This SSSS. Gridman review contains spoilers.
SSSS. Gridman Episode 1
I’m coming into SSSS. Gridman in perhaps the worst way possible. I’ve never seen any of the original Gridman Tokusatsu series nor have I watched much of Studio Trigger’s work in the past. The only frame of reference I have for this series is that I’ve seen every episode of Super Human Samurai Syber Squad, the American adaption of Gridman. (If you want to read more about Super Human Samurai by the by, I got ya.)
Even with the SSSS in the title I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be any references to the low budget mish mash of Saved by the Bell and Power Rangers. That meant I was going into this show clean. No expectations.
The story of SSSS. Gridman seems to follow Yuta, a school kid who’s lost his memories, his recently made friend Utsumi, and the girl whose lawn Yuta was found on, Rikka. The first half of the episode follows Rikka trying to figure out what happened to Yuta while he gets strange flashes of something called Gridman.
What happened to Yuta’s memory is a decent enough mystery but I would have much rather seen more of the various school kids from the second half of the episode. Utsumi is a delightful nerd and the classmates, while their appearances are brief, all seem fun. Rikka and Yuta wandering around the city is kind of boring in comparison.
It sets up a great mood, the shot of the Kaiju in the mist is great, but I wanted something more to latch onto with Yuta and Rikka’s characters. Right now they’re a little bland, but this is only the first episode so I can excuse it for now.
The standout scenes of the episode are of course the battle between Yuta as Gridman and the Kaiju. It’s visually impressive and Studio Trigger really brings home the sense of scale. Utsumi and Rikka helping with the power of friendship and typing was super anime but hey, that’s what we’re watching for right?
Utsumi’s reference to the Ultraman series was a little surprising, but on reflection I dig it. Of course a kid would reference Ultraman. When a giant monster attacks your city out of nowhere of course your first point of reference would be a TV show!
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While the battle scenes were fun to watch I still wish we had come to care a little more about Yuta so I could have been more invested in the fight. By the time he got blasted out of the computer I was wondering if all this was enough to keep me watching.
Then that ending. After the school had seemingly been blown up it was all just fine the next day. Now that’s a cliffhanger to bring me back next week. It sets a much more interesting mystery than Yuta’s memory loss. What brought the school back? Will the other kids in school remember the Kaiju attack? If not, why are Yuta, Utsumi, and Rikka the only ones to remember it?
While I secretly wish there had been some kind of reference or tribute to Super Human Samurai, SSSS. Gridman is already demonstrating more potential than that series ever had. It’s not much, but there are hints of something bigger here that could prove to be interesting. If not, watching Yuta kick some giga butt could still be fun if he gets to show some more personality!