「巨神たちの時代」 (Kyoujin-tachi no Jidai)
“The Age of Titans”
I have twenty pages of NUTS jokes still to make, but I’ll spare you all the bad (read: genius) puns this week because I wanted to divert away from your regularly scheduled Concrete Revolutio post into a bit of a related topic. As you know, Concrete Revolutio references many comic books, anime and special effects shows, but for this episode I actually think that a good comparison can be made to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The Claude personality (based on Jin based on Jirou—you didn’t expect Concrete Revolutio to be straightforward, did you?) that still resides within the helmets does a pretty good One Ring to Rule Them All impression, which I think would be pretty interesting to talk about. So I’m just going to run with it and see how well the metaphor holds.
I’m going to assume that most people have read The Lord of the Rings or have at least seen the movies. If you haven’t, then you really should; not only are Tolkien’s work a literary touchstone that more or less define our modern impression of fantasy, they’re also really good. Quick summary for those who have no clue what we’re talking about (inconceivable!): the titular Lord of Rings created a power artefact (a ring; what a twist!) that offers those who hold it incredible power but also ultimately corrupts their intentions for that power to evil. A standard fable about the good intentions that pave the road to hell. And it’s sort of what Claude (let’s just call it Claude) does, though of course the line between good and evil is not so clearly defined in Concrete Revolutio. What Claude does do, though, is speak to past glory, to entrenched ideals, and use those amibitions to sow, perhaps not evil, but certainly violence and destruction. The helmet offers power, certainly, but power to what end? That’s a question all superhumans grapple with in Concrete Revolutio.
In The Lord of the Rings, the good guys manage to get their hands on the ring, and have to decide what to do with it. The majority opinion is that the ring must be destroyed, but there is a dissenting voice: why not keep the ring, and use its power to champion good and noble causes? In Concrete Revolutio, this position is embodied by the Imperial Ads lady. She is Boromir. In a world full of elf lords and powerful wizards, Boromir was just a man. And for him, to have this power but choose not to use it was either negligence or folly. And so it is with the Imperial Ads lady. She sees all these superhumans with all these amazing powers. But she also sees all these problems in the world. Why haven’t these incredible superhumans fixed them? And Claude whispers, if she had the power, she could fix them. Doesn’t exactly work out. In Concrete Revolutio doing good is really hard. Take Professor Hitoyoshi. We learn more about his past this week, and while he’s still mostly an amoral scientist, there’s one thing he tried to do right: protect Jirou from those nasty Americans (sorry, Americans). But then, whoops. We’ve been lead to believe that there was some great conspiracy behind the death of the Rainbow Knight , but turns out it was all mostly a misunderstanding. Perhaps it’s more comforting to think there is an evil force behind the bad things that happen (as Imperial Ads’ propaganda film pretends) as opposed to bad things happening for no real reason. What’s the point of having these lofty ideals about good vs evil when there’s not actually a tangible evil?
The Lord of the Rings is often considered to have a much more of a black and white morality, which may certainly be so if we compare it to Concrete Revolutio. But it’s interesting the ones who are entrusted with holding onto the ring, the ones who resist its temptation, and who ultimately save the world are not the noble kings or wise sages, plain hobbits. They do not have high ideals, nor aspire to great heroism. They value simple, homely things like good food and warm beds. Many have tried to read a political subtext into The Lord of the Rings, maybe a West vs East ideology, but Tolkien always denied it. In his novel, ‘good’ was not a high ideal, not defined by this titanic struggle against darkness. Good was something simple, down to earth, and part of our shared humanity that may be forgotten from time to time. And perhaps Concrete Revolutio agrees; perhaps the talk about ideals and conceptions of justice and changing the world just make things too complicated. When there is a crying child, you should help them. That seems to be something everyone can agree with. Concrete Revolutio likes to harken back to the childhoods of its audience, to a certain naivete, but perhaps it’s not a bad way to look at the world. Everybody also agreed: combining robots are damn cool. There was no need to let ourselves get hung up on the little details.