「鉄骨のひと」 (Tekkotsu no Hito)
“An Iron Couple”

Concrete Revolutio spins the genre lottery wheel this week, and lands on… science fiction! Or at least, more science fiction-y than before, full of androids and gynoids, and could well have been an abridged Isaac Asimov story except with more giant mecha (a despairingly under-powered giant mecha). I was actually expected more of a cop drama, starring hot-headed inspector Shiba Raito (Suzumura Kenichi), some strange amalgam between Javert and Inspector Gadget (they rebuilt him, made him faster, stronger). It did sort of start that way, as the story of an honest cop trying to uncover trying to take down a violent and dangerous criminal, but the Feds hinder him at every turn. Actually, I wasn’t actually sure what the Superhuman Bureau was trying to do this episode, because what Jirou says he wants to do is usually not what they do at all. I suppose it’s the way of secret government organisations with no independent oversight to be completely obfuscating. At least we got to see some of the other powers the Superhuman Bureau has at its disposal; the femme fatale Jirou’s dating(?) has yokai thing going, while one of the others has a cool pocketwatch he borrowed from the Touhou Project (so, both equally Japanese). This means all we haven’t seen is the old guy’s superhuman-ness (putting aside the mystery of how Jirou got his flaming arm and super strength), but since he’s the old guy and the leader it’s bound to be something truly terrifying to be reserved for a more climatic juncture.

The plot itself wasn’t too hard to follow, even with the jumping around. It was slightly rushed, as usual, and finished on a cliffhanger that I’m not even sure they’ll come back to (though I’m assuming they’ll spend more time on the ‘future’ once they’ve done setting up the ‘past’), but it’s not anything so new that you’ll get lost in it. The discussions of the usual sci-fi themes—machine intelligence, whether programmed emotions are ‘real’, robots being morally superior because they’re strictly bound by rules—are fairly light and inconclusive, which is unfortunately to be expected considering that there’s only an episode to spend on the entire thing. More important to the overall myth arc is the fact somewhere between the ‘past’ and the ‘future’ the world apparently really went to the rotter (the good detective seemed to have gone mental over it), that the robots were a relic from a more idealistic time (programmed as they were with a moral code), and the continual tension over the search of an objective ‘justice’. They’re still building on those, so I’ll forgive them for now for leaving so much discussion in the air. What I’ll take issue with is how lacking in genre in savvy the plot was considering how much it expected genre-savviness from the audience (to skimp on details). Why would anyone think that two robots merging would create a bomb? I suppose people were still very much haunted by nukes back in that time, but everyone knows: two robots combine to make a super robot. Duh. Come on, it’s hard to buy into your plot if your characters are just stupid.

Looking ahead ~ the many colours of Concrete Revolutio

After three episodes of Concrete Revolutio, I think I get it. As in, what they’re trying to do. As we discussed last week, Concrete Revolutio is quite enamored with all the fiction involving superhumans, and I think it expects its audience to be too. That’s why it shorthands so much of its narrative, because it relies on us being already familiar with whatever fiction it’s deriving itself from any given episode. It’s less interesting in developing, say, a serious story about artificial intelligence than in slotting that genre into its world. This is because its intention is not to be a robot anime or a magical girl anime or an alien invasion anime—rather, it just means to take those portrayals of good versus evil and then probably make a point about them as a whole. That is, they imply more story than they actually tell, and are just looking for a common theme. It’s an interesting approach, I will say, but it does leave every episode feeling a bit undeveloped, and more like we’re watching a Reader’s Digest collection of some of fantasy’s greatests hits rather than a great hit in and off itself. Hopefully their genre mashing will eventually build into something notable. We’ll have to see.

Maybe they’ll start to do a bit of that now? Next week it seems they’ll dig a bit into Jirou’s past, and a better understanding of our protagonist is always a prequisite to the plot getting deeper. At the very least, we’ll have a gradual increase in coherency as we obtain more information. I don’t need everything to come together quite yet, but I do want to see confidence in the direction of the show. That shouldn’t be too hard.

Full-length images: 08.




    1. I feel the same way, I have no idea what the heck is happening except that Jirou and possibly several other superhumans have gone rogue, but that’s pretty much it unless we get some hint why Jirou became a vigilante.

      Nonetheless, this show might be like Punchline, where the plot meanders for a few episodes then suddenly surprises us with an eye opener. Otherwise we might as well see what’s next in this crazy world of Concrete Revolutio.

  1. The rushing is hurting the series. But I think the worst part is the mixed bag with genre-savviness that Passerby mentioned. On the one hand, the series loves to deconstruct heroic tropes. Sometimes with a twist, other times with funny exaggeration. Yet there are situations in which it plays them straight for no (apparently) good reason.

    Like that ending with the two robots merging… who somehow are programmed to defend justice (because weapon-developing scientists are so good at moral dilemmas), and the characters start fighting For Great Justice. That looked more cheesy than the parts from the “naive” past timeline, frankly.

    1. I think, for the most part, Concrete Revolutio is going to play the heroes and villains straight. For example, Kikko is a classic magical girl in almost all ways, including the relentless idealism. It’s the contrast between characters from idealistic settings and the cynical world of Concrete Revolutio that makes things interesting.

      So in this case, scientists making a ROBOT OF JUSTICE! is not a new thing (Astro Boy, Mega Man, the three laws of robotics), and the point is because they are not supposed to have a malleable moral code they maintain their sense of justice even in a world that’s gone corrupt.

  2. I can see this being hard to get into because the storytelling method is very different from what anime fans are used to. This show more in common with “The Authority” or “Watchmen” (writer also said he was inspired by Watchmen).

    So far I’m enjoying this series. I do agree that it feels rushed at times, but the mystery of the show has kept my interest.

  3. I agree that they skip many details and explanations because they expect us -the viewers- to already be knowledgeable about the genre and subject matter, in a way it’s like Cabin in the Woods, if you didn’t know all those horror tropes and terminology you won’t really enjoy the movie as much as someone who adores horror movies and watches them regularly, and in the same way Cabin in the Woods subverted Horror cliches and celebrated Horror Tropes Concrete Revolution is really a celebration of everything superhero related from a Japanese perspective (specially Sentai series, but that’s not the only thing they are celebrating here) .. and i adore it for that.

  4. I suppose people were still very much haunted by nukes back in that time, but everyone knows: two robots combine to make a super robot. Duh. Come on, it’s hard to buy into your plot if your characters are just stupid.

    The way I saw it, Past!Jirou was the only guy idealistic(?) enough to think “great weapon” meant something other than “bomb”. It’s been shown in the last three episodes that Jirou appears to be the only one trying to look beyond the current superhuman threat-of-the-week; everyone else takes the threat at face value, dismissing Jirou’s input as wishful thinking.

  5. I love this show it full of insanity :P. They basically threw everything and the kitchen sink in here lol!!!!!! It’s definitely on of those shows you need to watch just because it’s fun no point in dissecting it just sit back and enjoy the insanity unfold :P.


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