“What Is This Wavering Emotion?”
The gang track down and capture an immature Kaiju, but Gauma fails to keep his eye on it, leading to an attack on a shopping mall where Chise and Yume are hanging out.
This is a notably lower key, lower stakes episode after last week’s big emotional, action-packed conclusion, but that’s not a bad thing by any means. So much of Dynazenon‘s strength has come from its character work, so a chance to spend some more time with those characters outside of battle is both pleasant and gives us the opportunity for some fine comedy moments, particularly concerning Gauma’s haplessness and the Eugenicists’ grand day out.
At the same time though, this episode is asking one of the more interesting mysteries that has been swirling around Dynazenon since it began, namely ‘What is the nature of the Kaiju which keep appearing?’. We’ve been told repeatedly that Kaiju are ‘born from human emotion’ but that raises another obvious question: whose emotion? In SSSS.Gridman that was a simple answer that was only briefly hidden – the monsters reflected the psyche of mad god Akane Shinjo, and were given form by the power of Alexis Kerib. No analogue for either character exists here (that we know of at least) and the closest thing Dynazenon has to traditional antagonists, the Kaiju Eugenicists, have already made it perfectly clear that they aren’t responsible for the presence of the monsters. Somebody is responsible though, as the first episode showed a human hand scattering the ‘pearls’ which Kaiju grow from, and Anosillus notes that while Kaiju are born and grow through human emotion, they still require a ‘source’ to begin with.
Knowing all of that makes this week’s Kaiju an even greater enigma than it appears on the surface. It’s clearly a useless, unthreatening presence whose sole power of painting things appears better suited to mild mischief than city-wrecking domination. Even Sizumu, who has constantly been shown to be the most empathetic towards the Kaiju and can ‘hear’ their voices, declares it a failure and doesn’t mention it to the others at all. The key line here is Knight’s, who observes that the monster may be weak and incomplete because in some way the human it was born from is weak and incomplete. That’s a fascinating idea, but at no point does the show offer even the slightest hint of who this human may be. None of the existing cast seem to fit, particularly since the Kaiju growing overnight should theoretically correspond with a change in the state of the person it was born from. Thus the puzzle feels frustratingly incomplete, which is no doubt the point, but does make the plot thread seem a little orphaned.
The last facet of this focus on Kaiju is Yomogi’s musing about them having hearts, and whether they deserve the destruction that Dynazenon has been visiting upon them. In particular it’s worth looking over his conversation with Knight, as it’s rich with multiple layers of meaning. The foremost is of course a level of dramatic irony apparent only to the viewer, as we know that Knight and Anosillus are examples of the very sort of ‘kaiju with hearts’ that Yomogi is speculating about. It’s also an illuminating look into Knight’s mindset – while he doesn’t deny that some Kaiju have hearts, he considers the balance of risk too great to hold back or show any mercy. There’s a decent argument to be made that this makes him a huge hypocrite, as it’s only through the restraint of Gridman that he himself lived long enough to switch sides, but it’s also difficult to argue with him too much given what we see in the episode itself. This Kaiju seems non-malicious even while giant, but by attempting to climb the mall building it’s clearly endangering hundreds of lives, intentionally or not. The message the show seems to be trying to impart here is that in any fight you’re going to have to hurt someone, so you have to decide which side you value more, most obviously expressed in the rapid cross-cuts between the Kaiju’s third eye and Yume’s face. The third eye represents the Kaiju’s newly confirmed (to us and Yomogi at least) sentience, and the implication is obvious – you have to choose which one of the two you want to live. While Yomogi doesn’t hesitate, it’s clear the decision takes a toll on him, and that’s nicely acknowledged in the sweet final scene between him and Yume, where she recognises his actions have once again bought them a little closer.
The final interesting question this episode opens and then leaves hanging is what exactly is going on with Yomogi and the Kaiju. His ability to use Instance Domination (well, kind of) would seem to indicate that he’s related in some way to the Eugenicists, while Gauma’s inability to do so suggests that either his powers as a Kaiju User have deteriorated or, more tantalisingly, that he never had them to begin with. We’ve not got a lot of information to go on so there’s not much informed speculation we can do, but I will say that the franchise has history with protagonists being not all they seem, and ‘the monsters were people all along!’ is a time honoured and lovingly followed toku trope. Opening up more questions is indicative of Dynazenon‘s thematic richness up to this point, but we’re going to have to start getting answers in the near future for it all to have been worth it.
- This episode reveals that what was in the bag Inamoto and Koyomi found was…an extremely large amount of money. That’s certainly scary on one level, but I’m convinced there’s more there to be uncovered.
- Extremely awkward bus rides between two people is another thematic callback to SSSS.Gridman, where it was Rikka and Akane making the journey.
- Anosillus drawing on the pavement with chalk is another SSSS.Gridman callback, as she did the same thing in that show as a child.
- The brief shots of the Kaiju ‘pearl’ show it surrounded by a multicoloured framework that strongly resembles the Computer World aesthetic from previous Gridman shows. It’s also been seen whenever the Kaiju have been dismembered or otherwise wounded up to this point.
- The shot of the Eugenicists waking up after spending the night in the arcade seems to imply that Sizumu doesn’t sleep. In the previous episode he himself said that “Real Kaiju users don’t sleep”.
- The movie the Eugenicists watch is, appropriately, a very blatant copy of Ultraman.
- Dyna Soldier transforming into a bazooka is a shoutout to the Dragon Cannon from Gridman the Hyper Agent, which first appeared in episode 19 alongside the mummy and the dragon statue which we talked about back in the episode 2 & 3 writeup. It even shoots flames in the same way.
- Knight turning and his sword hitting the railing is for some reason incredibly funny to me.
- Boy, that pearl Chise’s been carrying about sure is beginning to look like a dragon-shaped thing huh?