SSSS.GRIDMAN Ep. 9: Time for Akane’s redemptive arc

Cute anime girls can always be saved. 

— We cut to Yuta waking up like he did in the very first episode, and he quickly finds Akane sitting at the kitchen table, playing with her dolls. So I guess she’s just going to hang out with him whenever she wants. Watch out, Rikka. That girl might steal your gormless man.

— Oddly enough, Yuta doesn’t recognize Akane, so it sounds like he has amnesia again?

— When he leaves the room, he bumps into Rikka’s mother, but the woman no longer recognizes him. It’s as if the series has started from the beginning all over again, but Akane has now replaced Rikka. She even refers to Rikka’s mother as her mom.

— On his way to the hospital, our hero looks up to the skies. For a brief second, he sees a vision of Gridman on a billboard, but when he takes a second glance, the billboard has returned to normal. Again, it’s like the start of the series.

— Alright, I get it. This episode is titled “Dream,” so Yuta must have been put to sleep somehow. Not only that, he’s forgotten all about his friends and mission. Well, Akane is supposedly a god, right? So I guess she could technically screw with people’s memories.

— The episode continues to play out like the first episode, but with some “small” changes. I guess she really thinks she can just replace Rikka entirely for Yuta entirely.

— Yuta eventually returns to his empty apartment. Meanwhile, I can’t help but wonder what Sho and Rikka are up to right now. Are they also in the same dream? Or are they in their own dream worlds?

— Right on cue, we see Rikka at school, but she’s not wearing her trademark oversized cardigan.

Oh come on. “Aplil?” Really?

— As soon as Rikka enters the infirmary, she finds Akane there. Yep, it’s looking like the three kids are in their own separate dream worlds. Classic divide and conquer tactics.

— As a result, Sho gets to meet Akane again at the bookstore. It sounds like he and Rikka get to relive their most important encounters with Akane. We probably saw how Rikka and the girl first met. As for Sho, this is probably the first and only time he’s ever had an actual conversation with the girl he’s been crushing on for so long.

— So why are we reliving these moments in their lives? First, it seems as though these kids have completely forgotten about not only their friendship with each other, but Gridman as well. Instead, they get to become closer friends with Akane. Maybe she wants to trick them into becoming loyal to her. Why rebel against your god if you’re currently living in a paradise. Sho gets to hang out with his crush. Rikka finally gets to become friends with Akane. And, well, Yuta gets a girlfriend.

— But why is Yuta’s dream so different? After all, the person who walked him to the hospital was Rikka and not Akane. Well, maybe our god wants him to fall in love with her instead of Rikka. That implies that she’s always known about his crush. Maybe his love for Rikka is that obvious. Or maybe Akane just knows because she’s a god. Then again, we know she isn’t omniscient, so it’s probably not that.

— We eventually see Rikka visit Akane’s home. Curiously enough, Alexis’s appearance hasn’t changed one bit. They’re not even gonna bother disguising his identity. Plus, if Akane wants to keep these three from waking up, why even risk introducing Rikka to such an outrageous, out-of-this-world character like Alexis?

— Every time we hear the railroad crossing bells ring, we jump to a different person. This time, we see the girl and Sho in “Nakano,” but we already know that nothing exists outside of the city. This must be another fabrication. Maybe it’s just Sho’s imagination since he’s dreaming right now. After all, every kid has their own perception of the same city.

— Back in Yuta’s dream, he’s still pretending to date Akane. Must be blissful.

— We finally snap back to reality — but really, what is reality in this series? — where we find Akane talking to Alexis. She tells the alien that the three dream worlds we just saw are what should have ended up happening. After all, she created those three, so those three should worship her. So why did things originally go awry? Man, it’s like people aren’t mindless slaves. It’s like they have thoughts of their own or something.

— Meanwhile, Anti gazes up at Akane’s latest kaiju, and he’s confused as to why Gridman still hasn’t shown up to fight it. Welp, can’t fight if Yuta is asleep. What’s interesting, however, is that Gridman is also asleep.

— Back at the junk shop, Borr tries to wake the sleeping kids up by kicking them, but it’s no use.

Anti drops by and demands to know why Gridman still hasn’t shown up. Well, Gridman’s asleep due to the new kaiju, so the kid immediately tries to attack it. Too bad this doesn’t work. It looks like you have to defeat the kaiju in the dream world as well.

— Off in the distance, Akane is annoyed that Alexis didn’t actually finish Anti off. Again, this makes me wonder why we’re so hellbent on redeeming this girl. She’s so heartless.

— Well, one by one, Akane’s “ideal” dreams for the trio begin to fall apart. Yuta, for instance, can’t shake the fact that he’s forgotten something important. As cool as it might be to have girlfriend, Akane isn’t his ideal girl. As a result, she isn’t enough to make him forget about the only thing that he and his friends can do (whatever that is). He then proceeds to stumble across Tonkawa’s grave. Maybe Akane shouldn’t have taken him to the cemetery…

— As for Sho, he quickly realizes that everything he’s experiencing right now is too good to be true when Akane invites him over to her place. Wow, that’s kinda sad. More importantly, the girl shouldn’t have pushed her luck. Maybe if she hadn’t rushed things with Sho, he wouldn’t have seen through the ruse and woken up.

