Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – 02

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Tanaka Romeo and Kishi Seiji have thrown down the gauntlet: is it possible to make an anime that’s too weird?  The answer, my friends, is a resounding “No!”

But Kami-sama, how in the world did I get stuck with the job of making sense of it?!

I can hardly begin to describe what happened, so for the sake of my own sanity points I’m just going to assume you’ve seen the episode and not even really try.  From my perspective Jinrui is the best series of the season so far, for a few reasons.  Mostly because it’s absolutely fearless, making no attempt to dumb down the source material in order to provide a traditional narrative or character development, or to be “tasteful”.  Perhaps must obviously, because it’s fiercely, spectacularly funny – I haven’t had this many out-and-out laughs from a show since… well, what – maybe Mitsudomoe?  Because it’s incredibly smart and actually about something, whether people want to see that ugly side of it or not.   And because it explodes creativity from every pore from the second the episode starts until the moment it ends, and it’s living proof in a season riddled with formula that you can still produce anime that weren’t written by the Marketing Department.

There were several elements that jumped out in this second episode, which actually managed to up the insanity ante from the batshit premiere.  The Fairies may not have been the bad guys this episode, but they continue to be subtly creepy at every turn (the “compass” had a Hitler mustache, for example).  What do subtle hints like “The Fairies reproduce naturally when they’re having fun” mean, I wonder?  Among the first notable turns this week was the revelation that Assistant-kun is someone to watch out for – his picture-book “Story of the Seven Children” (that narration!) had me howling and shaking my head in disbelief at the same time, and actually drove Compass (Kobayashi Yumiko) into Watashi’s pocket to “Reflect on the meaning of life in a dark place.”  If that’s Assistant’s idea of a joke…

It’s as this point that the weirdness really starts.  We meet the manager of FairyCo., who also happens the be the director of UNESCO (oh, boy…).  He’s a sniveling, scheming climber (he cites Nixon as a model of “plausible deniability”) looking for any way to maneuver things to his advantage, and like the factory receptionist he seems to have never met the ones who actually run the plant.  One by one Watashi is separated from her companions – Grandpa, Uketsuke-san, Assistant, and finally Manager-san.  On a couple of occasions she’s saved from certain death by the mysterious “Hand of God” (the true genius of this will only be revealed later in the episode).  Eventually she ends up confronting “The Board”, who are revealed to he none other than the headless, skinned chickens we met last week (or their relatives).

I can’t really justice to the sheer lunacy of this whole sequence.  In effect the chickens have gained sentience somehow, trapped the Fairies who ran the plant in blister packs and plan to take over the world.  Watashi can’t understand anything they say in their voices (kazoo-assisted) which sound like a cross between – well, a headless chicken – and Charlie Brown’s teacher.  But Compass has a handy pair of translation glasses (I’m not at all suspicious of how the Fairies always seem to have just the right item at hand) which add fansubs to the chickens’ speech.  The subs aren’t very good but the gist comes across – it’s megalomania mixed with a non-stop barrage of expletives. 

Just when things are looking hopeless Assistant-kun shows up and attacks the scheming industrialist chickens with what scheming industrialist chickens fear most – exposure.  With his mighty camera he sends them into full panicked retreat, often intercut with Sam Peckinpah-style slow-mo to the accompaniment of “Ave Maria”.   As they flee through the factory (the headless chicken factory workers are wearing hair nets) they end up on T-shirts and pressed into DVDs and aluminum cans, and Pan-tan Mark II makes a brief appearance, gaily dancing.  Finally Assistant and his camera drive the survivors off the edge of a cliff, “Thelma and Louise” style (“Shall we dive?  I cannot fly.”).  But like I said, words can’t really do all that justice.  And the deadpan nonchalance of Watashi and Assistant in the face of all this is what really seals the deal.

Some other things to watch out for here: while Grandpa is explaining his theory of what happened to Watashi (speculating that things like jars of marmalade and artificial sardines gained sentience too, but had no way to express it) UNESCO Director-san is giving a rambling speech about how he plans to establish an oligarchic “dictatorial democracy” and rule the world.  And remember that “Hand of God” that kept helping Watashi out?  Turns out the hand of God (“Kami”) was actually her now-sentient hair (“kami”) – the same hair which grew back thanks to “FairyCo. Hair Restorer”.  And those headless chickens are still raining down from the sky, including through the stained-glass window of a ruined church were a young girl is feeding her siblings “weed soup”.  Turns out the chickens are now “regularly appearing as offerings for the children, and stop moving whenever touched by human hands – as if genetically engineered to do so.”

There, was that so hard?  Well, yes it was – and sadly, no attempt to capture Jinrui was Suitai Shimashita in words can possibly come close to the experience of watching it, so I think I’ll go ahead and do that again myself, just to try and pick up on some of the stuff I’m sure I missed.  I hope Kishi and Uezo-san are able to keep this kind of manic creativity up for twelve episodes – I know enough of Romeo-san’s LNs to know that there’s plenty of insanity to drive the series, as long as the director and writer don’t lose their nerve.  But one of the reasons I was so excited to see those two in charge of this adaptation is that whatever their faults, they’ve shown a willingness to go all-in on the bizarre and not pull their punches – I hope (and believe) this is a case of the perfect combination of original creator and anime staff.

