I touched upon this concept in my write-up for the premiere of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress last night, but shows that want to tackle philosophical questions often have to tackle the issue of telling us what the themes are early on, before it actually elaborates on them, and makes them fully-realized. ConRevo definitely is a show with a lot it wants to say (and you might want to take a look at the write-up I wrote for the first cour on that topic), so what does it do here? It doesn’t change the character this episode revolves around, Android Detective Shiba Raito, but it had presented it to us when our knowledge of the characters and the themes is much improved.
“Wait, what do you mean, it didn’t change the characters? Shiba Raito is a totally different person now!” And I hold that he isn’t. This episode was so terribly ironic on so many levels, but most of all, his. It kept cycling around how Raito transformed and then didn’t, that it’s hard not to look at it and be a tad amazed. But, let’s start from the beginning.
(There’s an updated chronological timeline at the bottom of this post. Also, full episodic notes.)
The other episode where Raito had much screentime was the one leading up to this episode’s opening, in the in-universe chronology, episode 3, where he argued that robots’ sense of justice is immutable and objective, which is why they should be the arbiters of justice and morality. If this episode has told us anything, it isn’t that he changed because he no longer/not always believed it, it’s that he has never truly believed it. Rather, he has embarked on a quest to convince himself of this truth. He’s desperate to believe, and he snapped, and is constantly snapping, from this tension within him. This is also where Shiba Raito differs from Earth-chan, who truly does believe that justice can be so black and white, and is growing up, rather than seeking to return to this state of innocent obedience as Raito does.
Raito exemplifies why people vote for demagogues across the decades (and this is a point I hinted at in my cour-1 write-up, but I feel the need to elaborate on it here. Not just because it’s relevant, but because it’s a moral imperative). Demagogues promise us a return to a simple world, a world of right and wrong, a world where we can know who the enemy is, and by opposing them, we can be just. It is the world occupied by Earth-chan, a world of symbols and bright and clashing colours (just like this show’s art-style), rather than one where we must question who we are, and what we are fighting for.
But Raito is wrong. I don’t mean he’s morally wrong in that he wishes to return to his unthinking and old self, I mean that he’s wrong to think he ever was what he’s talking about. Raito has always been human. To begin with, he is the copy of a human mind, a perfect copy that is no more incapable, or capable, than the rest of us to deal with such contradictions. We all wish to erase these contradictions, but we usually do it by means of blaming others, and not ourselves. Raito fought against bad superhumans to protect humanity and justice. Raito fought against superhumans for the weak human he was, and also for the sake of the superhuman he has become. He fights against Jiro because he wants Jiro to prove that what he says is possible and that justice is achievable, while also being afraid that just like the situation with Daitetsu and Earth-chan, if Jiro is right, it’d mean he’d been wrong all along. And that’s the one thing he truly can’t take.
And the fear of having been wrong all along is what is finally breaking Raito. He owes his current life to being experimented upon without his consent, of being made a tool for war. And yet, he can’t help but find the way life and choice has been stripped of the people in the American submarine deplorable, and you know what? It’s also criminal. He has a past as a human, yet he sought out the two androids who are the prototype for what he is, as if by looking at them he’ll find out where he should go now. He quested for justice as an extension of law, but when he was made into a criminal, he decided that the country which would legislate such a law must be unjust, and seeks to destroy it. His entire existence is ironic, it is the quest for simplicity, but the deeper he digs, the more complex things must become. It is the quest to “return” to seeing things in black and white, when he never could see them as such to begin with. A quest of a policeman who seeks to enforce the law in order to protect people, who is told to capture innocent people in the name of the law. And he is torn.
Shiba Raito is a robot. He can’t change. Shiba Raito is a good person, and he can’t stop being one. As he controls the robot, he can’t help but notice how he’s being made into a tool, how he’s being robbed of his agency, as if he were one of the non-humans aboard the submarine. Shiba Raito wishes to stop thinking of what is wrong and what is right, he wishes to be able to declare what it is. But it’s all a mask, because he knows he must fight for justice, and he knows he has no idea what it is. He has to judge, just like us, on a case by case basis.
