「君はまだ歌えるか」 (Kimi wa Mada Utaeru ka)
“Can You Still Sing?”

The defining nature of Concrete Revolutio is chaos. Whether you managed to keep up or not, though, let us agree that Concrete Revolutio has a method to its madness, and uses its chaos to its advantage. Now that we are at the finale, it is more clear than ever that everybody in Concrete Revolutio has a gambit, some easier to see through than others. Jirou’s was obvious, since he was basically just trying to redo Shinjuku, but on a larger scale. Also, we already know that Concrete Revolutio draws a lot of inspiration from Alan Moore’s Watchmen, so if you’ve read that you would understand what Jirou intended instantly. Jaguar’s gambit, though, was less straightforward, though we know that he’s always been of the more decent sort so we could have guessed that he had something up his sleeve. What I didn’t expect at all, though, was the Imperial Ads guy sudden villainous backstory. We could probably have guessed that he’s a nihilistic megalomaniac—those are a dime a dozen—but he also one ups Jirou as the nuclear bomb baby by being something of the Tunguska event baby. I suppose it’s more or less appropriate, since he ultimately plays Jirou’s foil (or Jirou plays his foil, whatever). It’s just that I was thinking he was more the Lex Luthor type, as opposed to the fallen Superman type. I don’t mind, since all I really wanted was that someone punch him in the smarmy face before this was all over, and the epic fight scene we got gave us plenty of opportunities. Considering the convoluted, grey morality of Concrete Revolutio perhaps the gratification of good socking evil is too straightforward, but I’ll take it.

Speaking of grey morality, let’s go back to Watchmen. For those of you who haven’t read the graphic novel or watched the movie (spoilers incoming!), Watchmen was written before the collapse of the USSR, during the Cold War. Then, the world was still fearing the two superpowers sparking World War III and ending civilisation as we knew it. Fun times. In the Watchmen world, though, there are superheroes, but they are only there to be deconstructed. Thus it’s not heroism or destruction of ‘the great evil’ that saves humanity from nuclear annihilation, but paranoia about a possible alien attack that makes the USSR and the USA work together. That is, fear and hate win the day, even if it is for the greater good.

Concrete Revolutio ends up more optimistic than Watchmen, definitely, but it does certainly do variations of the theme. Superhumans—heroes—seem only to be able exist if there are also villains. It is evil that defines good, not the other way around. Jirou only calls himself a superhuman, finds his heroic resolve, because he identifies a villain that he must fight. There is still a pessimistic version of moral objectivity here. Concrete Revolutio debates throughout its entire run about what exactly is ‘good’, but it is certain about ‘evil’, and there is plenty of it. The cynical conclusion: good is the fantasy, evil is the reality.

The tagline of Concrete Revolutio though, was to ‘fight against reality and make fantasy the victor’. And, in this finale, fantasy wins. In the stories that come after the Choujin Gensou, Jirou is remembered as a hero. Certainly, superhumans aren’t very compatible with reality. Concrete Revolutio has always made a point, with its strongly historical setting, that reality kinda sucks. The wars, the death, the clashes of private interests are messy, violent, and unpleasant. Superhumans must have no part in that. The very idea of a Superhuman Bureau is flawed. Superhumans cannot be a faction. They cannot be a people. They cannot be something real. Otherwise, they are exploited and twisted, like they were throughout Concrete Revolutio. Instead, they must remain in secret, as rumours and legends, only emerging to combat evil. Then, their ideals live on forever. Jirou will return someday, to fight comedy aliens, but until then he has to remain as only a shadow. The myth of Jirou inspires all the boys and girls, but Jirou the fleshy meatbag was a very flawed human, who’s mostly confused, who can’t keep any of his promises. Compare him to King Arthur, also foretold to return in Britain’s time of need. Arthur the man was a mere mortal of many failings. But Arthur, the once the future king, is a hero.

Final Impressions ~ Chronically underappreciated

So, was this a good finale? Hell yeah. Sure, Concrete Revolutio always moves way too fast, and leaves a mess when doing so (a strangely coherent mess, as we will discuss later) but this finale brought everything together. There were no loose ends, and everything was internally consistent, except for that guy who keeps forgetting he can manipulate metal. I had some doubts last week as to whether Concrete Revolutio could pull it off, but it managed to do everything a finale needed to do: wrap everything up, and send it off with a bang. The fight scenes, I must say, featured some rather stellar animation (look at all the frames in the final punch!). While the art of Concrete Animation is not always the most consistent, I believe that was a deliberate choice to make the show look more retro. With the animation always preserving the BONES quality, I’m willing to give Concrete Revolutio the benefit of the doubt regarding style.

