Jul 9, 2017
SHORT REVIEW: The manga adaptation of Concrete Revolutio doesn't do the original justice.
*ba dum tss*
The back page of the Concrete Revolutio manga begins with the line "Based on the hit superhero anime!" That is simply a lie. Concrete Revolutio may have been a modern-day masterpiece, but it certainly wasn't a hit. Despite being a critical darling amongst blog writers and cool people, the show sold very poorly in all and didn't spawn the following or success that such an original passion project deserves. I kind of wish the publishers had the guts to put "Based on the severely failed superhero anime!" on the
But I digress. If you've made it this far, you're willing to give Concrete Revolutio a chance. Even better, maybe you enjoyed the show and are seeking out more content. Or maybe you didn't like the show's time-hopping setup and want a more comprehensible but still deep plot. Unfortunately, this manga will satisfy absolutely none of you.
The Concrete Revolutio anime is a vast and complex work, spanning 24 episodes and a bunch of arcs that intertwine as the chronology develops. Slimming it down into a 2-volume manga requires careful consideration on what and what not to include to still get the series' messages across. Sadly, the manga manages to miss the point in every conceivable way.
Let's start with the hot-button issue: the chronology. The Concrete Revolutio anime is infamous for its nonlinear timeline. Episodes frequently jump 5 years into the future, showing the direct consequences of the Superhuman Bureau's earlier actions. Eventually, the present catches up and the whole show takes place later on in the timeline. This manga gets rid of the time-skipping entirely, relying on solely a linear plot. This could have been a good thing! Had the manga gone on long enough, we would have eventually seen the future actions that happened in the anime, just in chronological order rather than plot-relevance order. But the manga doesn't go on for long enough at all, and those future events are cut from the plot entirely. Entire arcs are cleaved in half, with stopgap or unclear resolutions that surely make no sense unless you watched the anime and knew what actually happened later on. The one instance of a time skip in this manga seems to have been played largely as a joke, too. Overall, the non-jumping, non-resolving timeline severely damages Concrete's plot here.
Concrete Revolutio is known for its wide palette of characters. The superhumans are incredibly varied, from robots to yokai to witches to kaiju, and the anime has a brilliant supporting cast with all sorts of different motives. That's not the case here. Only the main members of the Superhuman Bureau show up as characters here, and a lot of them have little to no personality. And Emi -poor, poor Emi- yet again has almost zero characterization. Even Jiro suffers immensely from this adaptation. In the show he's morally gray and always fights for what he believes is just, even as his sense of justice is tested and altered. Jiro's sense of justice is never challenged here, nor is it even a major plot point. This was one of the most compelling parts of the show, but it was completely removed in this manga. The only character that came out kind of alright was Raito.
The artist, Nylon, is a porn artist. You might think I'm just leveraging a personal attack, but it shows. His art isn't particularly good and certainly doesn't hold up to the anime's excellent visuals, but the worst offense is the fanservice chapter halfway through. Why does this chapter exist? Why is Kikko so sexualized? Why do some of the panels look like they came right from a hentai? This chapter ruins any sense of pace or seriousness in the manga, and feels like a waste of 20 pages more than anything.
Finally, the deviation. While the first half is a faithful recreation of the first few episodes of Concrete sans the flash-forwards, the second half of the manga is an entirely new arc that cuts the series short before anything good can happen. Needless to say, it's awful. The new villain and his motives are baffling, Jiro never even gets to use his locked-up powers, and none of it is actually interesting. There's no moral or philosophical quandaries being posed in this new fight. It's basically just a lame shonen arc, which isn't what I expect or want from Concrete. The very ending is extremely shallow as well, and can't hold a bone to the show's smashing resolution.
Needless to say, the manga adaptation of Concrete Revolutio is bad. It's real bad. It retains nothing of what makes the anime so great, and every time it does something original, it introduces a whole slew of new problems. It's hard to believe that the original writer of the anime also came up with something this disappointing. So here's my takeaway: don't read this manga. If you came here without having seen the anime, please please please watch it. It'll be worth your time and it'll be far better than this adaptation. And if you have seen the anime and are hungry for more, then I'm sorry, this manga just won't do.
What did you think of this review?