This week’s episode of SSSS.Dynazenon opens with a lavish tease: An abstract illustration of the long-speculatory nature of Chise’s issues and withdrawal. There’s a lot of stuff here that was easy to guess at, in terms of her being ostracised or excluded from her peers at school, but the exact details continue to remain as sparse as the backgrounds in this dream sequence. Was there any reason other than a teenage-typical lack of understanding and communication? Is the butterfly mark we see on her arm the specific thing she’s been hiding under her sleeve, or is it simply something she drew on as another layer of concealment? Our trauma and baggage has layers, and while new friendships are one thing that can help us scale those out of our shell, there are other outlets for growth as well. In this case, this episode sees Chise discover the joys of pet ownership!
SSSS.Dynazenon is just that kind of slow-burn show, so after several episodes of it growing, Chise’s Kaiju source has developed into a fully-fledged version of one of the creatures. Now there’s a baby kaiju to take care of, with the question of whether it’s safe despite not directly attacking anyone yet, so someone needs to keep an eye on it and– Hey, didn’t we just do this plot last week? Dynazenon‘s nothing if not all about establishing repeating themes, motifs, and structures (many of them carried over directly from SSSS.Gridman), so it fits that the previous episode was meant as a ‘dry run’ for the idea of Kaiju caregiving. Chise already knows there’s potential for the monsters to be reined in by human companionship, which explains her decision to keep and bond with the adorable Goldburn, and she even tries to properly interrogate and follow up the point with the rest of the Dynazenon crew. Of course, communication in these shows can rarely be so clear-cut.
Apart from Chise being unable to spit out the secret of the Kaiju she’s lugging around in a suitcase, communication breakdowns form the cornerstone of a lot of the drama the characters have to overcome in this episode. Yume and Yomogi still can’t seem to get on the same page when it comes to advancing their relationship (something Yume’s friend Mei calls her out on). Far from figuring out whether they want to go to a fireworks festival together and how much of a group activity each would prefer it to be, their real stumble comes from a dashed chance at more information in their quest to learn the truth about Kano. Yume finally gets to question her sister’s ex-boyfriend Futaba, the person closest to her who should have been able to confirm how she was being bullied and the ways it led to her suicide, and…he has almost nothing for her. Futaba was unaware of the exact hardships Kano was facing; he won’t even believe that her death was a suicide he could have helped her away from, and just to twist the knife further, we can spot a wedding ring on his finger. Yume’s last possible connection to her sister has himself moved on, only generally recognizing Yume’s need to find answers, and setting her back to square one in all the efforts she’s made to move past her trauma.
That whole section is an appreciably relatable, but still rough scene to watch. SSSS.Dynazenon‘s never been one to shy away from awkwardly realistic conversational pauses, but there’s never been anything as vicious as this, where a seething Yume contemplates how all her efforts may have been for nothing, and that she’ll never actually get answers. And it’s with this that Dynazenon plays a funny little trick on us in the audience. Because we had been as invested in uncovering the secrets of Kano’s trauma as Yume and Yomogi. It informed their own issues which we were also trained to regard as the interest point of this show’s plotting, as it was similarly structured around the issues being confronted by others, like this episode’s similarly focal Chise. But as I’ve noted a couple times, we haven’t made much progress on uncovering these as we might have liked. Even with that opening flashback, Chise’s issues remain unclear. Yomogi’s problems have only been briefly visited. Hell, we still don’t even have full context for Gauma’s turnaround from the Kaiju Eugenicists (though Juuga sure comes off like a jilted ex-boyfriend this episode, doesn’t he?). At this point, it would be easy to become frustrated ourselves, to push the show to spill all the details. But is that the healthiest approach? It’s easy, and more common in media to mine the issues faced by characters in their past for tragedy porn points, but this series doesn’t see the value in that. It’s consistent as well; recall that the source of Akane Shinjou’s own hang-ups was left pointedly nebulous for all that they were central to the conflict of SSSS.Gridman. SSSS.Dynazenon directly parallels that, with Chise only momentarily considering destroying her former school (as Akane did in her first episode) or meeting with Yume on top of the flood gate as they contemplate their defining issues (mirroring Rikka and Akane at the end of Gridman). The particulars of the tragedies that befall us are not our most interesting features, and it’s what we do moving forward with positive connections that can best define us.
And connections are what Dynazenon so enthusiastically demonstrates this week. Yomogi’s impulsive attack on Goldburn isn’t framed as a motivation for some tragic misunderstanding battle; it’s instead called out by Chise as an example of a connection Yume has that can save her the way her sister wasn’t. Yomogi’s arrival is itself a direct recreation of the symbology of Gridman coming to rescue Akane in the previous series. Gauma sending Yomogi back after Yume in the first place appreciably mirrors the dressing-down he gave Yume on Yomogi’s behalf back in the first episode. And Yume’s connection to Chise is what allows her to be saved from the exact fate that befell Kano, thanks to Goldburn and the acceptance of him the others have as a part of Chise. That last success is a sound rejection of the human-heart-powered monster mechanics the Kaiju of Dynazenon have worked on until now: Chise doesn’t double back into her trauma to need the others to eventually save her from herself, but rather uses her emotions, good and bad, which fueled this creature to make it into a loyal friend she can rely on. Dynazenon can hammer home these concepts repeatedly in dozens of variations, but it’s such strong conceptual storytelling that I’ll keep coming back for it every time, even more so as it uses them as an articulation of why the particulars of someone’s past trauma isn’t the most important part of knowing and accepting them.
The intricate overlapping connections of SSSS.Dynazenon even deftly fold into fueling its always-entertaining mecha action. Anti’s own outreach to Akane at SSSS.Gridman‘s climax is repaid in kind here by Dynazenon, the acceptance of him and Chise manifesting as he, the mecha, and Goldburn net a glorious new combination into, *inhale*, Super Dragon King Kaiser Gridknight (and I’ll remind you that I totally called way back at the beginning of the show that Chise would end up commanding an upgrade unit partway into the show, so hey!). This is a robot with a laser cape that fights by leaping between anti-gravity-suspended building chunks – this show is good as hell. It’s these kinds of more tangible action rewards, alongside simple pleasures like seeing everyone get to go to their own little fireworks party at the end, that sells the value of all those converging connections. These kids haven’t fully gotten over their scars yet, and they might never. But they’re definitively shown to have and accept each other, and because of that, for the time being, they’re going to be alright.
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.