But finales do not live by aesthetics alone. All these characters bearing all these agendas who have been driving the plot also need to work. The superhuman war is important and all, but what Concrete Revolutio has always more been about the internal conflict. The smary Imperial Ads CEO is villainous for his lack of internal conflict, instead just hopped up on his power and his schemes. In a show about moral relativism, being so cocksure is always Bad™. Fortunately, the rest of the major cast were nuanced characters, to Concrete Revolutio‘s credit. In particular, I want to draw attention to Emi, whom I’ve always had mixed feelings for, in an entirely good way. She was never particularly heroic, nor was she particularly villainous; she had her own things going on, and she played to them. She is at once a conflicted character, having to balance her love for Jirou, her duties to her people, and her own ideals for youkai/human coexistence, yet a strong character, because she makes her decisions and does her things, contrasting Jirou who’s just a big ball of doubt. Which makes Emi’s ending all the more bittersweet, as all the things she wanted only accentuates all the things she loses. If I was still doing my Lord of the Rings metaphor this would be the part where the elves sail west, which was also a bittersweet end to their tale.

I wanted to highlight Emi, but other characters were plenty strong in Concrete Revolutio as well, and indeed this show is full of strong elements. I fear, though, that Concrete Revolutio will never have the popular success as I think it deserves. It is an extremely clever shows, packed with substance, but in doing so it demands a lot from its viewers. Concrete Revolutio moves very fast, and never explains anything, but it gets away with it because it expects us to already know a lot of things. All the literary and historical allusions give the many seemingly disparate parts of Concrete Revolutio together and provide vital context to the overarching narrative, so if one doesn’t pick up on those they will only see a mess, and be unable to recognise the patterns in the chaos. I think I followed along well enough, but I’m also aware there is much I may have missed, since I’m not The Nerd Omnscient. I can’t imagine someone newer to anime, unfamiliar with certain tropes, or with less interest in history being able to really get into Concrete Revolutio. It’s definitely a good thing that Concrete Revolutio has so much ambition, and has such respect for its viewers and never condescends on them, but those who get lost in its relentless pacing are the casualties of its format.

This is why I describe Concrete Revolutio as ‘underappreciated, simply because there is so much there. It is, I think, as completely packed as an anime can be. I suspect that I may be underappreciating Concrete Revolutio despite how much I’m stumping for it, since there’s bound to be lots of smart references that went over my head. In a some years time, perhaps we will look back on Concrete Revolutio with some reflection and judge again whether it was a brilliant show or too clever by half. For now, though, I would recommend Concrete Revolutio to anyone who wants more from their anime than just battles and explosions, as vital watching. No, battles and explosions are great, but Concrete Revolutio takes all those battles and all those explosions, the entire geekdom, and connects them all with a unifying depth. Such a feat needs to be seen to be believed, let alone appreciated.

End Card

20 Comments

  1. I’m not sure what to say anymore.

    This might be one of my rare 10/10 titles (or at least a 9+/10, and look that I’m pretty demanding when it comes to analysing a story).

    It was concluded way more solidly than what I could have wished to. The execution and narrative structure might have being a bit wonky in the first season (to be fair, the timeline was being organized by specific themes in each episode), and sometimes even kinda rushed overall, but still, it was the anime that surprised me the most in these last 6 months or so. Especially because I didn’t expected it to be any good initially, only pretty ambicious with its messages and sharp social commentary.

    Truly a rather obscure gem many will overlook even after watching it, due to just how much content is there to explore and debate.

    Great anime. Thanks for covering it, Passerby.

    Danpmss
  2. ive been eagerly awaiting this post: Man was i surprised how efficiently this final episode wrapped up everything. Im still amazed that it was able to do so considering how dense this series is. It is a shame that concrete revolutio may go underappreciated because this is definitely an 8+ (leaning to an 8.5/10) series for me. It’s funny that you mention how staightforward revolutio was about the satisfaction of good socking evil because to me it proved just how coherent the entire narrative has been from the very beginning; let me explain. Season 1 was all about jirou’s realizing that the world aint as black and white as he thought it was. Season 2 was then about jirou exploring what justice truly means through the lenses of other characters. In the end, he finds an answer; something so simple , it was practically staring him in the face the whole time. That if an all emcompassing evil tries to disrupt the balance of things, he will put a stop to it. At that moment, he acknowledges himself as a superhuman; as a hero. Season 1 and 2 were all vignettes of ideals meant to represent jirou’s self exploration and in this finale he finally finds it (which i think plays a big part as to why i felt that this finale felt complete).

