In an earlier blog post I talked about how sometimes you have to stop watching a show you like. With the 2015 Anime Concrete Revolutio: Superhuman Phantasmagoria, I had the opposite problem- I disliked the overall tone but could not bring myself to stop watching, because I was invested in (some) of the characters and really wanted to find out what the heck was going on (which is probably what the producers intended.)
The basic concept of the series is: what if all Japanese superheroes co-existed? As a fan of those I was very much excited at first. But it turns out this is a deconstruction of the genre- more “Watchmen” than “Justice League”. Everybody either has a hidden agenda, or is hopelessly naive. Or dead, because somebody dies in nearly every episode. Further making things frustrating is their choice of showing flash-forwards, sometimes years into the future- so we know things will get worse, just not why.
This is definitely not what I enjoy in most superhero series (with some exceptions.) Around episode 4 I was ready to quit. Still: I cannot accuse this show of being poorly written. It knows how to tease you into wanting to find out what is going on and why. Every episode you learn a bit more and meet characters who will be important later. It can be hard to follow, but it might be worth it for those with the patience.
And then there’s the characters. For the most part, as mentioned, they are based on existing heroes or at least, character types (Jiro is likely Cyborg 009, Kikko is a Magical Girl ala Sailor Moon, etc.) Their designs are cool and they are likable; you can’t help but worry about what will happen to them when they find out the truths of the cruel world they live in.
As I write this the first season of the show (out of a planned two) has finished airing and part of the secrets have been revealed, and they are indeed terrible. Will I stick around for part two? I don’t know yet. I think I’ll at least give it a chance. Certainly, you can’t fault it for its quality.
Recommended for: fans of superheroes, 70s Japan, and conspiracies.