• Titles: Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Yokai, Occasional Mecha
  • Episodes: 13 + 11
  • Studio: bones

What will the next step in human evolution be? Will evolution push our biological capacities even further? Will we unlock senses and powers we never knew we had? Or perhaps the future lies in technology. Maybe the fusion of delicate flesh bodies with sturdy mechanical constructs and powerful computer assets is the way to go? Or perhaps, the future we seek lies beyond the world we know. Deep beneath it and far above it, where ancient demons and forgotten gods reside. What we seek may be on another planet altogether. Something truly alien. The only thing that’s for sure, is that humans have a tendency to mess things up. And if we’re not careful, we might just end up exterminating ourselves while trying to take that next step!

I am so happy with that synopsis. Not that it’s particularly good but if you haven’t watched Concrete Revolutio you have no idea how difficult it is to summarize a show like that. Honestly, AniList did a really good job at it as well, I thought about just stealing theirs but I figured it would b better to challenge myself. That’s a mistake I won’t make again.

all good shows start with a maid

Production

if you’ve been around these parts for some time, you’ve surely read my say that I am a big fan of Studio bones productions. Regardless of how I feel about the stories they chose to animate, I’m pretty much always impressed with the animation itself. And Concrete Revolutio is no exception. The designs are both striking and endearing. The backgrounds are varied and usually filled with action. There are impressive scenes of large-scale battles in which every inch of the screen has something happening. And these are not just for the climax, you get a bunch throughout the series.

Concrete Revolutio is a rich and vibrant feast for the eyes. Once you see it, you will never mistake those visuals again. I have a strong feeling that I will be able to recognize the characters long after I have forgotten what actually happens in the anime.

what a gorgeous gang

Story & Characters

And there’s a reason for that. A heck of a lot happens in the anime. Arguably, too much…

Do you want to watch an anime with superhumans, magical girls, hot demon queens, yokai, ancient gods, androids, mechas, kaiju, government conspiracies, aliens both humanoid and the take over the bodies of others kind, large scale military proceedings, idols, comedy troupes, mad scientists, time travel, ghosts, insect people, para governmental security agencies and private detectives? And let me make this clear, they are all in a single anime and I am skipping some. If you do, Concrete Revolutio has got you covered. Now that’s a great deal. You are not likely to find this much bang for your buck somewhere else!

I wanted to like Concrete Revolutio. I still do. In fact, I like a whole lot about it. Ok this is going to sound odd, I like everything about Concrete Revolutio but here’s too much of it. It’s like eating that one slice too many of your favourite pizza and now you don’t feel so good.

Just like there are so many genres and elements to the show, there are also a whole lot of themes. And they do get explored although there isn’t time to delve in too deep. The most obvious and blatantly repeated theme is the idea that justice is a concept that is both relative and evolving. There were some interesting thoughts about commodified justice (i.e. justice for sale or doing good because you’re paid and what that implies) as well as politicized justice (doing good to send a message or gain favour). These are lofty themes that I think deserve some attention. I found them interesting to think about and Concrete Revolutio gave me a bright action-filled background to set my musings to.

clearly a hero of justice

However, I found that as the episodes went by, and the themes, genres, elements and characters kept piling on, it started to be a bit much for me. I had to make an effort to keep everything straight and remember who is on whose side and why. There are anime that require you to focus to get the most out of them. In this case though, I felt the effort, and it wasn’t always pleasant. The pacing is a bit too erratic to make the experience smooth and with so much going on, you notice the bumps along the way.

And here’s the thing. In my opinion, if they had gotten rid of some of the plot threads. Like if they had cut the aliens out and the Kaiju and Imperial Ads stuff, then cut down the cast by 30% and dropped a few themes, which would have been necessary due to the plot cuts anyways, Concrete Revolutio could have been one of the greats! There is so much that works in this show. Just to be clear, I like the alien and kaiju plots. The Imperial Ads thread may have been my favourite. I was just using them as an example. You could take Emi and the Yokai out instead or Kikko and the entire demon aspect. It doesn’t actually matter what you take out but it’s too claustrophobic as it is, something needs to go out.

That or the exact same plot could have been stretched out for another 24 episodes. Easy! And it still may have been a bit cramped. I’m not sure, I can’t quite tell just by imagining it.

did I mention Funimation kept freezing through this entire show – that didn’t help

Despite this, I would still recommend Concrete Revolutio. Because there is so much (too much) to the series, I figure everyone will find something to like about it. But I also think everyone will find some flaws.

To me, Concrete Revolutio was an anime that could have been. And with bones’ gorgeous production on top of it all, I can’t help but morn the possibilities. It’s not the first time I felt this way about a bones series. I desperately wanted to love Un-Go and still do (for different reasons). But at the end of the day, I feel like Concrete Revolutio just bit off a bit more than it could chew.

You might like this anime if:

You don’t mind busy stories and you like bright colours!

My favourite character:

ok, there are soooo many. I really can’t pick one. Sorry. If you twist my arm I’ll say Ullr but I’ve probably already changed my mind.

