The previous Gridman anime, from Trigger, hid the true meaning of those 4 S’s for that series until the last episode – “Special Signature to Save a Soul.” Dynazenon puts its meaning for those initials right up front – “Scarred Souls Shine like Stars.” The theme of this show is very much self-evident – this is a series about characters learning to cope with trauma and work through trauma, but also acknowledging that trauma is something that sticks around and doesn’t necessarily go away. And the show presents those themes through the framework of high school students working together to fight Kaiju.
It bears mentioning further, that what the show doesn’t do is get into depicting the actual Kaiju fighting as traumatic (like in Evangelion, RahXephon, and similar series). Instead, the trauma our characters face is in their background and personal lives.
Of our protagonists – Yume’s sister died in what was declared an accident and Yume fears is suicide. Yomoigi’s mother has divorced, and has a new boyfriend. Koyomi is a NEET with what may be (undiagnosed) Depression. Chise is Koyomi’s cousin and is socially ostracized by her peers at school, leading to her acting out by tattooing herself. They’re lead by Gauma, who fought the antagonists 5,000 years ago, and beat them at the cost of his life, and has returned in the present day to fight them again.
Unlike Gridman, though, the antagonists aren’t humanized the same way. The Kaiju Eugenicists don’t seem to have a motiviation beyond “destroy or kill everything using Kaiju, because they think the world will be better if Kaiju do that” but otherwise they don’t have any particular reasons for why they want to do that – their existence is defined by Kaiju, and there’s not a sense as to why they have that particular motivation for causing destruction.
So, ultimately, while the Kaiju fights are very well done, and the characterization is rock solid, I do feel a little bit of a disconnect between the Kaiju of the Week parts of the show and the personal drama parts of the show for much of the series. Dynazenon isn’t bad in the slightest – it’s a really good show. However, it feels more conventional than Gridman did – for good and for ill.
S.S.S.S. Dynazenon is currently available for streaming on Funimation.
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