SSSS.Dynazenon‘s primary focus on intimate interconnected character relationships has done wonders for it so far as a slow-burn character drama spiced up with regular robot rumbles. But as the show heads into its last third, the bigger picture of how everything around these people works will have to be addressed. Granted, I’m never one to prefer to prioritize world-building over character and conceptual work, and Dynazenon’s done extremely well so far just selling its setting on atmosphere. But a lot of the mechanics of the show’s mecha and monsters do tie in deeply to its themes, so expanding on them is still a good idea at this point. It’s not all-in on those kinds of revelations just yet; The appearance of Anti and Anosillus last episode all but confirmed that the events we’ve seen so far take place in the ‘computer world’ which also served as SSSS.Gridman‘s setting, but I needed not mention it because the show itself is uninterested in the existential implications of that. We already confirmed back in that prior show that the denizens of cyberspace counted as ‘real’ people with their own lives to go about. And so SSSS.Dynazenon is free to turn its questions of humanity on other elements of its virtual world.
The driving character arcs aren’t forgotten, of course, as this episode runs up to its more elaborate explanations of electronic elements. We get clarification of what Koyomi and Inamoto found all those years ago: A duffel bag full of money! And Yume and Yomogi seemingly lose a lead they’re following up on Kano, at least for the moment. These past pursuits stall out early in the episode, as our heroes question where to go next, framed literally as a repeating question of wanting to ‘go somewhere’ together. It’s an innocuous yet important request, putting the onus on the invitee to decide how to move forward, and we see how the decision’s responsibility sent Koyomi running away in the past, while Yume stays frozen in her indecision as she’s still not really considering the implications of Yomogi coming along with her on this. That is, until the very end of this episode, when Yume realizes that Yomogi has his own personal weights he’s carrying, which couldn’t be properly felt until the characters and ourselves got a better idea of how everything in SSSS.Dynazenon‘s world worked together.
The show has been slowly teasing out the exact origins of Kaiju across its run, with this one fully confirming the suspicions they’d planted previously: Those little gem things that were scattered at the beginning are ‘Kaiju sources’, fed and nurtured by human emotions until they grow into the monsters proper. Yes, the one Chise picked up earlier is continuing to manifest into a clear creature, but the gang also stumbles across another one stuck in an early-grown state. Already there’s an interesting tie-in with the overall franchise‘s monster mechanics. Onija remarked last episode that Kaiju here aren’t meant for settling petty grudges, the way both Takeshi and Akane utilized them in the parent Gridman shows. But the fact that Kaiju still feed and grow off of the resonance of human feelings fits them into that framework regardless. They’re still expressions of humanity, and in the case that they no longer act out on those expressions in directly destructive ways until they’re forced to by the Kaiju Eugenicists, where does that leave their individual reason for existing?
In SSSS.Gridman‘s third episode, Yuta struggled with fighting against that week’s Kaiju as he questioned whether it might actually be a human. Such a situation is a semi-common stock stumbling block for heroes in transforming tokusatsu television, and was resolved there in SSSS.Gridman‘s expectedly direct, communicative way: Yuta simply asked the Kaiju if it was actually human, and upon getting ‘No’ as an answer, proceeded to go ahead and defeat it. The irony of the whole exercise being that said Kaiju was Anti, someone whose status as a ‘human’ is dubious even at this point, but who still definitively counts as a ‘person’. Anti himself gets to round back to that contemplation in this week’s episode of SSSS.Dynazenon, as Yomogi questions him about the agency and existential rights of Kaiju. Anti of course knows that some Kaiju, at least, do have hearts, and expresses as much, though he stops short of confessing his own true nature to Yomogi. There’s a question of if doing so would only make Yomogi question his role of defeating Kaiju to protect people more, especially in light of how things are handled by this episode’s end.
It does create a dramatic irony for us, as viewers who have that information anyway. The previous assertion by the Eugenicists that Kaiju exist solely for killing all of humanity was soundly disproven in that previous episode by the mere appearance of Anti and Anosillus, two Kaiju who absolutely don’t exist for that reason. There’s an amusing awkward silence from the two partway through this episode when the Dyanzenon pilots question the source of their understanding on all things Kaiju. But it also highlights the central conflict at the heart of this week’s episode, in the small, incomplete Kaiju whose activities are mostly harmless, which the groups can’t decide what to do with in light of it simply existing. The ambiguity of human connections and relationships has been where all the complications exist for characters thus far, but now Yomogi is realizing that simply deciding to fight monsters in a monster-fighting series isn’t so clear-cut either. It’s a double-edged existential sword, as we see Yomogi as the only one among the group to actually connect with the Kaiju in their half-joking attempts to control it, Eugenicist-style, which just gives way to the point that his connection to it makes it harder for him to pull the trigger when the time comes. Yomogi’s desperate hope that the creature didn’t recognize him as the one who killed it is a fantastical translation of the all-too-real feeling for anyone who’s had to put down a pet.
Yomogi’s own character-development issues seemed to mostly exist in orbit around other characters, primarily Yume, for a while now. So saddling him with carrying this sort of weight is an effective way to remind us of his own agency among everyone else, as well foreground him again as a main character. And as he’s coming to an understanding of the more complex individuality of Kaiju, Yume also comes around to understanding him more as his own person. I appreciate the nuance of this development. It would have been easy to have Yume propelled into interest in Yomogi purely because he rescued her from the chaos of the Kaiju, but that’s barely an aspect of it in Dynazenon’s writing here. Instead, Yume realizes that Yomogi has his own set of issues he’s grappling with while continuing to offer his support to her and others. It forms a neat parallel with her understanding of why she’s pursuing her sister’s story in the first place, not wanting to miss out on connecting with what others were going through because she was so solely focused on resolving her own issues. Such as it is that she’s one to reach out with this episode’s recurring request to go somewhere together, and actually get an affirmative answer.
So this week’s episode of SSSS.Dynazenon did dive deeper into the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of world-building, yet somehow came out with what feels like the densest marriage yet of its themes with those mechanics. It definitely helps that it can now lean on prior-show elements embodied in Anti and Anosillus, but those understanding developments are present in simpler ways as well. The Kaiju this week pointedly not being controlled frees up the Eugenicists to have a day out, where we see cooperative controllers Mujina and Onija getting along better in spite of themselves. Their lazy Sunday vibes mesh with the more melancholy aspects of the pilots’ side of things, the show asking us to question and contemplate the monster-fighting conflicts that obligate this world. And then even that is punctuated with a procession of Dynazenon’s signature offbeat elements, from the crew jocularly trying to control the baby kaiju, to Koyomi waggling the fingers on the front of his robo-racecar, to new franchise fanservice in the form of Yomogi’s Dragonic-Cannon-style transformation. It means the show remains as brisk a watch as ever even as things become more dense and noticeably deliberate.
SSSS.Dynazenon is currently streaming on
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.