Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – 11

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Perhaps more than any great series of recent vintage, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita has stubbornly refused to let the audience get a handle on just what kind of show it really is.

I’m been grinding on trying to figure out just why director Kishi Seiji and AIC decided to adapt these stories in the order they did, and to be honest I’m not having much luck.  Certainly it’s not due to author Tanaka Romeo, whose LNs are sequentially much more linear than the anime. You can reverse engineer the question and look at the effect, which is that the landscape of the series has been constantly shifting under the audience’s feet like sands blowing in the wind.  This leads to the question of whether, perhaps, that was the whole point.  In a way it’s almost as if every arc has been a premiere, and there was never any way to know what might be coming next.  For a show whose appeal lies so strongly in mind-expansion and a sort of intellectual shock and awe, perhaps this has been the best way to maintain effectiveness.

There’s a downside to this approach, at least for me, and it’s this: by jerking the characters back and forth in the timeline so much with no preamble or ceremony whatsoever, they aren’t really able to have an “arc” in the traditional sense – even Watashi, the one constant running through every story.  When Jinrui started I instantly fell in love with it, the only skepticism being my initial view that the series wasn’t trying to win much emotional investment in the characters.  Well, that changed quite a bit over the course of the series, to the point where I was totally hooked into the emotional side of the show by the time “The Fairies Time Management” came to a close.  Especially the relationship between Watashi and Joshu-kun, which was the most resonant part of the series from the outset.  But due to the adaptation choices Kishi-san has made, that climax was an anti-climax – perhaps that arc should have been the one to end the series, because I find myself disappointed that there’s been no further development in that relationship, and indeed almost no role for Assistant at all.  It seems odd to have built him up so strongly as a figure of importance, only to effectively write him out of the story for the final four eps.

Indeed, that does appear to be what’s happened, as the current “Fairies Secret Tea Party” reveals itself to be a two-episode arc and thus, the concluding arc of the series. So what Kishi has effectively done is taken the first chronological story and placed it last, assuming there’s no extended postscript.  It’s an odd choice, and it’s an odd episode – certainly the most joyless of any in the series so far.  The subject matter of Jinrui has unfailingly been dark, but there’s always been an element of black comedy rooted in the sheer absurdity of the situations, the Fairies themselves, and/or Watashi’s world-weary snarkiness.  This ep, a flashback to Watashi’s first days at school as a ten-year old, is brilliantly atmospheric and creepy, but lacking in the bleak exuberance of the ones that preceded it.

Fittingly for this dystopian world, it appears as if children rarely attend school before the age of ten.  Then they’re dumped into a kind of free-for-all, with the smart kids being given opportunities to advance in grades.  In fact this is very much how education worked in pre-industrial societies and still does in some corners of the world today, where the luxury of grades formally segregated by age isn’t an option.  Watashi, sent to a school run by an old friend/rival (lots of subtext here) of her Grandfather, enters the story as a ten year-old who’s already quite morose and anti-social, and stubbornly refuses to allow others to get close to her (indeed, one almost expects an even earlier arc, a prequel to the prequel, showing us how she got that way).  Her only friends are a hapless maintenance robot named RYOBO 230r (Yuzuki Ryoka) and a lonely fairy she finds atop “Mt. Olympus”, where she hides it from three schoolboys trying to find and dissect it.  She’s also hazed from the first day by the schoolgirl version of fujoshi maven Y (who looks remarkably similar to the way she did as a young adult).

Once again I’m struck by how fascinatingly odd it is to place this arc last.  Why does ten year-old Watashi already describe herself as an “outsider” from the moment she enters the school, and assume the blonde moebomb Curly (Kanemoto Hisako) – the one person who shows her any kindness – is the secret ringleader of the bullies?  Perhaps the answers will come next week, though given the structure of the narrative I found Watashi’s eventual breakdown and admission that she was actually lonely and craving affection a bit jarring.  Then there that Fairy, the first one Watashi has encountered, seemingly.  Once again we see the Fairies take their cue from humans – he describes himself as happy and talks of how much fun his solitary existence has been, until she expresses concern that he must have been lonely – at which point he falls into a deep depression that Watashi reverses only by giving him sugar (which he keeps referring to as “the white powder”, much to Watashi’s chagrin).  There’s clearly a lot of projection happening here on Watashi’s part, and it’s an interesting demonstration of how different are the minds of humans and fairies.  The relationship between them continues to fascinate me even as its exact nature remains elusive.

