Thomson, Iain: "Deconstructing the Hero". In: . Superheroes and Philosophy. Open Court, Chicago 2008, P. 102.
As for me, I never experienced superheroes as part of my childhood. When I was around 7 years old, everybody was crazy about "Batman Returns", but my parents wouldn't take me to watch it because it was too dark for a kid. In a way, they were right. I must have been about 11 or so when the animated series of Batman and Spider-Man were on TV. They were fun for the time being. I remember the strange feeling of actually identifying with the villains most of the time. It wasn't much of an impact on me, still. Actually, the moment superheroes started becoming truly relevant was when in my teens I finally made my way to "Batman Returns", "The Killing Joke" and, of course, Watchmen. To me, Superheroes became relevant only the moment they started to implode and self destruct.
What was my childhood made of then, I wonder? In the anime Concrete Revolutio I recognize a part of it: Pizza cats, masked riders, monsters who grow huge from a lightning bolt. If my fascination for tokusatsu and super sentai quickly became ironic, I can't deny the strength it originally had. One might even blame Peruvian television for that, assuming that it therefore affected my entire generation.
In Concrete Revolutio I find those same heroes confronted with the political problems of the times that gave them birth, as well as to their essential contradictions. This is, in a way, the same implosion Moore produced for the American superhero. I must clarify that I strongly disagree with Thomson in calling it a "deconstruction", a word that is receiving more abuse every day. Instead I would go with Terrence Wandtke in calling it revisionism, which refers to the critique of history and its possibilities.
While not at the level of Moore's stunning perfection, the plot of Concrete Revolutio is still tightly woven. It even posits some of the same questions: How can anybody claim a moral compass after the holocaust? What should heroes do in the face of a corrupted system? And even: Who watches the watchmen? This last question is curiously reversed in the anime. For the masked vigilantes of American comics the problem was that society needed to control their power, just as it should control the State itself. For heroes of anime and tokusatsu, who for a long time have been fighting unmasked, the question interprets differently: it translates into the Department for Superhuman Protection. It's somewhat like witness protection: those who put themselves on the line to protect others are targeted by local and international politics. However, here too a paradox is born, for the state can never protect without controlling and even castrating.
Concrete Revolutio voluntarily gives in to that historization, giving the 60s a "happy ending" which completely leaves the historical frame. All contradictions, the impossibility of heroes, was a problem of the past, and nowadays we should be able to overcome those problems and live the dream. A cruel lie if we remember the nation was until recently still a single-party system, haunted by conservative ideologies and delving ever deeper into moral bankruptcy. (You may consider social retreat and population decrease, among many others, as expressions of this.)
What Concrete Revolutio lacks in contemporary criticism, it makes up in its acid views of official history. Crude episodes like the Vietnam War, the student protests and the Hiroshima bomb are subject to uncompromising commentary. Both the "imperial" propaganda agency, represented in the ending sequence in front of the Japanese flag, and the official Protection Department turn out to be corrupt organizations the heroes have to destroy. Of course, the lie is that they managed to do it, somewhere in the past. What the series actually does is taking a common course to avoid censorship: to fashion its critique to its actual time in a past and fantastic setting.
On the other hand, the historical setting allows for a particular aesthetic of nostalgia. Unlike Watchmen, Concrete Revolutio does embrace the cartoonish, the absurd, yes the very irony that has always been part of tokusatsu, kaiju and its derivates. We have shape-shifting friendly ghosts, bulgy-eyed Muskehounds, magical girls giving every inanimate object a happy face; alongside detailed giant robots, historical war machines, and even actual recognizable landmarks.
Of course, anime "came of age" in its own way long ago, shifting the focus to tortured anti-heroes of all sorts and thoroughly forgetting about tokusatsu along the way. Nowadays, one can find many continuous levels between serious seinen and childish shonen anime, but it has no continuity with more "superheroic" forms of action TV which subsist in a completely separate sphere. The backward gaze brings these instances back together while demanding a historical reflection on them.