English Dub Review: SSSS.Gridman “Confrontation”

Show your school spirit and murder some civilians!

Overview (Spoilers!)

The class prepares for a festival. The Neon Genesis group visits the Gridman Alliance at school and gets reported by the staff. Anti starves in an alley with one eye bandaged. Akane shows the Alliance a scale model she made of her next kaiju. She promises to release it during the school festival, cheerfully challenging Yuta to stop her. Yuta comes up with a plan to reduce Gridman’s output size so that he can combine with every Neon Genesis student, a “full combine.”

Now that there’s no denying Akane is behind the attacks, Rikka is hesitant to fight her. Utsumi argues that they have no other option, so Rikka leaves the Gridman Alliance, unwilling to side against her friend. Yuta and Utsumi try to convince Akane to reschedule the attack, but she ignores them.

Anti limps into Rikka’s shop and passes out on the floor. After he eats a meal, Borr wants to fight him, but Caliber gets his cell phone number and lets him go. On the bus, Rikka confronts Akane, but Akane insists that Rikka will never be able to hate her. Akane’s kaiju made everyone in this city, so it’s impossible for anyone to feel negatively towards her, and Rikka, in particular, was created to be Akane’s friend. Akane tells Yuta she’s going to apologize to Utsumi first, giving Yuta an idea.

During the festival, Akane is about to deploy her kaiju when Gridman arrives at school, prompting an evacuation. He’s half his usual size, so the Neon Genesis students all join him. The kaiju’s head can turn into a drill, but the newly full-powered Gridman rips its head off. He flies high into the sky, dropping the kaiju onto the ground; with his sword, Gridman performs a “full power smash,” decimating the enemy.

The festival is rescheduled to another day. Both dressed in drag in preparation for their class’s “reverse gender café,” Utsumi and Rikka apologize to one another. Akane is absent from school, but Rikka is still troubled by her words. In her bedroom, Akane lies on the floor, depressed at her loss.

Our Take

After last’s week host of shocking revelations, “Confrontation” doesn’t deliver anything we haven’t seen before. Rikka deciding the name “Gridman Alliance” is stupid and claiming there’s nothing tying her to Utsumi and Yuta is nothing new, so this time it really doesn’t feel like a credible threat. Akane outright says that this kaiju is just a powered-up version of the one Gridman fought in his first battle. This series has set up a lot of exciting developments lately—the city in the sky, the idea that there’s nothing outside this city, the possibility of Anti becoming a real contender in his own right. But this episode chooses not to go down any of those intriguing paths.

The reveal that Akane created Rikka would pack a lot more oomph if I understood what exactly that means. Did Akane create Rikka and only Rikka? Did Akane create everyone in the city? Because if the latter is true, why is only Rikka unable to hate her? Why do Yuta and Utsumi seem entirely unaffected? I’m also perplexed by the fact that Rikka doesn’t want to hurt Akane, but Utsumi is ready and raring to go. It’s Utsumi who has the crush on Akane, right? Not Rikka? We’re sure Rikka doesn’t have feelings for Akane? (Not to mention the weird conversation about Rikka wanting to surprise Utsumi by “making the first move,” which makes it sound like Rikka and Utsumi are going to end up together. The crush plotlines are so half-assed in this show that I wonder why they bothered with romance at all.)

So it’s not that this episode does anything wrong, per se. It just needs to do more. Why does Caliber want Anti’s phone number? We get no follow-through there. What does Rikka and Akane’s relationship mean for Rikka moving forward? Why does Akane keep making kaiju? Yuta asks, but she never gives him an answer.

The most interesting development here is that their homeroom teacher, who once couldn’t care less about his class, is now actively involved and excited about the festival. The gang thinks this might be down to Gridman’s influence, but that doesn’t really make sense unless Gridman was playing therapist to their teacher in some cutscene I missed. If he changed because he subconsciously remembers the battle that almost killed him, then wasn’t it Akane’s actions that had a positive effect and led to the very behavioral changes she wanted in the first place? It’s deeply unsettling. Do Akane’s kaiju sometimes actually make the world a better place, even though the ends don’t at all justify the means? I appreciate that her words are often completely logical, making it almost possible to identify with her mentality despite her careless attitude toward human life.

But the battle in this episode just isn’t that interesting. Sure, the idea of acting first and prompting an evacuation is clever, but we just have to take Yuta’s word for it, because we never see what happens to the humans who were on the campus at all. The fight goes on for too long, and the song that plays in the background is too quiet to serve as mood music, overshadowed by the sound of the kaiju’s drill.

Plus, there are so many little things in this episode that I didn’t understand. Why does Yuta have to infer that Alexis might be helping Akane to make kaiju when Alexis literally told him that last episode? Why is Greg Ayers practically screaming in a scene when they’re supposed to be meeting discretely in the school hallway? How did Anti’s eye get bandaged? Surely there weren’t sterile bandages just lying around in that alleyway. Surely Alexis didn’t help him out.

There are a lot of charming shots of the students preparing for the festival, but they’d be even more interesting if they were actually animated instead of still frames. And the idea of a “reverse gender café” is pretty cute, but it’s ruined a little by Rikka’s mom making disgusted faces at the idea of a boy in a dress (Come on, lady. It’s 2018. Kaiju ravage your city every night, and you’re worried about Utsumi wearing a maid costume?).

This episode isn’t terrible, because SSSS.Gridman always has some degree of finesse, but I’ve come to expect better.

Score
6.5/10

Bodie Shanis

Bodie is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can often find him in odd costumes, either because he's at an anime convention or performing in a musical. He's currently working on his first novel.

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