Series Recommendation: Gridman Universe

There are 3 things that one must stand by:
Love, Promises and…

After two phenomenal and unique tv series, Studio Trigger and Tsuburaya didn’t drop any steam and quickly went ahead with a movie for the SSSS series – Gridman Universe was announced a few months after Dynazenon concluded. And just one image of Gridman and Dyna Rex standing together was enough to get fans riled up about this amazing combo. The movie was finally released in March 2023, and the Blu-ray was released this October to International fans. The movie was, in short, a perfect conclusion to the two series.

The movie takes us back to Yuuta’s world post-SSSS.Gridman. The “goddess” Akane has left – and the world is carrying on in peace. Yuuta – having lost his memories of when Gridman was one with him – has decided to push on with his feelings for Rikka. He plans to confess to her during the School Festival. But suddenly, Kaijus reappeared and forced Yuuta to merge with the Hyper Agent once again. However, not just Kaijus but people from another world have appeared in this world – such as the Dynazenon cast – and all kinds of strange events are happening. Something feels off, and the Gridman x Dynazenon alliance are in for a fight of their lives…against Gridman himself.

+ Plot:  Gotta give it to Trigger and the scriptwriter. The plot for Gridman Universe feels very…mundane and homely at times, like a normal school slice of life, but then stuff went from 0 to infinity real quick. The strong points of the SSSS series have always been inter-weaving normal daily life into absurd Kaiju battles, and Gridman Universe took it one step further with an even more unique approach. The whole “interdimensional” thing feels like no big deal for the Dynazenon cast, but then when stuff hits the fan, it’s all pedal to the metal. The peaceful and tranquil moments make the intense action all the more exciting and emotional. You can actually feel the stakes in the fight, along with the emotions of the characters.

While this movie features the cast of both Gridman and Dynazenon, the movie is called Gridman Universe, so the Gridman Alliance, aka Yuuta, Utsumi and Rikka, got more character development compared to the rest – especially Yuuta. In the original series, it was revealed that Gridman was acting as Yuuta all that time, so the TV anime wasn’t “actually” Yuuta – and the movie is the perfect medium to flesh out his real character and personality. The movie, just like the TV series, is good at putting small details that are easy to miss and then bringing it full circle later on. A very fulfilling story for Yuuta.

Animation: Did Obari work on this? Surely, he must have, right? Well, the answer’s still no, but the craziness in Gridman Universe is still pretty insane. Lots of dynamic action sequences that turn into wombo combos or intense, gritty fights will glue you to your seat (or your cinema seat if you’re lucky enough to see it in theatres). The choreography is very similar to modern Ultraman – but with more liberty since 3DCG and 2D have more freedom of expression than Tokusatsu, which allows for much more absurd movements, camera angles and effects, which the movie took advantage of wholeheartedly. If the fight in Gridman was too undetailed, and in Dynazenon was too short and “bricky”, then Gridman Universe, with the enormous budget, basically perfects all the fights frame-by-frame. A 10/10 production value.

Mecha Design: Well, we all know what’s going to happen. They are going to combine. It’s not even a spoiler or a worthy secret to keep since it’s mostly a guaranteed thing. The Rogue Kaiser Gridman is basically the modern version of the King Gridman – the gattai between Gridman and Dyna Dragon in the tokusatsu series. Well, Rogue Kaiser Gridman is basically just an even more extravagant Rogue Kaiser GridKnight, with lots of fancy clear parts and even a chunkier design.

What I really like about the movie’s design work is the explanation of established gimmicks. The Fixer Beam from Gridman in the Primal Fighter form was actually achieved by opening the torso armour to reveal the classic Gridman’s chest. That’s pretty ingenious. And a certain returning character design reminds me of Promare as well – and Promare is always good.

Music: It wouldn’t be anime Gridman without Masayoshi Ooishi. He has returned with an amazing theme song, “Universe”, that really captures the essence of the movie. The soundtrack is also amazingly done by Shiro Sagisu. There are some remix songs from Gridman and Dynazenon, but there are also new original songs for Universe, and they are literally majestic with how…orchestrally grand they sound. The soundtrack really makes the scene in this movie. And with 2 previous OP returning for some badass insert songs, you know it’s going to be good.

+ Conclusion: Gridman Universe is a perfect film to complete Yuuta’s arc and the Gridman Alliance cast. While heavily featured, the cast of Dynazenon didn’t make as huge an impact as expected, but we can’t rule out the possibility of a Dynazenon movie later. The production quality of Gridman Universe is very high – and Trigger has kept rising the bar from Gridman to Dynazenon and, finally, to Universe. An enjoyable and heart-thumping adventure with some badass giant robot action, what’s not to love?

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