「八高超人墜落事件」 (Hakko Chōjin Tsuiraku Jiken)
“Hakko Superhuman Crash Incident”

I’m aware that writer Aikawa Shou was inspired by Watchmen when he was creating Concrete Revolutio, but it’s evident that Alan Moore’s influence does not stop there. There seems to be a healthy amount of V for Vendetta mixed into this story arc as well. An untrustworthy government obsessed with control, performing horrific experiments in secret, and a masked antihero attempts to bring it down. A bit less anarchy, and a few more ninja, and that’s Concrete Revolutio.

I don’t consider cribbing its plot from a Western graphic novel a mark against Concrete Revolutio. In the first place, there’s nothing new under the sun; creativity is about using old ideas in new ways. And, frankly, Concrete Revolutio has never pretended that it wasn’t entirely derivative, and in fact has great fun with it. Watchmen mashed with all things Japan has turned out to be incredibly entertaining to watch thus far, and now V for Vendetta is just another ingredient thrown into the pot to enrich the flavour, like a good curry. For most stories I would generally prefer a tighter focus, but Concrete Revolutio thrives on chaos. Even if it ends up a mess it’s almost guaranteed to be an interesting mess. So, by all means, throw in, I don’t know, Batman: The Killing Joke in there as well. Whatever makes Alan Moore even more unhappy. Go nuts.

I was in fact expecting this episode to be even more nuts than what we got, because of the entry of Russian superhuman Golubaya Laika into the fray. I was hoping he’d ignite some Cold War tensions as the Great Soviet People’s Hero or something, but although he did get shot down by the American Master Ultima, nothing came out of it. I did want to learn more of the human rocket’s story, since Concrete Revolutio has so far been pretty hard on the US and Japanese governments and it’d be interesting to see how things were on the other side of the Iron Curtain. But Golubaya Laika was not a Soviet ambassador, rather more an international celebrity like Earth-chan, so he didn’t give any new insights. Funny story about his name, though. In our world, Laika was the name of the dog the Soviets sent into orbit, the first animal to go into space. At that time, spaceflight technology was still young, and there was no way to retrieve her. The Soviet government at the time claimed that Laika was euthanised before her oxygen ran out, and Laika was celebrated as a martyr and a symbol of the prowess of Soviet science. In truth, she had died much earlier of overheating due to faulty engineering.

In the context of Concrete Revolutio, make of that what you will.

Looking ahead ~ going to get worse before it gets better

We stand at an interesting point in Concrete Revolutio. We have entirely run out of good guys. Jirou is confused, Claude/Jin has been providing Kikko the suspicious stimulants masquerading as medicine, and now Kikko has gone crazy. Nobody else is very relevant (not even the Psy-kicker, who was only around because we needed someone to read minds). There are no reserves. Woo. At the same, it’s not entirely clear how ‘bad’ the bad guys are. Imperial Ads claims to just be marketers, but why are they associated with Claude? Are the fumers actually malevolent, and what do they want with superhumans? Even the eternally shifty Dr Hitoyoshi could have more of a story, because Claude killed the call before Hitoyoshi got a chance to make his case. The dividing line in this conflict is not very clear, both because of the murkyness of the plot and the greyness of Concrete Revolutio‘s morality. Every party claims to be acting for the greater good, and perhaps they’re all telling the truth. Certainly, reality is no less messy than the fantasy of Concrete Revolutio.

Next week will be the final episode of this cour of Concrete Revolutio, and I don’t see things working out in this short period of time. Likely, things will go very far south, and we finally witness the moment Jirou turns his back on the Superhuman Bureau (though at this point I’m more interested in how Kikko ends up going back). The future of Concrete Revolutio that we have been shown did look pretty bleak, so there’s no way we’re getting a happy ending quite yet. I just hope that we don’t end on too much of a cliffhanger that will leave me all jittery about waiting for the next season.

 

Preview

8 Comments

  1. There is only Earth-chan to save the day. Seriously I hope she shows up again. She is one of the very few innocent superheroes among the ones with grey morality and hidden agendas. The series is very captivating where every characters really seem to play some parts. I would think that Russian Superhero will show up more in the flashback to find out where he stands. I think this is the anime that I look forward to the next season. This anime is truly the only one that isn’t afraid to do things differently even when it will scare away the most anime viewers.

    Soliloquy
    1. Earth-Chan’s not completely innocent, either. Remember when she destroyed the factories for producing smog? She doesn’t have any actual moral compass, she’s just to programmed to respond to anyone that’s in distress

      v1cious
      1. Doesn’t that in fact show that she’s completely innocent? The factories were causing all this pollution, so shut down the factories. Such straightforward, childlike logic. And she’s also pretty insistent on what is good and what is evil. Even if it was programmed, I wouldn’t say she doesn’t have a moral compass.

    2. True. Earth-chan’s episode highlighted the dangers and limitations of a black and white morality, and a childlike outlook at the world that only sees the immediate effects and doesn’t address the causes and the interwoven interests in any problem. In hindsight, after witnessing how awful things are allowed, condoned or even supported in the name of those deep causes and interwoven interests, Earth-chan’s simple moral compass does far more good than harm.

      Of course, it’s good to remember that Earth-chan could do what she did because she was very powerful and incredibly popular.

      It’s a matter of popularity, isn’t it? Claude is dangerous not so much because of his knowledge and powers, but because he’s becoming a hero in the eyes of many. Wasn’t the stunt with the ship made known thanks to that advertising agency? Earth-chan is bad enough, but a second untouchable superhuman would be a disaster for some people.

      Mistic
  2. That talk of “superhuman operations in the continent before the war”, given Japan’s history, sounded horribly sinister, even as a throwaway line. Researchers taken to the US, Japanese territories under US jurisdiction until not long ago, children sent there for experiments…

    The creator of this series was inspired by Watchmen? Is there more information about it? I can see the parallelisms with V of Vendetta, but, frankly, they are so general that it could be inspired by many other stories in both Japanese and Western media. I mean, Claude’s wardrobe, words and mannerisms seem to be a carbon copy of Zero’s in Code Geass.

    Mistic
    1. Honestly, the Watchmen thing is simply something I’ve read Aikawa Shou as having said. I don’t have a first-hand source. One can certainly see the influence, though, starting with the idealistic assortment of superheroes in a grim world. In any case, fiction inspires fiction, and the influences one sees depends, of course, on the works one is familiar with. And for Concrete Revolutio I think its intention is to reference a whole heap of things in order to build something that seems universal.

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