On a sunny July day in the 41st year of the Shinka Era, Jirou Hitoyoshi is tasked with covertly listening in on a secret meeting between a top government scientist and an industrial spy. However, his cover is blown, and the spy reveals himself to be an alien in disguise. Amidst the ensuing chaos, Jirou enlists the aid of cafe waitress and magical girl Kikko Hoshino, one of many "superhumans" who blend into society and secretly protect humanity from extraterrestrial threats. As a member of the government agency known as the Super Population Research Laboratory, Jirou has the dual task of protecting superhumans that defend humanity and disposing of any deemed too dangerous to live. Having proven herself a worthy ally, Kikko is invited to join the agency as its newest recruit.
Fast forward five years: disapproval and distaste for superhumans are now commonplace in Tokyo. From government corruption and conflicting ideas of justice, to the morality of superhuman rights, the relationship between humans and the supernatural minority balances precariously in a world pervaded by whispers of unrest and unease. Under mysterious circumstances, Jirou has betrayed the agency, and is now a fugitive on the run. As he skulks through the rainy back alleys of Shinjuku, he is pursued by the very same superhumans that he himself once recruited.
Anime Consortium Japan (ACJ) revealed the original production Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou at Anime Expo 2015 in Los Angeles. The project had previously been teased by scriptwriter Shou Aikawa in the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine, published in May 2015, under the tentative title Choujin Gensou. Aikawa indicated that the project would be a superhero story in a setting similar to the American comic book series Watchmen.
The 2015 seasonal lineup have given rise to several shows surrounding superheroes and their antics. From the well-known juggernauts like One Punch Man, to the more paradoxical ones like Punch Line; superhero stories seem to be on an all time rise, which can be a direct respondent to the recent boom for superhero films surging in the west. With the success of The Avengers, currently one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and Marvel's ever-expanding cinematic universe, as well as DC Comics, who has also thrown their hats into the ring to follow the trend, this phase isn't expected to die down anytime soon.
Japan has always been influenced by the actions of big brother, and this is now being reflected in the world of anime, with the introduction of shows like 2013's Gatchaman Crowds and Samurai Flamenco, all the way up to what's being produced today. And like studio Bones's other 2015 show Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront), which explored this idea in a less common way, they once again take that approach with Concrete Revolutio: exploring the inner workings of the would-be organizations that would form if superheroes truly exist. Similar in structure to the governing bodies found in movies such as The Incredibles and Men In Black, Concrete Revolutio focuses on the political maneuvering and policies that such an organization like that would have to navigate when dealing with "superhumans". The biggest difference from those movies, however, is the creative liberty that Concrete takes to toss in every supernatural entity in consumable media under the same umbrella, which results in the biggest supernatural orgy placed in a TV series format since the likes of X-Files and Once Upon A Time.
Before we dive further into this review, I feel like it's absolutely essential to give a bit of context about studio Bones and their infamous reputation when it comes to dealing with plots in supernatural premise anime. Bones and proper writing meshes as effectively as oil and water. If there isn't a pre-written guideline to follow (and sometimes even that isn't enough), studio Bones can almost guarantee to write themselves into a corner, with convoluted narrative choices and contrived plotting. When it comes to visuals and auditory choices, they are often leagues ahead of the pack, but the moment it's time to work on the script, they're as proficient as a group of monkeys on a typewriter. Darker Than Black season 2, Eureka Seven AO, and recent entry Kekkai Sensen, are just the tip of the iceberg when discussing Bones's infamous track record.
So as a forewarning, when you sit down to watch a Bones anime, good visuals are almost always pre-packaged with it, but unfortunately, the chances of a coherent narrative to accompany those visuals are as likely as a coin toss.
Now let's make this clear, Concrete Revolutio isn't really "badly" written, just badly organized. Following the plot is somewhat manageable if you dig deep and pay attention to minute details, like setting changes and timeline placement. And as to be expected, the visuals were great, as they tend to be with the content the studio creates. But when it came to that coin toss on whether or not we would receive a coherent narrative, this is yet another Bones production that reinforces their standing as the ADHD studio. There may be a huge influx of superhero titles being produced in recent years, but none can boast the same kind of headache inducing clusterfuck narrative set forth by Concrete Revolutio.
