Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – 09

[HorribleSubs] Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.07_[2012.08.26_10.09.09] [HorribleSubs] Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.49_[2012.08.26_10.18.43] [HorribleSubs] Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.02_[2012.08.26_10.21.55]

The social satire is strong with this one…

It’s tempting to think of this episode as “A Faerie History of Japan”, but I suspect that would be reading a bit too much into the satire – and believe me, there’s plenty to read into it anyway.  Still, as an island nation Japan (like Britain, for example) has some unique elements in it’s historical development, and even more so in the sense that over most of its history Japan had very little contact with the outside world and almost none with the Western World.  As such, its history is a great place to look for interesting case studies of human cultural development – and this episode toys with the notion of the rise and fall of a culture in a few short (about nine, to be exact) days, thanks to fairy magic.

I’m grown spoiled by the irresistibly charming relationship that’s grown up around Watashi and Assistant over the course of Jinrui, and I confess I missed having it this time around.  Ample consolation was provided, though, both by an overdose of fairy hilarity and a truly majestic performance by Nakahara Mai.  She’s been great from day one here – a strong candidate for seiyuu performance of the year – but I think this ep represented her finest work yet.  She’s asked to carry a disproportionate share of the load in this show every week, but her deadpan credulity is absolutely essential to making this episode work.

As for those fairies, they remain a fascinatingly bizarre and mysterious force, and Tanaka’s greatest vehicle for his rapier wit.  Because of their insanely kawaii appearance he can put any dialogue on their lips and get away with it, and pull in extra humor from the dissonance between their appearance and their often shockingly misanthropic world view.  Needless to say this episode was brilliant – they pretty much all are with this show – but I think the satire is a little more universal than normal, and you don’t have to work as hard to make the connections – indeed, the hardest part is keeping up with the machine-gun pacing of the humor, as each joke is in danger of being drowned out by the laughter from the last one.

I still don’t really understand how the fairies work within the Jinrui mythology, though I’m definitely getting a handle on how they work as a literary device.  The insanity starts with a discussion of politics, where the subject is fairy elections (they have them, I guess) and one says his platform is “equal distribution of sweets” to which the reply is “You sound like a commie!”  Turns out the Fairy population is exploding, which is leading to bullying and persecution.  So Grandpa decides Watashi needs to take a bunch of asylum-seeking Fairies to a sparsely populated region where they can found a new nation (I find it very interesting that he tells her it’s a punishment because she was “responsible for the Fairy population increase”).  After a mishap involving a rotted dock, she and the Fairies wind up stranded on an island in the middle of a lake – which they decide to make their new nation, and appoint her as Queen.

I won’t attempt to list all the cultural references and clever jokes attached to the dialogue here – just make sure you’re paying close attention.  I especially enjoyed the fact that the Fairies had a “Rube Goldberg Machine”  and “religions” on their list of top-priority things to invent (though their first creation is, oddly, a Queen Anne vanity), the “Ffee-co”, and the “Narcotics” plant.  As Queen, Watashi has her own mustachioed advisor on her shoulder and two Fairy beefeaters to guard her.  They start slowly, making her a leaf bed, but then a house starts going up around it – along with a Fairy-powered railroad, water-treatment plant, pineapple-powered electricity plant.  The real fun, though, starts when the Fairies decide they want to create monuments – and when one of them accidentally figures out a way to “grow” sweets, which Watashi has been providing for the population as a sort of price of admission for her constant adulation.

It occurs to me that everything with the Fairies is a problem of proportion.  Ironically for such tiny creatures, what they tend to do is take everything a human says (or does) and expand it to a degree where it becomes preposterous.  Watashi’s careless “Yes?” in response to a Fairy’s “Your Majesty?” is an invitation to build a culture around her.  When she says they can build a monument, overnight they’ve created the pyramids, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Easter Island heads…  When she tells one to concentrate on growing more varieties of “sweets plants”, they ravage the ecosystem with genetically engineered crops.  The Fairies have no sense of restraint, and take what could (not always) be a good thing in moderation to the point where it becomes a threat to society itself – which is never more evident than in this self-contained island and its nine-day development.  Everything they do takes resources – their cocoa plant foils the lake with its backwash, they destroy all the trees to build their factories and monuments, and they breed so quickly (how?) that they almost instantly have problems of unemployment and NEETs.  No, there’s definitely no social satire to see here – just move it along…