Suggested drink:

a Cement Mixer

  • Every time Ullr shows up – take a sip
  • Every time Jirou mentions he’s human – take a sip
  • Every time there’s a Kaiju – gasp!
  • Every time anyone says Grosse Augen – take a sip
  • Every time Kikko gets jealous – take a sip
  • Every time Fuurouta changes form – take a sip
  • Every time Jirou blushes – awww
  • Every time we see Earth Chan – clap
  • Every time there are diamond sparkles – take a sip
  • Every time there’s a time jump (in any direction) – get your bearings
  • Every time Emi calls birds – take a sip
  • Every time the Angel Stars perform – dance!
  • Every time anyone says Justice – raise your glass but don’t drink
  • Every time there’s a student protest – take a sip
  • Every time we see blonde Shiba – put the shot down
  • Every time anyone talks abut the next step of human evolution – oh bother

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

13 thoughts

  1. Ooh, I loved this one. The show connects, for me, mostly on the motif level. To be sure, there is a plot, and from what I could tell, it was actually pretty well thought through, too, but it being crammed is part of the shows… appeal? I’m looking for a better word. On a meta level, having too much to process perfectly replicates the chaos these characters have to deal with. It’s like… reality? You only ever get it in bits and snippets and still have to make decisions.

    I said that for me the show connected on the motif level. You need the Kaiju. Our main character is basically the atomic bomb, and Godzilla is a reaction to that particular part of history. You need the particular brands of justice, too: rangers, robots, magical girls. And you need the youkai to be reminded of the traditional values that get lost in the shuffle. I’m not sure you need the aliens, but they’re fairly central to overall plot…

    I’ve always wanted to re-watch the show. There must be tons I’ve missed. I’d have to read up on World War II from the Japanese perspective, too. I actually own the first three or four episodes (volume one) on DVD (but the next volumes never made it to the shop I bought it from, so that’s all I have). It’s a very rich show. Partly episodic, with occasionally re-curring characters, and what story there is – if I remember correctly – is told in bits and peaces in cracks, and in a non-linear way. It’s a tough act to follow. I actually didn’t concentrate all that much, but watching this weekly means you have a week to process one episode. I’d imagine that helped a lot. I did also follow the talk about the show, and I’d occasionally check up on particular scenes. If there ever was a show that benifits from a group watch, this is it. And if you have Japanese history buffs, that definitely helps. Also tokusatsu fans, that helps, too.

    Now I really want to rewatch this show.

    1. I would love to kow your views on the takes regarding “Justice” and free will. It’s very cynical compared to what we usually see in anime and I personally thought that was interesting.

      1. I’d have to rewatch it for that. I only really remember that I liked the general no-easy-answers vibe the show had. I generally get very suspicious when people use terms like “justice” or “love” or anything to evoke “the right thing to do”, so if I something like Concrete Revolutio it’s sort of refreshing. I’m pretty much a cynic and a moral relativist.

        1. I was also drawn to the absence of easy answers. A key theme of the show lies in the eternal tension between order & freedom. Superhumans are dangerous, so they must be contained to maintain order. But doing so involves trampling on their freedoms, meaning they would be monitored, enslaved or even killed.

          Which is more just? A society dedicated to public safety, which contains innocent superhumans? Or a society striving for maximal freedoms, as literal WMDs live among us? Which is more effective? If you leave superhumans alone, who’s to say they won’t wreck havoc on your community? But if you go too far in the name of your justice, who’s to say they won’t threaten your social order by seeking their own justice?

          Which is right? In a messy, morally grey world people are drawn to simple, clear cut answers. They are drawn to heroes, avatars whose ideas of justice match up with their own. But what none of these simple answers is right? What if these ideas of justice are also tools, their honest passions carefully channeled into a larger narrative, itself subordinated to a greater political or commercial goal?

          Sometimes, what matters is not who’s right or who’s wrong. But who sets the story setting who’s right or who’s wrong — and to what end. Which is very much in line with the show’s Cold War setting. Tight narrative control was very much the name of the game. I remember a few historical parallels the show alludes to…

          Early on, someone brings up a media blackout on the existence of superhumans. It harkens back to MacArthur’s tight lid on Japanese media during the Occupation. The press were forbidden to mention the atomic bombs, or to report on crimes committed by US soldiers. Preserving the status quo was paramount.

          The fearmongering of the evil monsters hidden within evokes memories of the Red Purge. In a time of heightened tensions with the Soviets, the GHQ pushed public & private organizations to fire thousands of communists, real or imagined. One of many events which pushed the left-leaning student associations to the streets.

          A lot of time was dedicated on the Zengakuren’s massive protests against the US-Japan Security Treaty, the backdrop of an epic fight for public opinion between the student movement & Kishi’s conservative government. Long story short, the protestors won the battle but lost the war. The Prime Minister was forced to step down, a major victory for the protestors. However, provoked by violent counter-protestors, the Zengakuren stormed the National Diet — causing the national media & general opinion to side decisively against them. Kishi’s resignation only served to further take the wind out of their sails. The treaty he’d drafted was ratified by LDP lawmakers just a month later — to the delight of US Cold War strategists — and still remains in force, overwhelmingly supported by citizens today.

          Oh, on a meta level… The anime aired as Prime Minister Abe — Kishi’s grandson — faced a string of student protests of his own. He rammed through legislation granting Japan’s military limited license to fight in foreign conflicts, in direct contradiction with Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. One key (but mostly silent) supporter of Abe’s vision being Uncle Sam. Anyhow, I suppose I’ve digressed enough…

        2. I guess no easy answers is a way to put it. I found that the show does take you by the hand through the themes a lot but it usually shows more than one side of an issue so there’s room for the audience to come to their own conclusions. There are a few obvious right answers if you go by the narrative but there’s room for interpretation.

  2. So I looked into adding this to my schedule. Yes. It’s another series bootlegged by our old friends in Malaysia. I’m going to just leave it for now until Biden brings us another stimulus given what they want for 25 episodes. Why? Because I’m curious how LAST ONE this really is. I’m thinking this is good old fashioned FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out pressure selling but we will see.

    So let’s put it to the test. When they say it’s the last one do they mean it? Eh. We’ll see. Anyway once again you have inspired me in my review direction for the future so I thank you! Keep up the good work!

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