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Series / Denkō Chōjin Gridman

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Denkō Chōjin Gridman (電光超人グリッドマン, "Electric Superhuman Gridman" or "Gridman: The Hyper Agent") is a Japanese toku "Giant Hero" series by Tsuburaya Productions, the producers of Ultraman. The show ran from 1993 to 1994 on Tokyo Broadcasting System, lasting for 39 episodes. It was adapted Power Rangers-style by DiC Entertainment into Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad. This would be Tsuburaya's last non-Ultra superhero production for more than a decade until Bio Planet WoO in 2006. Most of Gridman's production crew later worked on Ultraman Tiga.

Shot on live video, Gridman was the first Tsuburaya series to use D-2 digital video for its special effects scenes, allowing for smoother slow-motion photography. Tsuburaya, having switched to digital techniques since then, would continue to use D-2 for all future productions.

Schoolmates Naoto Sho, Yuka Inoue, and Ippei Baba use their homebuilt computer "Junk" to program their own video game featuring a superhero, but once connected to the World Wide Web, the hero character becomes possessed by an other dimensional being calling himself Gridman. He informs the children that he is a Hyper Agent, a member of his people's police, and he needs their help in tracking down his dimension's greatest criminal Kahn Digifer, who has plans to wreak havoc on Earth by unleashing powerful computer viruses on the Computer World within the web. Unbeknownst to them, Kahn Digifer has convinced the children's classmate Takeshi Todo to help him in his quest, with Takeshi creating the virus monsters and Kahn Digifer giving them life. To stop them, Naoto fuses with Gridman and fights the virus monsters in the Computer World, while Yuka and Ippei assist him from the physical world by controlling programs they develop on Junk.

After 21 years of inactivity from the property, an animated short starring Gridman was made by Studio TRIGGER for the Japan Animator Expo, released on January 16, 2015. Trigger and Tsuburaya would later collaborate to expand on what they would call the Gridman Universe: starting with the 12-episode series SSSS.GRIDMAN in 2018, this leg of the franchise updates the setting to the modern day, taking place some time after the original series. A sequel to this anime, SSSS.DYNɅZENON, premiered in 2021. Finally, a movie Crossover between the two shows, simply titled GRIDMAN UNIVERSE, would release in 2023.

