So why SSSS.GRIDMAN before SAO? ‘Cause it’s coming to an end, and I really just want to get the show out of the way. When we last left off, Alexis had turned Akane into a kaiju. Well, it kinda looks like her, I guess. Elsewhere, Anti tells Gridman that he’s still going to defeat the guy one day. Um, okay. But for now, Anti needs to slow Akane down in order to buy Gridman some time. Y’see, for the final battle, everyone will have to lend Gridman their strength. Anime’s gotta anime, right? Both Rikka and Sho will need to help out as well, so they finally get to be useful. I mean, let’s be honest: those two haven’t done much of anything since the very first episode. We know Rikka will be more than happy to do whatever that she needs to do, because she’ll want to save Akane at all costs. As for Sho, it feels like we’re cramming in a last second dilemma because he also needs character development. I agree that he does, but the timing of it is suspect.
So what’s happening to Akane right now? Whatever this is. I guess Alexis is trying to tear the distraught girl apart, physically and emotionally. He then argues that Rikka isn’t truly Akane’s friend. Again, the idea here is that Rikka never really had a choice in the matter. Rather, she was programmed to love her god. Alexis goes even further, however, and claims that Rikka isn’t even human. She just thinks she’s human. ‘Cause, y’know, humans presumably have free will or whatever (shh, they don’t). Rikka wants to blame everything on Alexis, and that’s tempting. After all, he’s an alien, so he’s here to help patch up every narrative deficiencies in Trigger’s storytelling. But truth be told, we don’t know anything about the guy, and I’m inclined to think that Akane just plain sucks.
Rikka ultimately claims that they can just change Akane’s heart. I guess I just don’t understand why she and her friends feel so strongly for the girl. There isn’t much in this series to suggest that our capricious god is worth saving. Is it only because she created them? Are we bound to love our parents even if they mistreat us? Maybe. Filial duty and all that is big in most cultures, but even more so outside the US. And let’s face it, Akane is essentially their mother. She’s everyone’s mother. She’s a bored god who abandoned her own world to live amongst her own creations. Nevertheless, the only time Akane seems to be a good “person” is when we catch a glimpse of Rikka’s flashbacks. But how reliable are Rikka’s memories? How reliable are her own thoughts and feelings, especially regarding this charged subject matter?
Well, the debate can be shelved for now (and probably forever), because Gridman is here to retrieve Rikka. The real Yuta doesn’t even know what’s going on around him right now. Sure, his own personality has merged with Gridman’s penchant for justice, so he’s arguably always been present. Hell, this is the only way we can explain Gridman crushing hard on Rikka (unless robot man also has a thing for Japanese schoolgirls). But for this final episode, we’ll just go with Gridman. After picking Rikka up, he heads for the hospital where Sho is still moping. We need to save the world and all that, but Sho is too busy pitying himself to lend a hand. Pathetic. Look, if you’re that useless, I doubt Gridman — the one hero who has been kicking ass all series — would directly come to you for help. Luckily, the story doesn’t waste too much time on this. After Rikka kicks some sense into him, Sho quickly picks himself up off the ground to join the fight.
Elsewhere, the battle between Anti and Akane continues. The show has so many cool-looking moments. Anti dives right into the kaiju in order to try and reach out to Akane personally. I just wish I could love the story. For instance, I really don’t know what Akane’s problem is. This story is about her. Every single conflict in this series is due to her and her alone. So what exactly is her problem? All these faces flash before her very eyes. Maybe they’re the ones that she’s killed. Maybe she’s finally feeling guilty for her crimes. But truth be told, I don’t really understand this god all that much. And even after Anti drags her out of whatever miasma she was drowning in, her first instinct is to denigrate him. This girl is gross, and I don’t understand everyone’s love for her.
Nevertheless, Akane as a kaiju has been defeated. She certainly didn’t last very long on the battlefield. All Anti had to do was pluck her out, huh? Well, she was never destined to be the final boss anyway. The final boss is almost never the cute anime chick that everyone wants to save. So instead, we’re going to battle Alexis. He just has to dispose of Anti first, but I seriously doubt that Anti is going to die. Still, let’s toss the kid aside for now and focus on the big, bad alien. With no one standing between him and Akane, he quickly pulls her into his cloak and becomes giant. Why didn’t he do this in the first place? Did he had to wait until Akane was full of self-loathing? Alexis isn’t going to let anyone ruin his plans, but we still don’t know exactly what he wants. Where did he come from? Why did he target Alexis? What does he hope to accomplish by borrowing her powers? She’s a god, but her powers are only limited to this world that she’s created. In her own world, I suspect that she’s nothing special. I suspect that she’s just, well, one of us. So what use is she to Alexis? Yeah, by absorbing the girl, he can become a kaiju himself, but then what?
