Review: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is… the thing I feel most deeply sorry about being unable to blog episodically this past season, so I’m glad I was still given the privilege of reviewing it.

However, explaining what Jinrui was or what it tried to achieve is certainly no easy task. A series with an unnamed main character, completely static characters besides said protagonist, no continuous plot developing to an end and no general climax, can’t be judged with the same tools we’d normally use to critique most entertainment media.

The premise is both simple and eye-opening regarding a problem we’re very much aware of by now, with many types of warnings – the fact that we’re destroying ourselves and the world. To sum it up and putting preaching aside, the setting is exactly what the title makes it to be: “Humanity Has Declined”. Yes, in Jinrui’s era, the human species now sports small numbers and got back to the rural lifestyle of past times, while fairies became the most prominent species on earth.

With such a setting, one would expect the series to give a lot of focus to world-building, yet once again Jinrui surprises you in, giving out the information about the world in the most random and arbitrary way.

Now, the last three paragraphs may have seemed full of negative points to you. If that was the case, I’ll make my intentions clear: I’m simply showcasing how unconventional Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is. And it doesn’t stop there. Complete “wtf” moments in which the viewer has no idea of what’s going on are all but rare, and the simple existence of the fairies is shrouded in impossibility and ridiculousness.

Thankfully, such ridiculousness is not a product of chance, but a mean that’s masterfully used in favor of showing the most brilliant, funny and witty set of social critiques I’ve seen in anime to date. With a dark and deadpan humor that would always bring a sarcastic smile to my face, some other genuinely fun moments and a main character with a very human personality, and whose passivity, curiosity and strength of will or complete lack of it (yes, she’s lazy xD) worked wonderfully towards achieving a high-quality first-person narration that’s capable of charming just anyone, Jinrui proved to be the hidden gem I’d first expected it to.

From consumerism to Japanese entertainment and fujoshi, passing by “The Story of Civilization – Short 9 days version”, it hit the bull’s eye in terms of both what to critique and how to do it. Something I’d like to point out, specially to those who think this anime uses too much forced preaching at times, is that while it does critique human behavior in the most various ways, it never does so in an inflexible, accusing tone. The main character herself sees most of the happenings as inevitable; she has the independent mind to judge things as wrong, but the humanity to still feel attracted to things that undeniably are so, in spite of their seemingly distant undesirable consequences.  As so, I’ve never felt as if this series was trying to force ideals onto me, nor do I believe that to be its intended purpose. What it made me do was to ponder such issues myself, even allowing me to have some good laughs in the meantime.

In the technical department, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita didn’t let down either. The bright and vibrant color pallet contrasts well with the dark humor of the show, and the abstract lines of the art are obviously a perfect fit for the bizarreness of the story itself.

But what does really deserve a huge shoutout is the voice acting. The script of this series was indeed very good, but would its worth have been properly conveyed without good voice acting? Thankfully, the voice acting wasn’t simply good, it was great and in my humble opinion, it managed to bring the script to the next level. After all, sarcastic lines do lose most of their meaning and charm without a fitting tone of voice. Special props to Nakahara Mai for her amazing work as “Watashi”.

In the end, Jinrui was a truly amazing series I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future. I’m not a huge fan of series clearly divided in separate arcs, but I get the feeling it actually worked to Jinrui’s advantage in this case, since… as many compliments as I’ve been giving this anime, it did have its flaws. Arcs like the factory one, the manga arc, the first job the main character took and the island episode were simply amazing. However, I found others to be just so-so – namely the spaceships one. The good points in Jinrui still largely outnumber (and overshadow) the bad ones, though, and as one can judge each arc separately, they’re also easily overlooked.

