SSSS.DYNAZENON Episode 4

“What Is This Thumping Heart?”

Yomogi is thinking about getting closer to Yume, but he’s distracted by the one-two punch of one of the Kaiju Eugenicists showing up in his class, and a nasty cold that forces him out of action.

Zigg’s Thoughts

Now that we’ve made it to episode 4, Dynazenon is firmly in mid-show territory, where stories are more likely to be weekly one-shots than have long-lasting plot ramifications. This is often somewhat uncharitably classed as ‘filler’ and it certainly can be, but in the right hands these slower episodes can be fertile ground for building out your characters and world. Fortunately, Dynazenon is in the right hands and this episode shows it.

Ostensibly this is an episode that’s focused on Yomogi, and he does indeed get the lion’s share of time dedicated to him, but what’s heartening is how the team at Trigger use the runtime to build up almost every character, even if it’s only for a few seconds or a single scene. Something like Gauma’s attempted school invasion is a great laugh for sure, but it also shows how fiercely against the Eugenicists he is, in contrast to Yomogi and Yume’s increased willingness to listen to what Sizumu has to say. Likewise, Chise’s abortive attempt to act as Dyna Soldier pilot is mostly played for comedy, but it also communicates some important things about her character, her determination, and how maybe she’s a little ambitious relative to her ability. It may be small potatoes compared to the bigger stuff happening, but it’s nice to see the writers continue to treat Dynazenon as a true ensemble piece.

The real meat of this episode though is definitely in the Yomogi-Yume relationship, and how it’s evolving as time goes by. Writing about teens with crushes is hard, because it’s such well worn territory and anime has done it so much that over time, even the subversions and deconstructions of the classic cliches have themselves become cliches. I think this is a pretty good stab at it though, with the show nailing the swirling uncertainties and awkward feeling out process of trying to come to terms with your own feelings while observing somebody else’s. Crucially, there’s no real breakthrough moment here, no big confession or sudden epiphany. Instead, we get something much more realistic, which is a very small step forward between the two of them, as friends and confidantes. It’s no surprise that Dynazenon excels at this very restrained, nuanced style of interpersonal relationship given that a similar dynamic existed in SSSS.Gridman between Yuta and Rikka, and the echoes of that we see here no doubt are entirely deliberate.

Despite Yomogi remaining our main viewpoint character, this is also a strong episode for Yume, as it digs a little further into the history of her sister and also allows us to see more of her at her best. I’m a big fan of the way the show is maintaining her stoic outward personality but giving us fun little hints that there’s a more dynamic character underneath, like the brief scene in the karaoke booth, or the enjoyably daft idea of using Dyna Wing to make sure you arrive at school on time. It’s still clearly a work in progress, as her initial reluctance to bother visiting Yomogi makes clear, but she’s opening up to him (and by extension the audience) bit by bit. It might be a little frustrating that there’s no real progress on her quest to know her sister, but I see it as another extension of the show’s more down-to-earth pacing. Kanae’s memories of Kano are non-specifically pleasant in the way that many people remember old friends who left their lives years ago, and her vague remembrances both add verisimilitude to Dynazenon‘s world and keeps this subplot bubbling under for future installments.

The final thing I want to talk about is the one which probably has the most long-term ramifications for the show, at least as far as the main plot is concerned. Sizumu’s conversation with Yomogi and Yume about the nature of kaiju is, as to be expected, deliberately sketchy and unclear, but it’s still insightful in many ways. The last couple of episodes made it fairly obvious that the Eugenicists were not responsible for the appearance of the kaiju, but it’s nice to have it fully confirmed here. Beyond that, Sizumu strongly connects the existence of the kaiju to people, saying they’re born from people’s wills and exist to ‘free’ people from whatever binds them. There’s no direct implication that the kaiju once were people but it would hardly be unprecedented – tokusatsu has a long history of monsters born from people, and it was even a concept SSSS.Gridman toyed with before ultimately throwing it out as a red herring. Juuga even mentions that Sizumu has the power to “hear kaijus’ voices”, which doesn’t seem like something you’d say about mindlessly rampaging beasts of destruction. All we can do is speculate for now, but it seems Dynazenon is already intent on tying its monsters deeply to its underlying themes, and that’s doubtless going to be an exciting path to follow.

Random Observations

  • Reprised locations from SSSS.Gridman: The ‘Starbows’ coffee shop, the karaoke booth, the school rooftop.
  • Give a raise to whoever had to foley the sound of Yomogi’s wet feet in trainers.
  • A couple of pieces of classic hardware show up in this episode – Chise is playing games with the very unique Namco NeGcon controller, while the headphones in Yomogi’s room are Sony MDR-7506s, easily identifiable by their distinctive blue label.
  • The CCTV footage of the kaiju shows a set of GPS co-ordinates which, if located on an actual map, point to Toho Studios in Setagaya, Tokyo. Toho is of course the home of Godzilla, and consequently the tokusatsu genre as a whole.
  • When rescuing Chise, Yomogi remarks that he doesn’t want to ‘go to another memorial’. Who was the first one for, and does it have something to do with why he’s a shut-in?
  • One of my favourite jokes in this episode is that not a single shot from the ‘Burst Missile Kick’ actually manages to hit the target.
  • Contrary to my theory from last week, it’s pretty clear here that Onija nearly dying from kaiju fallout is just meant to be a joke.

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