Back at the junk shop, everyone gets accepters so their hearts can become one. Even poor Anti, who’s bleeding out and appears to be breathing his last breath, is going to join the fun. I still don’t know why we need Rikka and Sho, but we do see the girl type in an access code. It’s better than nothing, I guess. As a result, the true Gridman finally shows up. Alexis tells Gridman that he’ll just defeat him and go look for another Akane. At one point, Gridman kicks Alexis so hard that the latter is split in half. But the bad guy quickly recovers in a flash, ’cause apparently, evil can’t die. He is emptiness personified, so he naturally seeks out emotionally volatile people (like teenage girls). Uh-huh. Actually, he claims that she sought him out and his ability to create kaiju out of her creations. Like we’ve discussed in previous episodes, Akane is not omniscient nor omnipotent. She desperately wanted to control her creations, so she was convinced that Alexis could help her. Again, this is assuming that we can take the bad guy’s words at face value.
Like most villains, Alexis talks too much. It sounds like all he has to do is run away and move onto his next victim. Nevertheless, he sticks around to explain the story to us. He also wants to defeat Gridman once and for all for whatever reason. This gives Gridman the chance to remember that he has a pink, sparkly beam that will literally unfuck a situation. Yes, some magic beam will just fix everything. And he had it all along. He just forgot, y’see. So we cut to Akane, who continues to keep herself and her heart locked away from everyone. She even admits that she’s terrible. Nevertheless, her friends are totally here to convince her otherwise. ‘Cause, y’know, nobody’s perfect. So you killed a few of your creations just because they annoyed you. Pshaw, tell me who hasn’t wanted to murder someone just because they were rude to you!!!
For her own world’s sake, she can’t stick around. She has to be a proper god and leave. This acceptance allows her to finally leave Alexis’s influence, so the big bad baddie goes down to Gridman’s pink beam. Hilarious. Time for all the same ol’ anime tropes. The power of friendship compels you! Humans have limitless potential despite being mortal! Akane’s kaiju then proceeds to restore the world back to tip-top shape, ’cause, uh, love and friendship! And with that, it’s time for the epilogue. Again, Akane has to depart. She accepts that she’s weak, cowardly, so on and so forth. Nevertheless, Rikka loves her all the same. Is it platonic love or something more? Does it even matter at this point? She then grabs her friend’s hand (that explains the OP), and makes one final request that can never be fulfilled. And just like that, god finally takes her leave.
Gridman will have to leave as well. His job is done here, and I imagine that he has other people to save. We just have loose ends to tie up. For instance, Alexis is just now trapped in a cube. And right before Gridman and the Assist Weapons leave, the former pretty much outs Yuta to everyone. Rikka is quite shocked, so I guess she never knew about it. What was her annoyance with Yuta at the start of the series, though? Anyways, she just had to let Akane go, so her emotions are still quite raw. She’ll have time to process this new revelation, though. Gridman then drops a groanworthy line and just flies off with his buddies. I can’t help but be reminded of Poochy: “I have to go now. My planet needs me.”
With that, Akane’s world is back to normal. Hell, it might even be better than normal. The rest of the world will now exist. For instance, Yuta’s parents are finally back. I can’t tell if they were ever real or if they were just a part of Yuta’s memories. Remember how the outside world never existed for these kids? If they needed to go on a school trip, Akane had to create a small addendum. Oh well, his parents are here now, and they’re likely here for good. Meanwhile, Rikka and Sho wait for the real Yuta to wake up. The latter wonders why Gridman had picked Yuta of all people to inhabit. Well, the kid was one of the irregularities that Akane couldn’t control, right? Everyone adored Akane. They were made to adore Akane. And yet, Yuta was all alone in his own world, falling for Rikka instead. Speaking of Rikka, the girl is just finally realizing the extent of his crush for her, but this doesn’t really mean anything. There haven’t been any indications whatsoever that Rikka is remotely interested in him in a romantic context.
As soon as Yuta wakes up, we cut away from him and his friends, so we’ll never know what happens afterwards. Instead, we see that mysterious girl greet Anti as he also wakes up. Apparently, she had saved his life. He even gets his lost eye back. As for the girl, she’s probably a reference to an older Gridman series, but since I’ll never watch any of them, she’ll forever remain mysterious to me.
What am I even supposed to think? I don’t know. Maybe there are deeper theological implications here that went over my head. I can acknowledge that possibility. At the end of the day, however, I can only try and honestly capture how I feel, and I just don’t feel very impressed with what we got. SSSS.GRIDMAN was a show that I really wanted to love but just couldn’t. None of the characters came through for me. They all seem kinda… I dunno, simplistic and two-dimensional. I wish we could’ve spent more time with Akane, since this is really a story about her. She’s the only one with a complete character arc. But due to her nature as the god of the world — and the story’s need to keep this major twist under wraps for as long as possible — we never got as close to Akane as we should. Yuta/Gridman, on the other hand, is just the generic good guy.
Secondly, I could never really embrace the story. The revelations in the past few episodes don’t really bother me on their own. I just hate this practice of twiddling our thumbs for 75% of the series and backloading everything in the last 25%. As a result, so many episodes felt inconsequential. On paper, they were used to flesh out these characters’ motivations and personalities, but none of these attempts ended up being remotely memorable. You know what I remember from a lot of these episodes? The Assist Weapons’ introductions and what they contributed in battle. But as far as Yuta, Rikka, and Sho are concerned, I barely recall anything special about their friendship. For a typical anime conclusion where friendship ends up being the trump card, that’s not good enough.
I liked the action. The character and monster designs were decent, too. You can enjoy this show. I’m just disappointed.
Final grade: C