Posted by SuperMario on 3 December 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, SSSS.GRIDMAN

Before this episode, I was thinking that it must take a full bag of magic to make me care about Akane, being an irredeemable bitch as she is. Episode 9 did just that, and then some, in its own fashion no less. It’s by the strength of its visual storytelling that show us how desperate she wants our characters to like her, and how ultimately let-down when she fails to do it. With a show that is so strong about its visual identity, a bus full of passengers suddenly feels off. What is a better way of displaying Akane hitting rock bottom (and her God-like power) than this single sequence? I can’t remember the last time I see the image and sound of the train crossing line symbols each dream segment? Heck, this episode is on its way to be my favorite GRIDMAN’s episode so far, and that says a lot. Not only it flirts around with dream/reality boundary that is one of my jam, it also deepens Akane’s narrative in most unexpected way.

The most genius part for me happens right in the beginning, when Yuuta wakes up and finds Akane in Rikka’s home. It’s a rehearse to the premiere with Akane now is in place of Rikka, and acts in a total Akane-way. That sequence is more screwing with us audience than it does with a confused Yuuta, since we have a knowledge that this happened before. The same things happen the same with Shou and Rikka, as they meet Akane in their separate dreams and can’t get out of such dreams. It’s masterful of GRIDMAN to start all the dream sequences in Yuuta, Shou and Rikka’s point of views, respectively, before pulls out to reveal that they are tangled in Akane’s manipulation. As for their dreams, it’s interesting to note that, while with Shou and Rikka, Akane choses the moments when she is alone with them in the “real timeline” – or put it better, the timeline where we has been following – with Yuuta, it’s the beginning where Yuuta wakes up from his amnesia, with the knowledge that normally Akane can’t possibly know. This detail further confirms that 1) Akane is indeed the goddess of the world we have been following, and that like our Hero team comes to suspect, that world might be entirely Akane’s dream to escape the real world and 2) unlike his friends Shou and Rikka, Yuuta might no be a real person. He has no memory before the event to begin with, which makes him a boy without a past.

But it’s interesting that as hard as she wants her followers to wordship her, the three comes to their sense because they reject this ideal world. “It’s all too good to be true”, Shou said that at one point. Yuuta looks at his reflection over the tomb he and Akane visit, which the kanji characters form into his tear, Rikka push stop button when she wants to get out of the dream – the moments speak more powerful than any conventional mean, and fittingly they cut to Akane’s pride the deepest. The more desperation she tries, the harder they pull out. The harder the pull out, the bigger blow she receives. I also enjoy Gridman’s reflections towards every single reflective things out main cast see. Those sequences, where Akane standing on top of the giant crane, above everyone but ultimately alone, best summarize her own struggles towards creating the perfect world, and fails to convert the people that she cares the most.

While the main plot of kaiju vs Gridman takes a backseat this week, they still offer plenty of fresh take on that formula. It’s the first time that this kaiju works in more… deceptive way. The kaiju puts Yuuta, Shou and Rikka to sleep and keep them hostage in their own dreams. What makes it all the more dangerous is that it can be seen, but can’t be touched by this realm of reality. It’s the first time where the Squad forms a version of themselves without the main host, Gridman, and it further reveals that Anti is more than just a regular kaiju. Now that I think about it, Anti might not be Akane’s creation and he’s more along the same line with the kaiju girl that Yuuta met in previous episodes. The animation, in addition, really bring the characters to light. It’s one of the rare time where both the animation and character design (especially Rikka) are looser than normal, hence the movement is much more expressive. From what I heard, this episode is storyboarded by Kai Ikarash, a newbie but the quality certainly has my attention. There’s just too many alternative routes GRIDMAN can take at this moment, and I mean it in the best possible way since for while some time that I feel this intriguing about a show at this stage: both revealing just about enough thematic depth, at the same time as vague and open as ever for more surprises on the horizon.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar Amagi says:

    There is so much you can say about this episode it’s fascinating.
    I mean the series is always full of symbolism but this episode takes the cake. You could basically screenshot every frame and find something good. I think my favorite scene was the one at the end when the protags decide to leave the dream, running to left, whereas Akane’s desperately trying running to the right (while the train behind her moves into the right direction, which is the left), diving even deeper into her escapism.
    As you said the grave scene was great as well. The consequences of Akane’s actions which are the dead classmates is what woke Yuuta up. I also heard that this one guy with the detailed design from the very first scene was one of the episodes directors, probably Kai?

    I think with this episode it’s pretty clear that saving Akane from the dream she’s trapped in is the only solution to win this fight. I kinda wonder if she actually tried to kill herself in real life and failed and that this was the moment Alexis spoke to her (maybe invaded her dream?) and somehow turned her dream into reality, which is why she’s the God there. Also, it’s interesting that Utsumi’s and Yuuta’s fake-world were alternative versions of scenees that actually happened. Theoretically this can only mean that this is true for Rikka’s dream too, isn’t it? I wonder if she remembered something by reliving this day again and that this is what she is about to tell the others now in the last scene. Anyway, thanks for the nice review! I can’t wait for next week.

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