「『黒い霧』の中で」 (“‘Kuroi Kiri’ no Naka de”)
“Inside the ‘Black Fog'”

When I was a wee lad, back when humans were just beginning to scribble mammoths on cave walls, I collected bugs. Actually, I didn’t so much collect them as catch them, stuff them in brown paper bags, then lock them in a drawer. Then I’d get sad when they all, to nobody’s surprise but my own, died. It was quite a grisly affair, all in all, and perhaps the reason why, a bit later in life, I developed a phobia for bugs of all kinds. More probable, though, is that God was punishing me for being such a horrible little psychopath as a child.

My point is: why, Concrete Revolutio, why? This is my first week on this show!

The arc of the moral universe is long, and it hates Passerby.

Secret origins

This week, Concrete Revolutio continues having little respect for its frenetic dance between a pastel-coloured past and the grim twilight of the present (or is it present and future?). It’s a bit clearer what’s going on compared to the first episode, though, because the two lines are much easier to connect. They are seven years apart from each other, and feature as protagonist the shapeshifting ghost Fuurouta (Nakamura Eri) What seems to be going on with Concrete Revolutio is that, instead of like the usual narratives that will introduce all the characters first before drawing them into some sort of conflict, it is trying to do both at once. There are positives and negatives to this. On one hand, it makes the series harder to follow (even flashing dates on the screen means we have to read dates, and nobody wants to read in an anime), but on the other hand it allows for immediate juxtaposition between characters pre- and post-development. Case in point: Fuurouta before, Fuurouta after.

So, what’s going on here? Fuurouta, whose self-described purpose is to befriend children, unwittingly commits genocide against a new friend. That’s… pretty harsh, epsecially for just the second episode. I actually raised an eyebrow at how flippantly the entire concept of eradicating an entire sentient species was treated within the show. They casually bring out this extreme bioweapon, let some kid who they don’t even employ take it, and then, whoops, everything’s dead. And then I suppose nobody thinks about it again until the princess comes for revenge. And to be clear, even without knowing the identity of the black fog, what the Superhuman Bureau did is still technically horrific, but doing it this way dispels the idea that the real mission of the Superhuman Bureau is to protect superhumans. While we’re told it’s a rule of the Concrete Revolutio universe that for every villain that arises there will be a hero to appose it, the Superhuman Bureau is evidently not very interested in that. Naïve good vs evil is kid’s stuff. You wanted to grow up, Fuurouta? This is what it tastes like.

Looking ahead ~ fantasy vs reality

One hears the phrase ‘fan pandering’ or ‘otaku pandering’ tossed around as slurs against certain anime now and then, as a shorthand for a show marketing to the lowest common denominator. But really, with so much of the industry by nerds for nerds, it’s just the natural course of the industry. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; knowing your audience and being able to appeal to them is an advantage. And, occassionally, you get a show like Concrete Revolutio, where the producers genuinely seem to be their own biggest fans. Not only does Concrete Revolutio celebrate anime as fiction, there’s a great love in it for all parts of the Japanese nerd-dom. Everything in it is a reference to something, and while this second episode may not have the same outrageous enthusiasm as the first one did about Ultraman, there’s still the sense that, even with the heavy themes, someone on the staff is having a lot of fun. The 60’s was a great choice to set this show in (notice their dedication to 4:3 graininess and the artefacts of the time, too); in the West, it was the Silver Age of comic books, and I’m sure something similar was going on in the Japanese imagination as well (to cross the two, Fuurouta to the Superhuman Bureau would be the Flash to the Justice League). Giant insects, goofy poltergeists and transforming aliens definite feel at home here.

The 60’s was generally a horrible time for everybody, but that’s probably also what drove some of the very idealistic media of the time. ‘The people’, such as they were, were beginning to awaken to civil consciousness, and there was still a general feeling that things could be better than this. Thus the clash between idealism of the age and the ruthless cynicism that is always the ruling paradigm. More to our shared humanity than realpolitik, or something. And here’s Concrete Revolutio, blatantly a comic book universe, with good and evil as clear as it could be, and still struggling with morality vs expediency. ‘Fight against reality and make fantasy the victor,’ the tagline was. Fantasy seems to be the underdog here, but that just makes it more enticing to root for.




  1. The choice of the time period is inspired and, frankly, pretty bold. Japanese media is not known from for making political commentary outside of a very narrow specific kind, and the 60’s is the kind of period which is practically impossible to separate from the political state of the society and the direction of thinking at that time. Ideas of utopia/dystopia was heavily explored in the literature and in SciFi in particular, and it looks like we are getting bits and pieces here as well – heavy media censorship always being a dead giveaway, for starters. Wonder how far they’ll take this, or maybe it’ll just end up being a landing strip for the plot without any follow up. After all we are talking Diet politicians forgetting their ancient pact of cooperation with bug invaders, so. Who knows.

    People seem to have a problem with the show’s lack of exposition and supposedly being all over the place, to which I have to wonder just how thoroughly people now require their information already pre-chewed. Given only the roughest of settings, watching the plot unravel as it goes instead and picking up the parts of the picture from them just being there and not explicitly pointed out has been a basis of many great shows from Baccano! to Steins;Gate. Also another comparison that immediately comes to mind is another Bones production, Darker Than Black, and I know that Concrete Revolutio is practically nega-DTB in terms of a tone approach, and more literally, color palette, but that all there is really. The world with the bargain bin of super abilities of unexplained nature with a semi-underground war going on where it’s unclear who’s right, if anyone. And between them a MC who’s actually an ordinary human (spoiler?) but not really. then again, I might be reading way too much into it, and it’s the nature of the world – that comic book universe – is just such that the comparisons from many formative works that since became staples come to mind naturally.

