Unnecessary Analysis/Theory: Dynazenon Episode One

If you know me, then you know that I love SSSS.Gridman. You know that I love it so much that you probably want to stop hearing about it. You're in luck because the first episode of SSSS.Dynazenon just aired and I have a lot of thoughts on that and that's what this post is for. This post is primarily for me to call my shots on the series so I can look back and see how much I got right, but if you want to follow along this post will assume that you have watched SSSS.Gridman.

I guess the best place to start is literally the ending moments of SSSS.Gridman and the opening moments of SSSS.Dynazenon.

What does SSSS stand for?

In episode 12 of Gridman when the team all lines up with their Primal Acceptors and combines to become Gridman, Junk displays the letters SSSS, and then expands them out to become: Special Signature to Save a Soul.

In the opening moments of Dynazenon, before the opening title card is shown, someone drops what looks like glass pebbles, glinting across the city. The screen goes black and the words Scarred Souls Shine like Stars appears, in the same CRT-colors-not-quite-aligned effect that Junk had in Gridman.

Gridman's text was a moment of hope and determination. The access code that Rikka typed at that moment, GRIDMAN, was the Special Signature, and Akane was the Soul they were going to Save. It was a mission. Dynazenon's opening definition is vagely poetic and seemingly metaphorical, and importantly melancholic. It does not strike me as being a particularly hopeful sentiment, especially when presented without the context of characters.

Remember, Alexis Kerib from Gridman was using Akane's broken and scarred soul to gather power for some vageuly unknown purpose. Who's to say that the same isn't happening in Dynazenon? In fact throughout the first episode of Dynazenon we see that both Yomogi's and Yume's family lives are depressing, and Koyomi and Chise's in their own way as well. But perhaps out of all the characters introduced in the first episode, Yume's past and also her current family life are tragic and depressing. In her own words, "Something is wrong with me."

Yume on the bridge, saying "Something is wrong with me."

Familiar Sights

Something clicked for me when I was watching the episode again while preparing to write this. I had pointed out to a friend during our watch (my second watch) that many of the locations seem to be the same but shot from different angles. On this third watch I realized it's more than that. Dynazenon takes place in the exact same place that Gridman does.

The two shows take place at the exact same school. The colors are different and some details have changed. the school in Dynazenon has a small garden and there is a window missing from the second floor. There are events in the first episode of Dynazenon that take place in other locations seen in great detail in Gridman.

At the very, very end of SSSS.Gridman, Akane awakes from her dream in the real world. Played by a live actress in a real world (with a Promare poster on her wall which wasn't out yet). The animation of the series took place in her dream world. If we assume that this carries over to SSSS.Dynazenon, then that would mean that this is all taking place in someone else's dream. But not just any someone.

Here's my theory: SSSS.Dynazenon takes place in the dream of someone from the same class as Akane. We'll get back to that in a few moments, but before we depart:

Familiar faces

Akane loved Rikka, very clearly. Because she made it so that she could do no wrong in Rikka's eyes. And the ending credits features real world pictures with an animated Akane and Rikka hanging out and taking pictures and being close. Closer than they actually were in the real world.

the ending credits from SSSS.Gridman

The ending credits serves as a good reference for the point I am going to make because you get to see a bunch of the girls from Akane's class. A lot of Rikka, and Namiko and Hass in particular. There haven't been any particularly good times on-screen to capture Kaneishi and Ranka, two girls from their class, so I've taken the art of them from the official Dynazenon character page.

I do not believe that these similarities are superficial. With all the evidence that this takes place in the same school and even the same class in the real world, it can be expected that these characters represent the same people in the real world. Namiko and Kaneishi, Rikka and Yume, and Hass and Ranka all being three specific girls from the same class as viewed by two different people in that class.

And in fact, to take it a step further let's look at some of the character dynamics.

Namiko and Hass tease Rikka a lot whenever she's in the vicinity of boys, from episode one and throughout the show. It's a huge part of their dynamic from the first season. While not particularly mean-spirited, it's important because later on Namiko and Hass are also shown wanting to hang out with guys and invite Rikka

From the very first episode of SSSS.Dynazenon, from the very first moments of the show, a relationship between these three characters representing the same three people is shown. Before we get names for them even.

Ranka: "I guess she's asked a bunch of guys out. She asks 'em out and ditches 'em like some sort of promise-breaking affliction."
Yogomi: "I can't picture her like that."
Kaneishi: "You're so pure, Yomogi."

Ranka and Kaneishi also tease Yume about her being associated with boys. Except this time in a much more negative light. She's close to too many guys. And even Yume's friend at school has the same opinion of her except she says it to her face.

There are some other comparisons between the characters that I can make, notably that Yuta and Yogomi look archetypally similar, and so do Utsumi and Nazumi. The difference is that in Gridman Yuta and Utsumi were only tangentally connected to Namiko and Hass through Rikka. But in Dynazenon, Yogomi has many friends and Rikka instead of being the bond/bridge between these groups is the outsider. But I don't want to get bogged down in comparing the two characters when I feel I've made my point about this.

So, who's dream is it?

If Dynazenon is a dream by someone from the same class as Akane, then the question is who would that person be. In Akane's dream world everyone noticed her and thought she was incredible at everything. But above all of that the one person who Akane specifically altered to like her and be unable to find fault with her, to empathize with her pain, to want to be with her was... Rikka.

Because the real world person who Rikka represents, who Akane loves and wants to be seen and loved by, doesn't know she exists.

In Dynazenon I can point to most of the characters and say, "these two characters are the same person." But surely you must have noticed who's missing by now if you've read this far. There is no stand-in for Akane in this dream...

Because Yume, the person that Rikka represented, doesn't know or remember that Akane exists. And this is Yume's dream.

Aside from the fact that this whole post has been building up a case to make this point I have some other circumstantial evidence for this claim. Notice the tower that Yume was sitting on in the image a little bit ago? That tower, like many other places in Dynazenon, was also in Gridman. At the very end.

The tower is notable here to me because the city beyond that point is the false city, and the coast of the river/canal it sits upon is as well. They're unfinished locations, places people were never meant to actually go or see in Akane's dream world. But the tower is detailed, with its signs and stairs. A place that Rikka instinctively knew was significant. It was after all at the end of the bus route that Akane and Rikka took to get to school.

But it seems odd for this structure surrounded by the false city, the places not important to Akane, to be so detailed and complete and clearly important to Akane.

I think the reason this specific place is important to Akane is because it's important to the person that Rikka represents - it is important to Yume. And the tower is so central in Dynazenon so far for the same reason. But we don't yet know why it is important to Yume, or why she asks boys to wait for her there while she passes the time watching them from the bridge.

And I cannot wait to find out.

That's everything I got for the first episode.

Edit: Rikka's dad is never mentioned in SSSS.Gridman and she has a sibling we never see. Yume's dad is a drunk and nobody probably talks about them, and she has a presumed dead sibling. My case only becomes stronger.