Series Premiere: October 7, 2018 Licensed by: Madman (AU) Episodes Commissioned: 12 Studio: Trigger Manga: N/A
My love for Studio Trigger is boundless. Their animation is has always been benchmark standard, and their story telling is second to none. Managing to engross with their series of incredible mech-anime franchises, along with their love for aesthetically time leaping towards a technologically advanced future. Over and over, Trigger envelop a mystique into the myriad of franchises established, and are universally praised for their intriguing cast of quirky yet lovable characters. But let’s not fool ourselves here, as anime fans when you hear Studio Trigger are developing a new series, you know that the bar is set to be raised once again. It carries the same legacy that BONES has recently achieved with Mob Psycho 100 from its predecessor, One Punch Man. Fresh off their hit animated adaptation of the controversial manga, Darling in the FRANXX comes a new series of cybernetic proportions.
SSSS.GRIDMAN was first unveiled at Anime Expo 2017, with Studio Trigger revealing their new line-up of feature length animations and future series. Inspired by the “tokusatsu series”, Trigger assigned Masayuki Gotou as lead character designer that would adapt its live-action predecessor into this stunning Japanese animation. It was later revealed that its original cast would voice all their characters in the Anime, emphasizing that Trigger were not looking to reboot the franchise, but give it new life with an original plotline. Working alongside animators of Promare, with both projects in the works, simultaneously made for a tumultuous task but the studio were able to wrap up production before the initial release of Promare. The series first premiered October 7, 2018 to critical acclaim and was a roaring success for the studio. The entire series is now streaming on AnimeLab, and is available to purchase from Madman Anime.
Main Plot (Warning: Minor Spoilers)
Meet Yuta Hibiki, a first-year high school student mysteriously suffering from amnesia. Confused and dazed, he is awoken by Rikka Takarada, a fellow first-year student who helps Yuta to her home. While attempting to remember prior events, Yuta’s subconscious beckons him. With what would have been speculated as some form of cranial injury, Yuta claims to visualise a robot named “Gridman” on an old computer screen within the Takarada makeshift laboratory. Rikka refutes Yuta’s wild hallucinations, claiming the youngster has lost his mind. With the young male unable to recall his living arrangements, Rikka accompanies her associate home where he is reacquainted with with his barren abode. His parents are currently travelling abroad leaving Yuta to fend for himself.
The following day, Yuta is familiarised by his peers and is reintroduced to his close friend Sho Utsumi, a shaggy haired sidekick with a bubbly, yet laid back personality. Naturally, Yuta reciprocates in a despondent manner, feeling completely lost. Utsumi explains that the two had only met a month prior, so this could be a new beginning for the two of them. Utsumi does his best in helping Yuta regain his memory, while Yuta explains the weird happenstance that occurred back at Takarada’s store. Rikka reluctantly takes both Yuta and Utsumi back to her shop after being questioned about the terminal displaying the cybernetic character. Labeling the PC “Junk”, Yuta is once again affronted by the Gridman, in which he once again informs the teen that he must “awaken”.
While this is all happening, a Kajiu (Monster) attacks the city of Tsutsujidai, with the Gridman warning that there would be more to come. Yuta question’s the Gridman on stopping any impending threats to no repsonse. Suddenly the youngster is sucked into the terminal and transforms into the Gridman itself, with hopes of defeating the Kaiju. Enduring the arduous battle, the two massive figures destroy Tsutsujida highschool. With assistance of his friends from outside the terminal, Rikka and Utsumi control Yuta in his robotic form, and annihilate the demonic looking behemoth. It is explained that the events happening within the terminal are rewritten in real-time. Meaning that anything that may occur within the Gridman’s world, may have dire circumstances on humanity, essentially rewriting history.
The trio are then adorned by the mere thought that they may have very well destroyed the academy without anyone’s knowledge. The next day, Yuta, Rikka and Utsumi arrive to the building intact, questioning the Gridman’s validity. In addition to the cyborg’s account, several students are queried in regards to the city’s attack with no knowledge of what the trio were claiming. However, it became evident that a number of students had suddenly gone missing, which then verified the authenticity of Gridman’s theory. Yuta and his companions investigate the situation, conclusively finding that everyone who had disappeared had infact passed away before reaching high school. This resulted in Yuta believing that a conduit may have had a purpose behind the attacks, the prior evening.
Commentary & Highlights (Warning: Minor Spoilers)
Hot damn! What a series. I did not expect to be blown away, but from its convoluted beginnings it certainly left its an impression. Don’t get me wrong, the first few episodes are a rough trudge, but once you scale throught its muddled narrative, the series bests itself in establishing a form of initiation between character progression and plot line, translating it to an amazing story of overcoming fear, and triumphant victory. I fell in love with every single cell of animation used, as I’ve come to expect from Trigger’s legacy. The personality of each protagonist shines with their intrinsic and unique quality’s and quirks. I must say that I loved Rikka and Ustumi’s chemistry; their opposing identity’s made for some awesome comedic effect. Their relationship with Yuta carries some baggage with a cordial and comfortable surrounding, with Yuta’s uneasiness reminding people of his current circumstances surrounding amnesia.
Trigger’s bold display of vibrancy is on-brand with the studio’s aesthetically pleasing presentation. The seamless joy of silky-smooth animation, accompanied with an awesome soundtrack always plays a fundamental part of engrossing the viewer within every story-beat. There are moments of action, suspense, comedy, and the occasional filler, but SSSS.Gridman fulfills its role in encapsulating its audience with a mighty presence, that certainly cements itself as one of the best animated franchises to come from Trigger’s esteemed library. I’ve certainly been left salivating for more from this incredibly diverse tale, and would love to see a continuation. Sure, we’ve seen some great Shonen’s, spectacular Seinen’s, but if there is anything that Trigger has perfected, is its display of wondrous creativity in visualising the future, and the future looks incredible.
Noteworthy Mentions (Warning: Minor Spoilers)
“UNION – OxT” gives me those old school “Cheez TV” vibes. Remember waking up in the morning and watching Beyblades before school? This exact emotion radiated through me seeing the OP for the first time. Just awesome.
Trigger are on point. Their bountiful legacy carries on with their well established benchmark animation that levels this awesome story with such excellence seen from its counterparts.
Rikka shines in this series. Certainly my favourite and most intriguing character. She may be spunky, but she’s got brains.
Pacing was a little off a the beginning but patience is this series’ virtue. It will definitely surprise you after the onset. Its initial episode is written in a way to ultimately place you within an unfamiliar territory in hopes of conveying the protagonist’s own emotions.
I want more. It can’t end this way, I need more of this series in my life.
SSSS.Gridman – Madman (AU)
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VERDICT: YES 👍
SSSS Gridman (stylized as SSSS.GRIDMAN) is a Japanese anime television adaptation of the 1993–1994 tokusatsu series Denkou Choujin Gridman. The production is a joint collaboration between Tsuburaya Productions, the production company behind Gridman and the Ultra Series, and Trigger. The two production companies previously collaborated on the Denkou Choujin Gridman: boys invent great hero short original net animation for the Japan Animator Expo. The “SSSS” in the title stands for “Special Signature to Save a Soul” as revealed in the final episode. It is also a reference to Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, a US adaptation of Gridman the Hyper Agent.