Raito loathes Jirou, because if he destroyed him, he’d also destroy the symbol that he is in the wrong, that there can be superhumans who fight for justice while also fighting against the law, and who have a differing justice. Shiba loves Jirou, because he sees him as a potential messiah who could show him how to fight for justice in a world where the law has been co-opted. Where the government makes use of innocents and arrests them in order to silence them. A world where a supercop must fight for unjust justice.
The important lesson from the space android is you can’t hope for an outsider to come and sort things out. You invite them and they seem to have good intentions, but they wish to take your soul away from you. It’s up to you. Up to us.
This episode had a bunch of ironies besides, such as the population being made into a tool, used as a bait, to capture S Planterian, who was Grosse Augen, when the Bureau had done the same in the very first episode, where it has used S Planetarian attacking people in order to be rid of Grosse Augen. Or Jirou making use of Kikko’s trust in him in order to strike at the people she’s part of, just as was just done to him.
Most of all, the “peace-keeping coalition” that had been fighting for millions of years. This is the form of inhuman and childish justice that is spoken of, and then he tells them they are too immature to talk of justice, when the show hasall along been about how black and white morality is the realm of kids. Then again, they were just arguing over who gets Jirou…
The episode started and ended in a very “Anime-like” manner, with Jirou and Raito going back and forth about why Jirou is there and making use of Raito’s electricity, and ending with the maid saying how she kept Equus clean and shiny in case Jirou ever came back for it. Oh yeah, Emi is one of the scarier characters in anime. She’s a sane, cold and calculated stalker.
In terms of historical references, this is about the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, where Okinawa was finally returned in May 1972, or 7 months after this episode’s “past” segment. America demanded to be able to place Nuclear warheads there so they could make use of them in case of emergency, which in this case would be superhumans and Master Ultima’s Kaiju. Japan wanted nothing to do with nuclear power at the time, which echoes the plight of superhumans, as Jiro is the atomic bomb’s representation within the show. We’re also told “After the Kaiju Boom died down?” which reflects the fear of a renewed string of protests, which is what the Kaiju Boom represented in the show.
OP – First part reminded me of some songs from Transistor, which has an amazing OST and great songs, but here it left me feeling nothing. Just seeing all the characters static wasn’t exciting either (and not a fan of long-haired Kikko). 2nd part was more energetic, both in terms of visuals and audio. While I’m not crazy about the audio, the visuals were nice, with some really nice still shots (especially Fuurota sitting forlorn and Emi‘s nightmarish visage), and of course, the requisite OP per season where people (break-) dance. Mixed bag, but the visuals of the 2nd half were great in atmosphere.
ED – The sound was alright, but man, the visuals. So many symbolic moments, and them walking across with and on top of a symbol for Japan? And Kikko’s reaching for Jirou, but only her shadow actually touches his, and she remains unable to cross the distance. Good stuff there.
Note: Shinka Calendar seems to correspond to the Showa Calendar. Year 19 = 1944, or World War 2, etc.
- Unknown Time – Jaguar (Yoshimura Hyouma) forms the Superhuman Bureau. Episode 10.
- October 14 – Jiro’s father meets GaGon in the Pacific Isles, loses “Maria”, a native shapeshifter? A month after World War 2 broke out. Episode 4.
- December 16 – Mironu of the Japanese Immortal Family is captured by the American forces on Hawaii after his submarine is sunk. He joined the Japanese army in order for his family to avoid the family census. He’s been experimented on and tortured for decades. Episode 9.
- August 17 – GaGon faces off against American Superhumans in the Pacific Ocean. 9 months after Pearl Harbor.
- Year 19 – A war of some sort (World War 2’s equivalent). Referenced in episode 3.
- August 20 – Hitoyoshi Magotake finds baby Jirou in a crater in Hiroshima, with a shadow the dragon’s shape. Reference to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Jirou is “the child of the atom,” and a human weapon. Episode 13.
