by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
The major reveal in the previous episode of SSSS.Gridman was pretty huge, communicated through some seriously impressive direction. However, the implications Anocillus told Hibiki instead of showing him did make the revelations seem more mellow than they could've been. Yes, the computerized nature of the city makes for a huge shake-up, but since we're only going on the word of a new character seemingly dropped in to impart this information, the series has to move quickly to actually do something with this twist before its impact is lost.
Thankfully, this episode doesn't rest too hard after that big truth bomb, though it does seem to be holding back at first. Honestly, I wasn't crazy about the skepticism Rikka and Utsumi expressed after Yuta told them his story; given all they've already seen so far, you would think they had to suspect crazier stuff was coming. However, their real reason for doubt soon becomes clear, and it all has to do with Akane. The juxtaposition of Akane being likable and popular in public compared to her villainous private life has always been a plot point, but it's interesting to see that reality reflected by our main characters. Both Utsumi and Rikka like Akane and want to get closer to her, so believing Yuta's story that she's a vengefully destructive god is a difficult hurdle for them to overcome. It's a good thing the Assist Weapons boys are always around to foster proper communication. I'm really glad the last episode brought these characters into greater emotional involvement with each other, particularly Utsumi who the show seemed in danger of forgetting about.
But again, simply discussing these new facts would be a waste of screen time, so this episode shines in keeping the momentum of this twist rolling. Anti simply shows up at Yuta's school to threaten him (and steal his food), which leads to Alexis Kerib letting him design and deploy the monster. Alexis' presence has been stepped up in interesting ways; now that we know this is all taking place inside the computer world, we're getting to see the villain leave the confines of Akane's monitor and roam around freely. We also get some sense of his machinations, as it's implied that Alexis set Anti's attempt and subsequent failure up intentionally to reinforce Akane's desire to work with him. The end of the episode makes it clear that he's definitely the driving villainous force to be feared behind all this, not Akane.
That said, Akane is given a similarly strong push in this episode. She just drops in on Yuta at his house to tempt him to the dark side, later introducing Yuta to Alexis Kerib himself. Now that the other characters in the Gridman Alliance are aware of Akane's true nature, they can directly focus on her as a threat. There's also talk from Rikka alluding to the possibility of changing Akane's heart. The show feels like it's trying to sell us on Akane's appeal as much as the others are falling for it, particularly in the scene where she seems to be trying to literally seduce Yuta to her side. However, in terms of characterization, we've always been privy to her more petty and murderous nature, so it's hard to get much sympathy to land. Yuta calls her out on this, putting him ahead of Rikka and Utsumi in terms of priorities, but it will still be interesting to see where the show goes with all this.
I really like SSSS.Gridman's presentation this week. The way Anti and Akane just appear in Yuta's school and home to antagonize him highlights their threat level and the bizarreness with which the current situation has escalated (the show loves doing this, the same way Anosillus just popped up last episode). The meal with Alexis Kerib was also a delightfully surreal set piece, illustrating how unreal this computer reality has become, with the restaurant owner not reacting to his gigantic Inferno Cop style at all. The kaiju fight was also entertainingly offbeat, with an unconventional UFO-style enemy leading to a new Gridman power-up and a high-flying battle that this show's live-action progenitors couldn't have done as easily.
This is all effective stage-setting for the biggest visual reveal of the episode: Yuta flying to the ‘edge’ of the world and discovering computer-world buildings in exact replica of the ones seen in the original Denkou Choujin Gridman. For anyone who's seen that original series, it's a huge moment that confirms the truth about the world more effectively than any conversation could have. It's such a striking discovery that I would say it also works for those who haven't watched the original show. This episode does an excellent job of depicting a reality that has started unraveling simply by the characters finding out the truth about it. It's an example of a mid-series twist where the shake-ups are really felt in the story, communicated by the rawness of the direction. Even if I'm left unsure about some characterization choices in the process, it's at least another reason to keep watching to see where the story goes.
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