Before I jump into this show, I will say that my feelings for Gridman are generally positive. There are so many things that Gridman has going for it. I love how pretty the visuals are even if they borrow from Evangelion a lot of the time. I love the interesting character designs. Each of their designs gives off so much of their personality and has their own distinct colors which is so good and old school. Each character besides Yuu, has their own distinct personality and are generally well characterized. Even if you spend only a small amount of time with any member of this cast, at least you know what they are about. Also, how can I go this long without even mentioning the Gridman vs monster fights? Somehow the CG is perfectly able to do a good approximation on how people in monster or robot suits would fight each other and it’s such a wonderful piece of nostalgia for people like me who watch Kaiju films. There are so many good things to talk about here that I am sure I can keep on going forever and I might do that later. At the same time, there are some of my feelings which are more then complicated. Not all of them are against the show, some of them are against me as a mech fan.
The one thing that I am still worried about is that this show is still attached to Studio Trigger. I do think that SSSS.Gridman is breaking that chain of worry I have towards other Trigger shows, but I still can’t help but feel apprehensive towards it anyway. When Trigger broke away from Gainax, I feel like they left behind a lot of things that made Gainax shows feel special. Gainax shows were inherently cartoony like Trigger shows are, but they were always grounded with strong emotional appeal which made them all work. Everything was designed to feel a certain way to make them that “Gainax” thing. Well, Trigger shows definitely got the cartoony nature right. There were some shows that got close to Gainax’ level for me like Luluco and the ovas of Little Witch Academia because the tv series fell apart for me in its second half. Other than those, I feel like each of their shows have been duds. Let’s see if Gridman can finish strong and show me that even studios that I consider bad can-do good work. I know that A-1 Pictures has some shows that I like even my opinions towards them are very negative.
Then there is the format of Gridman that can get tiresome for me sometimes. Especially when each episode had the same kind of set up. A lot of episodes in the beginning start with the cast at school or in some other scenario that will lead to Akane getting offended by something, she creates a monster to assassinate people, and Gridman comes out to stop the monster. The format is very power rangers like, which is an Americanized tokusatsu show. I can’t tell a tokusatsu show to not be tokusatsu because then why are we watching this show? That being said, I can’t help but thing the format did hold back the plot of this show quite a bit and makes the show feel slow over all. It took until episode 6 to reveal what was going on in this show even if there were so many hints of that already. I won’t deny that the show is going somewhere because it definitely is, but you have to pay attention to small details on what changes every week and that can be tedious sometimes. Still completely worthwhile though.
Next, we have the question of this show’s stakes and emotional appeal. This point is a major shout out to Aria from the Animangapellbook. This is something Aria keeps bringing up with his discussions with me and I think he is right about it. Yuuta’s amnesia plays into both the positives and negatives of the show itself. Besides how Rikka reacts at some points, there is a strong lack of emotional weight through out the show. Yuu has Amnesia? So what? Apparently, he is fine and his memory will come back eventually. Maybe. I do realize that he was taken to a hospital in the first episode, but that didn’t do anything to help at all. Also, no one but Rikka seems to care when a youtuber group of four is cut down to one or even when the number of classmates in their classroom are killed off. Also, every episode sort of feels like a reset. Eventually it gets revealed why that it is as I said above but waiting for that is very tedious. Also, I do get that people don’t care because they don’t remember anything, and the plot is about realizing who this show’s killer is with people slowly waking up to her evil plots. Honestly, I don’t know how this show can pull off this aspect any better so it’s both a negative and a positive for me because the set up is so wonky.
Here is something that is not a negative on the show, but for me and what shows I watch when it comes to older mech shows. It’s the references to older mech shows or otherwise. I do easily pick up all the Evangelion and Gundam SEED (gah) reference shots, but there is so much that I don’t know. I don’t know if a production like this needs to reference Eva in the way that Gridman just pauses on scenes here and there. Unless Gridman has the same production issues that Evangelion has, there is no excuse for it besides some artistic value that many of aren’t sure about. For another thing, I didn’t get the transformer references at all. Is it strange that I just have never been very into transformers when I was a kid despite me liking robots? It probably is, but that doesn’t change the truth of it. Then there are all the super robot references from famous creators like Tobari and I am sure many others I don’t know about. I’ve always been more of a real robot fan where you know the specifications behind each of the mechs in some attempts in realism. Because of this fact, I’ve kept myself locked in a box in what I know and don’t know about mech series. At some point in the future, I am going to have to step outside of it and explore some more super robot shows. This real robot box is really holding me back a little bit, because I still have some older shows in that vein to watch. That watching of super robot shows will have to happen anyway.
Let’s end on some good notes. I feel like so many of my complaints are minor or at least here because Gridman is a very well realized production. It’s also very confident in what it wants to say and do and that is something that needs to be noticed. Whatever Gridman wants to do it does and that is a lot of fun considering the amount of anime out there that can’t even do that. There is also the atmosphere of this show that is just breath taking because you can feel it even though it’s animation which is hard to do. Yes, it is obviously taking cues from Evangelion, which is something that I mentioned before, but it also takes cues from Serial Experiments Lain by having some static background noise of dread to go along with it. The combination works incredibly well. The one atmospheric element that is completely Gridman’s own design are the clouds of Kaiju in the background which are there for a reason. If that doesn’t say watch out or “we are always in the zone in the enemy”, then I don’t know what else does. This could be a part of the villain’s end game plan, so beware. Also, the slight commentary of old technology vs new technology through gags is kind of fun as well. Anyway, through a lot of these aspects, Gridman is my favorite Studio Trigger production so far. It will stay this way unless it immediately goes downhill.
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Yeah, I’m also wondering if Trigger will still pull a Darling in the FranXX at the very last minute. Still not over that trainwreck and the only sure way to know about Gridman is to finish the show.
I’m noticing in my own posts that I tend to let Gridman’s episodic, monster of the week nature slide. I think I’m probably just used to it after watching countless hours of Power Rangers and Super Sentai (which also run a season for a whole year as opposed to a single anime season). It’s inherent to the genre but if it bothers people, I really can’t blame them. I sometimes find it grating too.
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Oh man, I’m still infuriated by Darling in the FranXX as well. The way I see it now, I don’t think Gridman can pull off something that bad, but I’m sure there are ways I can be proven wrong .
I kind of did the same in my own mind because while I haven’t watched a lot of Tokusatsu stuff since I was a child, I knew what Gridman was and it was going to be largely episodic.
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I’ve been seeing some talk about that anime recently. When I saw some of the pictures, I thought to myself “why does that mech look so familiar?”. I then found out that it’s related to the same tokusatsu show that Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad was based on and the SSSS was an homage to that American remake. Wow, I’m such a 90s kid. Hahaha!
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The sad thing is I was born barely in the 80’s and I’ve heard nothing about SSSS. I’ve watched the original season if power rangers and big bad Beatle Borgs, but SSSS too early.
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I caught a few episodes when I was young and I had one of the action figures. Power Rangers, Beetleborgs, VR Troopers and the awful adaptation of Masked Rider were things I saw as far as tokusatsu was concerned back in the day.
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…Oh. Chalk it up to my bookmarking posts I want to get back to, but I didn’t know you shouted me out here. (Maybe about pages don’t ping back…?)
Gridman got better in its second half once I found out the significance of Kaiju Girl, but…welp, I just can’t forgive that lack of consequences, so in the end “[getting] better” didn’t amount to much. Not to mention that ending, while it may have been faithful to SSSS, was still a deus ex machina…
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I thought about pages usually do, but who knows?