Posted by SuperMario on 24 December 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, SSSS.GRIDMAN

GRIDMAN closes off its story on a grand spectacular finale and as far as spectacular goes, it does its job nicely. Personally I’m more impressed with this show in its quiet moments so I enjoyed it more in its last 6,7 minutes. I don’t know how much relevant GRIDMAN the anime is in regard to its original live-action. I mean, what’s the deal with the kaiju girl Anoshiras II and what’s the true role of GridKnight, but taken as an individual piece this ending is both straight-forward and confusing in the same manners. The straight-forward part is how the climax goes all out with its action: we have Gridman in full form versus Alexis in full form, and we do have all these cheesy lines that I’m sure serve as a homage to its original “Here comes my special moves – Fixer Beam” “Nanii? How can you have such godsent power?” “The power of MORALITY to destroy the immorality”. It’s fun to hear these campy dialogues out loud, and it’s even more entertaining when they’re boasted by the stellar animation. While I admit that the battle never wowed me, I can sense the love from the staffs to every single details of this battles.

What slightly bugs me, however, is the narrative led up to the final showdown between Gridman and Alexis. First, the way Alexis “uses” Akane is pretty inconsistent and abrupted. Here, in a span of 10 minutes, Akane turns into a kaiju (her scream is awesome, though), gets rescued by Anti, and immediately gets swallowed again by Alexis. In terms of narrative progression, you can easily cut down the “Akane becoming kaiju” part and nothing (except for the kaiju design) is lost. The same goes for Anti where he desperately tries to save Akane (which I thought was wierd to begin with because it’s not Yuuta or Rikka, but the least of all people Anti who saves the princess) just so that moments later he gets stabbed by the villain and was thrown aside for the rest of the battle. Don’t get me wrong, I love Anti. He’s, after all, the only character who grows the most in this show, signified by his blue eye color at the end, but I can’t shake the feeling that his own narrative arc is a bit shaky and not totally well planned-out.

But then, it comes to the “afterneath” section and while most of normal shows would retreat back to the new status quo, GRIDMAN manages to do something interesting here. We have a few-minute but feel like half-an-hour long sequence (hey, I’m not complaining) of only Rikka and Akane in a room together, further showcase how GRIDMAN is at its most comfortable when it strives for minimalism. Here, in a near-empty room, Akane has her redemption and Rikka has one of the best moments of the whole episode, as she gives the card holder gift to Akane, and wish that they could always be together, at the same time tells Akane not to let that wish come true. After all, Akane needs to move on from this cyber world, and the characters created by her will stay behind and have lives of their own. It’s a neat ending, but the decision to only let Rikka says goodbye to Akane sure leaves a lot of ambiguity here, which I will get to it later.

In a surprising move (which for me is a touch of “genius”, until I learn that it’s inspired by EVA’s ending), we have a live-action closure, a girl that looks awfully like Rikka that literally wakes up after the long sleep. The searing score was the one that played softly back from the beginning of the first episode. The ending will leave a lot of speculation of what is real and what not for sure, but ultimately I don’t think it matters that much. The main narrative is clear: Akane has her redemption arc and moves on, while Gridman and the Squads return to their hyper world and Rikka, real Yuuta and Shou stay back and live on.

As a whole, while I was a bit letdown to its final stretch, I’m still impressed with how much love and attention this show has for their world-building (it has a Wes-Anderson level of details here – the kind where it relies on the rich range of surrounding objects to defy the characters) and how it translates its themes by its visual craft – it’s one of the best visual directed show, along with Revue Starlight, that I’ve seen this year. Plot-wise, looking back I’m rather curious on how this show has many faux-protagonists to the point where you can’t really say whose narrative we are supposed to follow (it’s not necessary a bad thing), we start with Yuuta as we see the world through his eyes and his amnesia, but then in the middle Rikka demands us with her emotional tones and manage to sell them successfully as a normal girl trying to go through her life, then in the final arc it’s Akane takes the central stage. Not all of these transitions work, but it never fails to be anything less than intriguing, and that is a big compliment come from me.

P/s: pure speculation: it’s no fun to not give my own take on what happened at the end, right? Here’s my own two cents: the girl who wakes up at the end is Akane (we have her *real life* uniform, the card holder and the broken Iphone, and the name Akane in the picture). But why does she look awfully like Rikka? Is Rikka the part of herself she doesn’t wish to acknowledge? That might be the case but then again, the ED hints to the fact that Rikka might be real after all. Visually, the silhouettes has Akane’s mannerism, but is there anything more than meets the eyes?

One Response

  1. Avatar Amagi says:

    Couldn’t have said it any better. Regarding Anoshiras and the likes you must know the original Gridman I guess. She was a resident of the digital place before Akane hijacked it through Alexis to build her world (thank you, Ultraman Wikia). Gridman once helped the original Anoshiras (the big monster in the last “VR” scene) so she helps him now to make up for it. This confirms that SSSS is actually a sequel to the old Gridman series, which is kind of nice.
    And I had the same thought as you during the end! I really wonder: on the one hand the similarity between Rikka and irl-Akane could be a coincidence, due to Rikka being somewhat of an anime version of the “typical” Japanese girl’s look. On the other hand though, there are so many scenes in this series that would make much more sense if Rikka was based on the real life self Akane rejected. It would fit so well to some scenes that it’s almost weirding me out. I wish there would be some further hints for that, so far it’s more of a headcanon, no matter how fitting it would be.

    Anyway, pretty great series and I am looking forward to Amemiya’s next projects. The dream episode was probably the best anime episode I’ve seen 2018. And I hope this series showed that “show and hint, don’t tell” can actually work and still attract a bigger fanbase. Fans aren’t as stupid as many directors and authors might think.

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