Minor complains aside, there are some other issues I’d like to address. Just because I’m a randomly inserted social critique lover, it doesn’t mean everyone thinks the same way. What I mean is that Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is an amazing series, but it is definitely not for everyone. Character development is really scarce, but that is definitely not a problem when it’s outside of the series’ purpose. Especially not when the only character that actually matters gets dedicated such a heartwarming arc to end the series. Which brings me to another issue – the fact that there isn’t a climax at all. But why should there be one? Storytelling is a free art. Yes, there are tried and true methods and they are not something one should despise. But thinking outside the box sometimes gives even greater results, and when it does, shouldn’t we simply be happy about it and acknowledge its merit?

Jinrui was my favorite anime of this season, and definitely one of my favorite of all time. I was always excited about what the next episode would bring, even though I’d already given up trying to predict what it would be. It truly was a bizarre series, but also really well-written and thought-provoking. And that’s a combination I simply can’t resist.

    

    

P.S.: I so wanted to do an in-depth analysis here… But since that’s not what reviews are for… xD
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Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita Episode 2

The Fairies’ Secret Factory

I’ve been trying real hard to find something I can compare this anime to. But after this second episode I’m starting to doubt my brain’s ability to do so. First we’ve got a bleeding robot-loaf-of-bread and now we get mafia style headless chickens that plan on taking over the world through a food factory. Can you get any more bizarre than that? I have the feeling that’s something I’ll find out next week, but for now analyzing this episode should me more than troublesome enough – there’s no need to try and predict a story that doesn’t follow any known thought process.

This episode consists of the continuation of the inspection to the Fairy Co. factory and… when did this turn into a horror series? Now being serious, those first few minutes really reminded me of one, with the feeling that they were lost in a place of no return, people disappearing (the main character’s – I’ll refer to her as “Watashi” for now, since that’s the name listen on myanimelist – grandfather and the clueless receptionist from last episode) and the feeling of impending death as Watashi suddenly saw herself stuck in a moving conveyor belt together with the disposables which were about to be… disposed of. In the face of dead she’s saved by some invisible force she ends up calling the hand of God. This is an interesting point I’ll mention again later, for it is used several times during the episode, making for a nice call out to a certain human-like attitude.

Forgetting the horror feeling and going back to the very beginning once again, we have yet another critic to how the working hierarchy isn’t exactly working, as the receptionist nonchalantly mentions he has never met other employees, having only received orders and directions through writing. This can be seen as a reference to how face-to-face contact and training is becoming replaced by the long distance technological communication, making the contact with the work force less direct and its supervision less effective.

Then, as the grandfather and the receptionist disappear, Watashi and the Assistant try to go look for them, only to lose themselves in total mess that is the factory’s layout. Then, Watashi tries to make the fairy reproduce and dismantle the factory, which apparently can only happen when they have fun. That’s actually an interesting point I’d like to know more about, and I hope later episodes can further clarify its implications. The important part here is how this gives room for such an amazing moment – the “fun” story the Assistant proposes on telling is anything but fun, instead being a morbid narrative complemented with fitting picture book. The picture book was awesome and so was the narration (in fact, I think the narration play a big role on its awesomeness). I don’t know exactly why, but I found this one of the best jokes of the episode, despite not being the wittiest one for sure.

Pictue Book

The best picture book ever created.

Watashi’s claim that “He’s had a happy life, so why does he have such a dark side?” reminded me of how children who aren’t taught about what’s bad an ugly take it as lightly as anything else. It seemed to me that the Assistant found that genuinely funny (so perhaps he’s too innocent for his own good or maybe he’s just a psychopath in the making). The fairy, on the other hand, had the reaction of an optimistic person who’s suddenly faced with the harsh reality. Either way, it was a highly amusing scene.

Jumping forward once again to when Watashi’s saved by the mysterious “hand of God”, she finds herself alone in a dark place. Well, not so alone, as she soon finds out. In the same room is standing a man, who claims to be Fairy Co.’s manager, and whom Watashi also identifies as the director of the UNESCO. With people like that leading organizations that supposedly contribute to world peace, education and the like, no wonder humanity has declined. If only hypocritical leaders like him didn’t exist outside fiction…

As their conversation progresses, Watashi insists on meeting the higher-ups responsible for the factory, but the manager was also hired through indirect means, for he doesn’t know one thing about them either, nor is he interesting in finding out. Well, he isn’t interested in anything besides being promoted and attaining professional success. Such a selfish yet common trail of though… But against this greedy manager, unwilling to help at all, Watashi has her own means. Declaring she was auditioning the factory was enough to get a scared reaction from the manager, further extended by her own scary expression and harsh words. In fact, auditions are terrible, as I know from experience even honest workers end up afraid of their strictness, let alone power-thirsty little bastards.

