「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.