I voiced my complaints I would drop Gridman back in my first episode impressions if it didn’t have any consequences. That’s the problem – it clearly has some consequences, but not enough to make the show stand on its own. That’s why I sometimes end up venting about Gridman in Scott’s comment section.
One of the main problems attached to this is that it’s started (as of episode 3) to become isolated from technology in certain ways, possibly deliberately as a throwback to the days without modern computers. This is both a pro and a con, as it means while Sho and Rikka are in possession of much more modern tech, they don’t remember to use it for the sake of ~mood~ and ~conflict~, instead relying on a 70s computer Sho has termed “Junk” (an explicit acknowledgement of it being outdated). Basically, if they’re teenagers with smartphones, they should probably have grown up with more computer savviness and should act that way.
Additionally, this throwback would be nice if it were either set in the 70s or even the 90s (and scrapped having smartphones) or aiming at nostalgia for those who were children in the time period the tokusatsu Gridman was airing, but it doesn’t work out in either of those ways. Trying to marry the feeling of isolation, more typical to one’s adolescence, to the tokusatsu fights of one’s childhood makes a show feel uneven, especially for someone who didn’t experience the original Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad
(urk, that spelling…!).
“Why would it make it feel uneven? Certainly, the execution is what makes it work, right?” you ask.
Tokusatsu, like any other storytelling genre, works on suspension of disbelief, which is part of the “execution is key” argument. What I was referring to when I said “campy” in the first impressions is the sort of tokusatsu normally sold to kids, the kind with clearly evil villains and destruction of cities, only to be restored the next day without explanation. Gridman has an instance of that in its first 2 episodes, but brings back the characters in episode 3, which may indicate it’s going for the slower pace of its predecessors. This makes me worry if it’s got 12 episodes…because it’s trying to take its sweet time, which it clearly hasn’t got. Tokusatsu shows normally have more than 12 episodes to develop their characters and world, so getting half that amount may be a serious problem going forward.
On the other half of the campy scale, you have “serious” stuff. Evangelion is probably the most prolific example I can think of in that vein (it’s not tokusatsu but it’s close). What makes a show fall into that category is consequences, which help to buy into the tone the show is going for. Taking the example from the first impressions post, people talk casually about Yuta’s amnesia but don’t act upon it, which thus breaks suspension of disbelief and thus doesn’t work as a proper consequence. So even though this show is trying to channel Evangelion in regards to how isolated it feels, it’s not quite hitting its mark yet because the consequences don’t match. (I’m not saying “Gridman should not strive to be a combo of genres or tones” – many of my favourite shows are just that, but they manage to hit their beats without compromising the story’s tone or credibility. Gridman is currently kind of failing at the latter part.)
So why do I continue watching, despite my misgivings? Well, aside from what I said at the beginning, it introduced 3 new characters to the Gridman Alliance as of episode 3. I want to see what they bring to the table. I also want to see if any of the characters are able to pull their own narrative weight, as Yuta has his amnesia, Rikka has a need to justify her position in the Gridman Alliance beyond “I’m not that stupid with computers” and the rest have character underdevelopment (Sho may have interesting ideas, such as the “what if we’ve been fighting humans all this time?” line, but he’s little more than that – he does have “I’m not great at computers” to justify why he doesn’t handle Junk though). Plus, it’s still early days yet – there could still be better writing later on.
Even after all that, there’s still the robot vs. kaiju fights that will keep me coming back, if nothing else…
Sidebar: Some of the talk around this show is about Rikka and the amount of fanart of her, but I’ve seen surprisingly little about that. Then again, it’s not like I really bother with that stuff anyway…after all, there are enough fictional boys in the metaphorical sea to occupy my time instead. Like the black-haired bishonen that was introduced in episode 3, alongside Borr and tractor guy…
but until he’s introduced properly, Samurai Calibur is best boi. Fite me.
…my ranting is over for now, so is anyone, aside from Prattle, taking issue with SSSS.Gridman? Or is there a viewpoint that will help me to appreciate the show better?