This recap contains spoilers for the SSSS.DYNAZENON episode “What Is This Pain?”
For a 12-episode anime, episode six has to offer something in particular. There needs to be a sense of change, the impression that things are not just moving forward but firmly entering their second act. “What Is This Pain?” presents such a change, but it does really hold it out until its final few minutes. The first half of the episode actually presents it as (Another!) slow burn. This is mostly, but not entirely, a fakeout.
Black and White
For an episode that eventually ends how it does, “What Is This Pain?” starts out rather downbeat and even upsetting. Yume’s sister is once again the focus here. Last week’s episode of SSSS.DYNAZENON slammed shut with its introduction of the previously-only-implied idea that Yume’s sister took her own life. It’s an idea explored in more detail here.
Yume’s given yet more videos that tell her (and us) about her sister’s life in the music club, which here includes some of her clubmates pulling a cruel “prank” on her by tossing her ankh puzzle out the window. (Which, yes, does seem to imply that in addition to the upfront symbolism, the plastic ankhs Yume has are also a hand-me-down. Yikes.)
The lingering questions here haunt Yume for the entire episode. She even has a rather pronounced bit of jealousy when Yomogi is having a conversation with some of his other friends. Notably, a shot frames her against the large classroom window. The very same framing SSSS.GRIDMAN liked to use for Akane, including a near-identical shot in that show’s first episode.
It’s fair to say that Yume’s probably having the worst day of the Dyna Soldiers. But she’s certainly not the only one having a bad day. Koyomi, during all of this, is invited out for dinner by Inamoto, who, if you need a refresher, is his former classmate that he’s still kind of got a crush on and also Yomogi’s manager. Koyomi knows — and has known — that Inamoto is married, but agrees anyway, apparently under the impression that he somehow might have a shot.
Needless to say, he doesn’t, and the only thing he walks away from the whole affair with is a drunken headache. Things worsen when he encounters Mujina, one of the Kaiju Eugenecists, at a convenience store. Despite the two briefly sort of bonding over a shared lack of drive, when Koyomi leaves his Dyna Striker behind, Mujina is quick to take it. This isn’t the first time in SSSS.DYNAZENON that the KEs have acted friendly for a time and then done something sneaky, and it probably won’t be the last.
It’s recovered before too long, which in itself is an interesting sequence. But the real meat of the episode comes from the requisite kaiju attack that follows.
Several things disrupt the usual “flow” of the kaiju fight we’ve gotten used to over SSSS.DYNAZENON‘s run so far in “What Is This Pain?”. For one thing, the ill mood everyone is in has put them all out of sync. Even their battle cry is off, and upon forming the Dynazenon they all shout it at slightly different times.
The truly interesting thing here though is how the KEs commandeer this week’s kaiju. Two of them — Mujina and the hotheaded Onija — have to work together to control it. Upon subduing the kaiju, Mujina’s personality suddenly changes. She goes from being docile and directionless to, with the comment that she “gets it now,” as eager to crush the Dyna Soldiers as Onija is.
The two of them work together a lot better than the Dyna Soldiers do at this point, in fact. Enough so that it almost seems like our heroes are about to bite it.
Then, in true classic anime fashion, an ally appears from nowhere like a bolt from the blue. And, if you’ve seen SSSS.GRIDMAN (Hopefully you have!), it’s a familiar face.
This is Anti, alias Gridknight. Why is he here? Is it actually to save the Dyna Soldiers? Is something else going on? We don’t get any answers in “What Is This Pain?” For the second week in a row, the episode cuts immediately after dropping a bomb. It’s cheeky, but hard not to respect.
“What Is This Pain?” is another episode that leaves us with a lot of questions, both big and small. From “Where is this thing with Yume going?” and “Why is Anti here?” to “How does Chise keep showing up in places where she explicitly isn’t supposed to be?” But SSSS.DYNAZENON is short on answers. They, as they often do, must come next week.
Until then, anime fans.