The story takes place during several timeline events that's intermingled into one overarching narrative. The first timeline that's introduced is the personal journey and eventual turncoat direction taken by Jirou Hitoyoshi, the show's protagonist, and window into the world of Concrete Revolutio. The other major storyline is dedicated to the macroeconomics and real world implementation of superhumans, coinciding with the organizations that would be created as a direct result of their presence. What brings both stories together is our protagonist himself, who is an agent that works for the 'Superhuman Bureau', which is one of the biggest governing bodies that oversee the handling of superhumans; may that be by suppressing those that they deem "dangerous", or using them as tools to further their agenda.
What Concrete Revolutio deserves credit for is tackling the subject matter with some level of sobering realism. It's not often that we get a superhero story that bothers to explore the inner-workings of the politics and regiments needed to make such a world function. With shows like One Punch Man that only generally discuss the ideas of a superhero organization, or Samurai Flamenco that does so intermittently between arcs, Revolutio goes the extra mile by making the idea a primary focus, and scratches an itch that some viewers didn't even know they had for such a topic, to begin with. It was an interesting idea that blended the surreal world of comic book lore, with that of actual political maneuvering.
But that's where the praise ends. Despite this intriguing premise, Concrete's plotting is nothing short of... mind-numbingly bad. Everything that it had going for it, from the retro comic-book inspired art-style, to the interesting storyline, is made null and void by Bones's inability to craft a coherent narrative. And this isn't to say an interwoven narrative about supernatural beings told in different timelines can't be done (anime titles such as Baccano and Durarara can attest to that). This is just another case of Bones being 'Bones', which is a shame since the potential for something good was there. Like I already said, if you pay enough attention you can piece the puzzle that is this narrative, but even when you do so, the resulting picture is as warped as anything laid down by Pablo Picasso.
If you do decide to watch this anime, do so with the understanding that the story presented to you will be an utter mess. Not a bad story, I can't emphasize that enough, but simply a messy one.
With that out of the way, let's discuss something that studio Bones do demonstrate competency in, and that's their visuals. As briefly mentioned, the show has a very nice art direction. Drawing inspiration from western comic-book panel work, we get a vivid depiction of the show's universe. With lots of saturated wall-to-wall color, stippling (halftone) effects, pop art illustrations and other key elements used, this show is great eye-candy. If you're a comic-book enthusiast or simply looking for a visual treat, this title should be on your radar, for it is nothing short of excellent in the art department.
Following suit, we're also given a soundtrack that upholds the feeling found with superhero stories. With uplifting synthpop numbers, post-modern rock undertones, and quirky ambient sound-bites to help set the mood. It did a decent job in keeping in tempo with the actions being demonstrated on-screen. Despite no real musical cues really standing out, or any moment where I can say the soundtrack ever went above and beyond what's expected of it, It was still a cut above average, not impressive but still serviceable.
Like the world the story takes place in, the characters are equally vibrant in personality and outward appearance. And if you could recall, I mention that the show included every fictional supernatural being in its universe, which led to quite a diverse lineup. While not as memorable individually, as a whole the characters introduced were expansive enough to keep things interesting. You never know what you'll get at any given episode. One minute we're following intergalactic sentient beings, and the next we're given magical girls from another dimension. It's hard to pinpoint or even describe the cast in any detail, when I said "the biggest supernatural orgy", I really do mean that.
The biggest problem with the characters come from the main cast that we follow on a daily basis. They're not bad, but at the same time, they're just not that interesting. These are characters who's definitive personality traits are only as interesting as their superpowers. They're better defined by what they can do than who they are. Because of this, they're not people most viewers would find intriguing. They're mostly there to carry the plot along, rather than anyone that you'll want to personally invest in.
All in all, the cast was fun but wasn't really anything beyond that.
The premise and art style is what ultimately got me through this show. I never thought I would find the inner-workings of a superhero universe to be so interesting. But as far as enjoyment is concerned, Revolutio really fell short, thanks in no small part to the horribly executed plot.
Concrete Revolutio is a show that I hesitate to suggest trying out without mentioning a few precursors. This anime is NOT easy to follow, even for the more astute of viewers out there, nor is it rewarding as a story when it is all said and done. But if the idea of politics being incorporated into a superhero universe seems intriguing to you, then I say proceed with caution. Visually the show keeps up the track record of Bones's other works, but it sadly does nothing in improving their standing in the sloppy plotting department. Concrete Revolutio may not live up to its potential, but it's still something that contains some inherent value.
Original anime is quite a rarity these days. Most of the shows that you encounter on a normal seasonal basis are adaptations of manga, LN, or VN, as things really only get an anime when it's really popular. And then you have original anime, where there is no source material and only itself in order to tell the story it wants to tell. So, thanks to Bones, we have Concrete Revolutio. A show that...you know what, fuck it, a single word cannot describe this mess.