    I also got to mention that i liked the scene where kikko questions jirou’s expectations of her. She says, “you expected me to stay naive and innocent forever?”. I liked that retort because it’s sort of the narrative’s way of saying, we all have to grow up at some point and as we saw throughout the series, jirou had a hard time doing this. Kikko still respected jirou and valued is idealistic look on superhumans but she also became aware that the world doesnt always bend to your ideals. Jirou thought that he messed up with kikko in season 1 because he brought her into a world that took away her innocence but he screwed the pooch when he denied who he was in front of kikko. More than anything, she wanted jirou to accept himself and was filled with glee when he finally did, making one of the main themes of this series, acceptance of who you truly are, come full circle. This was a great series, sure it was structurally unconventional from the norm of storytelling but it definitely worked due to the nature of this series itself being a mishmash of so many things (hence the subtitle “superhuman phantasmagoria”;the description of phantasmagoria has parallels to why the story is structured the way it is ); this style of storytelling clicked for a story of this nature. With a series like revolutio, no matter how fast or complex it got, i never felt like things were missing out of the narrative and if anything, this finale proved that there was a straight course for this series all along.

    sonicsenryaku
    1. She says, “you expected me to stay naive and innocent forever?”.

      I liked that too, in more ways than one. Another interesting thing of CR, especially in this last season, is that the series isn’t afraid of showing adult characters. No, even better: teenagers who become adult characters.

      Arachne told Jiro in a previous episode, that for all his youthful idealism, wasn’t he near his 30s? Contrast that with all the idolizing of cute, pure and innocent youthfulness in many Japanese manga and anime. Magical girls grow up too, although that doesn’t mean they have to stop being magical.

      Mistic
  3. lol… Entertaining this was, Good this was not.

    This show was the very definition of throw every bit of shit they can find at the wall and see what sticks. Overwhelming your viewer with characters, ideas, gimmicks, and references allows you to mask the massive problems from plotholes, to inconsistant characterization, or bad writing. CR creates the ILLUSION that it demands alot from it’s viewers but when you really analyze it minus the out-of-sequence gimmick the premise is very basic and lacking much substance. Like I said, if you strip away the gimmicks and the show was simply created chronologically, most people would clap at the end and quickly forget about it.

    The only reason it even has the buzz it has is because “LOL did u see this show, dude it’s crazy the story jumps all over the place and theres like aliens and monsters and ghost and time travelers! and its like super deep with its anti-war and anti-authority and yin-and-yang messages! It’s totally cool!”

    Spike
    1. im curious as to what plot holes or inconsistent character writing you are referring to? And i dont think that a show demanding a lot from the viewer makes it good or deep in the way you are making it seem; that kind of schtick is for shows pretentiously trying to be deep; it’s about how the show utilizes its dense narrative and themes that make it demanding or deep (which revolutio actually does quite well). But yea im genuinely curious as to what these plotholes and inconsistent characters are that create the illusion of “deepness”. Plus id argue that the show would have been just as rife with substance if it was told chronologically; that doesnt magically remove the thematic elements of the series itself

      sonicsenryaku
  4. For myself I think the series was very well done on many fronts, and would give it somewhere between a 9.25 – 9.5 / 10 score.

    That being said I woukd agree that it is definitely not for everyone.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to blog it Passerby. 🙂

    Flower
    1. I agree that this show is not for everyone (and no, i dont mean that if you’re not some intellectual elitist, you cannot appreciate this series); but nevertheless it’s a great series. It’s stuff like this that makes bones one of my favorite studios. Good to see you that you really enjoyed it flower

      sonicsenryaku
      1. Like many others I was puzzled and frustrated by it in the first few eps, but after a few eps I began to get glimpses of there being a deliberate order and pattern beneath everything and simultaneously something about it “clicked” in me,and I was hooked. And yes … to be interested in an immersive studying of a series while enjoying it thoroughly at the same time – this is not “intellectual elitism”. This is just thinking and reflecting.

        Also have to give kudos to ED1 – for some reason the visuals and music was a near perfect fit for the series.

        Flower
      2. “And yes … to be interested in an immersive studying of a series while enjoying it thoroughly at the same time – this is not “intellectual elitism”. This is just thinking and reflecting.”

        So much yes in that statement; absolutely agree. And man do i dig ED1 (I really like both ED’s); I jam to it in my car to this day whenever i go out on drives. Seems like the show like the first ED as well

        sonicsenryaku
  5. The show’s problem is that it told us for the entire run that justice isn’t necessarily black and white yet it pulled a big villain right out of it’s pocket at the last episode. Also,didn’t quite get the point of monsters leaving for the other world. What issue does it solve? What theme does it support (if the theme of the show is tolerance, this is clearly an act of segregation)? What sacrifice the characters had to make for this to happen?

    hoh
    1. And it isn’t. In that regard, both Jiro and Satomi are right. If good can be only be defined in opposition to evil, it’s up to the villain to define the conflict. Otherwise, heroes aren’t heroes, just people trying to make sense of the world as any other person would. Just with flashier skills.