Denkō Chōjin Gridman provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adjective Noun Fred: The title.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Khan Digifer's goal is to Kill All Humans.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Studio TRIGGER short ends with Takeshi transforming into Gridman Sigma to battle a new threat in the real world.
  • Back to Base Form: The final battle with Khan Digifer has Gidman fight in his base form due to his Assist Weapons being destroyed.
  • Bland-Name Product: Musashibo Benkei gets a Big Mac from McDonald's. Yes, college's supercomputers can make that happen.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Khan Digifer's interactions with Kirara in Episode 31 come off as this. When he convinces her to create a monster (resulting in the harmless-looking Teleboze), he resignedly observes it doesn't look very strong. When she later mentions Teleboze has no weapons, he lets out a Big "WHAT?!" in response.
  • Boss Subtitles: Each of the monsters comes with some sort of title e.g. Ninja Monster Shinobilar or Elastic Monster Bamora.
  • Big Bad: Dark Lord Kahn Digifer
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: ACCESS FLASH!
  • Cassandra Truth: Early on in the series in episode 3, after Daichi witnessed Gridman preventing one of Khan Digifer's monsters, the Elastic Monster Bamora, from coming through a portal to the human world in the previous episode. When he tells the story on a news report, nobody believes him. Also in that episode, He tells Kana he was on tv but she doesn't believe him.
  • Childhood Friends: Naoto and Yuka are explicitly described as this.
    • Childhood Friend Romance: By the end of the series, there's hints that this might be coming, as they're both more or less aware of how their feelings are mutual.
  • Couch Gag: Each episode's opening features clips of its respective Monster of the Week.
  • Critical Annoyance: If the light on Gridman's head starts to blink, Gridman must finish the fight quickly or Naoto and Gridman will die in the Computer World.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Episode 30's Evil Plan revolves around brainwashing people into saying the world is ending and so there's no point trying to restrain themselves, leading them into going berserk and giving into their urges.
  • Dirty Coward: Naoto becomes this in Episode 30 after coming under the spell of the Monster of the Week. He actually has to be physically dragged into the Junk basement, and Gridman is forced to initiate their combination/transformation against Naoto's will. Unfortunately, because Naoto is still affected he spends his time fleeing or begging for mercy. The monster almost kills him, but Khan Digifer decides that in his pathetic state Gridman might actually be vulnerable to his brainwashing waves.
  • Easily Forgiven: One way to interpret the ending when Takeshi seems to befriend the main trio. While Khan Digifer gave Takeshi the power to carry out acts of petty revenge, Takeshi still went along with (or even came up with) plans that could've killed a lot of people. In fact, in Episode 30 the only thing that stops him from causing a horrific train crash (by causing the train driver to vanish) is the fact the video camera that granted him that power was running low on battery.
  • Everyone Can See It: Naoto and Yuka's family and friends seem to take it as a given that the two of them like each other. They aren't wrong, but since they're normally hanging out with Ippei it only becomes obvious to people who're familiar with them.
  • Everything Is Online: Done a lot better than its American counterpart, since only things that are reasonably online are, such as phone networks and hospital computers. Nothing like wind-up cooking timers that should have nothing electronic at all. However, affected items behaving as they literally can't such as flying through the air is the same or worse.
    • As an example, in one case Khan Digifer causes an electronic dog collar to explode, vaporising the unfortunate pooch completely. Unless the electronics somehow include some form of explosive, that kind of explosion is pretty much impossible.
  • Evil Is Petty: Many of the conflicts over the course of the series are caused by Takeshi overreacting to things due to his issues.
    • Some of them might be understandable (e.g. the time he tripped in a supermarket and people laughed at him, embarrassing him terribly). Other times, he's the one who overreacts e.g. the time a child bumped into him at a supermarket and dropped his cash card, and when the child asked for the card back Takeshi refused because he claimed the child was at fault for running into him. When the child understandably runs back to his mother to tell her what happened, causing the child's mother and other shoppers to glare at the older boy bullying a small child, he gets upset and flees.
  • Expy: Gridman and God Zenon resemble Ultraman and Convoy (Optimus Prime) respectively. Given that the show was a co-production between Tsuburaya and Takara, this was not coincidental.
    • This is such common knowledge that on the official Tsuburaya Youtube channel any appearance of God Zenon is almost assured to draw cries of "Convoy is here!" or "Commander! It's up to you now!" (in the Japanese version of the Sunbow Transformers cartoon, Convoy is generally addressed by his subordinates by his rank of "Supreme Commander") from viewers.
  • First-Name Basis: The three kid heroes are on first name basis with each other, showing how closely-knit they are.
    • In Episode 30 Khan Digifer addresses Naoto's father by his first name of Soichiro when brainwashing him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Takeshi after fleeing Kahn Digifer's control (after Khan Digifer attempted to pull a You Have Failed Me). This would have continued in a possible sequel where he would have become the protagonist Gridman Sigma. Gridman Sigma gets his day in the Studio TRIGGER short.