After the resources run out and Watashi decides it’s time to leave the island the Fairies are depressed – and what do we make of the notion that it’s the “gloom clouds” that form over the Fairies heads when they’re depressed that cause the rains that submerge the island, because there are no trees to control runoff?  I’m not sure if there’s a specific metaphor at work here, but I was fascinated by the conversation between Watashi and the “Rurouni” (Miyata Kouki), a religious pilgrim who confronts her about her decision to abandon the island.  She reasons that it’s beyond saving, and it’s surely better to accept that and move on – to which a Fairy replies, “Would you say that about a sick relative?”  It’s hard to escape the implications of that statement as it relates to our society and indeed the series title itself – “Humanity Has Declined”, indeed – though I’m not sure what Tanaka-sensei is suggesting as the right answer.  Watashi can only plead “Don’t ask me that question!” – which in itself is a line of dialogue whose implications are hard to escape.

The end of the ep is interesting in itself, no less so than because it represents the conclusion of the arc in one episode, a first for the anime adaptation.  The Fairies gloom clouds flood the island and it disappears beneath the swollen lake.  When Watashi wakes Grandpa and Joshu-kun are there, having come to her rescue (I take some satisfaction in the fact that “Joshu-san was worried” is a reason Grandpa states for why they’ve come, as well as his embarrassed expression).  Gramps tells her that the former island used to house at least three native species of rare spiders.  Watashi nervously laughs it off, trying to cast the blame on the Fairies.  Grandpa provides the ultimate moral of the story in the final line of dialogue: “Learn to clean up the mess, Foolish Child.”  If only it were so easy – but, oddly, I think this coda adds at least a slightly hopeful tone to what’s otherwise a hilariously depressing commentary on human culture.

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OP2 Sequence:

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  1. M

    To: Guardian Enzo
    Would a contact email address from you
    Re: Learning to post and blog

  2. Check the "About me" page for an email link.

  3. M

    Grammar OCD: "foils the lake with it’s backwash". No apostrophe in 'its' because it's possessive.

    Anyway, I really liked this episode. A great and humorous take on society's progression.

  4. Dayum. Anal much? 😉

    I miss those occasionally. Spellcheck isn't smart enough.

  5. M

    Yes. Yes I am. : )

  6. J

    "Would you say that about a sick relative?”

    That was the selling point of the episode for me. A lot of human advancement comes at the expense of something else. We consume resources to the point of exhaustion, and then we casually toss the depleted items aside and search for a new source. Personifying the island like that changes the perspective immensely, and it was really effective at wrapping all the satire and social commentary up into a nice, presentable metaphor for me.

    I really liked how the Fairies' nation was structured to parallel the circumstances of humans in Jinrui. Primitive, basic beginnings, an explosion of industry and innovation, excessive consumption of resources, a decline of the species, then a chance to start over and build the world anew. I connected things less as the development of an isolated nation and more as the development of an isolated species. But in that respect, the development of nations and of humanity as a whole are really quite similar if you consider Earth to be an island in the vast ocean of space.

    But anyway… what happened to all the poor, gloomy Fairies on the island? 🙁

  7. K

    "what happened to all the poor, gloomy Fairies on the island"
    As the Fairies would put it: Probably dead =D

  8. Yeah, that would be my guess as well… Along with chicken industrialists and Pan-tan.

  9. K

    I absolutely loved this episode. I loved how the list of top priority things to do started out somewhat normal, but then rapidly degenerated into something ridiculously preposterous.

    The fairies pushing the train initially reminded me of the earthbendinbg trains in Avatar:TLA.

    I find having the innocently-looking fairies deliver the satire to be very effective, for both entertainment purposes and delivering a message. It's kind of like seeing young children discussing world issues; no one would expect them to be able to comprehend these things at such young age, so it really makes you do a double-take if they did.

  10. B

    What immediately came to mind for me in this episode was Easter Island. I was thinking it even before they drove the point home by showing that the fairies made Easter Island heads. Their problems (at least a lot of them) even came down to a deficit in the same resource: wood. It's easy to see some cultural similarities to Japan in the details but overall the story mirrors Easter Island much more, even down to the Bad End.

  11. A

    Civilization VI.5 : rise of the fairies….on limited time sale
    get it on your local store now…

  12. G

    I want to tickle one of those fairies.

    Where exactly did you find the fairies have "shockingly misogynistic world view"? I did not catch that.

  13. e

    @Enzo: sorry to join the anal bandwagon. The term might work differently in Italian compared to AE but… the fairies sound more like misanthropists than misogynists to me. They do interact with Watashi more than other humans but the target of their comments and worldview aren't mostly or especially of the female persuasion it seems to me.
    I also wonder if in-universe this gender equality treatment is tied to nature of fairies themselves. We can't even tell if fairies have genders: they don't think in female vs male gender terms because they have no gender, both genders at once, or just one gender… or else? (how do they reproduce, indeed? oooh the possibilities XD).