      Incidentally, that’s why Jiro tried to pull a Watchmen here. Give them a villain and people will call them heroes.

      As for the youkai, it’s another case of Satomi being right: their problems don’t just disappear because the Big Bad was punched in the face. The fact remains that Japan gladly supported a genocidal plan to wipe them out to turn them into cheap fuel. Are they going to punch every Japanese citizen now? They weren’t taken in. Satomi explained his plan publicly, only hiding that he was going to do the same to every superhuman once he could turn public opinion against them too.

      As in other CR episodes, the theme is that sometimes the only answer is to choose the lesser evil and try to do better next time, because the world isn’t a nice place.

      Mistic
      1. yup, you pretty much explained it. Passerby even explains in his post that is not so much that there is clear cut good and evil, but that evil is the reality and good is the fantasy

        sonicsenryaku
      2. Still, what’s wrong with leaving the Heroes just as confused normal people (with flashier skills) trying to make sense of the world? Why give them a villain to make them heros? I can understand they maybe trying to make Satomi a non-villain in the sense that he is not that “evil” evil but just there to define the hero. However, I don’t think they gave satomi enough meat to make him that relatable to the audience.

        It may make more sense if they set up Jaguar or the original head of the brenau Mr Akita to be this boss figure.

        hoh
      3. @hoh
        Still, what’s wrong with leaving the Heroes just as confused normal people (with flashier skills) trying to make sense of the world? Why give them a villain to make them heros?

        Because we need symbols, fantasies, even if deep down we know reality isn’t like that.

        That’s been the central conflict of CR. From Earth-chan learning to dream “lies” to the USA being paranoid about monsters, it’s always been about how fantasy and reality coexist and overlap. Metaphorically for us, literally for them.

        And that’s why Satomi is the villain. While CR in the end acknowledges that reality isn’t pretty, it also says that keeping the fantasy alive is the only way to try to make things better. On the other hand, Satomi thinks people should stop deluding themselves with beautiful lies, give up and accept the ugly truth of the world. Superhumans give people strange ideas, so turning them into cold and mundane industrial resources kills fantasy in more ways than one.

        I would have liked more personal connections between him and Jiro before he revealed the Tunguska thing in this episode, true. But Satomi is, before anything else, his philosophical foe. Idealism versus Cynicism.

        Mistic
      4. Yes. it is true that there is something very with how the people accepted genocide to make their problems go away. But Satomi still is the tru monster in all this, he was a racist monster that wanted to destroy all he did not accepted and had the power to change the minds of the people with all that publicity, it took him years but he finally bend them to his will and that´s what makes absolute evil, the poisoned an entire world just for the sake of his sick dream.

        How could Satomi call super humans unnatural when they evolve in that very planet, just like the rest of the species, all little different but stil part of that world.

        haseo0408
  6. And finally, Jiro was Godzilla.

    Think about it: born from the atomic bomb, a monster that out of control caused death and destruction. Just this Godzilla was human too and could learn and doubt himself. And in the end, he disappears, only to come back to defend Earth against alien invaders.

    Seriously, I’d paid to watch a CR movie that served as a grand finale, with Jiro’s Avengers against the aliens (the robots are back, Kikko, the ghost, Judas has a more mature look, and does Emi appearing there means she’ll find sooner or later a way to go back? That would make her story end in a more positive tone).

    Thank you, Passerby. Without your posts, I’d probably have missed this series. That would have been unforgivable.

    Mistic
    1. There is still room for the story to develop once Jiri returns, the world will always need heroes and Kikko sure as hell hasn´t given up on Jiro after all this.

      haseo0408
  7. I don’t have time to reply to all the comments, but seeing all this discussion going on makes me all happy inside. Whatever you think of Concrete Revolutio or all these words I write, thanks to everybody for following along.

  8. I wonder if I’m alone in preferring the first season(or was it the first cour) of Concrete Revolutio. I feel like this season was rushed at times, and it doesn’t help that it was given only 11 episodes to conclude the whole thing. Because of that, it moved even faster than the first season. For the most part, I guess I just enjoyed the very episodic nature of the first cour. Some of the episodes resonated more with me, like the family of immortals, and Earth-chan’s episode.

    Anyway, Concrete Revolutio was a wildly ambitious show. I may not have enjoyed it as much as other people did, but we definitely need more ambitious anime like Concrete Revolutio. Thanks for blogging it, Passerby.

    Mormegil

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