This recap contains spoilers for the SSSS.DYNAZENON episode “What Are These Overlapping Emotions?”
Do giant monsters have souls? Yes, that’s the same question we asked last week. It’s obviously a question SSSS.DYNAZENON wants us to at least think about. Beyond the deeper level of what kaiju can represent, there is a basic conundrum here. Are kaiju merely forces of nature or are they alive, not unlike cats or dogs? “What Are These Overlapping Emotions?” contains two plotlines that crisscross up and down the episode. In one of those, that of Chise and her emotional distance from the rest of the Dyna Soldiers coming to a head, we get our answer.
Chise has been something of an enigma from day one. There’s a lot we don’t know about her, and it would be easy for an episode focusing in part on her to get lost in the weeds of minutiae. Thankfully, “What Are These Overlapping Emotions?” makes sure everything stays relevant. We get a quick run-down that fills in the notable blanks in her character. At some point, overwhelming isolation at school was dealt with by turning to art, possibly even giving herself a tattoo. Then, that turned into dropping out, which made her dependent on her cousin, Koyomi.
Now that he’s joined the Dyna Soldiers and has found a new purpose in life, Chise feels removed from everyone again. It’s a pretty simple characterization, but, given her age, it makes sense. The broad implication that she wasn’t exactly raised in a loving environment makes it all the sharper.
“What Are These Overlapping Emotions?” is what the Gridman Universe has historically been best at. Combining two very different things — often somewhat surreal exploration of states of mind and the tropes of the mecha and “giant hero” genres. In this episode, the two meet in the form of Goldburn.
Yes, we have a new character. Of a sort, anyway. Goldburn is the kaiju hatched from the blob of stuff that Chise’s been carrying around for several episodes. He’s a dragon. Furthermore, one named in a delightfully teenager-y way. By a band poster that Chise happened to be looking at while thinking up names.
Goldburn is our answer to the opening question. He’s a definitive yes; these things do think and feel. More importantly, he’s friendly. In fact, he rather acts like a dog. Chise quickly figures out that he responds to sit, lie down, shake, etc. commands. It’s actually quite cute and provides the episode with a bit of needed levity. Chise initially attempts to hide Goldburn. First, she stuffs him in a briefcase.
Then, later, she tries to hide him under a bridge. The kaiju simply gets larger each time. Suffice it to say, by the end of “What Are These Overlapping Emotions?”, the rest of the team knows about Goldburn.
But, it takes a while to get there. Goldburn reacts to Chise’s emotions, and in one particular sequence, he nearly dive-bombs her old high school because of her negative feelings toward it. Thankfully, Chise is able to rein him in before any actual harm is caused.
A Dragon That Can Protect Everyone
The other plot that winds through “What Are These Overlapping Emotions?” is longer-running. That is, of course, the mystery behind the death of Yume’s sister. Yume meets with her sister’s ex in this episode. His reassurance that her death was an accident is sharply undercut by his obvious nervousness. It’s something Yume herself seems to notice, too. She has a full-on breakdown here.
Yomogi, who prioritizes his “job” as a defender of the city for once, reluctantly leaves her behind while responding to a kaiju alert. Yume genuinely seems, for a few harrowing minutes, like she might hurt herself.
Thankfully, two things happen. First, Chise shows up. Secondly, Yomogi returns after being (understandably) scolded by Gauma. It’s worth noting though that it’s actually Chise, or rather, Goldburn, who saves Yume directly. She falls off of the roof, and it’s the dragon — not Yomogi — who catches her. Perhaps a terse comment on how one’s support groups can’t just be a single person? It’s not impossible.
DYNAZENON: “What Are These Overlapping Emotions?”
The entire second half of “What Are These Overlapping Emotions?” is a fight sequence. It’s perhaps the best that SSSS.DYNAZENON has yet had. Gridknight, The Dyna Soldiers and even Goldburn all make impressive showings here while fighting a powerful forest-green kaiju controlled by the leader of the KEs.
That would be cool enough on its own, but they eventually combine, into the incredibly named (take a deep breath here) Super Dragon King Kaiser Gridknight. Yes, that is its actual name. SSSS.DYNAZENON is wonderful in more ways than one. It’s an absolutely delightful capturing of the Saturday Morning Cartoon spirit that SSSS.DYNAZENON draws from in its most uplifting moments.
The creature defeated, the KEs slump away to plot their next move. More importantly, the Dyna Soldiers, having missed the town’s firework festival, play with some fireworks of their own. “What Are These Overlapping Emotions” thus concludes with the most straightforward happy ending of the series so far. Three weeks remain. See you then, anime fans.
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