    On the subject of the the bug genocide, I’m puzzled at how quickly and casually it’s played out. Pretty sure that the amount of time it took to get the whole thing done was less then the magical girl transformation from the first episode. One second he grabs the can and just sort of leaps there and you are just like, wait this looks like it’s somewhat more significant than it looks wait what are you doing listen to her wait…huh. well, I guess that is a thing that happened. Also, I’m thisclose to making a magical bug spray joke, but I’m not making it. Or am I?

    All and all, definitely curious to see what this series has in store and how it plays out. Sadly, by the looks of it, it’s going to largely fly under the radar – extra kudos for picking it up, Passerby, and also, as usual, great writeup.

  2. Yay! So glad you guys picked this one up! I’m really enjoying what I’ve seen so far.

    The time skips are definitely an unconventional way to tell a story, but like you’ve pointed out, it’s incredibly good for showing the juxtaposition between a simpler past and the darker present. Something clearly went on between these years to result in the complicated relationship between the characters now, we just don’t know what (yet). That in itself makes me curious to watch more, and I feel like every episode we’re given little morsels of information that hint to the reason, which will eventually tie together when we finally see the full picture.

    We got some more hints as to why Jirou quit the Superhuman Bureau, such as when they asked him why he wanted Fuurouta to join, and he answered “he thinks we fight evil and protect good superhumans. If he’s here, I’ll always be able to remember that.” It’s subtle but I think it implies that the Bureau’s actions aren’t always along that simple and innocent principle of justice, and uses methods that Jirou doesn’t always fully agree with. (Notice how even when the Bureau has decided to use the rather drastic measure of a lethal virus to eradicate the Tartaros, Jirou still insisted that he negotiated with them first)

    Anyway, great episode! I didn’t think I would like Fuurouta but he’s growing on me. I don’t really mind the time-skips too much, the information seems scattered in the beginning but you just gotta hold them in your mind until the end of the episode where it all gets tied together and finally make sense.

  3. When I was a wee lad, back when humans were just beginning to scribble mammoths on cave walls, I collected bugs.

    You’re old as balls, Passerby.

    Concrete Revolutio is definitely the hidden – sparkly, shiny, colourful – gem of the season. If you hadn’t picked it up, I would have done so myself! Once you distinguish the past from the present in the timeline of events, it’s quite easy to follow. The pacing is a little strange at times, but I’m ready to roll with whatever BONES throw at us here.

  4. Concrete Revolutio is definitely an interesting show. So far, its been crazy and quick, and I do like the aesthetics of the setting and the superhumans running around. My only complaint is the timing for the flashbacks. If you’re not aware of the pattern it can get confusing at times, especially when so early in the show we’ve barely understood the plot of the story. But if director Mizushima can tie in all the episodes together it could be an exciting ride.

  5. The whole frienship with the lady bug was just too fast for me to be believable and to play a serious part in the future-era climax. Still, I liked the whole idea of nonchalant genocide by virus. It seemed a deconstruction of 3 things:

    -Silver age (or Japanese equivalent) of having clearly good guys and bad guys, the later often monsters or aliens whose demise not only shouldn’t be regretted, but celebrated.

    -Terrorism (as the hero pointed out, just cause or not, they were killing and comitting crimes) and the drastic measures some are willing to take to end it.

    -Immigration. Yeah. Remember how easy it was for the Bureau to label them “invaders” when they thought they were South American bug lords? But in the end the catch was that they were from Japan all along and it was the Japanese people who forgot. A bit like the Emishi and the Ainu, now that I think about it.

    This show is certainly different from others right now. I’ll keep taking a look at it.

    1. The pacing definitely could have been a bit slower but, yeah, the point is there. Your latter two points are heavy ones that I’m not sure if Concrete Revolutio will hold on to; as Lampazo points out above, Japanese media isn’t all that comfortable going off the established script.

      1. True enough. Still, there’s always, as Tolkien said, “applicability”. The themes can be used, even if they don’t want to.

        (Truth be told, I think each episode will devote itself to a different theme for each character; so they touch the issues, without the need of exploring them in more depth)

  6. I really want to like Concrete Revelutio… but the characters all seem far too thin and unsubstantial for the weight of the actions they are throwing around. Time skips that jump strait to “consequences”, instead of showing some struggle over past and future decisions, aren’t helping here either. We need more character development soon, if the show is going to become less flippant.

    There’s only so long I can be distracted by all the bight colors and bug-moe. Bug. moe. O_o

  7. The first ep was okay….but now, I’ve lost all interest in this show. IMO, the impact of what Ghost Boy did would’ve meant more if Bug Gal wasn’t so….human! The writers should’ve have more faith in the audience ability to sympathize with the tragedy of a non-human race. Why is it that the queen can change form (even as a child) and the rest couldn’t?! In fact, lets ask another question? Had the queen been a king instead, would it have changed the affect on the viewers? Would we have then perceived the king as evil at the end when they attacked Ghost boy out of vengeance?

  8. Everyone’s discussing the show seriously, while I’m just here being sad about how Kikki said that Jiro and the other girl (what was her name?) were going out. KikkixJiro 🙁
    And I must be the only one that doesn’t really care that they just killed off a whole population of insect things. I sort of get that it’s different from how the organization was promised to be, and this seems to show they really don’t care about protecting superhumans and so on, but I really don’t find it especially important since it feels like all along people have been resorting to drastic means to remove potential threats.
    I found it quite unexpected that the future and present(?) are seven years apart, since it was longer than I would expect. I wonder how many years later it will be when we finally know what’s going on.

  9. I’m digging this show. It’s kind of weird and as noted in the blog the way it discarded blowing away a sentient species was rather strange. But I like the Art and starting to enjoy the “flash forwards” which adds a layer of depth to the show. Seems kind of interesting. Will watch it for a bit

    Rick Anime

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