Story: In a fantasy version of the world, there are beings that live among humans known as
Superhumans. What are superhumans? Well, they don't just include humans with superpowers, they, according to the show's logic, involve things like aliens, witches, yokai, time travelers, cyborgs, androids, what have you. It is here where we follow the story of the Superhuman Bureau, a group of people who work to aid Superhumans and aid them in their plight of need.
Concrete...is a special kind of show, and that's meant to be taken however you wish. Following our group of superhumans, every episode of the show follows these characters as they go through a completely different storyline in almost every episode, tackling a different event and problem that has to do with the Superhumans featured in the show. The biggest problem with Concrete as far as story is concerned is that it's very, very, VERY badly paced and structured. Not only does every episode basically start a completely different story, but they go into different periods of time as well. The show bounces back and forth between the present and future (or...past and present; both of them work, really.) without really any warning. In addition, the show just feels like it's rushing itself. The show throws you right into the action and leaves you there to see what's going on as characters shout their definition of justice to their opponent, discuss politics, or what have you.
And that brings me to my next point, justice. Concrete tried to make itself into a show that talks about the morality of justice, freedom, and the rights of beings, regardless of what they are. (Just a little side note, the characters in the show even argue what a superhuman even is, with some saying that they're just humans with superpowers, while other's say it's everything NOT human.) As a theme, it's a good one. But as they say, great in theory, messy in practice. The concept of morality in this series is very in your face, as almost every line has to do with the rights or what have you. The problem is, that's all it really is, talk. The characters don't really do anything for this topic, relying solely on the plot to bring them another situation where they state their goals and hopes for the future which really in the end doesn't do the show any justice since it's all talk and no real action.
In the end, Concrete is what I would describe as an "incomprehensible piece of crap that doesn't bother to make sense of itself until the VERY LAST EPISODE", and even in the last episode it doesn't make much sense. (And that is my honest opinion.) With its episodic storyline that is so disjointed that not even the 'connecting' parts of the story really connect, as well as a philosophy concept that doesn't get off the ground period, this is a show that I for once, will not be watching the next season of, since there is more for some god unknown reason.
- Disjointed story
- Really bad pacing
- Concept of 'morality' never gets off the ground
- Why is there going to be a second season?!
Characters: Characters are also one of my biggest gripes in the series. Not just because they said that ghosts are physical and can apparently shapeshift into animals, objects, or what have you, but because there're just so many of them and none of them are really spectacular.
For once, I really can't pin down any of these characters for the sole reason of there's not really anything to say about them. We have the superhuman bureau, and then we have everyone else. As mentioned before, each of these characters in this cast has some sense of morality or view on the existence between superhumans and humans together. As such, there are a lot of sides and a lot of say in the matter, and these characters really just feel like puppets on a stage. I can't even pin the supposed main protagonist Jiro down because on one hand, he wants to protect all superhumans, but at the same time, he fights a lot of them and says he wants to protect the people as well which is rather conflicting.
For the most part, the cast of this series features side characters, as they take up the brunt of the showtime. (Another interestingly odd thing.) With every new episode, the show introduces new characters, primarily superhumans, and features them and their plight with every new episode that comes. As a concept, this show wouldn't be too bad with its episodic format, but because it's structured in the way it is, a lot of the motivation that the side characters have with each passing episode doesn't always make complete sense, and the reasoning why they do stuff is either unknown or is told in a confusing manner so much so that I question what their plan was from the very beginning. (They have a kid agitate the monster he was trying to say was a good guy, before promptly crying because it went on a rampage and he felt sad. Where is the logic in that?!)
+ Devotion to side cast
- One note cast. (Everyone's pretty one-note)
- Character motivation is confusing
Art: Produced by Studio Bones, Concrete bears a very different style of animation contrary to anime in general. Hosting a very bright and vibrant color scheme reminiscent to comic books and what have you, the artstyle for Concrete is very flashy and incredibly vibrant. It was done in a way that was actually really appealing to the eye since it reflected the fantastical world that they were trying to portray and it fit with that aspect of the show.
In addition, the art is very fluent. There really aren't any bumps with it, as the entirety of the show is well made, showcasing all of the superhuman powers, the crazy tech, and out of this world stuff that just looks fun to watch.
+ Great and unique artstyle
Sound: Sound is also an aesthetic to the series that I cannot deny has decent qualities to it. The OP of the series is this loud and blaring rock song that gives you this rush and excitement to it. It's what I think of as a good song and it's memorable because of its uniqueness.
