Sorry for the late entry but when life kicks you in the teeth… what are you supposed to do? Anyways, Despite my gripes with episode 1, it garnered enough intrigue for me to continue watching and I’m so glad I did. This episode basically just blew the doors wide open to the series’ potential. It successfully redeemed my biggest grip of seemingly not having that big of stakes in such a shocking reveal that I was like: YOOOOOOO. Not only that, but they essentially revealed Akane being the “Big Bad” of the series. Something I wasn’t expecting, but looking back at what transpired in the first episode, IT MAKES SENSE.
While I have mixed feelings about revealing the main antagonist in the series fairly early on, the way they did just felt really well done. Especially since it helped give us a path of where this series could possibly go and didn’t feel as open ended as the first episode. While I do think it could have worked to stretch out the mystery of who the possible antagonist could be, I think it works with how they decided to go about it. Especially when it revealed just how incredibly petty Akane is as shown by her reasoning to why she deliberately constructed the kaiju attack just to kill the two classmates that pissed her off. And then her new target, their teacher, accidentally bumps into her without as much of an apology. Which invokes Akane’s incredibly petty wrath.
Right off the bat, Akane is shown to be an incredibly interesting and engaging antagonist. When she is first portrayed in the first episode, I didn’t really think much of her considering she just came across as this bubbly, popular girl that I thought would eventually join the group in fighting the kaiju. Little did I know that she was the freaking source of the kaiju attacks. The sheer amount of childish pettiness that it takes for Akane to want to kill someone is baffling. Yet it makes her such a great antagonist. The way she talks about killing her teacher with a kaiju as if she were just chatting with friends is incredibly unnerving. It’s so unsettling. Especially in the flash back of her cheering when her Kaiju killed her classmate. Right away, you can tell that her actions and thought process are incredibly childish as she seeks to get rid of people who just mildly annoy her. It makes her all the more dangerous. Especially since so many of these things weren’t done purposefully to annoy her, they were accidents. And for someone to be murdered out of an accident is both terrifying and sad. Though I guess it was a wrong place wrong time sort of situation. Doesn’t detract from how messed up it is. It almost feels like she’s playing a game.
Despite how everything seemed to be fixed from the end of the last episode, a couple of Yuta’s classmates were missing. The people that died in the kaiju attack are revealed to not have existed in a sense or in this case, supposedly died a while back. It was at this point where I took back my grievances and was shocked that there actually were some pretty severe stakes. It was as if things were put back together but some “parts” were left out. <_< Not only that, but everyone except for the main three characters (and Akane) seemingly had their memories wiped of the kaiju attack as if it hadn’t happened. Leaving Yuta and the others to be the only ones to remember the former classmates as well. It felt more like a reset rather than a complete “restoration”. It was incredibly eerie how they would bring up their missing classmates’ names but no one knew who they were.
I’m often made to wonder just HOW MANY people end up dying when Akane is trying to kill specifically one or two people. Because with the sheer amount of collateral damage, I would be surprised if no one got killed in the crossfire. Especially in this episode, there was absolutely no way NO ONE died when the beam went straight through an apartment complex. Just how many people’s lives got erased from that one kaiju attack?
Utsumi got on my nerves a bit this episode with just how unsympathetic he seemed when discussing the classmates. Not to mention when the group went to investigate the missing students, the way Utsumi just matter of factly told the dad he saw his daughter in his class and completely disregarded the dad’s feelings. Obviously something is amiss, but arguing with a father who in this timeline believes his daughter is dead… bruh, read the freaking room. To take the perspective of the dad, these three random kids come in and say they’ve seen your dead daughter, that just feels incredibly insensitive and almost cruel. Not only that, but the way he just dismissed Rikka’s distraught over her dead classmates pissed me off. Just because you weren’t close doesn’t mean you can’t mourn for them. I understand Utsumi was trying to get to the bottom of things, but gosh, the lack of empathy towards the subject rubbed me the wrong way.
