Man, I needed some time to try and make sense of all that…
We’ve probably reached that point in the Concrete Revolutio production timeline where the inevitable can’t be put off any longer. For all the riffing on fascinating moral, political and ethical themes, sooner or later all of this has to be brought together. And with presumably only four episodes left, there’s not a whole lot of later to go around.
This is a dangerous time for ConRevo, for a number of reasons. It’s a pretty confusing series to begin with as far as plot is concerned, and that was when it had the luxury of speaking mostly in metaphor and allusion and thus making a certain opacity desirable. Now, it has to prove it can really tell a story in coherent, succinct terms. We’ve done away with the timeskips to at least a considerable degree (I would say at least 80%) – we still jump around a bit, but most of these last several episodes has been spent in the “present”, and that present has been creeping forward each week. Right now we’re well into Shinka 49, as far as we’ve gone in non-Jaguar time, and that places us towards the end of 1974.
Based on this episode (last week’s Gen-penned script was a one-off, so I consider this the true start of that final stretch) I’m optimistic – though still not ready to declare victory. It wasn’t so much that this episode was confusing (though it certainly was at times) but that it was overwhelming. There’s just so much going on here – so many old faces popping up and forcing us to try and remember who they belong to, so many factions, so many twists and turns. It’s exhilarating for sure, but a lot to take in – and it took me quite some time after the episode ended to try and make some sense out of all that happened. But given that this was only the beginning of the end, it may very well be that this episode had to do the heaviest lifting in that regard, and things will only get better from here.
In a NUTShell, it seems that Teito Advertisements is more or less the big bad here. They’ve created an army out of super-robots (from ancient times on Earth, and who knows where before) to effectively genocide all superhumans. This is under the guise of eliminating “bad” superhumans, but it’s clear that Teito himself makes no distinction. Why is he doing this? I don’t think we have the complete answer to that yet, but as far as I can tell it seems to be a personal grudge – which would be ironic, as it’s very clear that he’s a superhuman himself. There’s a certain gleam in his eye when Teito reveals that his robots don’t require superhumans to pilot them after all, that it was only a cover story – a gleam that seems a window into his hatred. In fact he forces Michiko to pilot one of the NUTS in this episode.
As well, we have a situation where the world is facing an oil crisis – a crisis which kept the Prime Minister in power despite his being outed as a superhuman. In ConRevo this is a result of “ancient monsters” (which look an awful lot like Djinn) appearing in the desert and wreaking havoc. In reality, of course, there was indeed a huge oil crisis which peaked in 1973 (Shinka 48) – caused in part by reduced supply but driven by panic and speculation and profiteering. This crisis is important in several ways, not least in that it’s been used as a pretext for developing the anti-superhuman army.
Perhaps the most important implication of the energy crisis, though, is that it casts even more focus on Jirou and his role as the “answer to the world’s energy problems”. As we know he was revealed to be “Little Boy“, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima – except in ConRevo that bomb never exploded. Jirou is the goose that laid the golden egg, it seems – even his blood has quasi-magical powers, and a flashback to his childhood reveals the “monster inside him“. That vision has always tortured Jirou, clearly – and it now seems as if he is turning into a sort of monster, at least when viewed from a certain perspective. Certainly from that perspective Jirou is a terrorist – but perspective is a key recurring them in Concrete Revolutio, and there’s an awful lot of focus this week on “evil” and “justice” – and just what they really mean.
I sense a great despair rising throughout the on-screen world Concrete Revolutio has developed – a time of increasing rancor and demagoguery when reactionary types like Teito rise to the ascendancy. And surely it’s only going to get worse when Teito release their anti-superhero propaganda film, furthering Teito’s quest to make superhumans the scapegoat for all the evils of a broken and dysfunctional Japan. Whatever water has flown under the bridge between Jirou (and now Fuurouta, who’s allied with him) and the others from the Superhuman Bureau, surely it pales against the tide of wickedness being unleashed by the likes of Teito and the P.M.. It’s time for petty bitterness to be put aside, and the enemies of enemies to be treated if not as friends, at least as allies.