Concrete Revolutio – Cold War, Sizzling Justice

Concrete Revolutio - A Superhuman Fantasy animeWriting on Concrete Revolutio with my set of intentions, at this particular point in time is like trying to defuse a bomb while riding a jet-powered unicycle, riding on the back of Godzilla. The simple solution would be to pick but one ball, and trust the rest of them to take care of themselves. However, I’m going to be greedy, I’m going to be human, and attempt to succeed in several of these tasks I set myself out to accomplish.

The first task is that I want to get people to watch this show. I believe this show is good, on a small and personal character-moment level, and on a bigger social-commentary level. This show engages in a dialogue with its existence as a media piece, with other creations in its specific genre (of superhero narratives). The show even goes boldly into taking a look at some of Japan’s more turbulent recent history, while casting reflections on Japan’s current political discussion. This show is very much worth watching, and as such, a write-up about it that would be spoiler-free and aiming to convince people of that fact would be something I’d be happy to see written, as the show’s second cour is going to air starting next Sunday, and I’d like people to give it a chance. However, that’s not the style of write-up I’m more interested in writing, so I’ll have to balance the two, and this write-up will contain a fair amount of spoilers, but should be readable even if you are yet to watch the show’s first half.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 12 – Pride Goeth Before a Fall

Everyone is only able to say what they really feel on the verge of death, and if they’re willing to say so beforehand, then it means death of some sort is coming – It was the same with Master Yakumo confiding in Bon, or how Bon and Shin made their plans to the future, and Miyokichi bared her heart to Bon, just before they had to part ways. Same here. And man, that final scene, with how it just came to be. I’m really reminded of the movie version of A Single Man, with Colin Firth here. “What does it mean?” I asked myself here as well as there, and the real answer is, “The author wants you to think of a story, a theatre story.”

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 12 - Sukeroku (Shin) on not letting things become dreams

Don’t Let your Dreams be Dreams!

Speaking of which, let’s look at the final scene or two a couple more times, as it has a lot to discuss. First and foremost, it reminds me and addresses the scene in episode 9, where Miyokichi tells Bon that the next time they meet, it’d be in hell. More than anything else, that scene felt like a performance. I spoke of it before, but the way the characters speak and interact with one another often follows the beats of a rakugo performance. Is this because it’s Bon who’s telling the story to Konatsu and Yotaro? I suspect it’s more because this is the mindset the mangaka is in.

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 12 (Finale) – Hoping to Believe, Believe in Hope.

This show hasn’t always been even. The episodes in the present time in particular were somewhat lacking, in tension when the tension was paramount, and in small and comfortable moments when the show veered more in that direction (in the second half), which made sense, since Kayo was stuck in the past. Thankfully, last episode was pretty small and comfortable and good, and this episode? This episode was great. It didn’t give me the same amount of smiles and tears as episode 8 did (Kayo’s highlight episode, and being brought into the Fujinoma household), but it was at least that level of great. Can’t think of a better episode of the show, and it’s always nice to end on a very positive note, isn’t it?

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 12 - Fujinoma Satoru was everyone's hero

My write-ups for BokuMachi have always focused on the themes of the show, and this episode, as befits a finale, not made use of them all, but also tied them all neatly together, so let’s look at some of them.

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Winter 2016 Anime Overview – Week 11 (Anime Power Ranking)

Still not caught up on Ajin, and I can’t help but eagerly look forward for next season’s crop of exciting new shows (and exciting disappointments!), but we’ve still got Spring season’s last few hanging-on shows to take a look at, so let’s do that.

As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst).

1) Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 11:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 11 - Sukeroku (Shin) Yakumo tells (Kikuhiko/Bon) you can't do rakugo on your own

The human drama train keeps going on. This means that things are sort of “inevitable”, to a degree. Such as Miyokichi and Shin’s marriage, which was designed to run away from their problems, and run away from Bon, and the Rakugo Association, and being turned down, didn’t turn out well for them. Because no matter where they went, they still took themselves along, and neither of them is a person who can actually handle life on their own, let alone while also taking care for another damaged individual such as themselves. And it probably doesn’t help that both of them might very well suffer from depression, and Shin almost definitely, having lost his reason to live and care – his rakugo, with a partner who maligns it even more.