As he agrees on helping her find the “bosses”, mostly due to his own conclusion that it would definitely advantageous to him if the factory had indeed a shady background – we even get to hear him spout out his little fantasy of being recognized as a hero and, of course, promoted due to his abnegated actions of pursuing righteousness in spite of endangering his job – both of them go into the room he indicates, only for the manager to fall through a black hole that randomly appears on the floor.

Watashi doesn’t care the slightest bit about it (how I love her deadpan relaxed personality), and proceeds to face the heads of the factory. And that’s when this show gets beyond words. Yes, I’ll be trying hard to describe it from now on, but I promise nothing, for my synthesis can’t possibly be any less weird than the scene itself.

The higher-ups are a bunch of beheaded chickens. Beheaded skinned chickens, to be more precise. They are sitting in chairs, surrounding a round table, and the one that’s apparently the boss even has a cigar in its… opening. They also don’t talk – they emit the strangest and most repulsive sounds one could imagine while moving in an impossible to describe manner, which makes for the most disgusting scene. Of course for them it is Watashi that’s “yucky”, for humans apparently don’t taste well and the worth of intelligent being is measured by their taste. (Don’t ask…) Watashi remains as calm as always before this bizarre situation. However, she can’t proceed to negotiate since she can’t understand all the gibberish the chickens keep spitting out. But such inability to act doesn’t last long, as the fairy finally gets out of its “dark place”, only to present Watashi with translation glasses. Now, this translation glasses are highly interesting. They translate everything the chickens say, but provide not only a “liberal translation” (who likes those?), it also does blatant censoring, which looks as ridiculous and out-of-place as censoring always does. Moreover, after presenting the product, the fairy demands payment for use of its full functionalities. Once again a familiar sounding strategy that never fails to keep annoying him. Things should either be paid or free. Getting half the product is utterly frustrating.

The best comedy part in here was how Watashi completely ignored the headless chickens’ totally cliché evil proclamation. World domination through control of economy and weapon mass production! Too bad she was too occupied adjusting her glasses to listen to their pumped speech. Not that such a proclamation coming from a bunch of malformed chickens is something to worry too much about, especially when they’re as naïve as to think their plan is completely safeguarded by putting that idiot receptionist in charge of the security.

Either way, as Watashi finally gets the knowledge of their plan, she proceeds to eliminate the threat, taking out a dangerous looking knife, which makes the chickens start swearing, which the glasses hilariously translate as “Fornication!”, “Female dog!”, “Critique!”. That makes our protagonist be halted by her own curiosity, asking the fairy about the glasses and finally realizing the aforementioned censoring feature. The evil beheaded skinned chickens take that chance to enclosure her in a standard jail, from which she seems unable to break free.

Soon enough though, assistance comes from none other than the Assistant, who rushes in, camera in hand, prepared to get the shots of his life. After all, it is not every day you see headless chickens conspiring against humanity, is it? The poor chickens fear political exposure, for it will ruin their goal, and start running around panicking. Yes, press is indeed the biggest enemy of corruption.

The impact of this scene is highly raised by the sound, with the camera making a sound similar to guns and “Ave Maria” taking the scene to a whole new level of epicness.

The Assistant pursues the chickens out of the room, and we see most of them being trapped in their own mass production machinery, giving us useful and amusing chicken bread, chicken T-shirts, chicken toys, etc… Watashi follows him, noticing the jail bars were bended by some mysterious force, which she once again calls the “hand of God”.

