You know, the truth is I still can’t make sense out of Concrete Revolutio. It’s not so much that the narrative is confusing – though it certainly is – but the series itself. I like to find the rationale in things, and in matters commercial (like anime) some sort of rationale always exists. But Concrete Revolutio more or defies rationalization. I can’t understand what prompted the production committee to make it, and what prompted Mizushima and Aizawa to dream it up in the first place. It’s a series whose very existence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But maybe the weirdest thing of all is that somehow, this show works. You have a bewildering narrative and an inexplicable raison d’être, but in a vacuum the stuff that happens makes a sort of sense. The episodes are- well, episodic – and within them the characters behave more or less rationally. But it’s as if someone split a jigsaw puzzle into 13 sections and gave you no idea what the assembled puzzle was actually supposed to look like.
I don’t know if that picture is going to come together eventually or not, and this will certainly have ended up a better series if it does. But even if it doesn’t, I have to give Bones credit for giving us something that’s never less than visually compelling and conceptually interesting. This episode takes us into uncharted temporal waters – Year 44, where I don’t believe we’ve visited before. At this point Jirou has already split off from the Superhuman Bureau and become the enemy. But he and Fuurouta never seem to behave like enemies. There’s something quite touching in their relationship – in the palpable air of regret that hangs in the air whenever they meet after Jirou’s split from the Bureau. Fuurouta’s childlike innocence is the constant that spans the various timelines in Concrete Revolutio, and his faith in Jirou never quite dies away.
Once again we get a plot that seems disconnected from the recurring one, existing mainly to illuminate the parameters of the larger struggle. “Mountain Horse” is a comic rock band led by a drummer named Don with an early-Ringo haircut who receive superpowers after hearing a superhuman group they’ve just opened for. Don is disinterested in being a superhuman, despite an invitation from Fuurouta (who’s infiltrated their agency on suspicion of evil mastermind activities) until he gets a taste of just how corrupt that agency is.
There’s some really interesting stuff here, especially the discussion of “third-rate” and how one might define success in life. Mountain Horse (Don especially) just want to entertain people, but are swept up in something bigger, with tragic results. There’s another band here, a girl group who seem to have the ability to steal powers from their audience rather than unblock them, and a corporate-government conspiracy to use chocolate to test drugs on unsuspecting kids. This theme of institutional corruption colliding with individual decency is never far from the surface in Concrete Revolutio – if there is such a thing as a unifying theme to the show, that might be it. I think the big question is how Jirou’s split with the Superhuman Bureau fits into that theme – that’s the puzzle piece that may finally reveal the larger picture we’re looking for.