The ED on the other hand is a bit of an odd choice. Similar to its respective OP, the song is a rock song, being very heavy in electric guitar, however it has this trippy feel to it that feels like you're on acid or having some drug trip while listening to it. And when you have those visuals in the ED as well...oh boy, that's quite the LSD nightmare.
+ Great and memorable OP
+/- LSD ED. (Its like a drug trip...)
Personal Enjoyment: Concrete is just that, concrete. Watching this show felt like being slammed in the face repeatedly by a slab of concrete. They're both painful to experience and for the most part you don't know why it's happening. As such, this show for me was quite the rage-inducer. Normally, whenever I review anime, I always watch future seasons in order to keep consistency. For this show however, that will not be the case, as the sheer amount of fucks I don't give for this horribly written piece of crap is not enough to constitute me to watch any more.
Did I like this anime?
What didn't I like about this anime?
Everything. Everything except the art and the OP is something I both despise and resent.
Would I recommend this anime?
Even though I hate it...personally, I wouldn't recommend it. The show itself is a fusion of the random storytelling (like FLCL) in conjunction with a theme that made the show try to take itself more seriously than it ever could've. As such, I can't even recommend this show as a time waster since it tries to take itself very seriously without the show really doing anything to build onto that theme aside from introducing new characters with different points of view. I'll say this though; Bones, you have failed me.
Looking for a show about heroes fighting bad guys to save the world? Or maybe something really flamboyant with all type of gags? Perhaps interested in a series with all kinds of supernatural beings thrown into a big chunk of story all packaged ready to open? Concrete Revolutio might be your answer. At its core, the series is a wild ride with everything it tries. And given what it delivered, this show is quite a bit of fun.
A few things to know. Concrete Revolutio is an original series and not based on any work. The show is produced by Bones and directed by Seiji Mizushima,
who is known for directing Full Metal Alchemist. Furthermore, we got Shou Aikawa who’ve worked on other Bones’ shows like Rahxephon. That alone should spark some interest. For an original show, the series is inspired by some unoriginal ideas like superheroes. It’s just like the premise says: a series where supernatural beings becomes part of human society and where superheroes has to deal with them.
The core part of the characters are part of a group known as the Superhuman Bureau, an organization formed by heroes who wants to save the world. Think of it like the Justice League and you’ll get the picture. But rather than Superman, we got a character named Jiro as the main protagonist. Alongside him there’s also others like magical girl Hino, expert tracker Emi Kino, a kid named Fuurouta who can transform into a wild beast, among others. The idea is that these group of heroes has gathered together to save the world without government recognition. Their purpose seems to be the generic moral of “doing the right thing”. The series also invests a lot of time in the group dealing with some interpersonal issues. As a member of the group, Jiro makes his intentions pretty well known. With his trademark violet hair and an indifferent personality, he’s a man to keep an eye on. The rest of the cast is less noticeable although their diverse range of personalities can be entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, there’s not really a whole lot of characterization focused on them individually. Rather, it approaches the group with more of what they do rather than the reasons of them doing what they want.
In terms of episode structure, prepare for a lot of confusion in the first few episodes. Any viewer watching this may have to re-watch a few of the scenes to get a better understanding. Almost every episode has a rather absurd start with a frenzy fashion. You’ll probably get used to it after a while but don’t get caught off guard if it feel like the show dropped you in the middle of the story. Taking a closer glance though, the series focuses on a variety of ideas that extends from historical context such as World Wars to immorality. The timeline of the story is also hard to piece together at first but later does get clearer as each progressing episode. What’s most interesting about the show is how much fun it seems to have with itself. Most superheroes shows these days are mostly about the good guys vs. bad guys and saving the world. Concrete Revolutio goes a little bit beyond that and shows how heroes approaches their problems. Not every episode is structured like this though and some can give the repetitive with the ‘villain of the week’ feeling. But in retrospect, it still retains a sense of fun as it blends between fictional storytelling and entertainment.
Superhuman Bureau also battles a variety of strange beings throughout the series. From oversized Transformers to King Kong like behemoths, it’s actually quite colorful. There’s also secret organizations with their own agenda while we sometimes see the Bureau’s group battle their own personal demons. The show doesn’t offer a central antagonist (The ‘Big Bad’) so it’s more about fighting the good fight and making a difference. Unfortunately, some of these antagonists lacks a decent personality and can feel pretty stereotypical. The battles and resolutions are also fairly predictable so you may get bored from time to time. I can also fairly safe to say that Jiro is a character that is hard to get attached to. I find it difficult to relate to him or understand his character especially later on with his identity issue. Not that it’s holding the show back but Jiro may be a hit or miss character for most fans. Just as the show it is, Concrete Revolutio may not be suitable for everyone.
