There are many proven and popular directors in the industry, and the biggest names in Trigger are Hiroyuki Imaishi and Yo Yoshinari, whose styles have determined the reputation of the studio. However, after SSSS.Gridman and SSSS.Dynazenon, everyone should know director Akira Amemiya. Amemiya’s past works seem to some to be secondary in Trigger’s repertoire, since he was the director of the comedic “Policeman from Inferno” and the openly hated “Ninja Killer”. However, their career as a key animator can be traced through many great Trigger/Gainax people and beyond, which makes their turn as a Gridman director quite interesting.
Many probably didn’t even know it was the same guy, since Gridman looks as colorful and attractive as any other popular Trigger work of the time. But as the show went on, it became clear that something had changed, and it wasn’t just that the story had unexpected twists for its characters. It was something different from a studio that people can usually rely on for something very familiar, and it was exciting.
Gridman’s initial noise seemed typical of the Trigger show, and in the end, it was pretty weird, but for different reasons than usual. Gridman talks about Yuta Hibiki, a boy with amnesia who realizes that he can talk to the hyperagent Gridman through an old computer in the store, which tells him that he needs to “remember his mission.”
When the kaiju begin to appear, Yuta must enter the TV to transform into Gridman and appear in the city to fight the Kaiju with the help of his friends. But he and his friends realize that the day after they fight Kaiju, the city returns to normal, completely corrected, and history is rewritten so that those who died are dead for various reasons.
The dark side of the trigger
A lot of things are going on, and many formulas are taken from the classic Japanese tokusatsu, of which Gridman is an old character. However, there is a darkness lurking beneath the surface that thickens as the show goes on, thanks in part to the story’s antagonist, Akane Shinjou.
Without much spoiler, Akane works in tandem with another antagonist to create a kaiju that will terrorize the city. At first it seems that Akane’s hatred of others is being manipulated to kill those she doesn’t like, but the truth is even more frightening. As an antagonist, she is frightening, but at the same time sad.
Gridman’s horror is elusive and mostly frightening when you consider the consequences, since not many visual effects portray death too clearly. By all accounts, this is a series that goes back to classic Japanese stories about the transformation of heroes, and then further deconstructs this format to squeeze everything out of it.
So Gridman takes what could have been primarily a humorous story and adds a very compelling drama played out in a very naturalistic style. The way the characters act is fundamentally different from how the performances take place in a more theatrical production, which Hiroyuki Imaishi usually puts on in “Trigger”.
Most of the action is done in computer graphics, which could be considered the central element of the program, and this is what probably pushes many away from this series and its continuation. Of course, there are excuses, such as the dissonance between 2D and 3D, reflecting the classic tokusatsu. In these shows, the action will be performed by actors in costumes in miniature cities.
Computer graphics are by no means disgusting and, frankly, much better than critics believe, but, in the end, the action of the fur is just an emotional return, not a key attraction. In truth, the draw of SSSS.Gridman is the characters, their injuries and baggage, as well as their relationships.
Three years after Gridman went off the air, director Amemia returned to direct Dynazenon, a sequel with a new cast, new gear and new villains, but with the same beating heart. It follows five strangers who combine to form the individual parts of a robot known as Dynazenon.
In fulfilling their mission to stop the eugenics Kaiju, each of them is dealing with their own personal concerns about becoming part of this big team. It’s not an original concept, but the characters and their individual baggage never seemed tired or formulaic. One of these stories is related to Yume’s attempts to find out how her sister died, whether it was suicide or something worse.
Enjoy the silence
When people think about Trigger, whether they love or hate the studio, they think about something loud and proud. The stories can be described as ruthless and energetic, fueled by pure emotions. But Akira Amemiya’s style is completely different. Even with the positively stellar soundtrack by Evangelion composer Shiro Sagisu, there are so many moments of silence in it.
Back when there were soulful and human writing moments, a big reason it works so well is because of how these shows handle sound.