To All of You (Again) — In Defense of Concrete Revolutio’s Non-Linear Timeline

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This wasn’t the post I was initially going to write.

My original post dealt in more personal anecdotes, much like my first take on Concrete Revolutio Choujin Gensou. The series has always concerned itself with time, reorganizing it’s own chronology as it has seen fit. It was going to return to the young woman on the balcony, wondering just how her personal choices had led her to that specific moment. My experience with Concrete Revolutio was an extremely personal one due to the series shifting timeline from episode to episode.

Yet, Concrete Revolutio tackles many things, almost too many things to the point where the series is bursting at the seams with a myriad of ideas too large to fit into one series and too nuanced to be adequately addressed within such a small scope.

This wasn’t the post I was initially going to write, but it’s the post I feel compelled to write at this specific moment in time — in my own timeline that I, in this very moment, feel like I cannot change.

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Many have cited Concrete Revolutio‘s adherence to a non-chronological story structure as a hindrance to the many ideas that it juggles simultaneously. There are obvious real-life tie-ins to our own timeline or history as we know it, despite the fact that the minutiae around the same events are wildly different due to the addition of superhumans, ancient youkai, and aliens.

When a series scrambles its own chronology, it’s often for a very distinct purpose. Haruhi Suzumiya and the Monogatari series are both strong examples of anime franchises that eschew presenting events in order for a greater focus on specific emotional narratives of their respective characters. Concrete Revolutio‘s approach is similar, but the end result was a bit different for me as a viewer. Due to the series’ focus on actual historical events I, like many other viewers, sought to organize the historical tidbits into a timeline that somewhat resembled what I knew of the actual history.

By the time of Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou THE LAST SONG, the series becomes a bit more linear, but still focuses on certain events in history, establishing parallels between the in-universe world of Concrete Revolutio and real-life historical events. There are many sayings regarding history of which people are urged to be aware — that it’s written by the victors, that only certain perspectives are taught. Concrete Revolutio reiterates this idea by breaking down the chronology, isolating events that audiences are at the very least vaguely familiar with, and then reframing them within the series’ own context.

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This means that, within the scope of a single episode, we see a character confronted with the results of their actions. Fuurota the ghost is the first prominent example, forced to face the consequences of his initial deed for the Superhuman Bureau that, unbeknownst to him at the time, wiped out the entire race of the Tartaros Bugmen, the people of his friend Campe. The idea that even the smallest actions have far-reaching consequences inconceivable at the time of the initial action is something that Concrete Revolutio returns to again and again.

It’s in these smaller character moments where Concrete Revolutio‘s lack of chronology works for me. Yes, these events all have monumental historical significance, and they aim to poke and prod at the past, shining a rather unattractive spotlight on the results. Perhaps some of the grandeur and climax around these moments is lost, but what’s gained is how it affects the individuals that we’ve grown to care about through the series’ progression.

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At the end of THE LAST SONG, we’re left with Yoshiaki Satomi and Jiro Hitoyoshi — two men born of similar monumental events, keystones formed from a divergence between our timeline and the world of Concrete Revolutio. Jiro’s divergence involves the United States’ bombing of Hiroshima, with the hope that such a cataclysmic event would lead to a more peaceful world in the parallel timeline where the bomb exploded. As viewers, we know that this is not the case — or at the very least, that the comparison is negligible — because this is our world, still fraught with the same shortcomings and similar mistakes of humanity. With or without superhumans, the timeline is eerily similar.

Yet, Concrete Revolutio ends with a message of hope, despite the fact that superhumans, youkai, ghosts, androids, and time travelers are just as fallible as humans. We can all inspire hope and action from each other — just as superhumans are used as beacons of hope and justice after the fact in Concrete Revolutio — even in the darkest of times.

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