The art can easily be described as being colorful. It’s saturated all over the setting with its buildings, characters, and supernatural beings. The action itself is also quite stylistic with a gag approach while also translating into some fast paced battle choreography. It’s not hard to keep up but the momentum of the action can be quite swift if you don’t pay close attention. There’s also various transformations that while gimmicky can be amusing to watch because of the physical changes of the characters. Despite this, most of the main characters looks normal in their base form. On the other hand, we got monsters with their otherworldly designs and some that follows a suit of evolution with their revamped body structures. Fan service also exists although not really explicit at all except a few skin here and there. By all terms, it’s actually quite unique for a show about superheroes.
It’s one of my favorite OP songs for this Fall season. From upbeat tones to its catchy lyrics, the theme song takes a dive into colorful choreography. There’s also showcases of the main characters in noticeable moments although most of it is overshadowed by the colors. The OST is less noticeable although makes the series credible during action scenes. However, I have to give some credit for the character expressions to bring out a good amount of comedy for the series. This is coordinated in conjunction with the character voice tones. And because of that, it makes the show quite fun to watch as it adds both thrilling excitement and laughs.
It’s not a masterpiece but Concrete Revolutio is definitely a show to look out for. You don’t have to enjoy superheroes themed series to like this. Nor do you have to examine it like some detective story. With everything it has to offer, the show is quite a bit of fun. From superhero fighting to morality context, it’s a series that knows what to do with its seemingly oversaturated amount of ideas. At least take a look at it and see what these heroes do for a living.
Concrete Revolutio was the one show this season I wasn’t expecting to be as good as it was. This series was a pleasant surprise of Fall 2015. And as it has already been stated, the MAL average here is far underrated. This is definitely not a show you should judge based on first looks.
The artwork is fitting for the superhero theme of the show. In fact, the backgrounds are colored in by tiny dots, almost as if it were printed out from an actual superhero comic book. Other background elements are drawn with very basic shapes and colored solid, also as if it came from
a comic book. Also, the first thing that hits you when you watch this anime is the color. The colors are very bold, and pop, and are flamboyant, if not *fabulous.* Where else are you going to find a main male MC with hot pink hair that swoops? And for a contrast, the psychedelic animation for the ED is pretty trippy; don’t skip it. I must give a 10/10 to the artwork. Bones brought in a new, daring style to the medium, and I love it. However, the playful artwork cannot be taken at face-value. There’s so much more to Concrete Revolutio than what you first see on the surface.
The story is about the Superhuman Bureau, which protects and regulates superhumans. This includes eliminating potentially dangerous superhumans. However, you cannot take the “superhero” theme at face-value either. This is NOT your average cookie-cutter superhero show. One thing that is important to note is that the plot uses timeskips to connect certain points together while leaving events in between secret. It’s not difficult to keep track of since the screen shows you what year it is. Scenes that happen in year 42 deal with cases that the Superhuman Bureau is currently working on. At some time during each episode, the scene will skip ahead to year 47. Here it seems like our hot pink MC, Jiro, is on the run from his own organization, but we don’t know why. Watch each episode to find out more as the plot thickens. This is very much more of an “action mystery” rather than your typical shounen.
As we watch, we learn that each of the main characters have their own secrets and motives, and the lines between good, evil, and justice begin to blur. Some fight for justice, some fight for peace, and some fight for freedom. Humans, superhumans, ghosts, beasts, witches, demons, aliens... what's the difference between these groups and why are they treated differently? Are any of them innately evil? Does the peace of one group inhibit the freedom and justice of another?
I think that's all I should say for now. The best thing I can compare this to is Darker than Black. At first, the series is largely episodic with their own individual mysteries, but each episode digs a little more into the main plot. Then everything begins to tie together as we learn more about the main characters towards the end. However, this season is largely a setup for season 2, it seems.
Anyway, this isn't something you will regret watching if you give it a fair chance and don't judge too early. Enjoy the ride~
The spring season is coming and you don't want to be left behind before it's even become. Now is the best time to get all caught up on the anime that have sequels airing next season so you can join in on the hype.
This BONES project directed by Shou Aikawa that initially left viewers dazed and confused has recently come to a thundering conclusion. Behind the barrage of sparkly colors and references to mid 20th-century history and pop culture, what was the point of it all?