- November 29 – Invisible Kaiju appears, Emi chooses to appear as an adult, Jiro’s father finds him naked and unconscious. Episode 4.
- January 34 – Flashback sequence. Giganto Gon breaks Jiro out of the laboratory where he’s held. Jiro wants Giganto Gon to destroy everything. Episode 5.Robot-GiGantor defeated by Rainbow Knight who saves Jirou (Episode 8), baby GaGon meets his adoptive brother. Episode 4.
- March 38 – Rainbow Knight kidnaps Daitetsu Maki and other superhuman kids, to protect them and/or gain money for their release. Dies for it. Episode 8.
- Unknown Time – Jaguar (Yoshimura Hyouma) forms Infernal Queen, also known as IQ, or Advocates of Free History to better the future by removing evil. Episode 10.
- July 40th – Judas is part of the criminal organization The Diamond Eaters, confronts Earth-chan and vows to become good. Episode 7.
- January 41 – 6 months before Kikko joins. Grosse Augen first appears as a Kaiju vanquisher. Call for “more magic” instead of science within the Bureau is made. Episode 4.
- June 30th 41 – The Beatles play in Japan, their powers bring forth more superhumans, or at least open the potential for some. Mountain Horse group becomes superhumans. Episode 6.
- July 41 – Kikko joins the organization, Jirou goes against orders and saves Grosse Augen. Episode 1.
- Between July and August 41 – A month after Kikko joins, just before Fuurota joins. More Kaijus appear, various superhumans fight them off. We meet Earth-Chan and Kaiju-using robbers. Grosse-Augen “replacement” takes up the burden. Episode 4.
- August 41 – Fuurota joins the organization, kills the bug species. Kikko with the organization for one month.Episode 2.
- November 41 – 3 months after Fuurota joins, humans confirmed as creating Kaijus. Mini-GaGon and Kaiju-lovers introduced as Fuurota’s friends. Episode 4.
- February 42 – Bombing incident with android detective. Episode 3.
- June/July 42 – Master Ultima returns from Mars, Bureau leaders revealed non-humans, expose their own Kaiju-creating ring. Jiro unleashes his arm. Episode 4.
- July 42 – USA throw away a Space Kaiju’s remains near Okinawa. Kaiju-sympathizers grab remains and begin agitating against the establishment and the Superhuman Bureau. Episode 5.
- August 42 – Protests by students begin, Jiro forced to become a Kaiju, faces off against Mega GaGon. Mega GaGon killed. Episode 5.
- September 42 – The Immortal Family cause an explosion, which they emerge fine from, and escape, apparently to alert Mironu who has been missing. The Superhuman Bureau find out the Americans are aware of immortal Japanese, and they know they’re missing a member. Episode 9.
- October 42 – Mountain Horse group tries their luck as superhumans and quits it. Fuurota infiltrates the Sugimoto media group. Episode 6.Same time – The superhuman Bureau recruits Judas after his release from prison. Face off against Earth-chan and try to get her aid in changing public opinion to sway protests against Japan joining the Earth Defence Force (against evil space-men). Earth-chan is given the ability to dream. Ullr (Kikko’s familiar) plots with Emi. Episode 7 (References October 8th 1967 Haneda protests).
- November 42 – Mountain Horse band brings down Sugimoto Media Group’s plot to block superhumans’ powers. Dee of Mountain Horse band dies. The Bureau now knows of the Sugimoto group as their enemy clearly.Episode 6.
- December 42 – Kikko meets up with Nakagawa Jin, who researches superhumans and The Devil Realm, and who gives her special medicine. Episode 12.
- January 43 – Daitetsu Maki, now Otonashi Yumihiko and the other kidnapped kids (presumably) are an unregistered superhuman group, BL Club, who stage thefts by “The Eye of Lucifer”, Rainbow Knight’s old nemesis. Yumihiko and Jirou speak of morality. Superhuman Bureau is asked to stop opposing the FDE. Episode 8.
