The mission continues. As Yuta, Rikka and Utsumi start to look into the mystery surrounding the kaiju attacking the city, the figure responsible for the attacks makes their first appearance.
1. Before anyone could think this show has zero stakes because anyone who dies will just be brought back to life, “Restoration” clarifies that by setting the proper “rules” of the show. While the city itself is restored hours after the kaiju is defeated, the people who die are gone forever. Worse, dying during a kaiju attack seems to reset your personal timeline, creating a deviation where you died in some way several months earlier from something more normal. Yuta, Utsumi, and Rikka return to school the next morning and find not only do their classmates seem to not remember the kaiju attack, but they don’t even remember the five students who died during it either.
Surprisingly, our characters are relatively chill about this for most of the episode. It would have been nice to see a bit more emotion from them, but the show explains it pretty well by saying they’re in shock, which is played up well throughout the episode. Plus, when mecha series wallow in pathos for too long they turn into Evangelion. And this show doesn’t have the episode count (nor do I have the patience) for them to toss several episodes away on the Gridman Alliance being too terrified to fight.
2. After witnessing Yuta merge with Gridman, it seems Rikka and Utsumi have undergone a transformation themselves. They’re already capable of remembering the kaiju after they’ve been defeated, but this episode we learn they can now actually see Gridman on the old Junk computer (an upgrade later allows them to hear him as well), and by the end they’re able to see the dormant kaiju as well.
All of this goes a long way towards normalizing the insanity of the world Yuta’s stepped into. If one kid sees giant monsters that eventually lay waste to the city but no one remembers, the story can write him off as delusional. Even the viewer can be convinced what one character’s seeing might not actually be real. By bringing Rikka and Utsumi into Yuta’s world, even if they can’t fight, it’s legitimizes the events happening around us.
That said, the close of this episode makes it clear that while Yuta’s not insane, he has stepped into an insane situation, and not all of them are going to be able to handle it with the same ease Utsumi has so far.
3. A new person joins the Gridman Alliance this episode: Samurai Calibur, a weirdo who’s inexplicably managed to track the group down to assist Gridman. Not long after Yuta tries to talk to Gridman about his mission, Yuta’s Genre Savvy friend Utsumi points out that if kaiju are real, aliens can’t be that far behind, because “that’s how it is in the Ultra Series”. True to form, just as he points this out someone who definitely doesn’t seem human pops up out of nowhere. He optimizes the Junk computer, improving Yuta’s connection with Gridman and allowing the rest of the Alliance to hear him speak as well.
At this point, I want Utsumi to just start predicting future plot points–if he doesn’t see Gridman’s first power-up coming, I’m going to be seriously disappointed.
4. Yes, we finally have our villain reveal, and it’s a clear shout out to the Gridman/Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad of old: a geek at a computer desk. Now some people might think this isn’t very threatening, but an amoral teenager who uses kaiju to kill people who’ve offended her in some minor way at school is terrifying to me.
We get a brief flashback to last week’s episode when the volleyball girls wound up getting killed before learning their death came with a twisted, cheerful celebration on the part of our villain. It’s so cheerful you’d almost think she got the last kill in Fortnite and not…y’know…took several human lives. This week’s episode she’s built a new kaiju in order to kill her homeroom teacher for not apologizing for bumping into her. …Y’know, even without some evil computer program giving her the power to turn models into giant monsters, this girl was definitely going to grow up to be a serial killer, wasn’t she?
5. After introducing our villain, establishing the rules, and introducing a new ally to the Gridman Alliance it’s finally time to throw down. Our evil purple-haired kaiju creator sends her latest creation to attack the city, and she seems to be capable of controlling it like a video game character. It stalks the streets and starts laying waste to buildings, forcing Yuta to fuse with Gridman once again to go attack it.
This time he tries to use his beam attack on it, but it fails thanks to an anti-beam coating the villain placed on this version of the monster. One thing you can’t say is she’s not willing to adapt. Fortunately, Samurai Calibur comes to the rescue, living up to his name and transforming into a Gainax-sized, giant honking sword Gridman uses to cut the monster in half, saving the day once again.
One thing that’s kind of cool about having such a short episode count is Gridman’s arsenal gets to look varied here–every other week I imagine he’ll wind up with a new ability, weapon, or assistant machine, so it’ll be impossible for us to get bored.
SSSS.Gridman is available for streaming on Funimation’s website.