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Moon Hunters Review – A Question of Time

If I had to answer whether Moon Hunters: A Myth Weaving Game by Kitfox Games (which I backed on Kickstarter) is worth your time on a yes/no basis, then I’d unhappily choose “no”, as it’s a very close thing. It might be the game for you, and I didn’t suffer playing it, but you usually have better uses for your time, especially when you consider just how much time this game asks of you. Time is what this is all about. Time and content: I’ve played this game a number of times, with all classes but support, more than once with most, and beat the end-game boss a number of times. Each playthrough of the game is quite short, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how well you’re doing and the size of the maps.

Moon Hunters: A Myth Weaving Game

The game is designed to be played multiple times, except where it is not. You only get to visit 5-6 locations in each playthrough, which provides a reason to play again, and again. Right? Well, except I rarely encounter new options, even 5 hours into the game, and less as I reached 7 hours. Not every location or every setup will appear in each playthrough, and not in every playthrough will you have one of the traits needed to make use of it, so you’d think they’d let you play through every locale the map generates each time, or most of them, and you’d still have reasons to play again for a new map, and to try a different combination of options, so why don’t they?

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 11 – Circling Forward

I was really curious where they’d go with the show after last episode. As I wrote about that episode, it didn’t really feel like a climax, because of the delivery, and I wondered what they’d do now that they’ve done away with the protagonist and us still having two episodes left. Then after Yashiro’s monologue at the beginning, I actually thought that after Satoru’s proclamation, he saved him from drowning, like the hamster, and kept him in a cage, to ply him from his knowledge. Well, the reveal about 6 minutes in worked. They dragged it on and on, and it was effective, so good job there.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 11 notes - Crying Fujinoma Sachiko

Speaking of effective versus non-effective, or rather “Effective versus overbearing,” look at Sachiko’s tears. A heart-felt moment, I teared up myself. When it comes to tears, less really is more. Unlike what we got when Satoru was crying, which had me chuckling a bit, because, I mean, just look at it :P Also in that scene, I can’t really tell if adult Hinazuki is voiced by Yuuki Aoi or not. Half the time she sounds like her, and half the time not. I like this voice. I wish anime voice acting were more naturalistic in general, y’know? Just as I like Hayami Saori a lot more when it’s natural.

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Winter 2016 Anime Overview – Weeks 9-10 (Anime Power Ranking)

Have been busy lately, and had been preoccupied by a bunch of stuff (including the massive Spring 2016 Season Preview, check it out!), so this is a tad late, and I haven’t watched the last 3 Ajin episodes, so we’ll cover what I did watch. Can’t wait for the new season to arrive – gotta find some new shows to disappoint me until I’m left with but a handful!

As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst). Though it might be a bit more “tier”-sorted this time, as I’ve got some ties I don’t want to pick between.

1) Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episodes 9-10:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 9 - Miyokichi tells Yakumo (Kikuhiko/Bon) she'll haunt him

This show is good. Watch it. It’s a tragedy, where people pay for their past sins, and they pay for the past sins of their forebears. They pay for their hubris, for the goals they set out to achieve, and for being unable to put themselves in others positions. This is a story about hopes and dreams and people falling out even as they wish they could still cling to one another. It has beautiful set-pieces, and the visual design remains exquisite even as the models drop off-model with increasing frequency (but thankfully it’s not so common as to be actively detrimental to my enjoyment of the show and its visuals). There’s a lot to unpack here, from symbolism in word and deed, to symbolism in the visuals the show employs, to just how theatre-like the characters are in their off-stage interactions, where they act as if they’re symbolic manifestations to one another. Then again, in some ways they are.

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Spring 2016 Anime Season Preview and Expectations

It’s now two weeks before the spring 2016 anime season begins, which means it’s time to look towards the new season, and put behind us a season with a few great shows, and little else to recommend beyond them. Will this spring season finally save us from the drought of the last 3 seasons? It seems as if it might actually be the case!

