The Devil Is In The Discrimination — A Concrete Revolutio Post

Man this show is cool. It’s so fucking cool.

I mean I enjoy action shows like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and My Hero Academia for what they are, but Concrete Revolutio is just on another league by itself. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the Space Dandy-like approach this second season has been taking with its many guest writers mostly making one-off vignettes loosely tied together with the theme that there are those on the outside of the whole superhuman conflict that suffer too, this show’s grudge against Japan’s crimes hasn’t lost its edge and I’ve heard people who were iffy on its presentation before are preferring the more straightforward way these episodes are told, so good for them as long as I stay a fan in the process. I certainly don’t mind in regards to Concrete’s latest offering, and not just because I got to see uncensored demon queen nipples. Although it did make me laugh how this show could get away with that.

Not sure if I’ve gone over this before, but I’m not much for stories about racism. I really like The Boondocks and Neil Blompkamp films, but they’re kind of the exception to the rule. Similar to war stories, I generally find them incredibly tired and stuff that every kid would know by the time they’re ten, so seeing that stuff as an adult is a bit of a turnoff, even when it’s as well-executed as Zootopia. You need a special spin in addition to being well-executed to really click with me, and given how much I liked Concrete’s latest episode despite the fact that it’s one big anti-prejudice message (and really, you can argue the whole show is anti-prejudice in a sort of X-Men way), is it really a wonder that I enjoy this show as much as I do? Always giving me what I didn’t know I wanted, this thing.

For those who have yet to see it (or have seen it and became confused at what the fuck you just saw), this week’s episode is about a bunch of demonic beings living underground and how they’ve been blamed for a tunnel fire incident that never really reaches a resolution because that’s not the point of the episode. Being the same kind of monsters that Emi summons, she goes to meet said beings consisting of a brother/sister duo named Devilo and Devila along with their monstrous guardian unaware that Devilo is on the surface getting in trouble with a bunch of ninja cops for hypnotizing people with his simplistic praises (did I mention these beings are Go Nagai/Devilman tributes?). Because the cops fear the demons’ powers, they want to use their capture of Devilo and his giant guardian fish as an excuse in order to blame them for the incident as well as remove them from the face of the Earth, even though said demons are clearly powerful enough to turn them into mincemeat if they so wanted to. Obviously, Jiro and the Superhuman Bureau have a problem with that and try to protect Devilo, only to realize that the dude can teleport and things just get more confusing from there (for the characters, not the viewers).

What sold me on this week’s installment was that weird ending when Devilo grows a tail and he goes to the moon with his sister, taking a good chunk of Earth’s water in the process. Well to be honest, it was during the second watch of this episode when that ending sold me, because I had no idea what the fuck I saw during initial viewing (incidentally, I continue to love how there’s always new things to discover on rewatch with this show). However, as I read Devilo’s final speech a few more times, I realized what the demons were in regards to this show’s historical/political metaphors: the middle-ground people who are neither truly left nor right in their ideologies and just want to get away from the mess that makes the Clinton/Trump one we’ve got now look like some minor farm skirmish. The ones like you or me who get called out on from either side of the conflict because apparently neutrality is a tacit endorsement of the enemy. And unlike real middle-ground people, they actually do have the ability to get away from all that and screw with both sides in the process which is part of the reason why both sides fear them even when one ultimately wants to protect.

Obviously, you can’t just go to the moon and bring oxygen with you if you’re fed up with what’s going on in Iraq right now or something, but that’s not the point. The point is that even after everything that’s happened, Devilo still believes in the goodness of humans, and even after seeing their cruel side and realizing he can’t stay with them, he (and his sister I guess, although she never talks so it’s hard to tell what she’s thinking) never loses his optimistic attitude. The show doesn’t just tell us that discrimination is bad, based on misunderstanding, and all that stuff. It acknowledges that there are boundaries for now, but hopefully one day that can change and in the meantime, we’ll leave both sides to sort the mess out themselves. It’s a bit of wish-fulfillment that neither shies away from the truth nor preaches an impossible solution, and that balance really impresses me. I mean I’m ultimately going to be rooting for Jiro and (to a lesser extent) the Superhuman Bureau over some faceless cops and a nameless government, but there’s no denying that what either side is fighting for isn’t all that great in the grand scheme of things and there’s going to be some people caught in the crossfire.

However, this new season as of right now has been dedicated to showing that even victims in a war they don’t really have much connection to are going to fight in their own way. That Angel Link member, Aki, fought by gaining the power to turn into a giant. The old man from last week’s episode fought by sticking to his beliefs of not using artificial enhancements in order to clear a ski jump. And now Devilo and Devila just want to live their all-powerful lives in peace despite the fact that they’re…y’know…demons. According to next week’s preview, it’s going to focus on some average Joe who may or may not have powers, and whilst there are a wealth of possibilities (most of them bad) for doing so, I’d place good money on the reason being that the show wants to carry on its “normal people in an abnormal situation” theme for a little longer. Whilst I’m kind of impatient to see Jiro and the Superhuman Bureau go at each other, Civil War-style, I’d rather stick with the episodic, guest-written stories than see this show turn into a generic battle anime, FMA: Brotherhood-style.

Of course, I’d LOVE to see a Civil War that kept this show’s high thematic content, but I’ve never once stated that Concrete Revolutio was perfect. It is an amazing show however, and I really wish it got more attention than it has from the community, especially when it puts out episodes like this. I mean what other show is there that mixes so many tropes/character types that make up the majority of today’s anime with a high amount of surprisingly mature storytelling? Well I guess you could argue Kiznaiver does, but let’s wait a few more weeks before we start making those sorts of definite judgments, shall we?

Don’t have a good way to end this post, so let’s go with this: Lalulolulolulo!

Minor Quips

  • For the record, I’m not saying Brotherhood is a generic battle anime. But it was pretty safe in comparison to the original 2003 adaptation what with its shonen tropes/conflicts, and we all know how I feel about “safe”.
  • Actually seen people missing the time jumps as of late. There’s just no pleasing people is there?

7 responses to “The Devil Is In The Discrimination — A Concrete Revolutio Post

  1. I, for once, am not missing the time skips. I really appreciate the straightforward but still dense take of this season’s Concrete Revolutio.

    Man, I ended up being so fascinated with the four way clash of ideologies in this episode.

  2. Devila reminds me of giant naked Rei, but not thematically, just the scene when she appears above ground

  3. How exactly was FMA 2003 less “safe” than Brotherhood? Neither really pushed any serious boundaries, and cramming in more contrived human drama is hardly any “safer” than cramming in more contrived suspense drama. Both aimed just as high as the other, just in different ways. Both could just as easily fail, yet both succeeded.

    • Mostly because Brotherhood’s solution to everything was fighting, which let’s be honest, is way too easy an answer for a premise as high-concept as FMA’s.

      • I really don’t recall 2003 having distinctly less of that, but I’ll take your word for it because it’s been a good four years since I last watched them.

    • Yeah, but whilst FMA 2003’s action was distinctly more shonen than Inception’s or Terminator 2’s, it favored a more philosophical approach to its story. Whether it worked or not is a different issue entirely, but I liked the unpredictable chances it took with a manga that at the time was unfinished.

      • Ah, ok. I certainly agree on that point; I’m glad that Bones took a chance on making their own original anime out of it. It ended up giving us two great shounen anime instead of one.

        I just disagree that 2003’s really any more philosophical than Brotherhood. The amount of actual introspection and theme exploration in each series didn’t really feel much different to me, 2003 was just more superficially angsty and edgy while Brotherhood was more superficially hot-blooded. (I fully understand preferring one’s tone to the other’s, though, not to mention the music).