「終わりなき戦い」 (Owarinaki Tatakai)
“The Never-Ending Battle”
Well, actually, it’s Rambo. Although they never actually mention the country by name, a war at this time by the Mekong Delta can only mean one thing: the Vietnam War. And so we have a Rambo who has seen things, man, allowing Concrete Revolutio to touch on a topic that I’d never thought would come up in anime: PTSD, and the entire generation of American soldiers who would come home from a failed war broken and unwanted. It’s actually a rather touchy subject that I’m not entirely comfortable with commenting on, since Concrete Revolutio has been fairly consistently critical of the United States (critical of governments and the military as a whole, really), and I’m not an American myself (I’m Australian) so I’m not exactly in tune with how American readers (hi!) feel about all of it. Perhaps a more domestic opinion will speak better to the Western audience, but I’m the only one here, so it’s what we’ll have to work with. I’ll try to refrain from many value judgments and mostly leave Concrete Revolutio to speak for itself, but if you have any comments at all, please do feel free to write on in reply below. While the Concrete Revolutio is usually pretty quiet, I really would like to hear all the voices on the rather complex issues we have this week.
In the alternative history of Concrete Revolutio, the menace that the United States of America wars against in the 20th century was, apparently, not Communism, but ‘bogeys’, what anime would call ‘youkai’. Clearly, this is not the USA that we know of; they describe themselves as the newest country in the world, which is certainly not true in our world (again, I’m Australian). And in Concrete Revolutio they have set themselves up as iconoclasts, destroyers of the old order, when that has, really, been traditionally the commies’ schtick (recently in ‘Things China Pretends Never Happened’: the Cultural Revolution). The common thread though, is this predilection for foreign intervention, and playing ‘world police’. I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to the US on this (though that does not really translate into approval)—in the Cold War, they stared down a rival superpower they framed as the great evil. And then, suddenly, they were gone, and the only superpower left was them. Left with historically unparalleled influence, and a perceived ability to redefine geopolitics, to truly change the world, would it not be irresistibly tempting to at least try?
But the cyborg commander of Concrete Revolutio sounded even madder than that. He literally compared his cause to ethnic cleansing. The ‘bogeys‘ must be eradicated. His country, having overthrown its own gods, is prepared to spread human ascendancy across the globe. It’s sounds all very Nietzsche, and very megalomaniac villain. But in the world of Concrete Revolutio, perhaps it’s not entirely? Remember, if you will, the past four or so episodes of Concrete Revolutio. In Japan, still, the supernatural thrive, and do not exactly have an easy coexistence. In mythology, youkai eat people. That’s their history. I can see why sharing a planet with them makes people uncomfortable, like sharing a pool with a shark would. Do we make friendly with the shark, or do we get a bigger boat and kill it? Concrete Revolutio‘s USA has chosen the latter, and will very willingly do it for you. And to tie it back to the moral questions of Concrete Revolutio, since they see their cause as just, all that stands against them are evil.
The high ideals of the nation, though, do not translate well to the needs of the simple soldier. Concrete Revolutio has also very much been about the individual vs society, and the individual does not win in The Never-Ending Battle either. On the macro scale, the US may be fighting for all mankind, but on a micro scale, lives are destroyed. It’s not just innocents killed, but that in the pursuit of ‘the greater good’, the common man is lost. The best the US military could do for its soldiers here was to have them die as heroes, because there is no way to live like one. Jirou admires the simple desire for power to do good, but Concrete Revolutio illustrates a quandary. When individuals gain power, their scope is only narrow, self-centred issues, like with Human-man, and they clash with each other (and then Shinjuku happens). But the greater good, that tries to subsume all these desires, tramples the individual underfoot. What are we to do? Master Sergeant Jonathan Morrel’s solution, in his madness: even more power, to not just topple the gods but to take their place. Here he is as Shiva, Hindu god of destruction. He directly symbolises, I think, the mindset of humanity in the 20th as it looked at all it has wrought and was filled with terror.
Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.