The remaining chickens manage to escape, but are cornered at the edge of a cliff. Their fear of such a situation pushes them to suicide, diving off the cliff. The best part is once again Watashi and Assistant’s reaction to it – they once again behave like it was none of their business and simply return to the factory, only to find the receptionist, Watashi’s grandfather and the manager calmly sitting together in a room, from which they couldn’t get out once they entered, due to the door only opening from the outside. There, a most interesting yet rather shocking (at least hard to process) truth is revealed: the fairies technology can apparently create sentient entities, even if they have no means to express their intelligence. That’s actually rather pitiful for the poor beings. The conclusion is then that the factory had been taken over by the fairies own creations, that packed their creator and planned on putting them out of the factory. Once thing worth mentioning here is how the fairies, despite being said to be the dominant species on Earth and having amazing technology (that last one is more than proved by now), seem to be pretty harmless and defenseless beings… That aside, the manager unfortunately got his desired promotion, claiming he’d be creating a dictatorial democracy (one world domination would have been enough, really), which I found rather amusing, yet completely in line with the type of democracy we were shown last episode, which isn’t much different from our real world current system.

Of course one can’t forget the closing scene of the episode, in which the pessimist girl is feeding weed soup to some children, presumably her siblings, at a church, who obviously wanted meat instead (it seems they’re getting weed soup every day – as if it didn’t sound bad enough to just eat it once). At that point, she says they’ll be having weed soup for the rest of their lives “unless it starts raining birds”. Which it did. Beheaded skinned chickens fall right through the stained glass, which make for yet another amazing scene, complete with “Ave Maria” and all. Of course the girl deems it a miracle and attributes it to the workings of God.

However, the one mystery that was solved just before the ED refutes that way of thinking. When Watashi needed her hair brush and this is surprisingly delivered by her own hair, she finally understood what was the “hand of God”. I really loved this pun, for both “God” and “hair” are read “kami”, so she wasn’t exactly wrong after all. After all, if the products the fairies make all have their own intelligence, it was a natural course for her hair to have become a sentient entity as well.

What I think it’s actually yet another interesting point is this whole “God” issue recurring throughout the whole episode. When something unexplainable happens, some people don’t even try to find a proper explanation, completely dismissing the issue and attributing to a higher omnipotent entity. That’s why there are so many people who blindingly follow religious organizations. The thing is, there are almost always logical, practical and (not so) rational explanations, as it is the case. Well, at least the pessimist girl changed her attitude, even if just for this one time.

The second episode didn’t disappoint me, as it delivered the same degree and quality of humor and criticism as the first one, turning Jinrui in my current top title of this season. I’m truly loving it so far and can’t wait for next week.

Note: I’m not trying to offend any religious people. I actually find religious teachings to be (mostly) quite correct when it comes to moral codes. I just can’t agree with linking a moral code to an unknown entity and give It credit for amazing happenings. It’s purely my personal opinion, but there is no doubt that there are indeed those who follow such teachings with no critic attitude whatsoever.

First Impressions: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

The Fairies’ Secret Factory

This first episode… blew me away. This might not be a proper way to start a blog post, nor is it my style to express my opinion simply and right off the bat. But I simply loved it. Is this the sleeper hit of the season? I certainly can’t guarantee it, not with only one episode out. But for now, I have only praise to give to it, for its premiere was not only the best I’ve seen in a long while, it certainly neared perfection. By my standards, that is. This show is certainly unconventional, and I doubt everyone will be able to appreciate it for what it is. As for me, I’m sure I just found a very valuable little gem.

If I had to make a list of the words that better describe the first episode of “Humanity is Declining”, it’d be full of synonyms of “weird” and “random”. And it was indeed weird and random. It also had a very abstract style, both regarding the plot and the art. I’ll talk about the plot later and start by the easier element. The art is really refreshing, sporting plain color palettes, with a noticeable cleanness and lack of shading variety. That offers a serene and abstract look, which is further emphasized by the lightness of the colors chosen. And with that, it perfectly sets the mood for one of the strangest settings I’ve seen.