  14. A

    Not to mention that shower scene with the totally naked fairy…it would be naughty but except they don't appear to have parts from either gender.

  15. Actually Guratan is right, I warped the wrong word in, should indeed have been "misanthropic"…

  16. e

    Vocabulary Has Not Declined yay.
    Interesting lapsus then Enzo. If I was a fairy I'd so give you Mind Read bananas and have a peek inside :p .

  17. S

    Gosh who WOULDN'T sacrifice environmental stability for a poky bush…? By the way what did Watashi want a lighter for? I actually love this show so much!!

  18. A

    Let there be fire! When you have no shelter you need fire to keep warm at night.

  19. H

    I found this episode a lot more accessible (still a bit more heavyhanded than I care for) than usual. The show is quite intent on casting the faeries as very parasitic (and the humans as not much better), but I wonder what the difference was between this group of faeries and the ones that were still on 'the mainland'? If the island faeries were typical of all the faeries, why is Earth not far more ruined? Or is it only this group of faeries, bolstered by the approval of their typically irresponsible "queen", that runs rampant?

  20. I think the fact that it was a closed ecosystem might have had something to do with it.

  21. H

    Nah, I don't really buy that. It could only be called a 'closed' ecosystem because they were giving up, and not developing new resources off the island, nor trying any sort of conservation efforts on their own island. And basically, that was a consequence of their rapacious time-frame. The faeries descended on the island like a plague of locusts, used it up unsustainably, and then were unhappy. And apparently they can grow all sorts of sweets plants overnight, but can't regrow trees, or something that could allow them to make the necessary repairs.

    Basically, it was a tale of production irresponsibility, but that's the 'heavyhandedness' problem I have with it. And maybe there are other UN Liaisons who are less derelict in their dealings with the faeries than Watashi, but that's what kind of annoys me about the show. The fact that grandfather's message afterward is "learn to clean up the mess", rather than "learn to not make a mess in the first place" makes the humans in the show just caricatures of whatever hamfisted point the writers want to make. That part rubs me the wrong way about this show.

  22. Wow, do I ever disagree with that point.

    I think you're criticizing the way Tanaka depicts humans vs. an idealized vision of what you think they should be like. He's depicting them as an unsparing vision of how they really are.

    And I do think this qualifies as closed ecosystem. While the main thrust of the episode is as a social experiment, the faeries are effectively invasive species introduced to an island (like Hawaii, for example).

  23. H

    Well, I'm criticizing the way that he is depicting humans, because I feel what he wants to portray them as is a facile caricature of how he views them. It's only 'how they really are' if one ignores decades of human effort at conservation and preservation, efforts which are continuously trending upwards as more people are lifted above day-to-day drudgery to provide for basic necessities.

    I agree that it could be considered a closed ecosystem, but I think it's *only* because they choose to leave it as such. The point I was making was that if a handful of faeries can wreak such change in less than a week on an island, why haven't they done that to the whole world? I don't recall that we've heard of faerie predation. So what is providing the brake, natural or unnatural, on their expansion in the rest of the world that didn't on that island? Or was this group of faeries atypical?

  24. E

    Obviously it's because of the irresponsible queen. She shouldn't have let them grow such unnatural plants just because she's lazy. She should have ordered them to preserve the tree and stop making too many structures, world wonders, no less, just because she wants to enjoy the life of a queen.

    It's not a plothole. This disaster didn't befall the whole world, because at other place and in the past, nobody ordered them to do all these crazy things? From what I have seen starting since episode 1, only Watashi is able to order them around to begin with. She is the mediator between humans and fairies.

    This episode is really a clever jab at human's stupidity. It feels especially strong for people who lived at underdeveloped country such as me. My fellow stupid citizens keep cutting down the trees, only to let themselves killed in flood and land slides. LOL. They pollute the river who's right next by they house, only to suffer from diarrhea and various disease themselves. Such stupidity.

    I bow down to this author for being able to write such an unusual story such as this. It's un-generic, and really witty.

  25. I agree with pretty much all of that, Eternia. Except I don't think the Faeries care a jot about the UN – they stick to Watashi because she gives them sweets.

  26. E

    My post is actually a reply to Highway, but it seems that you understood.
    Yeah. That's a possibility. Watashi seems to be the only who can still make sweets in this declined human world, that's why they went through the trouble of cloning her.

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