Blu-Ray Review: SSSS Gridman – The Complete Series

Gridman always arrives on the scene to save the day, but what does this SSSS variation of the 1980’s live-action series have to offer? Let’s take a look at SSSS Gridman – The Complete Series and find out.

Synopsis:

Yuta Hibiki can’t remember who he is, and now he’s seeing and hearing things that others don’t! A voice from an old computer tells him to remember his calling, and he sees a massive, unmoving creature in the distance. Nothing’s making sense—until the behemoth springs to life! Suddenly, Yuta is pulled into the digital world, reappearing in the real one as the colossal hero—Gridman!

Our View:

Adapted from the Japanese live-action Tokusatsu series Denkou Choujin Gridman, otherwise known as Ultraman in its localised form, SSSS Gridman is the anime series that attempts to recreate the essence of the 1980’s sci-fi action drama series that sees humans of some form battle against monstrous kaiju.

In terms of recreating the atmosphere of the original, and that of a weekend children’s show, then SSSS Gridman accomplishes what it set out to create; but at the same time I cant help but feel a bit disheartened by the overall pacing and direction of the series – as it all ends rather abruptly with no clear reasoning behind its existence.

SSSS Gridman follows the journey of Yuta Hibiki; a seemingly normal person that wakes up with no memory of his past exploits, who accepts the power of Grimand in order to defeat Kaiju that appear within the city. At first this story starts off on one of self-discovery, with Yuta interacting with class-mates Shō Utsumi and Rikka Takarada in hopes of regaining his memory; but in doing so learns more about the abnormalities within the world he resides within. Those abnormalities being Kaiju appearing within the city, a mysterious fog that covers everything and seemingly non-moving Kaiju deep in the background.

Disregarding these elements for awhile the main focus within SSSS Grimand is Yuta helping out Gridman in an attempt to destroy the Kaiju that appear and – as with any weekend children’s show – each episode sees a new enemy threat take centre stage with each fight being more extravagant than the next. It’s here that the predictable pattern of new team members arrive, with Neon Genesis Junior High Students (or Hyper Agents), providing their support to Gridman through the use of powerful upgrades. Once again it becomes a rinse and repeat process with very little in the way of a developing story… that is until the final few episodes arrive.

In the closing stages of the series things take a more interesting turn. Firstly a love interest between Yuta and Rikka begins to surface, with Yuta being oblivious to the fact, the purple haired classmate Akane Shinjō is declared a god of the world they reside within and Kaiju creation Anti develops a human personality that turns him into Grid Knight; a protector of Gridman. What do these revelations mean exactly; it’s hard to say but they do help progress the story forward to its climatic ending between Gridman and the puppeteer Alexis Kerib.

For me SSSS Gridman starts slow and ends fast, with question being left unanswered and the prospect of future unclear. The world, a seeming fake, and the characters that reside within left to the decision of their maker. Unclear, but satisfyingly entertaining at the same time… and that’s what’s even more frustrating. If you enjoyed the original live-action show, or even the Mega-Zord elements from Sentai Rangers (Power Rangers) then you’ll enjoy what SSSS Gridman has to offer.

Extras:

Disappointingly the only bonus feature included in this Blu-Ray release of SSSS Gridman is an Interview with the English Dub cast of the series. It is surprising that this is the only addition, especially as FUNimation releases are known for including textless opening and closing songs as well as the occasional trailer for other products; with the latter depending on who authors the disc.

Although it is a disappointing selection of supplementary material, especially if you wanted to explore the origins of the series or see more of its Japanese material; the English Dub cast interview does provide some insightful moments. Not solely for voice acting within a recording booth, of which they do discuss, but more so in their knowledge of the Gridman / Ultra franchise and the research that went into producing the English Dub. Naturally if you plan on watching SSSS Gridman in English Dubbed form then it is worth exploring this bonus feature on the second disc; as it is a nice inclusion with a few surprises in store for those unfamiliar with the franchise.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 2:48:27 (Disc 1), 2:02:35 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) & Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

SSSS Gridman recreates the spark of the original live-action-series in the form of an anime and by doing so brings a new generation, and potentially a new auidience, an insight into the Gridman and Ultra series that became popular in Japan. Sadly those looking for an ever-developing storyline positive reactions and over-the-top fights, as this is animated by STUDIO TRIGGER, will be disappointed. The story within SSSS Gridman follows Yuta Kiba who, after awakening with no memories, finds himself recruited to be a Hyper Agent and take on the form of Gridman in order to stop Kaiju they run rampant within the city.

As each passing episode goes new Kaiju appear with Yuta, in the form of Grimand, being tasked at stopping them and in doing so stronger enemies appear with back-up for gridman arriving in the form of the Hyper Agents. These agents provide ‘assistance’ to Gridman by powering up his base skills through robot transformations and – as with most series of this type – each episode focusing on a specific new transformation type.

This continues until the truth surrounding the world that Yuta and his friends inhabit, of which sparks some disarray within the group – but naturally they all pull together to take down the enemy for a final time. Its a very simplistic story that offers nostalgia to those of the original franchise (or even Power Rangers); but at the same time offers very little in character development other than unveiling someones real agenda… in this case Akane Shinjō’s obsession with creating Kaiju.

SSSS Gridman is a series that presented well, animated beautifully and has a strong English Cast to bring the characters on screen to life; but sadly it does not offer a memorable experience other than than the opening first episode. The fights, which naturally have been animated superbly well by STUDIO TRIGGER, end all too quickly and the pacing of the series leaves much to be desired within its repetitive approach.

Fortunately the same animated scenes are not repeated throughout, something which other series would tend to do; but naturally my thoughts on the overall series is that it could have been presented in a better way with a more developing story line other than the Kaiju are attacking with Akane being the creator and mastermind behind the attacks.

For instance the realisation of the world being fake (or mdde by Akane) is quickly overshadowed by the threat of Kaiju; and the discovery of Yuta being Gridman doesn’t have the impact it deserves either. SSSS Gridman is a respectably well animated series, with a strong English cast, but it does nothing to stray from the norm.

Score: review-stars-3

SSSS Gridman – The Complete Series will be available on Blu-Ray from the 3rd February 2020.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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