Because of this newfound situation, they brought up a really good concern of the situation. I appreciate Rikka’s perspective on this as despite not being particularly close with any of the girls who died, the fact that people you knew disappearing like that is scary. Especially if it could also extend to the friends she actually is close to. And if that were to happen, Rikka would live on being one of the only people to remember their time together. There’s like a double layering of tragedy in this. Not only do they get erased from existence to a certain extent, but the memories you made with that person also get erased. That is definitely a heavy thing to weigh on a teenager’s mind. Her realistic reaction to everything heavily contrasts Utsumi who is excited to be part of the “Gridman Alliance”. It’s very obvious how Rikka isn’t into the whole Gridman Allignance thing. Especially how it was shown with Yuta and Utsumi hanging close together while Rikka is standing a little bit away from them (even their backpacks are shown like this). And honestly, if I were in this situation, I definitely would side more with Rikka since it seems like she fully understands the full extent of the stakes with these kaiju attacks. It’s such a dangerous situation and at this point, Rikka and Utsumi are more or less bystanders who were accidentally dragged into this.
We also get introduced to a new character that we’ve seen hanging around in the previous episode, Samurai Calibur. And boy did he have… quite the entrance for a lack of a better phrase lol. At the start, they definitely made it seem like this guy was an antagonist with how creepy he seemed to be with him just staring at Yuta from across the street. However, they quickly rectify this by showing how awkward and clumsy yet kindhearted the guy is. While extremely awkward, he means well and is shown to be quite caring. Even going out of his way to get Rikka a different drink after she commented how she can’t drink anything carbonated. And when another kaiju attacks, he is able to come to Gridman’s aide as a freaking sword. Giving Gridman more utility than just hand to hand combat and his laser beam, which was shown to be absolutely useless in this fight. I actually really like how Akane adapted from the previous fight and added something to the kaiju to counter Gridman’s attacks.
Early on, they set up the teacher as someone who just doesn’t care about anything, much less his job as a teacher as he doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. He didn’t seem to care what was going on in class and bumped into Akane without saying sorry. While I do admit it was rude of him to not offer an apology, but it hardly warrants him to be killed over it. Especially when we don’t really know what’s going on in his life. With how his glasses were constantly obscuring his eyes, for all we know he could have been depressed and not content with where he was in life. Either way, it didn’t seem like the guy had much passion in his life and just seemed to be coasting by without putting much effort into anything. Which in itself is pretty sad. But because he accidentally crossed Akane, he became a target. It wasn’t until he was nearing death do we get to see his eyes and we actually get to see some emotion on his face.
I think one of my favorite parts of this episode was showing that the teacher was able to change after not having died by Akane’s kaiju. We don’t know why or how, but it’s obvious that despite the reset, SOMETHING changed in him. When he bumped into Yuta, he looked surprised and immediately apologized. Not to mention we could see his eyes. It’s almost as if surviving the kaiju attack had snapped him out of his indifference towards everything despite not even remembering it happening in the first place. It’s as if Akane never even registered the fact that these people can change for the better and would just immediately resort to getting rid of them if there was “something wrong” with them. In this case, from what little we can gauge from this reaction, the teacher has changed for the better.
Another part that I liked from this episode was a symbolism scene where Akane took Yuta aside to try and get information out of him about Gridman. It was a very interesting choice to show Yuta behind the bars of the railing on the roof as if he’s imprisoned or something is holding him back. In contrast, Akane is shown to be leaning against the top of the railing and looking down at Yuta. Looking back at the shot, it definitely is hinting to something about Akane’s role in this series to which I will have to touch upon in a different post because spoilers. However, by the end of the episode, I love the symbolism of Yuta going from sitting behind the bars to standing above it. As if there’s no more hesitation and he has fully committed to his mission and protecting the people from erasure.
This episode was so good and definitely saved the series from just being the run of the mill monster of the week storyline. Akane’s character was definitely the highlight so far and I was excited to see where she goes now that we are aware of her true nature. There’s definitely a lot more to her, especially after seeing the state of her room where it’s just piles upon piles of trash bags amongst several glass cases of hundreds of kaiju models. A lot more emotions are going into the circumstances than I expected and I’m excited to find more details that I had missed on the first watch through.