As always, in these posts I cover shows I plan to follow, or have thoughts on why I will not follow them, or considered following and decided not to. As always, I try to strike a balance between giving you enough information on the show, and telling you why I think it is or isn’t worth watching. Shows ordered by day, and by expectation within the day, as that affects pick status. The “Almost In” category describes shows that I’d pick up in prior seasons, but decided to put aside in order to make more time for backlog, after growing unhappy with how many of the shows I pick up ending up “not worth the time”, let alone “good”.
Much space is given to the people involved with a show, as premises are easy, but execution is hard, and it’s people who are in charge of that. You’re likelier to end up with good shows that way. Link in anime title is to the show’s page on MAL, in case you want to check out the premise and details yourselves.

Most of the information about the shows can be had from the helpful Neregate Chart, and what I’ve happened to see on various sites, such as The Cart Driver. Check them out if you want more information, or information on shows I didn’t cover (such as follow-ups to shows I don’t watch).


Concrete Revolutio anime 2nd seasonConcrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou – The Last Song / Concrete Revolutio: A Superhuman Fantasy 2nd Season – Concrete Revolutio’s first cour was good enough to end as my 6th best show of 2015. With a nuanced approach to “multiple justices,” of trying to do the right thing while accepting that the other side believes they’re doing the same thing, the show also takes a close look at how shaping the way people perceive justice might be more important than being “just” to begin with. The first cour intertwined a continuing and developing character drama with episodic vignettes.

I was wondering for a moment, “Where will they go from now?” as we “found out” what led Jirou to leave, but since the show has never been a mystery and we’ve known all along, the answer is clear – they will tell us more of the struggle, while exploring moral and social questions. They’ll also have Urobuchi Gen writing an episode or two, for those to whom it makes a big difference. But since it’ll exist within the larger narrative, I don’t find it particularly important.

I do recommend picking this show up if you hadn’t before. If you’re having trouble with the time-skips, check my episodic write-ups, which aside from a thematic discussion of each episode also provide an up to date timeline.
Hype Rating: 2.5/3. A second cour of a show I liked? I’m on board. This show rarely “excites” me, but I expect to enjoy it and find a lot that is worthwhile there, with a few touching moments and moments of highlight animation tossed in.
Airing Date: April 3rd.

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 10 – No Climax

(The order of the two main topics in this post have been switched around, so the big spoiler will be after the “Read more” tag, rather than before.)

Theme-wise, this episode really started by hitting things right at the point I’ve been discussing all along, of the twin themes of superheroes and naivete (or childishness), with Aya telling them that they are playing at being superheroes. And this episode was exactly proof of what happens when you play at it – there are repercussions. The theme of “The superhero’s sacrifice” also came here, through Yashiro’s mouth, as he’s telling Satoru he won, but is also presenting him with the bill of saving everyone else – his own life.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 10 - Nakanishi Aya on boys playing at being superheroes

Direct and concise.

And this is a common theme, to save everyone, you must give up your own life. I mentioned it in last week’s write-up, how impossible it is to actually save everyone, to make sure absolutely no one is ever alone. Even trying will quite literally cost you your whole life, every single moment of it. And we can all think of stories, time-travel or otherwise, anime or otherwise, where the cost for saving one person is one’s life, or at least one’s happiness. Plenty of superhero stories are like this as well, with them ending up clutching the corpse of their loved ones, as they went to save the world. So, Satoru’s getting a crash course.

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 9 – The Death God’s Wish

You know how a continuous story that makes sense works? It has something happen, then it has something else happen that directly follows the first event, and so on and so forth. It’s the same with themes, where today’s thematic discussion has to correspond with and grow out of yesterday’s, for the story to make sense as a whole.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 9 - Fujinoma Satoru vows to not let anyone be alone

So, where are we in terms of themes with the show? Episodes 5 and especially episode 6 were all about trust. Episode 6 also introduced the “What would a superhero do?” style of thinking, that led to episode 7 revolving around being a superhero, about being naive. And while episode 8 last week seemed like it wasn’t all too thematically relevant, and served mostly as a break within the story, it actually drove home that Satoru is complacent, that he cares a bit more about being recognized as a superhero than being one, truly.

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