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Concrete Revolutio

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2015-2016). Original title Concrete Revolutio: Chōjin Gensō; Season 2 also known as Concrete Revolutio: The Last Song. Bones. Created and written by Shô Aikawa. Directed by Seiji Mizushima. Voice cast includes Kaito Ishikawa, Tokuyoshi Kawashima, Eriko Nakamura, Ayana Taketatsu, Kenichi Suzumura, Aki Toyosaki and Sumire Uesaka. 24 24-minute episodes. Colour.

Concrete Revolutio is an Alternate History of Showa-Era Japan, focusing on 1962-1976 (though the calendar is different), where Superhumans (Superheroes and villains) and Demihumans (Supernatural Creatures) also exist – as well as Aliens, Monsters and Robots. Though Governments deny their existence and the media is forbidden to report on them, their presence is common knowledge. Stories centre on the Superhuman Bureau, ostensibly set up to monitor and protect superhumans: its members include Jiro Hitoyoshi (Ishikawa), a literal child of the nuclear age; Emi Kino (Toyosaki), half woman, half Youkai (from Japanese mythology); Hyōma Yoshimura (Kawashima), an Uplifted jaguar from the future (see Time Travel) and a member of the Time Police; plus recent recruits Fuurouta (Nakamura), a playful ghost boy and Shapeshifter, and Kikko Hoshino (Uesaka), a magical girl and demon (see Gods and Demons).

Some of the Bureau find their loyalties tested by concerns over Superhuman exploitation and an orchestrated campaign arguing Superhumans should lead the world to "peace, freedom and justice". Later the Bureau's role shifts to assisting a Government crackdown on Superhumans and greater private sector involvement, further adding to members' discomfort. Jiro becomes a renegade, fighting the Bureau, being joined by a former antagonist, the Android detective Raito Shiba (Suzumura), who has come to realize that lawful and unlawful are not synonyms for good and evil (see Crime and Punishment).

Genre tropes include a robot with a human's downloaded memories (see Identity Transfer); an insect civilization; time-stasis (see Stasis Field); Time Paradoxes, including Hyōma's time meddling leading to three versions of himself; Mecha; an Immortal family; aliens occupying human corpses (see Parasitism and Symbiosis) and trying to control human Evolution; attempted human colonization of Underground realms (see Imperialism); ancient heroes encased in ice and a Parallel World, possibly ours, in which the Hiroshima atomic bomb did explode.

Stories reference innumerable icons of Japanese popular culture, including Astro Boy; Kaiju (see also Gojira [1954]) and live-action television superheroes such as Moonlight Mask (1958-1959), Ultraman (1966-1967) and Kikaider (1972-1973): a superhero's ability to judge right from wrong and the nature of justice are recurring themes. The series readily engages with sober topics: the experimentation on Superhumans being used to mirror the historical Unit 731 (see Torture) and its cover-up by both the Japanese Government and the United States after World War II; whilst American expressions of its manifest destiny are linked to the wiping out of native cultures.

Though flawed – a few stories are unsuccessful, the characterization is middling and messages sometimes lack subtlety – the overall effect is impressive. Influenced by Alan Moore's Watchmen (graph 1987) (see Watchmen), this is a complex and ambitious Anime which uses the treatment of Superhumans to interrogate the social change and political issues (see Politics) of post-war Japan, such as corruption, student unrest and the country's relationship with the United States. [SP]


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