SSSS.Gridman Episode 8

SSSS.Gridman Episode 8


We already had our obligatory swimsuit episode, and this week it’s time for the obligatory school festival episode. Maybe by the end of the season we’ll also get the obligatory summer festival episode as well to complete the trifecta.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but school festival episodes are by far the worst part of any high school-centered anime. And, with that in mind I can confidently say that this was the best school festival episode I remember ever seeing, specifically because the school festival is merely the backdrop.

Typically in these episodes we have to suffer through what essentially amounts to a filler episode in which the characters usually take part in a school play of some sort. Occasionally there are other activities involved, but a poorly written play or movie is the norm, which is too realistic.

Yuuta, Utsumi, and Rikka all hate that they have to participate in the school festival, and I’ve never related to high school protagonists more than I did when I learned this. And, Akane hates school festivals so much that she’s willing to destroy the entire school in order to stop it.

This time around, since the Gridman Alliance already knows of her true nature, Akane decides to tell Yuuta, Utsumi, and Rikka about her plan six days in advance, and even shows them the Kaiju she’s created for the occasion. This Kaiju is a mecha version of the first Kaiju Yuuta and Gridman defeated.

But, now that they know when and where the next Kaiju attack will take place, the Gridman Alliance has time to prepare a counter-strategy for stopping the attack. However, the alliance is unable to come to an agreement regarding how they should proceed.

On one side is Utsumi, who believes they need to prepare for the fight against this new Kaiju by figuring out a way to have Gridman and all four of the Neon Genesis Junior High students fight at once. This is the name given to the other members of the Gridman Alliance, and is what I’ll be referring to them as from now on.

On the other side is Rikka, who wants to talk things out with Akane and convince her not to attack the school. It’s not so much that Rikka thinks Akane will actually listen to her, but more so that she doesn’t want to have to fight against someone whom she considers a friend.

Akane Shinjou

Over the next few days, Yuuta and Utsumi decide that confronting Akane about not destroying the school may be a viable option as well, and so they decide to try it out. But, as one would expect, this doesn’t work, and Akane refuses to allow the school to remain the way it is.

Later on, Rikka attempts to do the same thing, by talking with Akane on the bus as the two tend to do. This is the first time Rikka confronts Akane about the deaths of their classmates due to Akane’s Kaiju, and like any good mentally unstable antagonist, Akane admits that she orchestrated the attack.

Since Rikka was indifferent to the other girls, Akane suggests that she should then be indifferent to whether or not they’re alive as well. I think it was at this point that Rikka truly began to realize just how far gone Akane really is. But, even so, she still sees Akane as her friend.

Rikka Takarada and Akane Shinjou from the anime SSSS.Gridman
Rikka and Akane

And now, this is where the episode really gets interesting. We’ve already been told by the female Kaiju that Akane has destroyed and rebuilt the city countless times to make it the way she wants, but we now learn from Akane herself that she may have created the city to begin with.

She explains to Rikka that she knows no matter what she does or how many people she ends up killing, Rikka will still be her friend because she was made that way. In fact, the reason everyone seems to like Akane is because she made them that way, or at least she had her Kaiju make them that way.

By the end of the episode, Rikka hasn’t told the rest of the Gridman Alliance about what Akane said regarding the people of the city, but when they do learn of this, it will likely spark a debate about free will. So, let’s take a look at how the idea of free will could come into play, and what precedent there is for it.

If Akane truly is a god and the creator of the city as well as all of its inhabitants, then do those inhabitants truly have free will? To some extent, it seems that they do because they’re capable of doing things which are against Akane’s wishes, which is the argument I’ve used to illustrate that she isn’t really a god.

But, let’s pretend she really is a god.

The citizens have a type of free will, but not when it comes to Akane specifically. They can do things she doesn’t like, but they’re incapable of disliking her. This would imply that Akane doesn’t actually mind the differences people have as long as they’re her friends.

So why did Akane create this city? Simply because she was alone and felt that this was the only way to make friends, much like that one episode of Pokémon in which the gym leader, Sabrina, turns trainers into dolls to keep them as her friends.

If this is the case, then we’ll likely see the Gridman Alliance begin to not only fight to save the city, but to prove that the citizens have free will and are willing to fight to keep it. If you’re familiar with previous Trigger, or even Gainax, anime, this shouldn’t really be much of a surprise.

When working at Gainax, Hiroyuki Imaishi directed a little anime called Gurren Lagann which is about humans rising up against a suppressor because they would rather fight and die as they please than live trapped underground. He then went on to be a founding member of Trigger.

There, he worked on another anime called Kill la Kill, in which humans rise up to fight their clothing overlords in a similar manner. He’s worked on many other series over the years as well, but from these two standout anime in particular, we can see that stories about fighting for free will are something near and dear to him.

So, although he isn’t the director of SSSS.Gridman, the fact that it’s being made by his studio, Trigger, should be enough evidence that the theme of free will is likely to come up at some point.

Full Power Gridman

And now, back to the episode at hand. After talking to Akane doesn’t work in stopping her from releasing her Kaiju, because it was never going to, the Alliance has to come up with an alternate plan of attack.

Utsumi comes up with the idea of shrinking Gridman and the Neon Genesis Junior High students down to half-size so that Junk can handle all of them at once, but this still doesn’t solve the problem of the fight taking place at the school. With so many people there for the festival, there are sure to be fatalities.

Rikka and Yuuta then come up with the idea to strike first. By this, they don’t mean to attack Akane before she has the chance to attack the school, but instead to send Gridman to the school before the Kaiju even appears. Gridman’s appearance would spark an evacuation, and then the school would be an empty place to fight.

Now, this sounds like a good plan in theory, and it does end up working as expected, but I saw a few flaws as the fight between Gridman and the mecha Kaiju played out. The first being that although Gridman and the Neon Genesis Junior High students are smaller than usual, when they combine they’re somehow full-sized.

While that issue doesn’t really matter, this next one does. The fight spills outside the confines of the school grounds into the city, where all the people from the school likely evacuated to. Further, Gridman throws the mecha Kaiju around into streets and buildings like it’s no big deal.

Sure, the school may have been saved, but the rest of the city sure wasn’t. It’s hard to believe there would be zero fatalities after a brawl like that, and this is something I’ve noticed in previous episodes as well. The only reason I’m bringing it up now is because they had a plan in place to lower the number of fatalities this time around.

After the fight, we get a shot of Anti watching Gridman from down at street level, and the fact that he isn’t taking this chance to get in on the action shows a change in his character. I’ve mentioned many times that I believe he’ll switch sides, and every new episode seems to reinforce this idea.


So what do you think is the true nature of Akane Shinjou? Do you think she really is a god who created the city and its inhabitants? At this point I’m still unsure, but I can see how arguments could be made for either side. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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