After a confrontation with the newly arrived Gridknight Alliance breaks down, the Dynazenon team must patch up their differences if they’re to stand a chance against the Eugenicists’ Kaiju.
In a sense, this episode is more notable for what doesn’t happen than what does. What I mean by that is that, given the cliffhanger that last episode ended on, you would expect this one to be packed full of shocking reveals and world-shattering confrontations. It isn’t. Instead, our team resolve their issues and deal with the emergence of Gridknight through the very mundane practice of talking to each other. In other words, this is another example of Dynazenon forgoing flash and bluster for good old-fashioned slow burn character work, and it’s much the better for it.
Let’s address our old friend Anti first though, because it’s his appearance which is the catalyst which triggers much of the other interactions which happens in the episode. Anti’s original arc in SSSS.Gridman was all about finding himself as an individual, distinct from his creator and her agenda. In that spirit I’m really pleased to see the creative team have allowed his growth to continue ‘off screen’ and that the character we see here has grown not only physically but also emotionally from the one we saw at the end of Gridman‘s run. This Anti, or ‘Knight’ as he now seems to prefer, is still spiky, stand-offish and has little patience for fools. But he’s also wiser, more understanding, and more forgiving than his past self. Notice how quickly he twigs that all is not well within the Dynazenon team, or how he’s happy to step in once it’s clear they’re united as a team again. The odd couple chemistry with Anosillus the 2nd works very well and overall I’m super interested to see how the two of them will integrate into the setup going forward.
One of the things that I’ve preached fairly consistently in my writing over the years is that you have to allow your characters room to make mistakes, because seeing how they recover from those mistakes is important in making them fully rounded personalities. I think Dynazenon does a really good job on that front in this episode, and the result is we’re even closer to the cast than before. Koyomi’s moment of indecision and redemption is more obviously presented, but it’s no less effective for that, and it’s clever how the show uses his own words to twist him around to doing the right thing. His later conversation with Gauma might actually be my favourite scene in the whole episode, so well written and effective it is. Although Gauma’s largely been characterised as your standard hot-blooded idiot, this scene beautifully underplays his reaction to indicate that he’s got hidden depths. Notably he avoids probing into any of the details behind Koyomi’s statement, instead being sure to offer congratulations on a difficult action before offering advice that’s vague enough for plausible deniability, but direct enough that it’s obvious he understands exactly what the other man is driving at. Connecting their backstories is not something I’d ever have thought of but works surprisingly well and reminds us there’s a fundamental element of tragedy to Gauma that’s lurking under the skin. A terrific example of ‘less is more’ storytelling writ large.
The situation with Yume and Yomogi is a little more ambiguous, in that there’s no real venom to their disagreement, and nobody is really to blame. It’s just two people whose complex feelings have caused their communication become tangled, something which happens all the time in real life. Yomogi probably shouldn’t be so blindly jealous of his not-relationship with Yume, but then Yume perhaps shouldn’t have frozen him out of a process she’d already invited him into. It’s understandable though, given the backstory she reveals here which further complicates the nature of her relationship with Kano. The key thing here is Yomogi’s reaction, which is extremely clumsy, muddled and incoherent. Normally those would be perjoratives, but here clever writing spins them into a really nice character moment. An inspired speech about friendship and compassion might be more typically heroic for this situation, but Yomogi’s far from a hero. He’s a dumb, overly earnest teen who’s bad in social situations at the best of times. But what breaking down in tears here is that even though he’s not capable of expressing it in words, he really does care deeply about her, almost to a fault. And, credit to Yume, she understands that and takes his outburst with wry good humour. Again it’s a low key moment that doesn’t have the narrative histrionics that one might normally associate with a big reconciliation, and it’s all the more powerful for it.
The recurring theme of teamwork and co-operation that defines this episode is even present on the villainous side. For the first time we get to see the Eugenicists together in their ‘downtime’ so to speak, and Mujina and Onija even get a decent heart-to-heart moment that seems a deliberate parallel to Yume and Yomogi’s later scene. Even as their kaiju is defeated the Eugenicists don’t seem too downhearted, and we get the strong impression that just as the Dynazenon team have come through with their bonds reinforced, so their opponents have as well. This episode was perhaps the best instalment of Dynazenon yet, a masterclass of nuanced, confident character writing, and an extremely promising portent for things to come.
- Gridknight’s new look is strongly reminiscent of Samurai Calibur from SSSS.Gridman, which makes sense since the two characters shared a lot of development together. His suit lapel also has a purple flame on it to match his unique attire from that show, and he still has the blue right eye he gained at the very end of it.
- Anosillus the 2nd meanwhile wears a treble clef-shaped brooch, a callback to her t-shirt of the same design in SSSS.Gridman. In turn, that was a reference back to Compoid Unison, a digital human from episode 6 of Gridman the Hyper Agent who assisted Gridman in rescuing monster-of-the-week Anosillus from mind control. Yes, the same Anosillus who cameoed in SSSS.Gridman and was implied to be Anosillus the 2nd’s father. Presumably we can infer that Compoid Unison was her mother.
- When Anosillus the 2nd uses the Fixer Beam, the baton twirl is a perfect recreation of Compoid Unison’s in the aforementioned Hyper Agent episode.
- Gridknight and Anosillus call themselves the ‘Gridknight Alliance’, an obvious homage to Yuta, Rikka and Sho from SSSS.Gridman who called themselves the ‘Gridman Alliance’.
- The shot of Yume and Yomogi standing on the roof railings at the end is a mirror of one in the previous episode…except this time, they’re much closer to each other.
- Boy that Kaiju…thing Chise has been carrying about sure looks like it’s growing huh?
- This episode continues to leave the location we’re in ambiguous. There are multiple references to kaiju appearing in ‘a’ world however, which seems to imply that there’s a lot of them out there. The Eugenicists also refer to Gridknight and Anosillus as ‘irregulars’ in a way which strongly suggests they’re familiar with the concept from earlier encounters.