with a 30-minute-long featurette entitled 'Behind the Gridman Alliance,' which gathers together the main cast and ADR director of the English dub for a discussion on the show. 
8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
SSSS.Gridman is a marriage of classic and modern. A celebration of the iconic Ultra series, yet also a whole new style, instilling the signature Trigger style to create something new. The medium of anime giving the series a chance to deliver some explosive hype moments live action couldn't hope to match. Just like Trigger's other works, SSSS.Gridman is fully self-aware and embraces the source material fully, using designs, music, and sound effects that are a love letter to this iconic part of Japanese media. There's a lot to enjoy here, and for those that do, there's more to come, as a sequel is on the way entitled SSSS.Dynazenon.

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