SSSS.Gridman – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Yuta Hibiki can’t remember who he is, and now he’s seeing and hearing things that others don’t! A voice from an old computer tells him to remember his calling, and he sees a massive, unmoving creature in the distance. Nothing’s making sense—until the behemoth springs to life! Suddenly, Yuta is pulled into the digital world, reappearing in the real one as the colossal hero—Gridman! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: SSSS.Gridman really takes its time setting up our young male protagonist’s, Yuta Hibiki’s, amnesia, dragging him all over town and having it either questioned or easily dismissed by all those around him. It almost comes off comical and exasperating when a trip to the hospital is nothing more than him emerging back out and claiming the medical personnel told him it will naturally clear up in a few days. Given his young age and complete amnesia, you might wonder why and how the medical facilities in this town are so cavalier about his well-being and safety. And continuing on with this strange tone and behaviour, a kaiju attack seems to barely faze anyone. When a classmate’s mother comes home after the attack, she is more annoyed about her daughter not picking up the phone rather than displaying any relief at the girl being safe and sound. And it’s not just the mother but even the faceless ‘common folks’ in the town. Everyone seems to handle this huge, life destroying incident with such calm that it makes you wonder if this is actually a hint to a greater mystery affecting all the people around our hero. Hopefully, this is the answer and it isn’t just poor writing.
Tom: Mystery or not, Gridman stumbles with its writing. If all these little oddities are part of a mystery, it’s strange that no one calls attention to them, as if this is all per norm. Pulling back a moment from that, Gridman’s first half is slow. Beyond how long we drag out the amnesia angle, we spend a lot of time just sort of watching Yuta readjust to his everyday life. It’s almost a teen slice of life drama at times and I’d honestly say the episode doesn’t really come into its own until the action picks up and the giant kaiju looming throughout the episode wrecks havoc. While there’s a lot that still bothers me, it’s where I can best see the appeal.
Linny: As someone who generally isn’t a fan of the mecha genre (or in this case tokusatsu), I struggled to engage with the story and this might be the case for others like me. The animation in the show has its ups and downs with some VERY PROMINENT LOWS that really feel like Gridman is trying to run on a dime. I’d hesitate to call the story boring or tired but it also didn’t feel very dynamic and it certainly doesn’t have a wide appeal that could help it win audiences beyond a very specific target group, one that’s familiar and fond of the kind of content Gridman offers. I will give the episode credit for ending on a cliffhanger that should do well in pulling in anyone even mildly entertained by the episode and give them something to look forward to next week. Ultimately though, I think SSSS.Gridman is limited to a kaiju versus mech loving crowd.
Tom: Going back to the animation, there’s some odd directorial choices. Namely a scene where Yuta sees something on a monitor that his friend, Rikka, can’t see. Rather than cutting between the characters and what they see, we remain on the image of that monitor, with the image blinking on and off, making for a weirdly static scene. Then there’s the conversation immediately after that, with quick cuts ahead in the conversation, the characters instantly changing position, as if incredible time is passing, but the conversation largely flows as normal? And it doesn’t seem like we saved any time. Or later when Yuta gets his lunch bashed up by an accident in the classroom and we hold on that image for an exceedingly long time? I came in wanting to like Gridman, I grew up on things like Power Ranges and a general interest in Tokusatsu (Heck I think I even saw Gridman under its Americanized name), even back when you couldn’t hope to see Japanese TV without it being re-appropriated for American audiences. But what’s here feels too uneven save for the most die hard of fans.