Original Run: April 2, 2021 - June 18, 2021 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Action, Mecha, Science Fiction
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for SSSS.Dynazenon. Reader discretion is advised.***
Sometimes, a simple helping hand can have great, unforeseen consequences. While out walking, Yomogi Asanaka (voiced by Junya Enoki) comes across a starving man named Gauma (voiced by Daiki Hamano). Yomogi offers up what little food he has on him, and Gauma swears to return the favor.
Later that night, Yomogi is stood up when he goes to meet Yume Minami (voiced by Shion Wakayama), who has a history of breaking promises. Gauma tracks Yume down and demands she go and keep her word. Hearing the commotion, Yomogi finds the two arguing. Then, at that moment, the unthinkable occurs.
A massive kaiju appears and begins destroying the city. Jumping into action, a small package on Gauma’s person activates. There is a blinding flash of light, and Gauma, Yomogi, and Yuma find themselves enveloped in its brightness.
Meanwhile, cousins Koyomi Yamanaka and Chise Asukagawa (voiced respectively by Yuuichirou Umehara and Chika Anzai) happen to be passing by. Seeing the kaiju, the two make a run for it, but Koyomi stumbles. Like Gauma, Yomogi, and Yuma, the light consumes Koyomi.
They don’t yet know it, but these four are the pilots for the kaiju fighting robot Dynazenon. It is now up to them to save the world from destruction.
I did not expect to like SSSS.Dynazenon (Dynazenon) as much as I did. Although this series is from my favorite anime studio, Trigger, I can’t say I felt any real excitement towards it.
To start, Dynazenon is the second installment in the, so call, Gridman Universe, with the first being 2018’s SSSS.Gridman (Gridman). Although I reviewed Gridman favorably, and Anime Haime honored the show’s Akane Shinjou as the 4th best character of 2018, it wasn’t something that stuck with me for the four years between its and Dynazenon’s releases. I certainly didn’t think it would be the beginning of an anime franchise.
Additionally, I am not a huge fan of the mecha genre. Giant fighting robots don’t have much of an appeal for me. Although I will highlight these types of series with as open a mind as possible, they rarely spark any form of anticipation in me.
So while Dynazenon had the Trigger label, which piqued my interest to be sure, it was far from a guarantee I would find this series enjoyable.
However, enjoyable was precisely what we got.
Dynazenon’s greatest strength was its characters. Our lead group – Gauma, Yomogi Asanaka, Yume Minami, Koyomi Yamanaka, and Chise Asukagawa – made this show fun. Although none of these main five stood out on their own – though, admittedly, Gauma was pretty damn memorable – that didn’t matter. As a unit, they were this show’s best feature.
Two factors turned Team Dynazenon into what it was:
- The writing
- The voice acting
Dynazenon had that unmistakable Trigger dry humor. Without sacrificing an ounce of tension or thrills, many Trigger anime know how to be incredibly funny, and this one was no different. Was this series a laugh-out-loud comedy? No. However, it wasn’t a straight-edge drama either. And considering this was a show about a bright red fighting robot, the kind you might find in a toy store, not taking things too seriously was definitely the right call.
Nevertheless, none of the main characters’ had easy lives. They each had dark patches in their history.
- Yomogi was looking at the possibility of a near-stranger becoming his new dad.
- Yume was trying to come to terms with the death of her older sister.
- Koyomi and Chise were firm shut-ins who found excuse after excuse to not go to work and school, respectively.
- Gauma…well, Gauma’s backstory is much more spoiler-filled than the rest, so I’ll leave it at that.
To showcase this point, there was a great episode where a kaiju transported people back to critical crossroads in their memories. This episode played with the idea of what might have happened had our main characters chosen route B instead of route A. For all this show’s silliness, Dynazenon sure knew how to do somber well, too.
Of course, the face-value selling point for this series was the kaiju versus giant robot action. And yet, what Dynazenon delivered was a much more human story. It was hard to hate these characters; they had personalities that felt relatable.
Helping to achieve this standard were the stellar performances from all Dynazenon’s voice actors. Much like this show’s writing, atmosphere, and presentation, the actors found an outstanding balance between total investment towards what was happening and deadpan aloofness.
Perhaps the best way for me to explain how solid Dynazenon was, is for me to reiterate and make absolutely clear:
I normally do not give a crap about mecha anime.
Part of this stance comes from the giant robots themselves. I would say nine times out of ten, battle mechs are visually uninteresting to me. Show me a picture of a mech from any anime, and there is a high probability I’ll call it a Gundam and leave it at that. Heck, our titular Dynazenon fell into the same camp; the first thing I will forget about this series is the robot.
But the thing is, Dynazenon didn’t rely on its mech. It relied on its characters. Therefore, even for a non-fan like me, this show’s action held my attention. I wanted to see and root for Yomogi, Yume, Koyomi, Chise, and Gauma. Their climactic battle had me on the edge of my seat. There is no doubt about it; this mecha anime had me invested.
For any series to do that, I would consider it a mission accomplished. But for it to happen in a show from a genre I couldn’t care less about, that’s a feat worth acknowledging.
Before I say anything else, I need to get this off my chest.
If you’re watching Dynazenon with headphones, do so at your own risk. Both Koyomi and Chise had this habit of bitting down on hard-candy lollipops, and the sound it made was one of the most god-awful noises I have ever heard in all my years of reviewing anime.
It wasn’t like it happened in every episode. But, it happened enough times (as in more than once) to be irritating.
That aside, the most significant issue I have with Dynazenon has less to do with aspects it didn’t do well and more to do with its place in this Gridman Universe.
Now, do you need to watch Gridman before watching Dynazenon? No. Although two characters in Dynazenon had roles in Gridman – Knight and the 2nd (voiced respectively by Kenichi Suzumura and Karin Takahashi) – any continuity between the two shows had little to no impact on this story.
Because of that, I can’t decide if this “connection” was a wasted opportunity or a pointless attempt to create a larger anime universe.
In short, I don’t know what Trigger is trying to achieve.
Much like Gridman was before it, Dynazenon was good. The problem is, you’re not going to remember what happened in either series if a third installment should come one day, especially if it takes another four years.
Of course, it would be wrong if I ignored the fact Gridman was originally an early 90s television series, Gridman the Hyper Agent. I have never seen that show, but I can only assume the name “Gridman” has a fan-based attached to it. So maybe, there were actually a ton of super cool Easter eggs sprinkled throughout Dynazenon.
However, and I can be wrong, this is a nostalgia that I can’t imagine is in high demand. Therefore, if there are any more chapters in the Gridman Universe, they better release sooner rather than later.
It’s always a nice feeling when coming across a good surprise. This series was very much a good surprise.
I won’t act as if this show was brilliant; it wasn’t. Still, it was so much better than I initially thought it was going to be.
Sporting a solid cast, fantastic writing, and fun action, this was another quality product from Trigger.
SSSS.Dynazenon has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise SSSS.Dynazenon? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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