— Last but not least, even though Rikka finally gets to be friends with Akane, it looks as though their friendship isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

— One by one, the kids leave Akane’s side and hurry back to each other. As a result, Gridman also wakes up from his dream. He proceeds to tear the dream kaiju apart, and this allows the kaiju in reality to materialize.

— Before you know it, the Assist Weapons have jumped into action on their own. Apparently, they don’t need Gridman at all to become a fully-fledged mecha.

— As always, the battle against the kaiju of the week is short-lived. It doesn’t take long for the Assist Weapons to dumpster yet another one of Akane’s creations. What’s funny is that Gridman didn’t even have to lend a hand this time, so maybe our god isn’t so good at creating kaiju after all.

— Anti proceeds to bug Calibur again about Gridman, but the latter replies that our hero no longer sees the kid as a threat. That’s why he’s not showing up. As predicted, Anti will be redeemed. I just wonder where he’ll end up living once this is all said and done. Maybe Rikka’s family will take him in or something.

— As for Akane, she’s in despair. She made these people to worship her, but they won’t do so blindly. Even though she fed them such happy dreams, the trio still weren’t satisfied. It’s kinda silly, because it’s obvious that they all want to be her friends (Rikka especially). They just don’t want to, y’know, let Akane do whatever she wants, i.e. murder people. But apparently, that’s not good enough for our god!

— Still, it seems as though Akane could’ve done a better job in those dreams. If she had tweaked a thing or two, maybe our trio would still be asleep.

— Speaking of which, our trio finally wakes up back at the junk shop. Gridman proceeds to tell Yuta, however, that they still need to wake Akane up… uh, presumably from Alexis’s spell. That’s just my speculation, anyways. But as we all predicted, it’s time for the girl’s redemptive arc. Anime probably feels as though it’d be a waste to get rid of someone as cute as Akane even though she’s evil.

— Hearing this, Rikka finally decides that she’s going to open up to the team about her encounters with Akane.

— Kind of a neat episode, but I wish it could’ve been longer. I wish the kids had spent more time in their respective dream worlds so we could see the their illusions gradually collapse. The way the episode played out, they kinda just snapped out of it once the episode reach the halfway point. This episode is kinda like a microcosm for the entire series. There are a lot of story elements in SSSS.GRIDMAN that are either rushed or left unexplained. I don’t see us getting a satisfactory conclusion out of the remaining three or so episodes. A longer series could’ve done a better job fleshing things out, but one cour is all we’re gonna get.

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3 Replies to “SSSS.GRIDMAN Ep. 9: Time for Akane’s redemptive arc”

  1. I don’t think having another cour would’ve solved the show’s fundamental problems. It might be rushed here and there, but even if you expand on that I don’t think there’s a 25 episode story to tell here. And even in just one cour the kaiju fights got boring and repetitive quickly.

    Anyway, I gave up on watching the show after last week, so I’ll stick around to see how it ends.

  2. This is the exact same thing Captain Earth did a few years ago; do an entire episode that, while was provoking from a character perspective, did nothing to move the story or keep your interested in the final destination. The end goal (Akane rebels against Alexis and the aliens) does not mean much if it, as you said, feels hollow, given the reality that it won’t be that Akane learns the hard way about morality. “Waking up” is just a code term for “babyface turn” that’ll justify all of the damage and destruction she did; ergo, the writers want her to become good, but they don’t want to put the effort into making her understand that the path to becoming good requires her to confront her wrongdoings and misdeeds, and the way they’ll complete this hastily-done ending will likely be one of two ways, since we’re on the home stretch:

    1. Akane will sacrifice herself to destroy Alexis, essentially destroying the universe she herself built. This will reveal that this was “all a dream” in which every other character in the series has existed in an actual alternate dimension… except Akane, who was an AI created by a real-world Rikka as an experiment. This Akane AI unit wound up going rogue in cyberspace due to the Alexis virus, developing a God complex, and would keep resetting computers each day, forcing a Gridman “vaccine” to be developed to counter both.
    2. Anti will sacrifice himself to destroy Alexis, and Akane will learn nothing, but it’s okay because Akane is a cute moe girl.

    Considering Trigger, it’s likely the latter. Its not that “irredeemable” moe girls can’t be used in redemption arcs, but the only way I can see it plausible is if you take them round back and bludgeon them senseless with a baseball bat, then let them stagger and hit them in the legs with a crowbar before driving them to the emergency room. Here’s a “non-canon” example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG5mWT6_u2g&t=2279s

    In the normal Super Robot Wars games, a character like Nena Trinity of Gundam 00 would never be redeemed, but in Cross-Omega, where they will let crazy stuff happen like have Godzilla battle Robot Masters and erotic novel mecha pilots make their debut, they do it here by following her story normally, but then have her work for Cross Ange’s Embryo, who is notorious for screwing with people for shits and giggles. He has her work for him as part of his harem as a “life debt”, but keeps trying to get her killed for his own amusement (which was what he did in the series, and was also what he did with other antagonists in SRW X, such as Old Man Bizon from Buddy Complex), and when she finally disobeys, he brings her brothers back to life and forces her to fight them, effectively breaking her fragile mind. The reason I say this is that SSSS.Gridman is likely to appear in a SRW game in the future, say, 5-6 years from now, and likely those writers will do a better job dealing with Akane than what the staff at Trigger have done.

    Anyway, sorry for the long-winded post.

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