Concrete Revolutio Review- Wait Did This Anime Just Kill MLK Jr. ???
Alright… I finished Concrete Revolutio a few days ago and I think I’m just about ready to lay down all my thoughts on this series… It took me a while for everything to sink in, for a couple of reasons. I have a lot to say about this Concrete Revolutio. Some of it good. A lot of it bad. It’s a very conflicting anime for me that I wanted so badly to be great but damned if studio Bones didn’t try their hardest at every corner stone to make that wish not come true. I’d have loved to give this an absolutely glowing review and tell you all to go and watch it, but I can’t in all honesty do that. I do think a lot of people will still enjoy this anime though if they go into it with the right mindset… but yeah.
This series was described to me by a close friend as ‘A five year old watched Watchmen and was like “Yeah, I could do better”’ Pretty apt, and he’s right.
Let’s start out with the good things I have to say about this anime, because there is still a lot of awesome things to get out there. I did love about half of it, after all. Why don’t we start with the premise? Concrete Revolutio is set in a world where Superhumans, Kaijuu, and Tokusatsu heroes (like Ultraman or Kamen Rider) have existed for some only the Japanese Government deems them a national secret. Which is kind of dumb to me since they openly acknowledged all these heroes before “The War”(very vague, probably World War 2 given the time frame and influence of the show), where a lot of them fought for Japan before being defeated by America’s own Superhuman Master Ultima if I recall correctly. It feels silly to me that the Government would suddenly be all like ‘oh yeah no they totally don’t exist you’re all silly’ while they are seen on a practically daily basis… But yes, this show is oozing with nostalgia for the 60-70’s Japanese Tokusatsu and monster movies as well as many Tezuka and Ishinomori nods. Concrete Revolutio really brings its vibrant world to life and would have been an absolutely fascinating back drop for a story where the entire cast weren’t idiots. But alas. The overall premise of the actual story and its characters are that they are members of Japan’s secret Superhuman Protection Bureau which does exactly as the name entails. The thing is they set this up to put the lead character, Hitoyoshi Jiro, into a bunch of morally gray situations where he’s unable to determine what’s right and wrong. Sounds great on paper, right?
The visual design of this show is absurdly good if you like bright and colorful pop art things like I do. It all has a very Jojo-esque feel to it yet lots of the character designs are heavily inspired from 60’s manga character. Jiro’s design is great and I feel like he’s a few steps from becoming an Ishinomori character, I really, really like his design.
Each character is based on something specific and they all hit the right nostalgia buttons in all the right places. I find the heroine, Kikko’s design to be among the cuter girl designs I’ve seen in a while both in and out of her magical girl form.
One thing that I’ll comment on is this show gets very close to being great one or two times during the later half of the show and as whole the writing quality does improve a little bit near the end. But by that point I was already used to the show’s abysmal narrative framing devices which I’ll be discussing in a bit, so I can’t truly tell if it got better or if I was just accustomed to the format enough to process what was being shown… Regardless there WAS a few points where I was impressed with the story they were trying to tell. The parts where it gets totally Watchmen inspired in the second half were awesome. Superhuman laws, registration, questionable ethics regarding Superhuman experimentations between Japan and America.
The opening and ending are also really strong, with the ending being a trippy mindscrew I felt the need to share with you all. High five if you catch the super not subtle vagina symbolism during Kikko’s kaleidoscope scene.
Lastly before we get into the bad things about Concrete Revolutio I’d like to bring up one of the characters who is actually pretty cool. His name is Raito, although he later chooses to be called Iron-Detective Raito, which is just badass. He’s an android made from the memories of a dying detective who wanted to live on and is a slave to the government yet we see his views challenged the more things happen. I’m not supposed to talk about the start of season 2 in this review, but he gets some amazing character development. Plus he has a badass design and whenever he fights the animation quality suddenly jumps up high out of nowhere. He’s clearly a favorite of the animators and it shows because his scenes are super impressive. I personally love how he has 004’s finger guns and rocket launcher from Cyborg 009.
Alright, now… We have to talk about the many things this show did wrong. Damn, this is a long list… ugh. I wish I could just say Concrete Revolutio was awesome and be done with it. Ok, the biggest problem with this show as a whole is the fact that they go back and forth in time CONSTANTLY. Not literally, I mean, they show the characters two years later and then cut back to current time and then back again constantly so we see that in two years Jiro leaves the Bureau and is some renegade agent fighting against his current friends and we don’t know why. This could be interesting yes if it wasn’t done all the damn time and these characters actually had personalities that I cared about but at no point was I invested in their personal struggles save for a few random moments mostly outside of the main cast (Earth-chan is kawaii as hell). The constant time cuts were incredibly confusing, they ruined any sort of pacing when I already know what is going to happen to the characters even if the motives are unclear.
Really though, this wouldn’t be so bad if anything was ever explained in this damn show. I didn’t even learn half the main cast’s name until a few episodes in and I’m like ‘wait what, that dude is Jiro’s dad?’. Things constantly just happen and they never tell you why. Why did that man just turn into a leopard when his name is Super Jaguar…? A big thing that bugged me is Jiro is in a relationship with Emi, some Yokai Queen or whatever it’s never really explained and they never explain how he got together with her or what their relationship is like only that she’s probably centuries old and he’s 20. You think that’d be a good set up for a story but when you play things so vague and don’t hint at things at least it just annoys the audience. Instead his whole thing with Emi just kinda made me shrug and wish he was with Kikko because at least she had a more interesting personality than ‘dark and mysterious Yokai Queen who may or may not have an agenda maybe’.
