As you may have realised, I’ve become slightly more interested in anime then I used to be, going so far as to try and attempt to follow the new season in real time, rather than catching up with series as they finish. As you know Bob, each anime season roughly corresponds with the real season, so we’re currently starting the Fall 2015 season, one of the shows in which I wanted to check out being Concrete Revolutio: Superhuman Fantasy. Not that I knew anything about it before I sat down to watch it, other than what I’d read about in the various previews on anime blogs; hadn’t even seen the promo above. I went in with no expectations therefore.
What got me to sit up and notice was the art design: gorgeous and unlike everything else being shown recently. just look at those bright colours, and the pop-art style big dots in the background. It has a bit of a sixties vibe to it, which it turns out is roughly when the series is supposed to be set. Again I only found this out later though, from that preview shown at the top. In the show itself there’s nothing that made think it was supposed to be set at some time other than “the present”, save for that art style. It reminded me of some of the later, post-war Loony Tunes cartoons: huge slabs of colour, modernist buildings/furniture and crazy angles.
The plot, despite skipping around in time, was fairly simple. It stars when purple haired Kikko Hoshino, a waitress in a
cocktail coffee bar is asked by pink haired Jirō Hitoyoshi to help him catch a Japanese scientist selling secrets to a foreign spy. Said spy instead hands over a state of the art astronomic device the scientist needed for his research, at which point Kikko interferes, steals the device and flees the bar by switching places with a mannequin in a nearby clothes store. There she transforms into a magic girl. Because that’s what she really is. the spy shows up and turns out to be an alien, transforms into a giant, at which point another giant shows up, looking very Jack Kirbyesque and with an Egyptian god motive and who turns out to be Grosse Augen, the hero of the people. As explained by the oh so convenient six year old superhero fan nearby.
It was then that I realised that this wasn’t a sci-fi thriller or magical girl show but rather a proper full blown superhero adventure, with a lot of continuity hinted at through frex the blase attitude of various bystanders to seeing yet another superhuman fight. As we find out about halfway through the episode, Jirō works for “the Institute of Supervision of Human Resources”, an organisation dedicated to helping superhumans. Not so much “who watches the watchmen” as who protects the protectors as they’re busy safeguarding humanity. Something that wouldn’t have been out of place in Kurt Busiek’s Astro City and indeed that’s what it kept reminding me off. A similar sort of world building by way of genre archetypes given a new spin.
The art works the same way as in Astro City, which has the underrated talent of Brent Anderson to integrate dozens of disjunct character archetypes from seventy years of superhero comics history at its disposal. Here you can have a magical girl summon a red nosed cartoon cloud to block the attack by a giant alien monster on a Porsche turned mecha without any of it looking out of place and while staying true to their respective genre backgrounds.
As said, the plot so far has been mostly setup, hinting at future developments through its time hops: Something Dark is going to happen, and is somewhat confusing because it tries to do so much in one episode. As you might have guessed though this wasn’t the main draw for me anyway. Rather, I want to see more of the world of Concrete Revolutio, as well as of Kikko the magical girl, who is somewhat more interesting than Jirō. Hopefully this show can keep up the high quality of its first episode: so far it’s the biggest surprise of Fall 2015 for me.