The end of the episode is full of the trademark subtlety and mysterious symbolism Jinrui has made a trademark.  I was struck by the teacher telling Watashi “Clean up your mess” after the boys knocked over her tray in the cafeteria – given that this was exactly what Grandpa told her at the end of “The Fairies Survival Skills”.  After her breakdown Watashi runs down the school hallway (a beautifully animated scene) and ends up in a room full of bones, crying “I don’t want to be alone” – at which point the Fairy in her pocket tells her that this is an easy wish to grant, and she wakes up outside her room with no memory of the Fairy.

At this point Watashi has also advanced a grade, and Curly too – and this time it’s Curly who’s on the receiving end of the bullying.  Watashi comes to her aid, and Curly proves to be practically stalker-level in gratitude.  When Watashi arrives home she finds she has a new roommate – Curly, who’s gotten herself moved into Watashi’s quarters.  She invites Watashi to join her at her “Wild Rose” tea society a few days later, and that’s where things stop – leaving a lot of questions to be answered in next week’s series finale.  The most interesting one for me, I think, is whether it will feel like a finale at all – and as always with Jinrui, I have absolutely no idea what to expect.

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  1. A

    I've been debating whether to watch this series or not ever since the summer season began. I see the screencaps every week for it and now I really want to try it!

  2. Then do! This is easily the best show of the Summer season.

  3. L

    To me, this has been the best show of the year so far, and yes, this includes Space Bros, Apollon, Tsuritama and (to a lesser extent) Lupin: Fujiko. Every one of the other series mentioned have had their frustrating moments, but not this one. All I've done is smirk, laugh and smile. The main heroine easily gets into my "to 10 best ever" anime MC list, and that's saying something cause there've been quite a few out there (though most in that list are from ways back).

  4. S

    It's a masterpiece and almost unique in Anime, for what it is.

    But like a number of Anime masterpieces, if you don't get what it's on about, you're going to be confused as all hell. This is the demented version of FLCL.

  5. It's definitely the best of the Summer shows. I won't spoil the year-end top 10 list, but I can tell you that there are two others shows that along with Jinrui would form the three best of 2012 for me so far (maybe just above it) and regular readers of this blog can probably guess what they are.

  6. E

    Urgh. I totally thought that previous episode is the first episode.
    Now that it's revealed that episode 11 and 12 are the foremost episode, I am confused. Which one is the final episode?? Is it episode 2? When Watashi found out that her hair is alive and kicks ass? I guess such a crazy ending is befitting for this show.

  7. d

    I did mention that there would be a prequel. Just look at the the OP. All the characters appear in the order of the anime. Y, the robot duo, and now the school tea society

  8. A

    the fairy disappear after wish granting,erased from existence? the incident with curly is caused by the fairy to grant watashi wish for friend?

  9. A

    Each time that fairy referred to the sugar cube as "white powder", I kept feeling like it was a subtle jab towards the notion that sugar are like drugs to the fairies.

  10. S

    Sugar = crack, to Fairies.

    It really makes so much more sense now.

  11. I agree with everything except the "subtle" part!

  12. B

    For me this is either the second or third best show of the season in terms of what I'm enjoying watching. Ignoring shows that are continuations from last season (Space Brothers is pretty much my favorite show that's airing right now) from this season the show I look forward to most every week is Koi to Sen, and if the ending doesn't turn out to be horrible I'll end up putting Natsuyuki Rendezvous ahead of this one too. Watashi is easily my favorite character of the season but I feel like the decision to go backwards in time kind of hurts the show as a whole. I wanted to learn more about the fairies, and we have learned a little, but basically our knowledge is limited to what Watashi was able to learn about them and since each arc takes place at a time where she knew LESS than the one before it, we just don't get that much new information. Overall the show is very good and has provided me with a lot of hilarious moments but it just seems like it's missing something to put it over the top into first place.

  13. H

    This is about the same boat I'm in, with KoiChoco my favorite show. I just don't enjoy watching this show as much as the other shows.

    I actually thought this episode was the best at exploring the main character, although it didn't (yet) give a clue where her exceedingly anti-social mindset comes from. I also found it interesting that her ideas about 'blending in' and being 'inconspicuous' were so utterly broken, and lacking in the smallest realization that they were the exact behaviors that prevented her from being inconspicuous. But to me, this certainly gave a hint as to her later choice of assignment, being a liaison with the faeries, as she is much better at dealing with them than she is with humans, even upon her first meeting with a faery.

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