It is set in the future, where it seems like humanity has been declining possibly due to the lifestyle lead in our current time (I’m referring to the real world society here), having reached a situation in which rural life is the most viable option, yet the human race is sure to disappear soon regardless. But that doesn’t mean the world will be deprived of rational forms of life, for the most prosperous beings are now the Fairies – some really cute (and really small) creatures that seemingly have really advanced technology, ages ahead of humanity, even though we haven’t seen it in action yet. The unnamed main character is a member of the United Nations Conciliation Commission, a Mediator between humans and Fairies. That point hasn’t got that much attention yet, except for the fact that everyone seems to idolize her for that, and that she negotiates with the Fairies – with sweets. Joking aside, I don’t really know what her position serves for, in regards to in what those “negotiations” are supposed to benefit humans. But one thing I know for sure, as really childish yet quite intelligent creatures, the Fairies don’t seem like easy beings to deal with.

Soon the protagonist and some other girls are told to kill some chickens, the chickens run away, there’s no meat to eat, a meeting is hold to decide what to do, the girls go search for the missing chickens, a beheaded chicken appears, the girls have the strangest reaction about it, the protagonist tells them not to spread the word, the word is spread anyway, food starts appearing out of nowhere, they investigate, they use a Fairy as compass and find the source, the source is a fabric that seems like a lego cube construction, the only person in the fabric is a human receptionist who doesn’t understand his own job, a loaf of bread which is a robot appears, the robot-loaf-of-bread begs to be eaten, the robot-loaf-of-bread rips itself apart, blood flushes out of its “head”, the loaf of bread isn’t a loaf of regular bread but had carrot juice inside, the episode ends.

And that’s just how weird the plot was.

However, who cares about the strangeness of the plot when it is a means to deliver excellent social commentary and outstanding dark humor? I don’t, that’s for sure. There’s something really wrong with each situation, but that’s nothing more than what’s actually wrong with our society.

Criticism is everywhere, and it’ll definitely take a second watch to catch all the little jabs at modern society. I think I might not have noticed (or understood for that matter) all of them either. But rather than going on about how awesome it is, I think examples are always the best means to convey the reasons behind an opinion.

First of all, we’ve got the scene with the chickens. As men go hunting, the girls, including the main character, are told to “turn the chickens into meat”, yet nobody but the main character knows the middle step – that they have to kill and gut the animal. This illustrates quite well the conceptual separation between living animals and the food we eat, that has been fueled by humanity’s gradual distancing from their food sources over the years. It also explains their subsequent reaction when they’re told the truth. They completely refuse the idea of “murdering” the chicken, yet they don’t even question eating meat. They find the process disgusting but are ok with the end result, which is the highly self-righteous attitude most people show toward the idea of killing animals for food. Quite a twisted sense of morality, don’t you think? The rather sarcastic mode in which all of this is presented gives off an even better touch to this accurate criticism.

After that, there’s the girl who is counting the bad things that happen. I found it rather interesting because I’m of the opinion that happiness derives not from the happenings in one’s life, but from one’s attitude towards them. And people’s pessimistic outlook on life is exactly the reason sicknesses like depression and even some mental disturbances are getting more and more common. So I have to agree with the main character – that’s an attitude that definitely needs to be changed.

Then you have the problem with democracy. Someone holds the final word, and debates are stretched for hours just for the sake of it, as with one or other argument other proposals keep being refused, when in the end the result was already determined long before said meeting had even started. This one is rather easy to pick up, as the main character actually calls attention to it, deeming it as a “learned lesson”.

Something that can’t be forgotten is the mentioning by the main character that there was no way they would catch the chickens, but they were doing it because responsibility must be taken. Doing pointless things for the sake of formalities… Seems familiar to you?

Next we have the girls reaction to seeing the beheaded chicken, wondering if someone had skinned it like it was the most natural thing in the entire world, when it’s obvious no regular chicken would be alive in that condition. This once again showcases their ignorance towards the basic aspects of life and food production.

