During the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese submarine is beached, and its sole survivor is killed by American troops. Or is he? Almost 30 years later, the Superhuman Bureau is on the trail of a family of suspected superhumans. Jiro, having recently abandoned the organization, argues that the family should be left in peace, but there is little chance of that when an American robot bursts onto the scene. It seems the U.S. has its own plans for this seemingly immortal family.
This episode is probably one of the strongest the show has provided thus far. While it doesn’t quite answer the swirl of questions that surround the gap between the two timeframes (before and after Jiro’s departure from the Bureau), it narrows the gap down to a period of about two years, and gives us a glimpse into Jiro’s mindset shortly after leaving. It also neatly summarizes what appears to be the change in attitude he experienced that set him on his current path.
Early on, we meet an odd but loving family that the Superhuman Bureau has been tracking for some time. About two years ago, an identical group of apparently immortal humans went into hiding, and recent negotiations with the U.S. have opened the possibility that another member of the family may be reunited with them soon. Heartwarming though it is, the shadow of horrific experiments that have happened to this absent member are shown in as unflinching detail as the show’s oversaturated and cartoonish style will allow. It makes the tension between the government and superhumans about more than just abstract concepts of freedom and personal choice – it is just as much about ethics and basic humanity.
We’ve been learning more about the members of the Bureau bit by bit for several episodes now, and Episode 9 is no exception. This time it’s Jaguar’s turn to have a brief moment in the spotlight and set up the conflict for the next episode. There is more to his ability to manipulate time (and his codename) than meets the eye, and it’s delivered quickly enough that it doesn’t bog down the rest of the story. If there’s one thing Concrete Revolutio has done remarkably well, it’s being efficient with storytelling, almost to a fault. We’re always learning more about the situation, but it’s all fired out so fast it can be next to impossible to process in one sitting.
Back to the story, we get to see the team truly on the ropes for the first time when an American robot arrives and it becomes clear that their return of the newly-freed immortal was no act of kindness. Even the Bureau’s heavy hitter, Emi, is powerless against the machine, which manages to be goofy and incredibly sinister at the same time. Seeing his comrades helpless to protect the people he had sworn to support and defend, Jiro’s break with the Bureau starts to make a lot of sense, though we’re still waiting to see the tipping point that convinced him to go renegade. I found the penultimate scene to be rather moving, though with all the twists and turns the episode took to get there, I wish there had been more time to focus on the family that became the subject of all this pain and tribulation.
Episode 9 has a lot of heart, even if it’s showing us some of the darkest sides of the superhuman struggle so far. The series has retained the earnestness and self-awareness that drew me to it in the first place, and it continues to flesh out its cast, even as it adds more questions about where it is all going. It feels like we’re getting close to the flashpoint that causes Jiro to break away from his friends and set out towards the goal he’s been building to in the later timeline, and I look forward to seeing it all come together. I still have a nagging concern that the show will eventually collapse under the weight of its countless plot threads and characters, but for now it’s holding strong and I’m excited for the next arc to begin.