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SSSS.Gridman Full Series Review

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.

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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.

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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.

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What did you think of SSSS.Gridman overall? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week Ending December 23rd, 2018

The police and thieves learn the truth of Noel’s past and Zi-O sees his future for the first time! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 44

Coming off the heels of last week’s revelation that Noel is not entirely human, we learn a great deal more about his actions and his heritage, as well. The episode focuses largely on Noel and how the teams react to him, now knowing the truth. The thieves catch up with him first, and he is finally able to explain that though he is not human, neither is he a Gangler. Rather, Noel, Kogure, and all the people who work for the Lupin family are members of a third race, which is not explicitly named but is something akin to traditional elves. Having fled to Earth after their own world was taken over by Ganglers, this race blended in with human society, under the seemingly immortal Arsene Lupin.

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Noel’s entry point into the story, it is revealed, is at the exact point the Collection is stolen by the Ganglers. During the attack, Arsene Lupin is said to have been killed, and Noel, his apprentice, takes up the search for the items to fulfill the dream of Arsene Lupin. Satoru, still distrusting of Noel, is eventually revealed to be a Status Double Gangler, using two powers to mimic voices and control actions. Through flashbacks, this control ability is used to explain Noel firing on the other Patorangers before, as well as Noel giving Tokageru a piece of the Lupin collection.
The next episode, despite being one of only four or five remaining, appears to be a standalone Christmas special. It will certainly be interesting to see how the writers manage to tie this into the main narrative, if at all.

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 15

The 2068 Arc of Zi-O kicks off this week, though with a relatively small amount of the action actually set in that future. What does happen in 2068, though, is a fundamental building block for the development of Sougo as a character, and will likely shape him in grand ways in the episodes to come. The episode begins with an unexpected turn of events. While debating what to do about Decade, Geiz urges Sougo to simply throw away his belt, the Jiku Driver, and cease being a Kamen Rider, in the name of preventing the Demon King Zi-O future. While Sougo begins to debate this option, our heroes are attacked and the city is besieged by war machines from the Demon King’s future, which match the ones Sougo claims to have seen in a dream as a child. This dream gives purpose to Sougo’s life, and makes the life goal of becoming a king seem suddenly much more reasonable.

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In the ensuing battle, Decade intervenes and Sougo sees Tsukasa unmasked for the first time. It’s ultimately Decade himself who initiates the time travel to 2068, where Sougo and Tsukuyomi become trapped. The future is bleak, it seems, though we don’t get to see much of it, as all the future scenes seem to take place in the same bare, open field. The emotional moments come mainly in the exchange between Sougo and his future self, the old man who is Oma Zi-O. What begins as Sougo seeing his own future and coming to terms with that quickly turns violent, and the younger Sougo finds himself on the receiving end of a beating. Oma Zi-O reinforces, in a powerful way, Geiz’s earlier idea that the only way to avoid becoming Oma Zi-O is to throw away the power of Riders completely.

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In the next episode, continuing the arc, it’s implied that Zi-O will receive some kind of upgrade, and we are assured to see more of Oma Zi-O as well. Look forward to the next episode when it airs this coming Saturday night (Sunday, JST).

Kami No Kiba – Jinga Episode 10

We’ll be skipping Episode 9 of Jinga, as that episode acts as a recap for the first arc of the series. Episode 10, however, picks up where episode 8 left off, with Grand Master Rozen asking the Watchdogs for permission to bring in Jinga. This is coming off the heels of a fellow Grand Master and his son both having been murdered in the previous episode. Rozen is understandably skeptical of what Jinga claims he can do, as a power like that has never existed before. He claims the power acts in direct contrast to what Makai Knights should be doing, which is killing horrors.

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To aid him in learning more, Rozen goes to Fusa, asking if she trusts Jinga, and what kind of person he is. Fusa, through flashbacks and her own expository monologue, explains that she trusts Jinga implicitly, and thinks he is doing the right thing. As things continue on, Jinga and Rozen come into more direct conflict, ending with Jinga captured by Rozen and a squad of Knights at the episode’s end, accused of the murder of Rozen’s apprentice, Shijo.

The next episode promises to continue the conflict, and hints at a more direct showdown between the two.

Ultraman R/B (End)

Ultraman R/B has now officially concluded, and thoughts/reviews will be coming once the series is made available with English subtitles past episode 17. Stay tuned for more!

SSSS. Gridman full series review coming next week!

Hey all, just a quick note here that we’ve not forgotten about SSSS. Gridman! The series is ending with episode 12, airing on 12/28/18, and we’ll be doing a full series recap/review after that episode airs!

What did you guys think of this week’s shows? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!