English Dub Review: SSSS.Gridman “Contact”

This one was pretty much in the bank.

Overview (Spoilers!)

Everyone’s memories reset once again. Yuta wonders what Akane meant when she said he was “transforming.” For her part, Akane asks Anti to kill Yuta; he refuses until she explains that Yuta is Gridman. Bored, Rikka goes shopping.

Yuta walks to Rikka’s house to ask her about Akane. On the way, he encounters a creepy kid named Anosillus who claims to be a kaiju. When he doesn’t believe her, Anosillus grows to a massive size and asks him out on a date. Rikka finds Anti digging through a trash can in the park and buys him some food. Rikka discovers that he’s never heard of bathing, so she invites him to her house to clean up.

In a bookstore, Utsumi is checking out some sci-fi manga. Akane shows up and starts reading his book, admitting that she loves kaiju. Rikka washes Anti’s hair in the bath. Yuta indeed goes on a date with Anosillus, and she provides him with food, revealing that she’s rich.

Yuta and Anosillus ride the train. She keeps saying that nothing exists outside the city, and when the train nears the city limits, the skies fill with fog and Yuta is drowsy. Anosillus claims that everyone becomes sleepy here because of the gas, so she puts her headphones in Yuta’s ears and plays some music.

Utsumi and Akane geek out over kaiju in a coffee shop, and Alexis wonders where she is. Akane asks Utsumi if Yuta is hiding something and reveals that she knows about the kaiju, explaining that they come from one single person. Anosillus tells Yuta that Akane is that person. She describes Akane’s constant destruction—and rebuilding—of the city using kaiju, likening her to a twisted god. She says that Alexis is controlling Akane, and Yuta guesses that Alexis is an alien. Utsumi refuses to reveal Yuta’s secrets to Akane, and she leaves. Anosillus explains that Akane didn’t make her; Anosillus was here all along.

Anti disappears from Rikka’s house. Anosillus tells Yuta that her predecessor owes a lot to him. Anti finally finds Yuta and attacks him, but Max and Caliber beat Anti back. They convince him that he doesn’t want to kill Yuta, and Yuta realizes that Anti is a kaiju. Anti lies to Akane and says he couldn’t find Yuta.

Our Take

By far, my favorite thing about this show that it constantly subverts viewer expectations. What wouldn’t I expect in a series about mecha fighting kaiju? A quiet episode where people talk to each other and perform domestic tasks, where characters go about their lives and there are no kaiju or mecha to be seen. And that’s precisely what this episode is.

“Contact” starts out pretty slow, but it’s not boring. In a fictional world where so many terrifying things happen on the regular, it’s interesting to see how the main characters cope with that during their regular lives. Yuta is despondent and needs to share that with someone who understands. Rikka does her best to pretend nothing is wrong, to live life as normal. Utsumi attends the memorial of a family member. Presumably, this wasn’t someone killed by a kaiju—even in a city under Akane’s control, people die in all kinds of other ways. This show is excellent at including small details of everyday life to produce a sense of realism that I rarely see in sci-fi shows.

But of course, this episode isn’t all realism. I love the diversity of kaiju designs we get in this series—some are big, traditional monsters, and some are incredibly unsettling little girls. When Anosillus swells to an enormous size? That’s creepy as hell. Her repeated insistence that nothing exists outside the city is equally disquieting, especially when we’re presented with close-ups of her face against bright white backgrounds accompanied by a loud, ringing alarm. But after all this uncomfortable imagery, it turns out that Anosillus just wants to help Yuta out, and her tiny froglike face (I’m sorry, but she looks so much like Froppy from BNHA) becomes almost endearing. I love that about SSSS.Gridman—the cutesy Akane is sinister deep down, and the creepy Anosillus is actually incredibly sweet.

I’m also fond of the theme that kaiju may look like humans, but they have absolutely no familiarity with human customs. Anosillus doesn’t understand that the way she behaves around Yuta might freak him out. Anti is in a human body, so he needs to eat and bathe, but no one told him to do those things, probably because Akane just doesn’t care enough. It really is sweet that Rikka keeps helping him out. Although she can seem cold and apathetic, she has a definite mothering streak, a compulsion to look out for people who need her. And I’m pretty much crying with joy that this show didn’t use the bathing scene as an excuse for any weird fanservice. Plus, it’s hilarious that Rikka gives Anti food in front of a sign that warns against feeding stray cats (I guess you’re allowed to feed stray kaiju). And it’s a nice parallel that she and Anti eat on the same bench that Yuta and Anosillus share a few hours later.

Perhaps my favorite reveal of the episode is that there’s an actual reason people keep falling asleep on the train, a great throwback to last episode’s seemingly throwaway gag. Although I didn’t know quite how much of Anosillus’s speech to take seriously—Is there real gas? Who put it there? Was it Akane? Are there really “sound spirits” in her music? How literally should I take the idea that there’s nothing outside the city?

Anosillus’s explanation is accompanied by a reenactment of Akane’s actions, animated in a CGI Minecraft-esque style alongside extremely cheery music. It’s crude, but it’s pretty effective. I especially like the map of the city in the shape of a kaiju, symbolizing just how much control Akane has to shape the city into her own personal vision. I’m not quite sure how she uses kaiju to fix the city or to erase everyone’s memories, though, so I hope that’s better explained in the future. All in all, it’s pretty interesting that the writers decided to reveal Akane’s role to Yuta now when we’re only halfway through the series. It’s exciting, actually—what will he do with this information? Will he try to talk to her? Surely he can’t want to kill her, but he can’t let her keep murdering people, and I’m sure this conflict will become the focal point of future stories.

I’m also interested in Akane’s profession that she creates kaiju because she’s lonely. I know better than to believe all the things she says, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s somehow the truth. She does genuinely seem to enjoy chatting with Utsumi, and I really do hope she ends up with some sort of confident in the end—whether it be Utsumi, Rikka, or even Anti.

This episode has some great deadpan humor, too. A student can’t comprehend that his friend is calling his swimsuit shitty. The school tea ceremony club apparently has a training camp. The picture of Yuta on Akane’s phone has the most genial, placid face, even as she’s calling for his assassination. When Vit takes over Rikka’s family shop, Rikka’s mom is sure he can handle it; a moment later, a man asks if they have any more keyboards, and for a moment Vit only responds, “Uhhhhh…”

My only complaint about this episode is that, yet again, the Neon Genesis characters act as deus ex machinas that prevent Yuta from solving his own problems. While the fight between Anti, Caliber, and Max is kind of cool, I don’t really care about watching them in action when the whole show is about Yuta, Utsumi, and Rikka. Caliber and Max haven’t been fleshed out all yet, and they’re basically just omnipotent ninjas who come out of nowhere every time the gang needs help. We see them spying on everyone, but I’m not sure what the point of all that is. I really wish Yuta would be forced to find his own creative solutions to problems instead of constantly relying on Neon Genesis. On an unrelated note, why is there a big scene where Rikka sees a wallet in a store, looks at it, and realizes it’s the same one Akane has? Is it just to show us that she remembers hanging out with Akane? I don’t get it.

At the end of the episode, though, Yuta arrives at Rikka’s house. He sees the gang all gathered together there, and he smiles. That’s how I feel coming home to this collection of characters, too, because this show really is quite entertaining.

Score
8.5/10

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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