- April 43 – IQ (Infernal Queen) appear to take out the Superhuman Bureau who they deem evil for controlling superhumans, working with Americans, and lying to the public. Jaguar (Hyouma) #3 takes kills his #2 version, IQ’s leader, and his Time Patrol watch becomes the basis for the Time Travel research program. Episode 10.
- June 43 – USS Antares, a superhuman-powered submarine is brought over by the USA over to Japan. Turns out it makes use of enslaved superhumans. Phantom Sword Claude destroys it, revealing said fact. Jirou turns down an offer by Imperial Ads who say they only want human Superhumans. Protests and revealing to the public the American wrongdoings, a scheme to officiate Superhumans as part of law enforcement agencies is pushed forward by the former Defense Minister who’s behind Imperial Ads. Episode 11.
- August 43 – Kikko sees Claude killing medical personnel, turns into devil form, finds out she knows Claude.Episode 11.Immediately After – Golubaya Laika, a Soviet Superhuman who’s anti-war flies towards Japan, is shot down by the American-siding Master Ultima for passing over the facility where the Japanese and Americans experimented on superhumans. Jirou finds out his father framed and killed The Rainbow Knight who tried to save kids from being experimented on. Claude is revealed to be Jin, Jirou’s childhood friend, who was experimented upon. The Chief is revealed to be an alien who’s trying to help humanity ascend via superhumans. Kikko helps Claude.Episode 12.Immediately After – The truth of the Japanese-American Superhuman experiments is revealed to the public. The government tries to suppress said information. Chief Akita believed dead, Jin (Claude) and Kikko believed guilty, and are missing. Episode 13.
- October 8th 43 – American Fuel Tanker ignites protests by Japanese anti-war students. Episode 13 reference.
- October 21st 43 – World Peace Day (our world’s is in September 21st), Chief Akita kills and assumes the spot of the pro-Imperial Ads politician who can pass or deny the revised Superhuman Secrecy/Rights Law. Students go on protests against the government for the experiments. Government uses force to crush protests, Claude is revealed to be evil and Jirou defeats him. Emi suppresses Devil Queen Kikko. Earth-chan is broken. Rule-changes denied, and Jirou leaves the bureau. Episode 13.
- ~Year 44 – Kaiju wave of attacks dies down. Episode 5 reference. Likely a reference to the 990 days of the protests following the Haneda Protest ending. Episode 7.
- September 44 – Mironu of the Immortal Family is released by the Americans who follow him to try and eliminate the family. The Superhuman Bureau and Jirou try to defend them but are defeated by the American robot, the family survive on their own. Jirou clashes ideologically with the Bureau members. Chief Akita’s absence is noted upon. Episode 9.
- October 44 – Jiro tries to recruit Mountain Horse and they decline. Jiro’s quest is revealed as gathering superhumans to take on the Superhuman Bureau. Superhumans appear to be illegal. Fuurota goes and meets him. Episode 6.
- ~Year 45-46 – Osaka Earth Expo, relevance unknown. Episode 6 reference.
- April 46 – Jiro is an enemy, ex-Grosse Augen helps him, Kikko declares love. Episode 1.
- October 46 – A space android arrives to capture the S Planetarian (which Jiro saved in episode 1), they make use of the Okinawa Return Protests to lay a trap for him and Jiro. Shiba Raito kills the android to “fix” himself and becomes a fugitive. Episode 14.
- November 46 – Jirou takes on the role of the fugitive in order to protect superhumans. Episode 13 preview for cour 2.
- February 47 – Male android returns. Android detective now fugitive. Episode 3.
- March 47 – Two weeks after the androids incident, Shiba Raito and Jiro join forces. Episode 14.
- April 47 – Judas, Jirou, and Megasshin (fused android) more break into a lab to retrieve Earth-chan’s stasis/broken down form, vowing to return her to her former glory. Episode 7.
