Concrete Revolutio: Raito Shiba as Jiro Hitoyoshi's tragic mirror

July 3, 2017

(There are spoilers here, in as much as I can spoil a show that's been over for a year.)

In the first season of Concrete Revolutio, one of the mysteries was what happened to Raito Shiba to turn him from a police detective into what he became instead (however you want to describe it). The first episode in Concrete Revolutio's second season finally answered this, and in the process it made Raito Shiba the most tragic character in Concrete Revolutio for me, because he is the tragic mirror to Jiro Hitoyoshi.

Both Raito and Jiro begin the show driven by the desire to follow justice and do right. This naturally raises the question of what is justice and rightness (this question is at the core of Jiro's self-definition), and the show spends a great deal of its run showing us that things in the real world are more and more complicated and more and more grey. There is simply not a clear, straightforward, general answer to the question. Justice, law, and right can all conflict with each other; attempts to use simple black and white answers can lead to terrible results. The truth, says Concrete Revolutio, is that concepts such as 'justice' are situational and even personal. You cannot boil them down to rules.

Both Jiro and Raito struggle with this over the course of the series. Both start out believing that this is simple and they can always see the way forward; they both find out that they are wrong. As the series progresses, Jiro becomes more and more willing to make situational decisions for the sake of his own personal sense of justice and rightness, and less and less willing to stick to rules and laws when they lead to a result that he feels are wrong.

The same conflict breaks Raito. In episode 14, "The Superhumans of November", he is fully faced with a messy conflict of justice where there is no simple morally correct answer. Raito knows it and admits it in his own thoughts. But rather than accept that the world is messy and complicated and not amenable to the rigid rules that he wants, Raito entirely rejects everything to do with the idea. He goes so far as to murder a sentient being in order to lobotomize himself, willingly locking himself into the shackles of a rigid black and white view of the world even though he knows this view is flawed (he rejects that knowledge, though).

This is what makes Raito the tragic mirror of Jiro (and a tragic character in general). Both faced the same issues and challenges, but Raito broke where Jiro made his way through. Raito shows both us and Jiro a path that a different version of Jiro might have taken, and I think that Jiro sees at least something of this and it's why he interacts with Raito as he does.

(Having locked himself into a black and white view of the world, having deliberately made himself completely convinced of the justice and correctness of his actions, Raito of course winds up reaching the morally horrifying decisions that he does in the third episode of the first season. If you make decisions based on logic and rules, with no regard for the reality of the world and the moral dimensions of what you're proposing, of course you wind up with horrors that you have perfect justifications for.)

(See also Emily's entry on Raito and Super Jaguar.)

(This is probably an obvious observation, but it's been on my mind for some time and so I'm writing it down to get it out of my head. Even a year later, Concrete Revolutio is still not a forgettable show, even if I feel it was a flawed one.)

Written on 03 July 2017.
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Last modified: Mon Jul 3 22:40:58 2017
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