A lot of the things this show tries to do ends up coming off as really dumb or hamfisted. One of the themes early on is a take on the Godzilla movies and Concrete Revolutio introduces the idea that Kaiju may not really be bad and that we as humans are always messing up the environment and making them go berserk, which is actually a pretty good set up for a story… but you know, they handled it like a drunkard making his way down a tightrope. This plot line gets resolved laughably bad and it’s supposed to be a big character development moment for Jiro but it boils down to ‘I’m going to keep fighting even if its good or bad because reasons.’… Then they just sweep along the whole Kaiju stuff and keep on chugging. It also gets really dumb. Like, really, REALLY dumb. I had my jaw open in disbelief in this one scene where a guy died and oh my god. It was so empty- the characters BARELY reacted even though he was their best friend or whatever. I watched this one scene over and over just trying to see how this happened. The death was horribly animated and it looked like a light attack and his power was turning into a statue so that he doesn’t take damage… only for an explosion to just kill him. God that episode was awful.
The last big thing that I wanted to discuss was how badly the climax of the season handled its antagonist. They shoehorn some orphan kid into the plotline who Jiro kind of knew but forgot about but he’s secretly alive which was not a surprise since they started the whole arc by making that exceedingly clear. Ugh, this part frustrated me a lot. Why would you include a masked character and then have it be so stupidly obvious that it was the random unrelated character you JUST introduced? Not to mention he looked almost exactly like Zero from Code Geass and the Skullman from Cyborg 009 meshed together except with an awful name. His involvement in the plot was boiled down to being the catalyst that Makes Jiro turn a 180 and quit the bureau to fight for Superhuman rights his own way, and you know that’d be cool and all if Jiro actually had an arc that led him down this path instead of the random cuts back and forth in time showing us all this unrelated junk. Ugh. I keep sighing thinking about it. The biggest cringe thing for me was how Kikko meets up with him and is like ‘are you someone I know?’ and he just throws down a photo of Jiro with Emi, his dad, and the one sensei who she was shown to meet in the beginning of the episode who we don’t know is a thing until now. Jesus this was dumb, maybe if he actually had a presence in the show until the last 3 episodes this would have come out better damn was it bad. I will give them credit for SOMETHING though… during a fight scene this guy uses his power and makes the stupidest anime weapon I have EVER seen.
Episode 10- This Actually Happened
Ok. This isn’t ‘bad’, but it deserves its own section in the review just because of how absolutely crazy this episode was. My first exposure to Concrete Revolutio was my friend came over and was like ‘dude you need to watch episode 10 of this anime, even completely out of context it makes no sense and is hilarious’. Oh my god he was right. Episode 10 focuses on one of the side characters who is in every episode, has a time-stopping watch, turns into a leopard-human hybrid for seemingly no reason and never had anything explained about him until now. His name… Is Super Jaguar. Yeah. Also he killed Martin Luthor King Jr.
Up until now Jaguar basically did nothing all the damn time except stand around and Now bare with me for a minute here. It’s explained that Super Jaguar is from the 25th century and is a time travel policeman or some nonsense except he quit his job to form a Organization focused on changing history ‘to protect Superhumans’… only he does this by ‘killing evil’. And it explicitly shows his idea of evil was MLK Jr., and it also shows he was behind the assassinations of Che Guevara and Robert Kennedy.
I HIGHLY doubt that the writers knew anything about these people and they just picked random important political people from the 20th century who died of assassination… BUT DUDE HE JUST KILLED MARTIN LUTHOR JR. HOW DO YOU SCREW UP THAT BADLY THIS IS HILARIOUS. They also handle time travel paradoxes in the most astronomically lazy way I’ve ever seen. They just brush it off saying ‘if it’s important enough the universe just ignores the paradox completely.’ Bravo. Bravo Concrete Revolutio. But does Jaguar regret killing MLK? Nah.
During the scene where Jaguar kills Past Jaguar and isn’t killed himself by time paradoxes we get this unintentionally funny scene that implies he still deems the people he assassinated back in the day as evil.
This so far was my longest review it seems. I certainly had a lot to say about this confused and cluttered show… But all hope is not lost. Studio Bones actually seems to care about this proj
ect a lot for some reason and before season two started they brought in a bunch of famous writers to take over the writing duty… most notably Gen “The Urobutcher” Urobuchi and some guy who was a lead writer for Astro Boy and other old anime waaay back when. There were a few more, but the point I’m getting at is they are well aware their last writers were crap and brought in some new blood. And the first episode of season two was AWESOME. Jiro actually seems to have a sense of humor now, a personality and a believable reason to be fighting. Raito took center stage and he actually had a character arc of development… and it was believable! Concrete Revolutio actually had an entire episode where nothing stupid happened in a narrative sense!! I can fully confirm it looks like the show is finding new legs in the hands of people with more talent, but I’m still approaching all of season two with cautious optimism. You never know what could go wrong, after all…