Now that‘s what I call a proper timeskip.
No question this was a milestone episode of Concrete Revolutio (as will next week’s in the eyes of many, as it heralds Urobuchi Gen’s episode). This week marked both the earliest and the latest (bar Jaguar-san’s jump back from his original time) that the narrative has strayed in the timeline. The opening part of the episode was interesting, but it was the third act that may prove the most crucial, as it took us further in the “main” timeline (September, 48th of Shinka Era – so 1973) we’ve ever ventured. It certainly seems possible that this could mark the point from which the rest of the story progresses – we’ll see.
As always, there’s a flood of new information for the viewer to take in and try to process, and a uniquely shaded focus on notions like justice and freedom. The vehicle to kick that off this week is the Iron Mask Swordsman Koma (Oozora Naomi) – a cat-girl joining the party? She looks vaguely canine to me – a furry, anyway. We meet her sailing the far southern seas in the 1600’s, where she leaps from the bow of a sailing ship and disappears into the blizzard. She turns up frozen in the Antarctic ice in March of Year 48, and is shipped back to the Superhuman Bureau (which seems to have a new member) in Tokyo. But Teito and his underlings whisk her away to the Prime Minister’s residence, where they fire up the microwave (auto-defrost – I’d say 105 pounds) and proceed to indoctrinate her into modern life as they choose to define it.
There’s a whole lot of interesting stuff going on here, but then there’s more interesting stuff going on in every episode of ConRevo than in most entire series. It’s notable that when we skip ahead to September Fuurota has gone missing – this is only a few weeks after the Tartaros Bugmen encounter in Episode 2, and it was clear then that Fuurouta was feeling intense guilt over unwittingly causing a genocide. Ultimately that moment, may, more than any, crystallize the notion that good and evil are subjective concepts better than any other in the series, and I think it’s going to be important to the denouement. Fuurouta has been a somewhat neglected character after those events – perhaps that’s about to change.
Just as with every other superhuman in Concrete Revolutio, Koma must deal with the reality of being seen as a weapon by those in power. P.M. Tachibana has a plan – brainwash her into believing all superhumans and evil, and that Jirou is their leader. He intends to enlist Koma in controlling them and then reveal that he’s a descendant of the Iron Mask Swordsman, who’s obviously a major folk hero in the Japan of this mythology. But the Prime Minister (due to his lineage, in fact) is indeed a superhuman himself – one with a weak mind control power which he’s used to manipulate his way to extended time in power. While Koma is initially fooled, her encounter with Jirou and the Superhuman Bureau (who seem to be on better terms than we’ve seen in quite some time) opens her eyes to the truth (or at least, that the version of it she’s been fed is a lie).
Koma is an interesting character, because she hails from a time where good and evil were, theoretically, clear-cut. But they weren’t at all – she ended up having to seal (at the Takamatsuzaka Tomb in Asuka, where I’ve visited) the Dragon God Asahi (who she loved) effectively for P.R. reasons during the war with the “Zess-Satan Gang” who were causing unrest in Japan. When Jaguar-san offers her the chance to go back to her own time (thanks to Earth-chan returning the watch she stole from him in Episode 8) she declines, realizing that the notion that things were any clearer back then is a mirage. Clearly there’s another war coming, and it seems very likely that the Iron Mask Swordsman is destined to be a part of it.
Teito uses the recording he makes of Tachibana revealing his true lineage (to save his skin from Koma) to discredit him publicly, which implies that we’re about to see a change in power at the top of the establishment. But as Jirou says, even if Tachibana is evil killing him won’t really change anything – and with Imperial Ads pulling the strings, it’s not as if things are going to get any better. We seem to be creeping closer and closer to a point of no return, where the interests of the many groups jockeying for power in ConRevo’s Japan can no longer be reconciled and the path to war is paved in stone. At that point everyone will have to choose a side, and if we’ve learned anything in 19 episodes of Concrete Revolutio, it’s that figuring out the right side to be on is never as easy as it looks.