Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – 06

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Having already demonstrated its brilliance at slapstick and satire, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita this weeks conclusively proves that it can do emotional depth, too.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 06 - Large 03There’s just so much more going on in Jinrui right now than anything else airing that at times, it can almost feel like a lot of work to watch.  This is very intellectually dense material to begin with, and the anime packs it full of sight gags and visual puns and multiple narratives – and the thing is, this isn’t just noise.  While some of it is undeniably silly for its own sake, mostly this series is a marketplace of ideas, social commentary and philosophy and even character dynamics (which are slowly emerging as an important part of the series).  Jinrui definitely rewards the viewer who wants to be challenged and likes to pay attention to what they’re watching.  I wouldn’t want every series to be that way, but thank goodness we occasionally get one that meets the description as an antidote to the dozens that don’t.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 06 - Large 04In addition to providing the least ironic material of the series this far, this sixth episode also answers some questions (while in the process, of course, raising others).  Rather than a flashback this arc was apparently simply aired out of sequence – to what end I can’t say for sure – and it concludes just prior to the events of the first episode.  In doing so it explains just what Watashi did to get herself punished and her hair chopped off.  Perhaps the “Secret Factory” arc was aired first simply because it’s somewhat more approachable and certainly lighter in tone than this one – maybe Kishi-sensei just didn’t want to scare people off.  I can’t think of any continuity-based reasons why this arc couldn’t have aired first, though a case could be made that it’s more effective now that we’ve gotten to know the world and the characters a little.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 06 - Large 05As for the arc itself, as speculated here last week “Pion” and “Oyage” are indeed “Pioneer” and “Voyager”.  As this ep begins Pion – who Watashi decides to call P-Girl – seems to have no memory of who she is or what her purpose is.  In fact, she continually insists she’s a human – and points out as evidence the very things that define her as a robot.  It quickly becomes clear that Oyage has preceded her to Earth, and when Watashi and Joshu-kun encounter him in the subterranean hikikomori city, trouble follows.  Oyage (Hiyama Nobuyuki, really great here) provides quite a sharp contrast with Pion.  He appears as male, and more importantly, he seems to be quite willfully suppressing his memories.  Rather than remember, he prefers to dwell in the “City full of toys” like his Killdozer, transform into giant cats and play forever – and vows to destroy anyone who tries to force him to do otherwise.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 06 - Large 06The conceit that drives this storyline is an interesting one – that Pioneer and Voyager are sentient beings, and were homesick ones at that.  This plays out on two levels – the philosophical aspect as it relates to the two space probes, and the story-specific elements (which are quite intriguing, and which I’ll get to in a minute).  Oyage (O-Boy) suggests that the two probes didn’t gain sentience as a result of some anomalous event in space, but were self-aware from the beginning.   Oyage returned home of its own volition, and Pion followed – though she was given no order to do so (and who would have been around to give it?).  Oyage even references the so-called Pioneer Anomaly – the unexplained deceleration of the Pioneer probes that cannot be directly explained by any known law of physics – as proof of Pion’s self-awareness.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 06 - Large 08It’s an interesting thought – two probes rocketing through the cold depths of space, longing to return home to the warm embrace of Earth.   Given how iconic and elemental the thought of those lonely craft leaving the solar system was, many people surely anthropomorphized them a little – I know I did – and no culture anthropomorphizes more than the Shinto Japanese.  It certainly affects Watashi.  After Pion defeats Oyage and Grandpa rescues everyone from the underground city, everyone involved with the Human Monument Project is thrilled to be able to access the two probes’ memories – and plans to ship them back to space to continue their mission the very next day.  But Watashi steps in and sabotages the connection to the satellite, thus eliminating the electricity source that would have launched Pion and Oyage back to space.  And for doing so, she’s punished – including the removal of her hair (though Grandpa can’t bring himself to have her shaved bald).  This is a very human moment, one of the warmest of the series – Oyage’s plaintive desire not to return to the coldness of space is probably the most honest emotion of the first six episodes, and Watashi’s actions are certainly understandable.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 06 - Large 09But that’s really only half the story.  It seems very possible that there’s a direct connection between the probes and the fairies.  In the first place, the probes apparently can’t see the fairies – Pion can’t, anyway.  We also learn that Oyage and Pion have their memory repair function kick in when exposed to microwaves – and that Oyage was intentionally shielding himself from microwaves as a result, possibly using the multi-colored goo.  That multi-colored goo, of course, is Fairies (where’s Charlton Heston when you need him?), and all this makes me wonder if the Fairies didn’t somehow come into existence when Oyage returned to Earth (we don’t know how long he’s been back, but clearly it’s been a while).  Even if that’s not the case, we know that the Fairies too avoid microwaves (by sabotaging the generator Watashi also ensures that they stick around, of course), and it seems almost impossible that there’s no direct link between Oyage, Pion and their existence.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 06 - Large 10As if all that weren’t enough there was plenty else happening.  In the first place that whole sequence with Watashi reading the fairy book about what happens when humans fall from a 20-story building got its payoff in a big way.  And though satire was merely the side dish this arc, Oyage’s underground playground was itself a kind of satirical look at shounen tropes – most enthusiastically embraced by Assistant, fittingly.  There’s something happening all the time with this show, something meaningful to look at and to listen to (and sometimes multiple things at once) and it seems almost nothing is truly random – it all fits together, and if we’re paying attention it makes sense.  Jinrui is part slapstick, part satire, part hard sci-fi – and completely unique.  As such, it’s already establishing itself as one of the best and most important anime of 2012.

