***This is a spoiler free review***
There was one show that stuck out from the rest of the crowd during the 2012 summer season. This anime, Humanity Has Declined had the randomness and uniqueness of Gintama and while I would say I enjoyed it almost as much, certain parts of the season really brought it down.
So starting out with a downer, the plot is very incoherent. To give you an idea of what the show is about, we follow Mediator who is in charge of overlooking the fairies in the surrounding area. She and her assistant, Assistant (what a cleaver name…) run into many different experiences over the course of the season. The first story arc is brilliantly funny and a joy to watch but the following arcs felt…out of place. We learn towards the end of the show that the final episodes actually take place before the first four or so episodes in the timeline. Why the creators arranged it this way I do not know but whatever effect they were shooting for missed me completely. While I generally enjoyed the show, the order of events really threw me a curveball. If your main focus is on the actual content and whether it is worth watching, I would say yes it is. Most of the story arcs have a very dry, dark humor but the character interactions break the tension. The main cast along with the fairies work very well with each other. The major flaw with the plot though (the sequence of events) just really lets the show down. If you want a coherent experience, you are almost better off watching the last two episodes, then the ones before that, then starting from the beginning. This might not affect a lot of people but whenever I watch a new anime or tv show, I cannot start it until I am fully aware of the beginning episodes. I just cannot stand jumping into the middle of a season.
While the animation won’t blow your mind away, it is very unique and distinctive from other shows. The show sports a plain, matte looking color scheme that fits the post world war whatever environment. The character models also have this slick, reflective look that make them stand out from other slow paced shows. It’s hard to explain the appeal but just know that it is not amazing but by no means horrible.
The first episodes really shine in the sound department. The music played during the chase scene at the end of the first arc was brilliantly placed and the voice actors really nailed their character’s personalities. While the quality of the voice acting continues onto the very end, the background sound tends to sizzle out. I even started to notice that they were reusing some of the musical tracks in the ending episodes that were present in the first couple ones. The best thing about the sound however is the opening theme. It is by far the catchiest opening I have ever watched…and I tend to stray away from J-pop. Overall a great sounding anime.
This is by far the most stand out point of the show; the characters and the chemistry between them. The main character, Mediator deserves character of comedy anime of this century award by far (either that or a very close tie with Gintama). Her morbid thinking and decision making process makes every episode a blast to watch. Assistant also tends to steal the show while he is present due to his very crude humor and his use of his sketchpad. Other great characters include Grandfather, Pion, and Y. The fairies also provide some very funny moments in the show. There is however a problem; while all the characters present in the show are well written and amazing, they tend to stay on the sideline too much. After their respectable arc is over, we hardly see anyone but Mediator. Even her Assistant is absent in the middle of the season for a lengthy amount of time. If they would have worked these characters in some more, I would have rated this category with a ten without a doubt in my mind.
Do not let this score stray you away from this show. While the timeline really screwed up my experience, this show has too much greatness to offer. If you want a very dry humor and interesting comedy to watch, then look no further.
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Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
It's hard to talk about the story of Jinrui without giving too much away. The series takes place in a world where humanity is gradually dying out (title drop!) and follows the work of the Mediator, an individual chosen by the United Nations to work as a liaison between the humans of the dying world and the fairies, a race of tiny cute beings with strange technology that seems to have sprung up to fill in the ecological void. It's an often confusing but overall enjoyable romp through the leftovers of human culture and dwells on the way means of life have progressed over time.
The show presents itself as a semi-episodic mystery/adventure/gag series heavily tinged with meta-humour and tongue-in-cheek references to other works, but it's also a retrospective of consumer culture as a whole, particularly the way it's developed in recent years in Japan. There's a lot of black humour and twisted aesops there for those who choose to read between the lines - as such the show could be said to belie its depth with a cutesy exterior.
The production values aren't anything remarkable for 2012 but the visual style is quirky and distinctive and works as a part of the overall package very well. Backgrounds are often done in watercolor style. Detail is always present and sometimes almost overwhelming. There's a lot of deliciously contrasting elements here, from the plainclothes/anachronistic dress and architecture of the villagers to the ruined and sometimes preserved cities of old to the insanity-inducing buildings and vacuous grins of the fairies. There's a lot to love about the visual style here. The series' creators have carved themselves a niche very effectively.
