In spite of how many anime come out each season, it's always surprising to note how many of these titles are cookie cutter series that try nothing new. I mean, don't get me wrong, there have always been cookie cutter anime titles coming out, even during the older eras. When there's an anime that tries to do something new, it automatically catches my attention. This is why Bones is my favorite anime studio. They are one of the only studios consistently trying out fresh ideas and experimenting. Fall 2015's Concrete Revolutio is their most recent experimental offering.
The story takes place in a world where superhumans exist. The media isn't allowed to acknowledge their existence, and measures are being taken to ensure that they receive unequal treatment. One organization attempts to protect and look after superhumans called the Superhuman Bureau. The series mainly focuses on Jiro, who works for them, and is the only member who isn't a superhuman himself.
The series utilizes a storytelling element in which it jumps between multiple timelines. This has confused viewers, and left a lot of them turned off from continuing the series. What do I think of this storytelling? Do I believe it to be as 'messy' as many may consider it? The answer is... kind of. At first, the initial few episodes can really turn people off from the series, since they require a lot of attention, and the emotional moments don't work too well, since one isn't really attatched to the characters. At the same time, giving the show's earlier episodes another look after finishing the first season, I have found the storytelling a lot more polished than it had initially led on. Those emotional moments that had initially left me feeling kind of empty, actually do work quite well already knowing what has happened. Not to mention, there's also a lot of foreshadowing within the visuals that one will not pick up on in the first watch. Sure, there are still some problems with the timeskips, where I feel as if an episode will not spent enough time on certain aspects of the storyline, and it will still feel a tad too 'jumpy', but looking at it with fresh eyes, I've found a greater appreciation for it.
While not all of the characters have been explored yet, I've grown fascinated with the ones the series has fleshed out. The main protagonist, Jiro, is a character who has always dreamed of being an "ally of justice". Being apart of the Bureau, is, what he believes to be an opportunity to become this hero he always wanted to be. At the same time, due to information he constantly receives about the Superhuman Bureau, his beliefs always being questioned. Kikko is a witch that has grown to have a crush on Jiro; however, her own beliefs on what she considers justice differs from Jiro, and because of these differences in beliefs, there is a conflict in their relationship. Fuurota is another character in the series that interests me a lot. He is a superhuman that takes the form of a child. He can shapeshift and talk to animals, and considers himself friends to all children. What I think makes his character most interesting is that he isn't actually a child, but due to his mindset and appearance, he has always considered himself one. Fuurota grows throughout the series as he learns that his own childlike mindset was a phantasmagoria, and the world itself is much less simplistic than he initially envisioned it to be. At the same time, this same simplistic mindset is why Jiro appreciates him so much. When Jiro's own ideals are constantly being challenged, Fuurota is able to remind him what his own goals are with the Superhuman Bureau. There are other interesting characters in the series, many that haven't been fully explored yet, and I quite look forward to seeing how the series is going to continue further with these characters. Until then, I consider them to be filled with potential. Sometimes the character motivations in the series can feel a bit off-putting and strange, such as one episode, in which a character dies, but the rest of the show's cast seems to ignore this death entirely, and the story just continues. In spite of those flaws, the characters still manage to be interesting as well as complex.
Thematically, the series raises questions of whether or not there is clear-cut right or wrong, through characters such as Earth-chan, a superhuman robot that can detect when someone is in danger. She can solve pretty much any problem when theres a cry for help; however, when it comes down to situations in which there is more of a grey area, her beliefs are very naive. Due to her only being programmed to fight evil, she doesn't quite understand the inconstancy of human actions. Because of robot nature, she only understands that there's a problem that needs to be solved, but she never attempts to think why that problem is there, and if the people she considers 'good' may also be a part of that problem, due to her inability to tell when someone is lying. Yes, what she's doing may seem right, because she's helping people in danger, but due to her never delving deeper into the problems, one may argue that she's not really helping anyone.
What I also find very interesting about the series is how this timeline acts as a parallel to Japan in the 1900s, thus also manages to commentate on society during that time. It's very multi-faceted, and that's why I appreciate it as much as I do.
In terms of audio, the soundtrack is awesome, with the opening initially not impressing me all that much, but eventually growing on me by the end of the series. The battle themes really add to the action, the sound effects work well, and the voices all fit the characters. Don't get me started on the ending theme, which is one of the most rockin' guitar tracks I've heard from anime in recent memory.
I really dig the animation. The comic book style makes it feel very much like that of a superhero series, and the character designs stand out a lot in comparison to other anime that came out this year. They very much resemble that of classic series such as Kikaider, Cyborg 009, Astro Boy, and Ultraman. Beyond that, the action sequences are fantastic with individuals like Yutaka Nakamura delievering some of the most stellar work all year. The CGI is actually fairly solid, and barely noticable. My one major criticism with the series is its minimalistic backgrounds, which didn't really work all that well with the series, and felt kind of lazy. There were also a few weird off-model drawings that happened in some of the later episodes. Beyond that, the series' animation was extremely solid.
While Concrete Revolutio is indeed a controversial series for its non-conventional means of storytelling, I was extremely pleased with this first season, and I look forward to how Aikawa and Mizushima are going to continue with the series. Much like Gatchaman Crowds, I believe that whether or not one likes ConRevo is entirely dependent if one likes how the ideas the show puts forth are presented. If one cannot get behind them, then they are less likely to enjoy it. For me, this show was just Bones creating another anime from 2015 that blew me away.