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18 comments

  1. S

    2nd episode in a row someone thought I may be dying from laughter.

    I'm all in on this series. It seems the formula is more dark & absurd social satire than some full and formal attempt at social commentary. Which is what I was really, really hoping for. This is SO DAMN FUNNY. It's completely & utterly brilliant.

    We're only 2 episodes in and this series can probably be booked for a top 10 of the year. This is so damn awesome.

    Oh, and my Azumanga Daioh fanboyish just loves the OP and ED. Maybe this is the sadistic version of Azumanga…

  2. S

    Oh, and the commentary on literal vs liberal translation was one of those little great bits for the foreign fans. :)

  3. j

    I wouldn't want to push the point too much on a one season anime, but this is mildly Pynchonesque.

  4. s

    I think we do this series a disservice for viewing it under a storytelling lens. No plot, no characterization, all we have is comedy about society with the intention of bringing out a good laugh. I would go so far to call it stand-up comedy and a really good one at that.

    I initially watched this series with a storytelling lens and found it horrible with Watashi being its one saving grace. Now that I have changed my perspective, I am definitely getting a kick out of this anime.

  5. R

    I honestly don't know what to say about the series. It's so….OFF. I mean, it's good, brilliant, but just so out there. I can't really even begin to explain WHY I like it. If I had to recommend it to someone I'd have a hard time getting the thoughts together >_>

  6. Try finding seven frickin' paragraphs!

  7. S

    This is exactly what I was looking for after I finished watching Kuuchuu Buranko. Handling serious topics in lighthearted and abstract but not inappropriate ways is exactly the way I like it.

    The use of Schubert's version of Ave Maria was brilliant but a bit overused in my opinion, it still draw a laughter out of me every single time. (Was anyone else reminded of a certain bald assassin during that "shooting"-scene?)

  8. A

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3mugEhibw0
    The Second Raid and its dark humour XD

  9. l

    The rambling head headless chicken segment went on a little too long for my tastes, destroying what was otherwise a wonderfully punch-drunk episode. I had reached the "Let's get on with it" point. A point that should never be reached especially with this kind of out of left field humor. But other than that, the show was very fun. I especially liked the sentient hair at the end. (But I didn't get the "kami" pun until I read about it in the various forums. Japanese word puns are way beyond my understanding.)

  10. I

    Anime has often produced ridiculous comedy anime, but when was the last time something as witty as Jinrui came out. I was loling practically every moment. It's not dark humor yet, but it is a very sarcastic and sardonic kind that I think only a more mature (not necessarily older as I have met some people of my generation who think the Beatles were the original members of Glee) audience will appreciate something this funny.

    The only shows this season that can match those of the Spring are SAO and Jinrui for me. Bloody epic and Bloody creative respectively. BTW GE do you think a show like Jinrui would have existed outside of the realm of Noitamina a few years ago because I feel that a lot of shows that seem like the sort that belong there are airing outside of it.

  11. TBH, Ish, I don't think Jinrui would ever have aired in NoitaminA. NoitaminA has definitely helped created a market for non-commercial anime, but they always existed here and there. This show getting made would have been unlikely but not impossible in any era, including this one.

    lkk, I have to confess the headless chicken gag was just Goldilocks length for me…

  12. l

    Reading around the web, the headless chicken gag was Goldilocks length for most people. I'm definitely in the minority with my opinion, and I'm okay with that. To each his own. 😀

  13. S

    Headless chickens went on long enough for me. :) I could have gone for a bit more subtitling jokes, but that's just me.

  14. B

    Okay. Not gonna lie, after the first episode, I was still on the fence with this one. After episode two though, I'm ready to declare for the record that this show is completely awesome. I do need to research who all is subbing this show, because the "kami" pun didn't click with me at all and the group I got it from helpfully completely failed to put a translation note explaining it.

  15. I took mine from the CR subs, and they completely missed it. You just had to get lucky and pick it up by ear. I shudder to think how many puns I missed altogether.

  16. P

    This episode was even better than the first. Had me laughing my ass off throughout the whole episode, particularly if it involved Ari Maria and chickens :D.

    But the in your face wackiness and craziness isn't the only thing of course. The series has strong pessimistic messages that it's delivering, in the form of dark social commentary and black humour.

    Unless Sword Art Online totally justifies its hype in the upcoming episodes, I'm predicting this to be my favorite of the season. If the quality keeps up, it'll be the "Mawaru Penguindrum" of the year for me.

  17. It's certainly my favorite thus far. SAO and Natsuyuki both look excellent based on the premieres, but Jinrui is really the only series so far that's doing anything bold and dangerous.

  18. T

    I've been late in jumping onto the Jinrui crazy train, but I have not laughed as hard as this since… Nichibros, but this is another brand of humor entirely. While Nichibros is all-out crack, this is satire in a very funny package.

    This ep had a lot of highlights to me (I quite enjoyed the subtitles scene because of the expletives- it's hilarious how off expletives are when the word is reinterpreted) but one note about Assistant's wonderful picture book- it's probably inspired by Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies. Humor and fridge horror, such genius.

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