|Great action, strong main cast, entertaining music, quality was steady||Villains weren't developed too much|
You always hope that shows both know what they want to be and that they can execute it. That unfortunately doesn’t always work out. Thankfully, Dynazenon completely delivered an enjoyable experience from start to finish. It would have been easy after Gridman for the focus to remain on that titled character and build the universe out with that consistent element. But instead they went out of their way to tell a slightly different kind of story with a different focus. And the result was easily my favorite show of the 2021 spring season of anime. Sometimes shows just work for you on a certain level and that was definitely the case here.
This being a sequel to SSSS.Gridman makes discussion the setting a bit interesting. And yet while you gain a lot from having seeing Gridman, Dynazenon is telling its own story. There is some crossover between them, but I’d only recommend watching it before Dynazenon because it is a good show. Regardless, Dynazenon takes place in a setting that appears pretty modern all things considered. Just present day Japan…with some extraordinary things about to happen. You have a world where life is pretty normal and then giant monsters (kaiju) start showing up and wrecking things. So of course the result is a force taking a stand against that very threat.
That stand being taken by a core of characters that each have their own past issues. It is those characters that drive the story and retain much of the focus. In a way the story is as much about how those characters develop during the story as how the situation with kaiju attacking the city is going to be resolved. That works fine by me since I like a story that focuses nicely on the main characters. But it might not fully align with the desires of some that want a more story intense focus and one that focuses on deeply developing the main antagonists. Dynazenon does what it sets out to do well and that is to tell a story about the main cast. All while guiding them through a series of awesome battles between giant mechs and giant monsters.
The characters are absolutely the main focus of this show and deserve to be the main focus of the review. There’s no question that the main character in this show is Asanaka Yomogi. He’s definitely the least damaged of the main cast, but he’s still got issues troubling him. The great thing with Yomogi is how he develops through the show and I wouldn’t want to spoil any of that. He does surprise you though in terms of how he handles the initial forming of the team he is involved with. Yomogi may at times leave you throwing your hands up and wishing he’d make certain moves, but at the end of the day he’s a good character. Overcoming his issues so he can show how good a guy he is, happens to just be part of his journey.
All the main characters matter. But one of the most important arcs in the story directly involves Minami Yume. One of Yomogi’s classmates and someone who has a much more serious issue than Yomogi himself. The pain of her past has left the girl at the start of the show rather messed up in a few ways. She’s definitely going down the wrong path when the show starts. Her positive qualities that stand out among her friends are almost drowned out when getting involved with others. Yume is a character I actually expected to dislike when getting into the show and she turned out to be one of my absolute favorites. She doesn’t respond to this whole kaiju situation like you’d expect and it’s all in a positive way. The journey to resolve her trauma is one of the best in the show.
I’ve got to give some attention to Gauma. He’s the guy you see the most when checking out trailers and he’s absolutely a driving force to the story. While Yomogi is very much the main character, Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon team. He’s got a lot going on in his backstory and yet he’s also the most ready to fight when the time comes. The guy is a bit…reckless at times to be sure. His backstory is a big part of it of course. But for better or worse he’s driving the story forward and taking it to the antagonists of the story every chance he gets. But he’s not some saint here. He’s got a very personal and understandable reason for fighting and you can’t help but knowingly nod when he reveals it.
Two characters that are pretty closely connected are the cousins Asukagawa Chise and Yamanaka Koyomi. I can understand them having some trouble hanging out in public since he’s several years older than her, doesn’t have a job, and just hangs out at home mostly. But they get along pretty well since Chise is basically skipping school all the time for reasons that relate to her character arc. Both of them have gone through a lot and the introduction of kaiju into their lives creates an opportunity for change.
Although Koyomi is allowed to be more active in terms of the battles, Chise has her place in all this. I like seeing how the both of them deal with the unexpected situations they get into and how it changes them. Koyomi has reasons that he’s basically doing nothing with himself when the show started. In a sense he needs it to get him moving out of a bad spot while other characters can use this series as a chance to avoid getting into worse places than they already are in.
There is a group of antagonists. But they are definitely less central than the main characters. They serve a valuable narrative focus in terms of being contrasts to the main cast. While the villains have their own issues, the way they choose to face them differs pretty directly. In that sense they function pretty well both as a source of conflict and creating that contrast. But they don’t get nearly the same focus as the main characters nor are their arcs that detailed. If you tend to want the villains to be in the spotlight more this might not work as well for you. But they still have a presence and how they interact with the kaiju that show up definitely worked for me.
The visuals are a standout element for Dynazenon. I wanted to save the discussion more for this section, but Dynazenon itself is awesome. If you saw Power Rangers growing up or are more of a fan of tokusatsu-type series then Dynazenon should work for you. We’re talking a giant humanoid mech that is made up of smaller mechs. Plus it can transform into other forms and the sub-units can combine with each other for unique results. It’s the kind of thing I loved about shows like Power Rangers that gave you both heroes and giant battles all in one package. We don’t quite get the smaller battles since the pilots are mostly regular people, but it still works.
The show looks great. The regular scenes are animated nicely and all the characters stand out in a good way. There is some fanservice here and there, but nothing ridiculous. You get a pool episode and such, but everyone gets shown off in that sense. The normal life stuff isn’t left without care and attention. They have a nice variety of locations where the characters spend their time.
But the big thing naturally is when the action breaks out. Trigger has done a nice job of making use of the tools available to make the action feel like the type of shows (and the source material Gridman franchise) that all of this is based on. The monsters and Dynazenon have a weight to them and you’ll see debris rising up when they land on the ground. But they make sure the fights aren’t just clunky and are actually fun. You get some great beam attacks, some throw down battles, and even taking the fight to locations you normally wouldn’t expect XD. I can’t complain about the action in the slightest. They manage to make it look awesome each time Dynazenon takes on a kaiju.
Audio-wise I think the show does a great job as well. I loved the song for the OP. Which is probably a good thing since it does get used in quite a few fights to raise the excitement to another level. But they don’t just use that song for the action sequences and have enough strong tracks to carry the episodes. The voice acting is of course excellent and I think the whole main cast were handled well. Credit to the work done to make the kaiju (especially certain ones) sound appropriate. They needed to sound like entities that didn’t quite belong there and yet not making them sound silly. The audio works well with the show and doesn’t hold it back.
It’s hard to really rave about what I loved about this show without delving into spoilers. The way they handled certain characters like Yume and Yomogi really did work well for me. Same goes for how they managed to make each fight feel entertaining while pushing forward the story. In a sense it was a show with monsters of the week, but there was always something connected that drew my attention away from that fact. Sometimes the fights were intensely serious and other times they were almost comical. But they always entertained.
This was easily the show of spring that I was looking forward to each and every week. Whether it was about seeing the next big fight or seeing how the character arcs were going to develop. I cared about what was going on with these characters. And the characters are definitely the highlight of Dynazenon. The story isn’t a big mystery and the conflict doesn’t overshadow the characters themselves. Some shows are more about the bigger story than the character arcs. But this was one where the show was more about the main characters and showing them growing beyond their pasts.
It is already known that another season in this SSSS universe is going to happen. And I can’t wait to see how that turns out. But in terms of Dynazenon I can’t recommend it enough. For some the big battles with kaiju isn’t going to work and others won’t like how the story is handled. There are possible questions left unexplored, but I don’t think the show feels incomplete. The story that it set out to tell was told. And you have a clear vision of where the main characters are with their lives by the time the show ends. I’ll absolutely give the show an A. It gave me everything I wanted and then some.
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