  • Hour of Power: Like the Ultramen, Gridman has a three-minute time limit. For them it's Earth's conditions limiting how long they can stay powered; here the danger is that the Junk computer that Gridman and his helper programs reside in can only take so much.
  • Humongous Mecha: God Zenon and Dyna Dragon, which were formed by combining different vehicles and could also transform into armor worn by Gridman.
  • Idiot Ball: Some episodes involve characters grabbing on to these with both hands.
    • Episode 30:
  • Innocently Insensitive: Naoto towards Yuka at times. They're such close friends that he occasionally forgets she's actually a girl, meaning sometimes she takes what he says either the wrong way or more seriously than intended.
  • Meaningful Name: Junk, since it's a computer made of, well, junk!
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Prank Monster Teleboze was created by Kirara (a college age girl who happened upon Khan Digifer by accident) for harmless pranking. It has no offensive weapons at all... until Takeshi modifies it into a more evil form.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Comes up a few times.
    • Kana is aware (or at least suspects) that Yuka has feelings for Naoto, so sometimes when under the effects of a Monster of the Week she tries to get rid of her. In Episode 30, for example, she goes after Yuka with a baseball bat and almost brains her when Ippei and Naoto show up to restrain her.
    • In a non-romantic example, on one occasion Khan Digifer gets so annoyed with Takeshi's constant pining for Yuka he decides to straight up murder her.
  • Not So Above It All: In Episode 30, Takeshi uses a fortune-telling machine that tells him he'll meet Yuka at a certain place which will result in Yuka falling for him. He goes... but comes back traumatised because the 'Yuka' he met was a transvestite who showered him with kisses. Khan Digifer, who generally chuckles quietly in the course of his evil plans, has a full throated laugh when Takeshi explains. He even has to take a moment to recompose himself.
    • In Episode 31, Khan Digifer is taken aback when minor character Kirara not only calls him "strangely dressed", she also addresses him as "oji-san" (i.e. a term used for an older man, roughly analogous to calling him "Mister"). He insists on her creating a monster so he can show her his powers.
  • Precocious Crush: Ippei's little sister Kana has a massive crush on Naoto.
  • Product Placement: Daichi takes Kana and her group of friends to a McDonald's in episode 11.
    • Takeshi's computers being all made by NEC, and in one episode, his video camera used to do the evil plot there being a Victor-branded one.
  • Reset Button: On a smaller scale, Gridman's Fixer Beam (which is augmented by the Assist Programs when he combines with them) is regularly used to undo all the damage the Kaiju do to the Computer World.
  • Salaryman: Naoto's father Soichiro is one of these. The negative aspects (e.g. he's busy much of the time, he stresses about his job a lot, he sometimes has to work weekends) are portrayed as a fact of life.
  • Spell My Name with an S:
    • How Gridman is spelled. Usually, it's "Gridoman" (as in the Japanese way), but the song Yume no Hero spells his name like "Gridmen" (the English way of saying 'man' or 'men').
    • In Episode 31, Ippei tries to send Gridman into combat but is unable to. When Yuka arrive, she points out Ippei had typed in "Gridoman" instead of Gridman.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: One episode shows that some families have moved away from the kids' neighbourhood, and a shop specialising in computers and other electronics closes up shop (much to the kids' dismay, as that's where they got many of the components to build Junk). The shop owner outright states that since so many disasters and problems have been caused by computers, his business went completely downhill and he has no choice but to close his doors. The families who move away explicitly state that all the weird happenings are just too much for them.
    • In addition, Naoto takes this rather badly. Despite stopping Khan Digifer when he causes trouble, the fact that they're no closer to actually taking Khan Digifer out makes him feel as though it was All for Nothing. Yuka and Ippei shake him out of it by pointing out that if Naoto and Gridman didn't act, even worse things would have happened.
  • Third Wheel: Ippei sometimes angsts that he's this whenever Yuka and Naoto seem to be having a moment.
  • Transformation Trinket: The Axcepter.
  • Twice Shy: Naoto and Yuka like each other, but since they've been friends for so long they genuinely seem unsure of how to react when the topic actually comes up in a serious manner.
    • As an example, on one occasion Ippei tries to get her to tell them if there's a boy she likes. She replies that she likes Gridman (since this was just after another of Khan Digifer's schemes and Gridman came to the rescue). Ippei immediately points out that Naoto is Gridman and starts teasing him.
    • On another, the trio are playing with a fortune-teller machine that supposedly is very accurate. Naoto is very skeptical... up until the point when the machine tells Yuka the person she likes is wearing red (the colour of the shirt Naoto was wearing), and that he likes her a lot too, adding she's very important to him. Both of them get very embarrassed and try to play it down.
  • Women Are Wiser: Yuka is generally the most level headed of the trio.
  • Villain Ball: Sometimes happens where Khan Digifer is concerned. In Episode 30, the monster is about to finish off Gridman when he's frozen with fear (due to Naoto being under the effects of the Monster of the Week). However, Khan Digifer holds it back.