What They Say:
Maintaining order is no easy task when all varieties of creatures known to fiction are part of everyday life. That’s why the government formed the Superhuman Bureau, a vibrant team of powerful fighters meant to protect those with supernatural abilities. But doing the right thing isn’t so easy when society and the government clash to define the lines of justice for humans and Superhumans alike.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub which gets a 5.1 mix, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show works a pretty good balance between the dialogue and action while the blending of the two is well-handled. The action scenes go big in some pretty fun ways with all the chaos that the series works with so the spread across the forward soundstage is pretty solid with a lot of good areas hit. Placement and directionality definitely makes more of a difference with the 5.1 mix but both are solid. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015 and 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-four episodes are spread across four discs in a way that was designed for it to be released as two separate releases, with a nine/four and an eight/three breakdown. A normal collection like this would have been a nine/nine/six release or something. Animated by Bones, the show has a fantastic design about it with lots of great colors, a lot of detail, and a sense of a lot of love poured into all of it. There are some very lush scenes in how it plays out with fluidity working overtime but the quieter scenes are just as engaging with lots of detail there. Colors are solid throughout and fans of animation in general will find a whole lot to like here.
The packaging for this release comes in an oversized case with hinges to hold the discs from both formats which also gives it a bit of weight. It was also an unusual release in that the DVDs are at the front instead of the Blu-ray discs like normal. With no o-card included with this release, the front cover is a standard spread of headshots of lots of the main cast but it works well with some really great color design. The logo is put through the center which looks even harder to figure out than it has in the past since it uses such a stylized design that makes the “C” even harder to figure out. The back cover is standard with some character artwork to the left, a few shots along the right, and a summary of the premise. It does list that it has both seasons and the technical grid breaks things down well, though it’s using white text on a mix of soft green, blue, and purple colors. There are no show related inserts included but we do get artwork on the reverse side with a nice two-panel spread of the main cast that’s used for the first menu.
The menu design for this release keeps things on the simpler side as it deals with static screens instead of clips from the show. These are bold and vibrant pieces, even when they’re going with softer colors, allowing it to stand out well with its detail in the character designs. Each of them are busy in their own way but they look good with space to lay things out. The logo is kept simple and standard while the navigation along the lower right gives us a simple white block with easy to work with selections that function well both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are pretty good all around as we get the clean opening and closing sequences, a run of promos and commercials, and even two English language dubs from the production members talking about the show and their experiences with it. We also get a brief piece looking at the creatures of the show and a recap that was produced to explain the show going into the second season.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’ve liked a lot of what Sho Aikawa has worked on over the years, with their creating Neo Ranga and working as the head writer on Twelve Kingdoms, but it’s a hit or miss kind of relationship for me. Oh! Edo Rocket was a rough one as was Un-Go. There’s more pro to con and I lean into that, though I still hold him responsible for Genocyber. With Concrete Revolutio, a title that just frustrates me to no end for the lack of that last letter, we get a project that was an original work produced at Bones with Seiji Mizushima directing and co-written with Masaki Tsuji. It aired in the fall of 2015 with its first cour and then in the spring of 2016 with its second, going with a thirteen/eleven split that was also just as odd.
Sadly, it’s a series that just fell apart across the board for me in terms of story and character. I will say up front once again that I absolutely adore the animation. It’s a beautiful series with so much going for it with character designs, execution of style, fluidity, and just the color palette. It’s working so many different things within it in terms of story that the animation gets to play with just about everything. Sadly, that can’t make up for a story that’s just weak from the start and left me with characters that I couldn’t connect with. The project left me feeling disconnected after the first couple of episodes and I never really recovered after that. And that’s a rare thing to recover from and I never did after getting further into it. The visual turns definitely made it engaging to watch on that superficial level but the story and character side just felt like I was watching it through an out of body experience.
The premise is simple enough in that it focuses on the Superhuman Bureau in Japan, a group that operates quietly for the government where it deals with all the strange things that come through the country. That means it deals with aliens, ghosts, magical girls, the paranormal, and, of course, transforming robots. It’s all done to keep it on the down low and out of sight and they largely do that but it’s the kind of thing where you wonder how they really do. Jiro’s the main character for all of this working for the bureau with the whole “ally of justice” gimmick running but he’s also got an ability himself which makes it a little problematic in terms of purity of mission. He runs the missions while dealing with those that are interested in him, such as Kikko the magical girl and the help he gets from Emi, who is half-yokai that he’s known forever. It’s a fairly straightforward baseline group to work with that expands a bit as the show goes on and more characters are introduced.
What we get with this are a lot of semi-standalone episodes with individual directors handling it and bringing their own style to it. These focus on the various different elements, such as a kaiju episode, time spent with the paranormal, and others with the giant robots and the like. This lets us get a good range of styles while sticking to the overall core aesthetic and it larger works well in the visual sense. But the show reminded me a lot of Classicaloid in that it’s throwing so many different things at the viewer with so much variety and little in the way of actually grounding the characters and giving them authentic storylines to work with that it just becomes big, bright, and shiny but without a heart to really bring it through. It is, perhaps, a series that works better on a weekly basis where you can look at the episodes individually and dissect them for style and intent, but when looking at the show as a two-cour whole it just felt cold and empty to me.
While I like a lot of very different shows and genres there are times when a property just falls completely flat. Something about it doesn’t click and I’m just left feeling nothing, no investment or anything in it. Concrete Revolutio puts together a great looking show with a ton of design work that really shines and comes across clean and clear here but it doesn’t resonate with the characters. I can easily recommend this for people who love animation as there’s some great design from a range of directors overseen by a great talent, but in terms of story this isn’t a project that grabbed me at all. It just doesn’t have any heart and it felt lifeless in connecting me to the characters and their stories which in turn made it hard to engage with the big picture story.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 10 Commentary, Episode 24 Commentary, Superhuman Bureau Files, Sumire Uesaka’s Super-Explanation of Concrete Revolutio, Promo Videos, Commercials, Trailers
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 23rd, 2018
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.