- October 47 – Jirou fights Yoshimura (time-controller, “Jaguar”), Restored Earth-chan intervenes, and then so does Daitetsu. Episode 8.
- August 48 – Bug lady comes back for Fuurota, he learns what he’s done, gets saved and comforted by Jirou. Episode 2.
- 25th Century – Jaguar (Yoshimura Hyouma) is sent back in time, as a member of Time Patrol. And as someone who tries to save superhumans, and as someone who tries to build a different future. Episode 10.
I’m not going to organize it to any serious degree (I already spent enough time on this episode), and I’m not going to share these most weeks, but in case anyone is curious what my notes look like, which I take as I watch the episodelook like, it’s like this:
Thoughts and Notes:
So, the show is back, with a bunch of authors on board. Will there be time-skips? How many? Well, let’s find out.
1) Reunited Frenemies:
- Shiba Raito, from the state of his attire, he’s already on the lam here. And “Low Battery” isn’t just “Hunger”, it means he’s close to “Death”. When he’s rebooted, if he can be, will he still be “him”?
- “Radical Superhumans Revolutionary Army”, well, that’s something new, and continues how superhumans are illegal/looked down upon in the future of cour 1.
- “Why? What? How?” Raito has a lot of questions, while Jiro is trying to appear cool by talking about the cup of noodles. How very anime.
- “Don’t be like that, we’re friends!” And alternating again between serious and talking of the mundane.
- Ok, two weeks since the future time in episode 3. This means this is in February or March 47 (1972).
- So, Raito blames the kidnapping, and the death of the army members, on not obtaining Megasshin. But that’d have made things even worse.
- Also, “Doubt is our worst enemy,” and Jiro is all about doubting his former allies. Then again, Raito going against his old employers, the government, but he does it all while being so self-sure, the opposite of the show’s themes.
- “But you still wanted to protect them,” cause they all see themselves as heroes. As allies of justice.And yes, Jiro is the same.
- March 47th, thanks, I figured it out :P
2) Political Aftershocks:
- October 46, so we’re still slowly filling the holes.
- “Superhumans fight!” So now they work under that ninja from police. And here’s Daitetsu working alongside them.
- “This is a test for the new equipment for the Superhuman Security Services,” overseen by the media people. So, is it X-Men, where this equipment is actually meant to control them?
- Did Shiba Raito work with them? Is his brain frying from all the injustices?
- And the merging of the Superhumean Bureau and the civilian Superhuman Security Services, politics, without their leader to protect them.
- “Under the national security force’s command, during matters of national security,” centric power.
- “We should not be protecting the superhumans! They’re a dangerous criminal group!” he says to a bunch of superhumans who ignore him.
- “I don’t want to fight students anymore…” What it’s really about.
- “We were counting on the police. Look how they’ve turned out!” Shiba Raito as a metaphor for the police, caught between needing to protect the population, and well, standing for injustices.
- And yes, Shiba looks like the people subsumed into that submarine.
- So now we’re seeing Raito’s defection, as his brain overheated, due to what was asked of him.
3) Law is Justice:
- “You are defenders of the planet. You shouldn’t be fighting each other.” And all I can think of is “GATCHAMAN!”
- So, the other races in the universe can work with one another, but we can’t even work out our own differences. Yusei Washizu, android.
- Of course, if each “non-human superhuman” is a different species, it gets more complicated.
- So, we have someone pursuing criminals. But does he care about justice, or is he a replacement for Earth-chan now she’s missing?
- Ah, one criminal, ok. But let’s see what it tells us.
- Ah, the one Jiro saved, and replaced with another personality.
- Those saucers are very twee, heh. Very much the opposite of the jagged and serious S Planterarians.
- Right, a coalition that seeks peace that had spent millions of years fighting. Very ConRevo.
- “But it is not related to my current mission,” so not solving all injustices, but staying focused.
- The Sukeroku from Rakugo Shinju voice actor.
4) Ideological Clash:
- And the music goes slightly off the rails and frenetic as Shiba Raito tries to get into Jirou’s mind. 0930.
