Anime and tokusatsu collide in a highly satisfying way in SSSS.Gridman. With the series completed, we take a look back.
(Spoilers if you haven’t watched the series yet, obviously)
SSSS.Gridman a faithful love letter to tokusatsu as a genre, full of easter eggs and satisfying design choices that make it feel right at home among its classic contemporaries. Co-produced by respected anime veteran Studio Trigger and Ultraman creators Tsuburaya, every episode feels like an evolution of the types of stories that can be told through the lens of tokusatsu and anime, while remaining faithful to fans of live-action “Guys in rubber suits” action and Trigger’s traditional visually stunning animation at the same time.
This series serves as a modern, anime-based retelling and reimagining of 90s-era tokusatsu series Denkou Choujin Gridman, which was later adapted into the short-lived American tokusatsu series Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad. Presumably, the latter is what the SSSS. stands for in the name of this series as well.
SSSS.Gridman centres on average student Yuta Hibiki, who wakes from a coma to find he has no memories of his life. As he begins putting the pieces together, he is assisted by his friends Rikka Takarada and Sho Utsumi, and the three eventually stumble upon Hyper Agent Gridman, living in an old computer in the back of Rikka’s family’s curio shop. This sets up the first episode of an action-packed series that keeps throwing plot twists at the viewer and evolving, right up to the finale. All throughout, the core team of Yuta, Rikka, and Utsumi learn about each other, and about their other allies, who transform with Yuta to become Gridman’s upgrades and weapons.
Everything about this series is made to feel as authentic to tokusatsu series, and specifically Ultraman as possible, while also expanding on what can be shown and done through the lens of anime. This includes small nods like the first introduction of each new form for Gridman, and later GridKnight, using the same entrance animation as seen in recent Ultraman shows, with the camera zooming slowly on the head of the hero, making it appear as though he is growing. Kaiju look and move as though they are being rendered in live-action, moving the way people in costumes would move and including parts like long, flopping heads and necks, slow and bulky movements around the city, and more. This even extends to the “scenery” Kaiju, who are always shown in the city skyline but never seem to move.
Another big nod comes in the introduction of the series’ primary antagonist, Akane Shinjo. This “Kaiju girl” is, by her own admission, a fan of Ultra series, as is Utsumi, and builds her Kaiju to go rampaging around the city when she gets bored. Shinjo and her alien companion, Alexis Kerib, repeatedly destroy and reset the city, erasing or killing people Shinjo does not like or finds distasteful along the way. When the source of Shinjo’s power is revealed, it leaves the heroes reeling, trying to figure out what to do, and this arc becomes the late half of the show’s driving force.
Overall, I highly recommend giving this series a watch, if you have the time, and at only 12 episodes, it’s worth every second. All episodes of SSSS.Gridman are available in Japanese, with English subtitles via Crunchyroll/VRV, or with dubbed English audio via Funimation.
What did you think of SSSS.Gridman overall? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!