Concrete Revolutio: Japan "Beast" History, Part 2
November 1, 2015 11:14 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

In year 42, Yoshimura and Fuurota are in the southern islands of Japan searching for the carcass of a beast the U.S. military is said to have abandoned. Meanwhile, student unrest is being whipped up against superhumans, the flames being fanned by various agents.

Incidentally, the English subtitles use "beast" for "kaiju" and "monster" for "yokai". Which makes the distinction between them more ambiguous to English ears than to Japanese.

Kaiju are generically "unusual monsters" and typically specifically giant monsters like Godzilla. Yokai are supernatural beings, ranging from magic animals to goblins, ogres, and even household items that are very old and have become animate.

Keeping that distinction in mind will help make sense of the behaviors of the main characters during this two-parter.
posted by ardgedee (12 comments total)
The translators' decision to use "beast" instead of "kaiju" is annoying and questionable, considering "kaiju" is already a recognized term among Japanese media fans, as well as anybody who watched Pacific Rim.
posted by ardgedee at 11:16 AM on November 1, 2015

I'm still liking it (well, I'm an episode ahead now), even if it is a little on the nose sometimes. Regardless of that, I think that the boy ghost character is incredibly sad. I have a feeling that he, like they all are, are being used by the Bureau, but what he was asked to do to the bugs is especially grotesque.
posted by codacorolla at 12:44 PM on November 1, 2015

So according to the official web page Jiro was born in Shinka 20, or 1945. And we know his adoptive father Professor Hitoyoshi had been conducting research on superhumans during the war. So could Jiro be a product of Professor Hitoyoshi's research, perhaps created as a weapon of war, but then the war ended? Jiro could be the equivalent of a Cold War-era nuclear missile.

The manifestation of Jiro's power we have seen so far appears to be some kind of yokai / mecha blend.

Everybody has some Dark Secret, and now I'm curious what Kikko's might be.
posted by needled at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2015

My feeling is that Kikko's (and Fuurota's) dark secret is naivety, basically. Or of being simplistic, having more in common with the superheroes passing through in ep.4 than with JIro and company. Emi's dark secret was not that she was a yokai ("monster"), but what she meant by being Prof. Hitoyoshi's assistant.

Although it would also be interesting if Kikko, at least, proved to be another of Hitoyoshi's creations, which would be why Jiro recruited her and not any of her peers.
posted by ardgedee at 2:39 PM on November 1, 2015

In the real world during the mid-60s to mid 70s (Showa 40-50), there was Vietnam and the various other conflicts in southeast Asia (not to mention the unstable state of the Koreas), and of course the Cold War, all of which the U.S. were using as excuses for continuing to maintain military bases in Japan (and were among the reasons for the student riots in Japan).

But the use of "war" in the present tense during the Shinko 40s continues to confuse me. I keep expecting it to be revealed that there's an ongoing war directly involving Japan, rather than being used in the sweeping sense of "war against the beasts."
posted by ardgedee at 3:03 PM on November 1, 2015

I've been watching Un-Go, an anime series which aired in Fall 2011, from Studio Bones and directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Sho Aikawa, the same team behind Concrete Revolutio. And it's really interesting to do so, as Un-Go takes place in an alternate near-future Japan, where there seems to be some kind of ongoing war on terror, with accompanying governmental media manipulation (as well as censorship), and it feels like this is the future world Concrete Revolutio ends up at.

I find Un-Go really hard to describe. But it's stylish, ambitious, and eminently watchable.
posted by needled at 4:32 PM on November 1, 2015

Huh. Un-Go is on Crunchyroll, if it's the one I'm thinking of, and I put it in my queue and then never got around to watching it, because the thumbnail they picked for it had people in military uniforms with weird hats that I didn't like. I'm not defending my decision-making process, mind you, I'm just telling you what it is. Anyway, I queued it in the first place because I read somewhere that it was good; maybe I'll give it a chance...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:34 PM on November 1, 2015

Yeah, they're like naval-looking bicorns, and the guys have epaulettes on, too. It's like Captain Crunch: The Anime. I just don't know if I can do it. :)
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:37 PM on November 1, 2015

(Sing or Swim, ep. 1 of Un-Go takes place during a costume party, hence the guys in bicorns and epaulets)

Getting back to Concrete Revolutio, Jiro doesn't seem to be in control of his powers at all during Shinka 41-42 time period, in contrast to future Jiro. Is this another way the powers that be are controlling Jiro, by making him think only Emi (and by extension, the Superhuman Bureau) can keep him from running amok?
posted by needled at 4:49 AM on November 2, 2015

A moment to whine about Crunchyroll's previews: More than once I've watched an episode that ends on a cliffhanger, and then seen the thumbnail for some future episode betraying how that cliffhanger resolved. eg: a character presumed dead in ep 3 appears in the preview thumbnails of other episodes.
posted by ardgedee at 8:52 AM on November 2, 2015

I don't think there is any real need to translate kaiju or yokai, but I think the choice of beast and monster was pretty good because it highlights the natural vs supernatural distinction that the show makes.
posted by robcorr at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2015

My thinking is that in English, "beast" and "monster" overlap in meaning and some creatures would not comfortably be thought of as either. Godzilla would be reflexively called a monster by most English speakers; "beast" would not sound right even if it wasn't wrong, but the show's taxonomy would require it to be a beast.

Sticking with "kaiju" and "yokai" avoids that confusion.
posted by ardgedee at 6:56 PM on November 3, 2015

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