3 Episode Rule: SSSS.Dynazenon

3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.

Back in 2018, I was taken by surprise by a little anime called SSSS: Gridman. I wrote a piece about it ages ago, realising I had far more nostalgia for Ultraman than I ever realised, having never even watched any Ultraman myself. So imagine the compoundment of my surprise that not only did SSSS: Gridman get a follow-up, but one that wasn’t even set in the same world. (Or so it would seem)

From Studio Trigger, SSSS: Dynazenon is very similar and yet very different to Gridman in a number of ways. Their similarities come from their tone and style of storytelling. Both series follow groups of relatively normal high school kids who also happen to stumble into the world of rescuing their city from Kaiju attacks on a regular basis.

In both of the series of this “Gridman Universe” (as the title screen describes it), the kids all seem to take this saving the day thing in stride and don’t make a super big deal out of it. When they’re not piloting giant robots, their lives in school seem incredibly mundane, filled with normal, boring problems that any of dealt with ourselves.

Even when they’re piloting the robots they seem only relatively perturbed by the battle they’re participating in. They underplay everything, which in direct opposition to the “kaiju users” that crash into their lives and act much more like the over the top anime characters you’d expect to be in a series like this.

So far in this series, while Gridman focused on one hero and his growing collection of supporters, Dynazenon follows a team of kids who pilot a “fake Kaiju” each entrusted a piece by the pink haired guy who once used to be an ally to the villains of the series. At least the villains as of the first three episodes… I’ll get into more of that in a moment.

First I wanted to point out that while Gridman had much to look to Ultraman for, I feel like this series take much more inspiration from the sentai series and specifically Voltron. While I never watched Voltron myself, I know the influence it had and it’s all over this. One aspect of Gridman I found charming that is absent from this series is the whole man in suit approach to the battles, at least in the early stages of the series.

It felt like they really were trying to emulate the feel of those old live action series in which guys in rubber suits fought over miniatures of the cities. In the way they moved and how the fights were choreographed with these limitations in mind despite being CG. This series doesn’t continue this trend, which I feel to be a little bit of a shame considering what a cool moment it was when the fights in Gridman became more dynamic towards the ending.

But that’s just a personal gripe, as they fights themselves are still great in this series so far, taking full advantage of the style and transformation heavy battles that I remember from my Zord fights during the various Power Rangers series I watched.

I just feel that way knowing what came before with Gridman, speaking of which, I said I had suspicions of the true villains of this series before. That suspicion is based entirely on the fact that I watched Gridman before this. If you haven’t seen SSSS: Gridman and still want to see it, which I recommend, it’s a good series, then I’d skip right to the verdict from here.

The whole twist in Gridman was that the series was some kind of warped iskekai. The world in which the series took place was a generated one, and not the “real world”. The series’ villain was the visiting person from the real world, bored of her godlike power and now using it to abuse the world she was in. Like all Iskeai protagonists do. Only this time the world she found herself created a defence in Gridman to stop her.

With that in mind, I fully expect there to be some kind of twist in the tale as it goes on. Especially when the series itself outright states that it takes place in some kind of shared space as Gridman. It’s like watching an M. Night Shyamalan movie to some extent. You know there is going to be some kind of twist to the tale eventually, it’s just up to you whether you’re going to let it ruin your experience or not.

Verdict: I am very up to continue this one

This is a good-ass looking mecha anime coming from Trigger. But the added wrinkle of knowing there just might be a wrinkle and the very subdued attitude of half the cast contrasting with the extreme animeness of the rest of the cast makes it a super charming little show. One that seems to delve into the realm of the bizarre and then just shrug it off.

I’m definitely going to be talking about this series again in the future. It’s the kind of series that uses the title song towards the climax of every fight. It seems a little more straight forward than Gridman, which felt more like a mystery in comparison. I’m looking forward to seeing what strange direction this series takes us in. Because after Gridman, it can’t just be as straight forward as it seems so far.

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