First thing's first. The OP is an utterly addictive earworm and will have you humming and possibly dancing along within two episodes if you have half a beat in your body.
Music in-series is quirky and bouncy and fun when it shows up, not taking itself too seriously and working perfectly in harmony with the overall premise and themes. Seiyuu work is outstanding. The fairies are my favourites.
The Mediator is a deadpan snarker narrator, a position often held by flat masks held up in front of an empty void, but she develops an interesting and consistent personality through the time we see her to an extent that's quite uncommon for a comedy-focused series. The secondary characters vary widely in their level of depth, often being played for grotesquery. That said, Y is the fairies' gift to humanity and, in my opinion, almost impossible to dislike.
It's very much an offbeat package, constantly breaking the fourth wall and occasionally making very little sense, but I greatly enjoyed the overall effect of Jinrui. For a show that doesn't take itself seriously in the least it actually has some fairly interesting things to say about the way we live. That and it's often just flat out hilarious. Can't go wrong there.
When the 2012 summer anime season was first being revealed Humanity Has Declined is the one series I never really looked at. A comedy, set thousands of years in the future where humans are becoming a dying breed and once more living very basic and different lives from those of us currently, mixed with fairies. Strangely enough that didn’t catch my interest, and if not for a close friend of mine, I’d likely never have gone near it. However, that isn’t to say I’m not glad I did start watching it, because odd as the series may seem, it is very, very funny and an enjoyable watch.
As I write this I have watched eight of the currently released nine episodes. Eight episodes cover four different story arcs, as each story is split across two episodes. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of the story being split like this or not, however as the series has gone on I’ve come to view it as a good move. It allows the stories to go on long enough where they aren’t feeling rushed for the sake of fitting into 20-ish minutes, but don’t go on long enough to becoming boring. It also means that, if I don’t like a certain story for whatever reason (which has, so far, only happened once), I at least know it will only last for two episodes and then we move on to something different. The one thing I will say about these stories, however, is the fact they aren’t being shown in any kind of order. For example; the story which takes place across the fifth and sixth episode happens before the events of the first and second episodes story. Seems to be an odd choice of pacing, but that doesn’t matter too much for such a crazy show, and certainly never really effects it. It could also be seen as a plus point for those who come to rewatch the series, or wish to follow it on and off. If nothing really follows on you don't need to worry too much about having seen every episode.
The series itself is based around three main characters and then the insanely cheerful and childlike fairies, which cause no end of trouble for the poor humans. Firstly we have our, currently nameless, heroine who acts as a mediator between the fairies and humans (Read; keeps the fairies under control). She tries to keep a cheerful persona; however the show does a very good job of also showing us her actual thoughts, which are normally completely different to what she’ll say to a person’s face. We then have heroine’s grandfather, who generally seems to know a lot about life in the “past” and tries to guide his granddaughter through life correctly. Lastly we have the heroine's assistant, who simply go by the name of Assistant. He’s quite a funny character for the fact he never speaks, yet he and the heroine still manage to interact and understand one another perfectly. We then, of course, have our very strange cast of fairies, who will help you out if you pay in sweets. The fairies hide from everyone except the three main characters, but generally speaking anything they do tends to affect all the humans, even if humans don't always notice it. The fairies live very simple lives, however they’re always out to obtain sweets and wish to be amused. Therefore they’ll normally mess with the humans to get what they want, which is basically our plot; the messes the heroine ends up in because of these fairies.
It really isn’t as simple and boring as it sounds, however. Each story is different enough where you aren’t going to sit and think “boring, seen this before” because this world so many years in the future it's completely different from ours now (they don’t even have manga anymore, which leads to one story being centred around it being brought back), and the characters are interesting enough where you want to know everything about this crazy place, even if it makes no sense at all. The humour will generally suit everyone one way or another, from crazy fighting ‘super heroes’ to skinned chickens which, for some reason, are alive and causing trouble.