And when they all fail to catch the abnormal chicken, the main character shows her “dark side”, trying to prevent such a discovery to get leaked to avoid getting into further problems, which is a nice little satire to the cover up of media information – “Hiding the Truth, Manipulative Information, Intimidation”. Of course it didn’t work. I mean, let’s be honest, does it ever work?

Continuing on with the most interesting examples (believe me, I skipped some I noticed and I’m still sure there were some I didn’t), there is the receptionist of the strange lego factory. The man has no idea of what is job is supposed to be, and he proudly admits so, calling it a rather beneficial job, since he only has to stand around all day and gets money, food and housing for that. Once again, it manifests the ignorance and “no care” attitude of some workers, as people only usually care about their own payment, giving no regard to the actual productivity of their jobs, as they’re most of the time completely oblivious to where the money they earn comes from, and that only true work can support a prosperous economy.

And last, but not least, we have the mass production food! And it’s blatantly stated: it tastes worse and it is less healthy… but who cares when it is produced cheaper and faster. As the main character said earlier, when the mysterious food is found, there were some “things shaped like sardines”. There is no doubt that the processed food is convenient, and that’s actually an issue I’m rather torn about, but there’s no doubt it is less tasty, and that its rising usage is indeed causing some problems for common health. Of course they take it to the extreme, mentioning the usage of even trash for food production. I don’t deny something like that might actually happen in some more ambitious and less scrupulous factories, but it is a fact that the modern regulations are indeed strict enough to prevent it.

And with all this, I almost forgot the most random, creepy and outright weird scene I’ve seen in a long, long time – the robot-loaf-of-bread ripping his “head” in half and declaring it wasn’t a normal loaf of bread. First of all, I don’t think anyone who has watched it will forget that scene so soon. Personally, I know it will stick in my mind, if for nothing else, for the sheer “wtf” value. But when one thinks more about it, it actually has one more critic hidden in it – upon its “death”, the loaf declares to be carrot juice bread, aimed at children who dislike carrots, which showcases how people want incompatible taste and nutrients in their products, which is ultimately what fuels the processed food industry.

Add to this the amazing bit with the delicacy points, a joke about how nagging old women can be, especially about appearance, and the little remark with the Assistant only being able to rate things with three marks, all of which carrying a positive connotation (representing the conformism and lack of ability to refuse from the latest generations), and you’ve got a perfect episode in all its splendor.

One last thing to mention is the unnamed main character, who is agreeably refreshing. One of the high points of this series is definitely her narration, which made me think that Kyon just found a female rival to the best sarcastic narrator ever. In my opinion, she can actually be better, despite the obvious differences in the setting when one affords to make such a comparison. My point is, she’s great. She’s intelligent, yet not completely above the ignorance the human population seems to be doomed under. Her remarks are witty and sarcastic, and sometimes (like that one scene when they were looking for the runaway chickens) even creepy. Yes, this series excels in social commentary, but the means to that is the protagonist’s narration, which giving a touch of dark humor to each scene, makes this not only an interesting view from an analytical point of view, but also an amazingly entertaining one. The seiyuu’s job cannot be overlooked either. I’m not someone who watches series for the voice cast, and the only way voice acting actually impacts my enjoyment is usually negatively, when it is absolutely awful. But I can’t deny Nakahara Mai is doing an excellent job, which is actually crucial in this case, since this whole series is carried by the narration.

If you’ve read everything so far, I congratulate you for your persistence, and assure you this is almost over, for I’ll be simply concluding with my overall impressions, which should already be obvious by now. Whether this can or not maintain this amount of quality has yet to be seen, but regardless of what will come from now on, it won’t change the fact this is a masterpiece episode. Having gone into this anime with zero expectations, I’m already pleased with what I’ve got, for I hadn’t had my share of social commentary since Mawaru Penguindrum, which I also found an excellent show. However, I do believe this will keep up this level of quality, and while it wasn’t initial in my plans to do so, I will be blogging this series and hoping it is indeed a masterpiece in the making.