- “You do not understand. You must not understand. There must be only right thing. Criminals cannot be forgiven.” A fellow android knows that trying to wrap his head about multiple moralities will make Raito snap, as a person? Maybe, but certainly as an android.
- “If superhumans disobey the law, then “superhuman of justice” is a term that contradicts itself.” Law-keeper, not “justice-keeper”, cause what is justice anyway?
- Right, superhuman experimentation bad. American involvement too.
- This is about the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1971_Okinawa_Reversion_Agreement Okinawa was returned on May 1972, which is 7 months after this scene.
- “The United States had informed Japan that reversion was possible if, in the event of an emergency, nuclear weapons were allowed in Okinawa.”
- And in this show, that’s “superhumans”.
- “Superhumans and kaiju are the same!” Forces of nature, children of the atom, and fearsome?
- Also, Emi stepping in, because she too objects to the superhuman experimentations, as the bureau members strive to protect superhumans.
- “Long after the end of the Kaiju Boom,” the kaijus are protests, right. So things are boiling up again.
5) Familial Obligations:
- “You promised to never see Hoshino Kikko again.” Hell hath no fury like an angry jealous ghost ex-girlfriend.
- “She saw me, on a train,” reference to episode 1. That was April 46.
- “She’ll never see me again. We’re enemies now.” Emi doesn’t care about such allegiances, just about getting Jiro back.
- The beast wasn’t here for the students, it was to trap the “Superhumans of Justice” whom they don’t find just. How ironic. Not realizing some things are about them, not their ideals.
- Raito, trying to settle someone who “lives in the body of a criminal” and who’s fighting for justice and others.
- So, using students to entrap a superhuman, as a normal Bureau tactic. Hmmm. Like how they cornered Grosse Augen.
- Emi is one of the scariest characters in anime.
- “Jiro… aren’t you coming?” Raito wants Jiro, to get rid of him and his conflict, but also because he’s wishing to know what’s right.
- No wonder Raito is so conflicted. He’s born of this illegal and immoral experimentation, but he doesn’t wish to be dead, so is it right or wrong? But of course, it depends on context, while he’s looking for a fast and hard line.
- And he’s based on the robots he searched for later, they are like his parents.
6) Death to Evil:
- “No matter where the power comes from, criminals are evil.” So Raito should look at his actions, not his construction.
- Public Execution? Oh my, but if it’s all aimed at the Peace Coalition, why do it to impress Earth’s humans? Such “peace”.
- Wow, what a jerk. Making use of her love for him. Exactly what the Bureau did to him.
- So, is Jiro really all about Equus, pulling the same move as the Bureau? That’d make it even more ironic. I don’t think so though, cause he was surprised to find out where he is as well.
- Yes, clearly a “kaiju” is within Jirou, that’s what Emi said.
- So, Jiro’s arm has the three fumers? Heh.
- “Look! The era you wished for is here! All superhumans are criminals!” And nothing makes Raito feel worse.
- “He’s been acting strangely lately.” – “Or rather, he was becoming normal,” unable to live without doubts and remorse.
- “They possess and control the minds of intelligent beings!” And you seem to do the same, with “Follow the law!” Heh
- “You people are too immature to talk about justice!” Cause all they do is bicker over who gets Jiro, heh.
- “You are me, from the past. Back when I had no questions.” A form of time-travel, when you see people who are like you before you changed, and being able to tell them something, but they don’t know they’re you.
- Shiba kills the unjust man, in order to try and go back to only seeing things in black and white.
- “He was more human than any of us,” and now he’s broken. He was human because he tried to live with the contradictions, rather than declare he’s just and believe in it simply.
- That maid, the third Jiro-lover. This is so anime.
- Right, he’s justice now, cause he brought back the “right and wrong” chip, but he’s a criminal, so he’s living with a contradiction, so he’s not back to normal.
- “Was I wrong?” See, he’s not back to how he was, or he is, still wondering.