“He states the ordinary, the obvious. That is how he moves people.”
-Emi Kino on Devilo, Concrete Revolutio, Episode 17
Sometimes, a simple statement is more powerful than the most eloquent of speeches.
The world of Concrete Revolutio is populated first and foremost by ideas. Characters are introduced, reintroduced, and exit the series’ stage when the time for their outlook or belief is no longer needed. This isn’t to say that these characters cannot be incredibly emotionally resonant in the process, but in the end their actions are all in service of conveying the myriad of ideas that make up the noxious stew of Concrete Revolutio‘s world. Attacking on multiple social and bureaucratic fronts, most of which are deeply-seated in Japan’s own post-war history, Concrete Revolutio has a lot to say.
As the series winds through its second season, Concrete Revolutio has become far more straightforward with its timeline — previously different parts of episodes were presented out of chronological order in service of certain narratives — making everything seem quicker in pace. Episodes now fly by with one overarching thematic story that ties into one of the many points the series is attempting to touch upon. The end result is less chaos with tighter self-contained vignettes that require the viewer to think a bit harder on how they fit into the series oeuvre. Where the first season was about people meeting and then separating as time passed, the second season picks and chooses specific paths to retread much later in time.
Additionally, the narrower method of dispensing information in chronological order allows the series to introduce new characters through which to dispense certain ideas. In Episode 16, it was singularly focused on the fact that a person, never mind an entire country, cannot disregard their past or move forward without in any way acknowledging it. The story of the Three Birdmen — manufactured superhumans who underwent surgery to augment their abilities in order to become olympic icons at Concrete Revolutio‘s version of the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games.
Sapporo had actually been scheduled to host the 1940 Winter Games, but declined the offer following their 1939 invasion of China. The 1972 Games were seen as a chance for post-war Japan to show off their newfound modernity and commitment to move beyond their lengthy list of war atrocities during a time of rapid economic growth. Test ski jumper Koichi Amato used to be on the Japanese team with three athletes now known as the Three Birdmen. His choice not to undergo superhuman surgery is a personal one that ties into his own self-doubt and inability to face the pressure of representing his country. It also alienates him from his former teammates, who see the decision as a way of looking down upon them.
When relative disaster strikes, tensions are further heightened and nearly everything that is said is very obviously applied through characters’ respective personal filters. Misunderstandings and clashes of ideals are part and parcel of Concrete Revolutio, but the lack of a timeskip in this specific episode results in a much tighter and tenser conflict. All sides talk and blame each other — Amato aside, who speaks very little and this too becomes a problem — without listening or thinking beyond their personal frame of reference. The conflict, which ties back to how the best efforts of a singular human or an entire country cannot discard their past, is resolved. A goddess, or force of nature, is the culprit.
This particular episode importantly precedes the similarly tight and presumably one-off story of siblings Devilo and Devila. Devils that live in the deep underground beneath Japan, Devila and Devilo are forces of nature much like Episode 16’s goddess. They are lumped in with the rest of the world’s superhumans despite being significantly more powerful and notably different.
Where Episode 16 introduced augmented humans now classified as superhuman, Episode 17 introduces beings on the complete opposite of the spectrum — all-powerful devils. To the Superhuman Bureau, which is controlled by the government, they are one and the same, a sticking point in this particular episode, especially when the varying parties try — or automatically assume — Devilo and Devila’s intentions. Public Security Forces assume that Devilo is responsible for a recent tunnel fire that injured more that 700 people. Immediately, superhumans are blamed in the media for the incident, all in service of the government having more control over the superhuman population. Again, tensions run incredibly high in this episode as everyone is talking and no one is listening or attempting to understand a different perspective from their own. The Public Security team runs rampant with their assumptions and make matters worse for all involved. There are a slew of real-life parallels to be made not only to past events but to political and social maneuvers occurring in the present.
Hilariously enough, Devilo is a charming, charismatic boy who only speaks in obvious statements. His actions unintentionally incite public security as well as movement from the Superhuman Bureau and the half-human, half-yokai Emi Kino. All parties collide — the Bureau, Public Security Forces, the wayward Jiro Hitoyoshi — with Devilo and his sister Devila at the center of the conflict. Devilo ultimately disarms the entire situation simply by stating his obvious truths before he and his sister leave Earth, the planet that they love. While simple words won’t always work — all-too-often time, distance, and nuance are needed to take the appropriate action — there’s a place for Devilo’s words both in and outside of the scope of the series.
“Nothing is definite. You and I are different but we can live in the same place. I’ll head to space before you guys. There’s the city, and there’s everyone. There’s him, and her. And then, flowers will bloom. People can’t be birds. People can’t be flowers. People are merely alone. But people like birds. People like flowers. People like people. That’s the kind of planet that it is.”
-Devilo’s parting words, Concrete Revolutio, Episode 17
It’s an oddly hopeful note for Concrete Revolutio to end on, Even as a simple member of a distant audience, I want to believe in Devilo’s words, not only for the series but for the multitude of real-life parallels that can be applied to the ideas and situations touched upon by Concrete Revolutio.