Denkou Choujin 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. Another anime, SSSS.DYNɅZENON, would premiere in 2021.
Denkou Choujin Gridman provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adjective Noun Fred: The title.
- Adult Fear: Every time Daichi is put in danger by one of Khan Digifer's monsters rampaging. In the very first episode, he's in a hospital about to be operated when the systems go haywire, preventing anyone from helping him.
- In episode 3, Daichi and Ippei's sister Kanna get trapped in the back of a truck with no way out and nobody knowing where they are.
- In episode 27, Daichi gets abducted by a couple in a car right off the street and is held for a ransom.
- 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.
- 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 Kanna he was on tv but she doesn't believe him.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- HeelFace Turn: Takeshi after being freed from Kahn Digifer's control. 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.
- Hodgepodge Computer: The main trio's computer Junk. It includes parts like pistons for some reason.
- 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.
- Meaningful Name: Junk, since it's a computer made of, well, junk!
- 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.
- Spiritual Successor: It's an Ultraman series in all but name. Most of its crew would go on to create Ultraman Tiga. The show itself would get one in Ultraman X.
- Transformation Trinket: The Axcepter.