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10 comments

  1. S

    This ended up being one of those arcs that you just can't describe easily.

    I was laughing my ass off during the first half, but the second half had a heartfelt discussion of the "soul of a machine" and the implications, especially in the world of the Fairies.

    And there was references a second everywhere throughout. Mostly shounen and sci-fi, but it all just worked. It wasn't as shocking as some of the other humor, but I found ep 6 to be the funniest so far, for me. Yet I probably couldn't really explain why it all worked together so well. It just did.

  2. S

    It should also be noted that the Curiosity rover made a touchdown tonight on Mars. So between Humanity has Declined, Hyouka and Space Brothers, you've pretty much got all of the related Anime covered.

    How's that for interesting confluence? :)

    Though now all I can see of pictures of the rover is Chitanda's Eyes peering over the Martian surface…

  3. I

    I couldn't watch it, was so sleepy when I got home and fell asleep that suddenly it became Monday and I have to work the whole day before getting back to it. At least it's the last week, after this I can spend the whole day watching anime. Catch up on the bucketlist.

  4. I

    Sweet story, reminds a bit of Planetes. They weren't free but at least they weren't alone.

    Watashi has short hair again, NOOO. But if this happened before the first episode then she'll have long hair again next week, YAAAY. Are the novels really being told out of order because this seems like a fine order to me.

  5. Yes, between Uchuu, Jinrui and Chitanda's "Curiosity" anime has it covered this week. Tari Tari also had an episode highly appropriate for Obon.

    I really felt that the material in this ep was played pretty straight – it wasn't a satire of sci-fi so much as a hard sci-fi episode full of some fairly deep ponderings. The intellectual intensity of this series is pretty much off the scale.

  6. B

    And Watashi continues to be probably my favorite character of the season. Her internal monologue always has me clutching my sides.

  7. A

    In 2140, 100 years after Mission control lost contact with Curiosity, a glare was spotted on the Martian Surface during a routine service trip to the Martian Habitat – the first experimental human settlement on another planet. When astronauts traced the glare to its source, they found Mars Rover Curiosity parked side-by-side with Mars Rover Spirit, both covered in the crimson Martian soil save for one camera shaft that defiantly refused an union with the ground.

    It was not until much later when they realized that Curiosity had spend decades traversing an empty planet to find the Spirit in a deep slumber. With the dwindling power from her cooling plutonium core, she plug her axillary power into Spirit, whose solar panels has been damaged beyond repair.

    There the pair remained, to the end of time.

  8. A

    Man, how happy was I when I heard Viral's voice…

  9. Yea, Hiyama-san really is a pretty unique seiyuu. Vert few guys can do GAR and sensitive at the same time, but he can.

  10. C

    This show can never not surprise me, heh. Joshuu falling into the pit with a straight face is a comedic goldmine. Also, while you could argue that it's cliche, the sentiment was very genuine. The achronological order doesn't feel hammered in either (so far).

    There's a deep irony in the two satelights going out into the world beyond to discover new things. Despite the unique world Jinrui is set in, the two are sent out to discover something extraordinary and fantastic. The wondrous world that they have already isn't good enough for the scientists who sent them out. In the beginning of episode 5, Watashi's grandfather said that the wondrous tablet dropped from above wasn't good enough. To me that speaks volumes about discontent and our natural desire as humans to find something new and wondrous. Brilliant.

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