「運命の幻影」 (Unmei no Genei)
“Mirage of Destiny”
Dense episode this week, which I suppose should be expected whenever time travel is involved. Unlike my expectations last week, though, it seems the story is only tangentially about time police; more involved are Japanese ninja police. And Concrete Revolutio‘s time travel mechanics are not especially rigorous, and work much like Concrete Revolutio itself: mash it all together into a timey-wimey ball, paradoxes be damned. That is, as long as it’s narratively convenient, go for it.
Since Mirage of Destiny is not a story about the time police, and its time travel mechanics are incredibly permission, I wouldn’t say it’s actually about time travel. Time travel is just a device. Rather, I think it tries to talk about many other things, like regrets, ‘growing up’, idealism vs pragmatism vs cynicism, and whatever other subtext you’d like to read into it; this episode of Concrete Revolutio, perhaps more than even previous ones, is packed. Just take the character of Jaguar, who has been a bit of a foil for Jirou. Mirage of Destiny goes through basically all his character development basically in one episode. How does it do it? By making the three stages of Jaguar’s growth literally three different characters, using the handy dandy time travel conceit, and throwing them all together (it’s true, ‘mash’ is the only setting Concrete Revolutio has). We have Jaguar when he was still a time cop, still very fresh. We have the ‘oldest’ Jaguar, the one who had gone through a lot and founded the Superhuman Bureau. The most significant, and most radical, Jaguar is the ‘middle’ one, who heads IQ, using his advanced technology to purge the world (a very extreme version of Earth-chan, it is noted). I’ve been expecting more hard line vigilante groups to pop up, as opposed to the easygoing kids of the BL Club, but not as flagrant as the IQ.
The IQ and IQ!Jaguar stand for expediency, because apparently they don’t believe in things like due process and proportionality. ‘Justice’ is for children, is their argument, which is naturally why Jirou opposes the IQ. That’s not surprising; what is more interesting is that the IQ and the Superhuman Bureau oppose each other. It just goes to show the change of philosophy between IQ!Jaguar and Bureau!Jaguar. Neither of his organisations are all that pleasant, which one would you prefer? The violent extremists, or the government sanctioned conspiracy? It’s not much of a choice either way, sure, but the Superhuman Bureau is at least a reflection of Jaguar’s realisation that a gang of homicidal extremists like the IQ isn’t really the way to make the world a better place. Jaguar doesn’t seem to be really a bad sort, so I wonder if the shady government conspiracy that is the Superhuman Bureau is really his intention. Sure, Bureau!Jaguar would call idealism childish, but so would IQ!Jaguar, and it’s evident that the former doesn’t really approve of the latter, in the same way one looks back on their adolescent flings and tries desperately to disown themselves. Yet, Bureau!Jaguar shoots his past self without hesitation. Is it because, yes, expediency is the ‘adult’ thing? Or is the adult part that there is only redemption in death? Is that why we needed someone ‘childish’ like Kikko to save Jaguar? Even though giving Dr Hitoyoshi time travel technology is the worst idea ever conceived?
And here’s the part where Concrete Revolutio starts being meta. Concrete Revolutio is mashup of a lot of anime and other fantasy, arguably very childish things. IQ!Jaguar is right in that the Equus is quite a silly design. There’s no real practicality to make weapons humanoid. The most efficient military vehicles we have today are essentially nothing more than weapon platforms, because aesthetics is secondary to packing the biggest gun. But transforming centaur mecha are cool, and that goes for everything else that have been assimilated into Concrete Revolutio. Magic, ninja and, of course, superheros are things we’re supposed to grow out of. But my experience as a nerd has been this: everybody likes robots as children, you suffer a bit of a stigma for it a teenager, and once you’re an adult you can remind people we’re putting robots on comets so it doesn’t matter what your hobbies are. I think Jaguar’s three time divergent forms mirrors this. ‘The ones who act the most manly are usually the ones who still love toys‘. Damn straight. Toys just get more awesome as you get older.
There are apparently no superhumans in Concrete Revolutio‘s 25th century, which I take to mean that the future ain’t gonna be any fun. But at the same time, they’re making genetically spliced time travellers. Somebody is keeping the children’s dreams alive.