As far as the animation goes the show is very colourful and lovely to look at, although the backgrounds often aren’t very detailed. This can be forgiven however for how nice and interesting the character designs are. It is, however, certainly quite a unique style and one once I haven’t happened across before. As far as the music goes; apart from the opening and ending themes, which I can’t get enough of, nothing during the episodes seems that memorable, but it could be different for other viewers.
All in all this is a very nice comedy, and one which I’m really enjoying. Unless it goes downhill very quickly during the next few episodes, I can’t see my view on it changing.
Story: Humanity with all it's hubris, technology and nuclear bombs, nuculear power plants, nuclear fission and all that nuclear radioactivity falls to decay and loses all the good stuff. What's left is what Humanity Has Declined deals in and it deals some real good shit.
Surprisingly good as it gets off to a slow start that gives it a laid back slice-of-life/slow-paced vibe until the second half kicks in and things take a turn for the weird and morbidly hilarious. Morbid at times though with no thanks to the faeries. The stuff they say is downright hilarious and borderline realism in terms of seriousness. Pessismisitis- Cynical? Just that they can switch moods in a jiffy while keeping a wide grin makes it pretty damn entertaining. To help combat them is the Mediator, the one who usually talks with them and shares witticism and deadpan remarks. Pretty funny in her own right and the script between those two (Just going into them script-wise) is pretty hilarious. It's just funny.
The episodes can be split into pairs with each pair dealing with a scenario; be it the factory, a convention an island or what have you. It's varied but some are just better than others. At times I found my interest waning a bit but the output is more often than not good than bad and usually rates from crazy to batshit lunacy.
Animation: Someone threw paint in my anime and it looks damn good. Watercolours for the background and it works amazing. Contrasted with the more... less painted characters but not packed with detail. But again, for the Mediator's eyes, they look like they're shaded in pencil, which is a really nice touch. And the faeries, constantly smiling no matter what. Always a stepford grin that covers half their whimsical face.
And that dance for the OP, boogie worthy.
Sound: Speaking of OP, the OP is just catchy as all hell. Infectuous as the best of them and that beginning, so fashionable! And the EP, love the singer. But the voices, those I can comment on: The faeries could have been so annoying but they're actually pretty good vocally. It's not a constant high-pitched sound and for that, making them tollerable in a more... mellow way, like they're just talking (Know what I mean?) gives craploads of points for sound. And from the Mediator to Pion (Loved that verbal tic), the voice acting is tops.
Character: The deadpan snarking, morbidness extends here, so top marks here again. The Mediator and the faeries are the stars of the show and don't disappoint with the excellent chemistry they share. Everybody else is either there for the arc, minor or there for a few episodes at most but not overly prominent. Some of the characters are either quirky non-humans, laid back directors but we don't get to know much about them, which is a bit of a bummer. The world revolves around Pinky and the Faeries but it still has a good cast overall. And chemistry again, this has it in spades.
Overall: Was a bit uneven for me but the faeries were consistently funny. They could have easily been annoying but due to some miracle they aren't and overall, it was entertaining. This is easily worth a tryout but don't stop at the first half of the episode! It's true visage shows in the second half.
Who ever said that fantasy is all about swords and magic? HHD was quite unique in the way it handled its setting. You just have to applaud it for the bizarreness and artstyle, and fairies, especially fairies. While weak on plot and characterization, HHD has its strengths in comedy and unique structuring. The way the story and the world building moves is quite out-of-the-ordinary, mainly because of the major disorder in the chronology, but I found it very fitting for some reason.
Each new “arc” spawns at least 1 or 2 new characters that are quite the surprise, but I never liked the way they were handled, mainly because of previously mentioned lack of characterization or effort to make something more out of them, but even so, each and every one of them provided some solid comedy. While arcs weren’t anything special, they were all on the same level in terms of progression, entertainment value and general world building, which is great since it never dropped in quality, but bad since it never tried to make anything else out of itself. Music was good, but also nothing special. OP and ED were good in a way that I doubt you’d skip them, so that’s one more positive thing. Eh.
All in all: not bad, not bad at all. While I do found it quite charming for what it is, I also feel that there’s much more this show could achieve… its plainness is its crime… but even so, it’s unique and quite entertaining watch I’d best describe as a comedy that you should definitely check out.
Best girl: Mediator