This recap contains spoilers for the SSSS.DYNAZENON episode “What is a Traitor?”
“What is a Traitor?” is an odd one. Three episodes in, and SSSS.DYNAZENON is already throwing new wrinkles into what we thought we knew about its setting and characters. Several interesting new folds are added to the entire thing here. It’s risky to be doing something like this so early. Frankly, I would understand if someone considered “What is a Traitor?” to be the weakest of SSSS.DYNAZENON‘s three episodes so far. Not much “happens” in it, strictly speaking, until its second half, and some of the exposition we get is more confounding than enlightening. I’m confident, though, that what’s introduced here will have fascinating consequences throughout the remainder of the series.
Five Thousand Years Ago
The first thing we learn is about the nature of the Kaiju Eugenecists. The (still quite alarmingly named!) antagonists of the series, at least at this juncture. Last week I theorized that they derived their name from their tendency to use the otherwise apparently peaceful kaiju for their own ends. While that still seems to be mostly true, things are complicated here by two revelations. One is that Gauma used to be one of the KE’s. The other is when he was part of the group. “5,000 years ago” is a phrase that crops up more than once in “What is a Traitor?” and it seems to be quite literal.
Juuga, the at least ostensibly soft-spoken and polite leader of the KE’s, seems more inclined to try to get Gauma, as well as the Dynazenon’s pilots, on their side than he does to fight them. It’s he who first mentions that Gauma was once one of them, 5,000 years ago, before being “reborn into this era.” SSSS.DYNAZENON‘s so far limited worldbuilding has been on the stranger side, to begin with, but a mention of eons-long reincarnation is a first for the series. Gauma later confirms Juuga’s statement here, so he’s not just making it up, either. Nor does he seem to be speaking metaphorically.
Gauma’s defector status gives “What is a Traitor?” its name serves as the main driver for the episode’s conflict. The kids don’t entirely trust a rogue element from what seems to be a pretty evil organization, continuing SSSS.DYNAZENON‘s general trend of having characters react in a blase`-yet-understandable way toward the extraordinary circumstances around them. This particular circumstance comes to a head in the episode’s latter half, as we’ll get to.
Two Plastic Ankhs
Yume is the other character who gets some development here. We learn more about her late sister, first mentioned last week. She tells Yomogi (and by proxy, us) that she never really got along with her sister and that her sister passed away shortly before a choir recital that she had, unexpectedly, invited Yume to. This is all quite a bit to process at once, and it’s just one of several character vignettes squeezed in here. There’s also Juuga bothering Yomogi at school to further foster distrust between him and Gauma, and Koyomi awkwardly running into an ex-classmate. Who turns out to now be married and is also, by coincidence, Yomogi’s manager. Awkward!
Nonetheless, it’s Yume’s vignette that I suspect will have the most long-term impact on the series.
In “What is a Traitor?”‘s second half, we get the longest fight of the series so far. In it, Gauma convinces the other Dynazenon pilots of his good intentions by revealing that he fights the KE’s not just out of principle but because he’s looking for someone. (A woman, as the other pilots, tease out of him.) The fight itself is really good, featuring, among other things, the Dynazenon’s first full transformation sequence and an impressive bit where the mech flies into space to confront this week’s kaiju.
But it’s the episode’s final few moments that this all really comes together. A character mentions that kaiju make the impossible possible, and Yume, looking out her mech’s window into space, muses on whether or not that includes returning the dead to life. This isn’t exactly a surprising thing for her to say, and it’s not like having her fiddle with a pair of ankhs for the past three episodes has been terribly subtle. But it does provide yet one more twist in the knot that SSSS.DYNAZENON is quickly becoming.
Where does this all lead? Well, that’s a question for next week, anime fans.
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