Much has been said at length about the strength of SSSS.Dynazenon‘s already; from the quality of its production, its direction, and also the series’ allusions to both SSSS.Gridman and Gridman the Hyper Agent. Others, including myself, have already touched upon the show’s focus on healing from mental trauma, and how it makes for an intriguing character drama. The verdict is in: to no one’s surprise, Dynazenon was good from start to finish. Not just good. It’s very good.
So it’s no secret—Dynazenon was a stellar production by a team of creatives at the top of their game, hence the end result being an anime so well-received by many. But… if that was all there is to it, I wouldn’t be bothered to write about Dynazenon again. We’ve already established what makes Dynazenon excellent, but what is it about the show that makes it so darn compelling?
In some ways, Dynazenon is your standard giant-robot-slash-tokusatsu hero show. There are your monsters of the week, your combining robot scenes, your mid-season upgrades, your epic final boss battles. That it’s steeped in the ways of, and understands the traditions of what makes those genres tick, is undisputed.
But in many ways, it’s also very different in the parts that it chooses to focus on. While some other giant robot shows might be more interested in unraveling its mysteries and powering through the plot, Dynazenon gives its characters more than ample room to breathe and just be. Sometimes, shots that depict everyday life linger for far longer than you think they would. In contrast, scenes that show crucial plot points and backstory are often only shown in glimpses. Plot details are implied and never stated in full outright. You won’t find any sort of long, expository dialogue explaining where the kaiju come from, who Gauma really is, or where the titular Dynazenon came from, something that in other shows of its kind would be a given. Dynazenon really loves to be subtle.
Instead, the show spends a generous amount of its time on the more quiet, mundane moments of daily life, whether it’s munching on a churro or walking through the rain. When subplots are given focus, they’re the ones pertaining to our protagonists’ relationships and inner struggles, such as the mystery of what happened to Yume’s sister, or what Koyomi’s whole deal was in middle school. The slow, laid-back atmosphere of the early half of each episode turns out to serve the show really well, as it heightens the action that comes in the second half when everything kicks into top gear.
The battles of SSSS.Dynazenon never drags on for more than they should—they’re action-packed like the best tokusatsu shows’ fight scenes, and makes sure that each episode ends with a bang (often literally). You soon realize that it’s not that Dynazenon forgets the usual high energy and fights of giant robot show in favour of subtlety and small character moments; it’s just that it views these moments as being just as important to its bombastic giant monster battles. And they’re more often than not intertwined in some way.
I feel that this is what really sets Dynazenon apart. By allowing the viewers to spend time with its characters and getting to know them as everyday people with everyday problems, it manages to make us truly care about its cast. So by the time they’re boarding the giant robot to fight the kaiju, you already want them to win and succeed, both in giant monster battles and in life. Still, I would argue that this alone isn’t what makes the show so compelling.
Next page: How SSSS.Dynazenon talks about apathy